The Institute Blog

2012: A Year in Review

It has been an exciting year for new economic thinking.

Both the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) and its community of thinkers expanded greatly in 2012. In addition, INET researchers have continued their innovative work and are finding larger platforms and eager audiences for it.

The year’s big event was the annual INET plenary conference in Berlin from April 12-15. It generated a tremendous amount of buzz not only in Germany but also across Europe and around the world. Interest was so intense that the prominent German newspaper Handelsblatt called out the German government for not participating in the conference. In addition, INET’s Young Scholars Initiative created a parallel youth outreach event called the YSI Commons, where students could watch the conference on a live stream and personally meet with prominent conference guests. Indeed, the conference marked the beginning of an exciting period for YSI, which has grown exponentially over the last year and is bringing together young scholars from all over the globe, both in person and online through the use of cutting-edge digital media platforms.

This effort also has included broader support for economic education initiatives like the INET-sponsored Advanced Graduate Workshop hosted at Azim Premji University. These workshops enable economics students from around the world to talk to leading economists. The first of the bi-annual workshops focused on development and took place last July. A second workshop is planned for this January and will focus on poverty and globalization. It will be led by Nobel Laureate and INET Advisory Board member Joseph Stiglitz.

In November 2012, INET hosted its False Dichotomies conference with its partner the Center for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Canada. The conference brought together many INET grantees and members of the INET community with a collection of top economics students from around the world. The focus was on breaking down the stale distinctions that have guided economics and proposing more novel and realistic ways of understanding the economy. Along with many exciting panels and presentations, the conference featured a brilliant keynote address from INET grantee Katharina Pistor on the false dichotomies in law and finance.

INET also received a significant boost in its core funding in 2012. At the Berlin conference the Institute announced that Governing Board member and co-founder William Janeway and his wife, Weslie, generously donated $25 million to INET, which along with a $50 million matching grant from co-founder George Soros, amounted to a $75 million cash infusion. In response and in honor of this major gift, INET’s governing board took up the development challenge and pledged to raise $75 million in additional funding over the next 10 years. In all, this substantial new support proved a landmark moment for INET that grants the Institute financial permanence and the ability to support and build its community for years to come.

In addition, Janeway, who has become an active member of the INET community, recently published his exciting new book Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy, which was named one of the best of the year by the Financial Times. In Doing Capitalism, Janeway draws on his over 40 year of experience as a venture capital investor and offers novel insights on how innovation occurs and is funded.

Following the Berlin conference, INET opened its research center on Imperfect Knowledge Economics (IKE). Headed by Roman Frydman, the IKE center will help ensure that these vital new economic ideas gain traction in the economic debate and continue to be a vital part of the discussion.

Beyond the Berlin plenary and False Dichotomies conferences, INET also hosted some important smaller events and public conversations in 2012. On October 23,INET co-sponsored a Conversation on the Economy that featured Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman. INET also established an innovative new discussion series with Union Theological Seminary in New York called “Economics and Theology.” The series features prominent economists in debates with leading theologians. More exciting events are planned for 2013, with Jeff Sachs on March 6th and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen scheduled for April 24th.

INET also has continued to have an impact on the broader global economic conversation. In Europe, the INET Council on the Euro Zone Crisis (ICEC), made up leading European economists, issued a report that identified the core issues in the euro crisis and called for collective action. The report gained significant attention in European media and in policy circles, as a party in the German Reichstag called for German leaders to consider the conclusions in the ICEC proposal.

INET’s reach in print and new media also continued to expand in 2012. INET established a partnership with Yahoo! Finance that will provide INET grantees and community members the opportunity to contribute articles and opinion pieces, giving the INET community and its groundbreaking ideas access to the one of the top financial news platforms in the world, with tens of millions of unique visitors per month. INET grantees and community members also have continued to have an impact on the global discussion as they contribute to influential economic media outlets around the world. 

And last but not least, INET has continued to build its annual grant program, which supports a steady stream of research in economic issues vital to INET. Topics focused on this year included financial stability and financial governance, inequality, and the economics of innovation. To date, the program has awarded more than $17.5 million in research grants. A new round of grants will be awarded soon.

In all, 2012 was a landmark year for INET. The organization and its community have taken an enormous step forward in changing the economic conversation. Still, much work remains to be done. We hope that you will continue to join us in this effort in the year ahead.

Comments

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Elements of New Economic Thinking

Why don’t we get started, following the suggestion in the last paragraph of my previous comment to this post.

First of all, we need a definition. Here is a draft.

An element of new economic thinking is a piece of writing which, by itself or within a set with other presentations, constitutes a well-rounded scientific justification for a policy proposal that would be a solution to one of the great challenges of the 21st century.

The piece of writing central in the definition does not necessarily have to be a new word in science. It could, for instance, be a review of literature, or a chapter in a monograph. This understanding would also save us from disputes as to what is and what is not new, who wrote it first, etc.

Here are two examples of an element that I have noticed on this website.

One is Research Note #13 by Julie Nelson of September 2012, the title of which starts with "Is Dismissing …" My comment of September 29 to the note implies that the research note is an element.

The other is the INET Blog post by Ross McKitrick of October 3, 2012, titled Breaking the Climate Change Stalemate. This is an element, I would maintain with a reference to my comments to the post. This work fits within the framework of environmental levies (*) based on the environmental costs to society.

I come now to one more suggestion. It is that I be allowed to moderate a new INET blog entitled Elements of New Economic Thinking. My credentials can be found at www.wearedif.net/author.html .

(*) A Better Organization: Facing Threats to Our Country, by Lev Shakhmundes, 2006, Chapter 14, www.abetterorganization.net

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