“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today” Laurence J. Peter
This rather negative impression of the subject has more than a ring of truth to it. However, we can at least attempt to predict economic outcomes with greater accuracy by analysing the past. In this sense, economics is hugely important.
The study of economics at St. John’s is intended to inform, enlighten and prepare our young men and women for adult life. We all face economic choices and make decisions in our lives which impact hugely on ourselves and those around us. However, an understanding of economics is increasingly essential if we are to make sense of developments that affect us and to play our part as global citizens. From the crisis in the Eurozone to the role of the Bank of England in setting interest rates, it seems that we are expected to comprehend quite complex economic phenomena. It is this understanding that we strive to provide our students, but more than that, we seek also to develop their critical and analytical skills so that they can move the subject forward and become the next generation of economists.
In the first year of the course, we study how markets work and why they sometimes fail to achieve efficient outcomes. We also examine the key aspects of the macroeconomy: how consumption, investment and other variables affect economic growth, employment and prices.
In the upper sixth, there is more emphasis on the competitive and non-competitive nature of markets and how firms behave, looking at monopoly, ‘oligopoly’ and other market structures.
Finally, we study global economic issues, including trade, globalisation, foreign exchange and international development.
Students are expected to take an active interest in economic issues as they happen and will be given the opportunity to critically evaluate the contribution of economists past and present: Marx, Keynes, Hayek, Galbraith, Friedman and many others.