If you want to do economics well, you at least need to be a decent mathematician. When still at high school, I was warned by my teacher that most economics faculties had one requirement: an above average grade for mathematics. Fair enough, I thought, given the fact that economics is full of equations and statistics. The mathematical approach of economics, however, has not always been the only bar in town. How then, did economics become so obsessed with mathematics? And is this obsession still justified?
In a famous scene of the movie The Dark Knight, the Joker asks a mobster: “Why so serious?” In another scene, he burns a huge pile of cash just to send a message to the city of Gotham. In my opinion, good movies always try to send a message; a question or thought that keeps lingering long after the movie has finished. Sometimes, these thoughts find resonance in a very different area, such as an economic theory from more than a hundred years ago. Was the Joker actually a critical economist? Did his message convey more than love for absolute chaos?
China, the economic superpower of the twenty-first century. For most economists, it is a question of when, not if, China will surpass the United States as the world’s largest economy. Despite some serious concerns about its housing and commodity sectors, China’s rise continues unrelentingly. What can we expect from a strong and confident China? And is a Sinocentric world really something new, or rather a natural rehabilitation?
Today the United Kingdom (UK) officially initiated their exit from the European Union (EU). After many months of anticipation, British prime minister Theresa May will now engage in a historical gamble: safely getting the UK out of the EU. She says the UK will leave the EU but that it wants to remain in Europe. It will take at least two years before we can see how this has worked out. I cannot stop to think: all this trouble… was it really necessary?
Over the past few weeks, the media have given us a welcome break from the all the drama in the White House. Suddenly there was something more interesting, and perhaps more important to talk about. On February 17, Kraft Heinz made a $143 billion takeover bid for Unilever. While possible takeovers of this size have an obvious economic impact, they increasingly trigger political responses as well. The reason is that governments are skeptical about the intentions of large foreign investment firms, these so-called ‘citizens of nowhere’. This skepticism is completely understandable, as it lies at the root of populist revolts around the world.
Although I graduated back in September 2016, one of the essays I wrote during my Research Master was recently published in the Erasmus Student Journal of Philosophy (ESJP). The essay is about the amorality of the global banking sector, in which I respond to the popular explanation put forward by Dutch anthropologist and author Joris Luyendijk. After three months of peer reviews, I can finally say my life as a student is (officially) over. During my studies, I have always tried to make dense philosophical arguments more accessible and enjoyable for a broader audience. This essay I one such attempt.
It has been almost a year since I started this blog. Now that the year is ending it seems like a good time to reflect on what I have written so far, and if all this writing has contributed to its purpose: sharing my thoughts on issues that matter and encouraging others to do so as well.