Applied in: Winter 2013

University Offers: LSE, UCL

Last summer, I visited my country of origin, Cameroon, for the first time since I was a child. Although I expected big differences from the UK, the scale of the contrast shocked me. Witnessing absolute poverty, such as young barefooted children begging for money outside Douala International Airport when they should have been in school, had a profound effect and it motivated me to develop a much greater understanding of development economics.

To me, perhaps the most important economic issue in our ever more interconnected world is to offer solutions for the developing nations.  Over the last 50 years, $1 trillion of aid has been given to poverty-stricken countries by MEDCs but development has been less than what one might have hoped for and I was curious to find out why this is the case. Hence, I read 'The Bottom Billion' by Paul Collier, which seeks to offer explanations as to why some of the world's least developed nations are not progressing and 'Dead Aid' by Dambisa Moyo, which exemplifies the counter-productiveness of aid. It was from these books that I learnt the importance of data analysis, to extrapolate from contextual information and scrutinize the true effect of potentially adverse economic policies and why qualitative data is just as important in order to humanize the discipline of economics. I have taken the opportunity to continue my research in this area by undertaking an Extended Project which discusses barriers to development in Cameroon. This has broadened my knowledge of the country's development history and that of Africa in general, as well as proposed solutions to overcome the development dilemma.  

In addition to studying problems in the developing world, I have also researched the recent issues facing MEDCs, such as the financial crisis. Is the fundamental assumption in economic theory - that self-interested economic agents in a free-market will always lead to socially desirable outcomes, in need of some alteration? Is this hypothesis undermined by the price mechanism's failure to allocate risk efficiently in the banking sector? In 'How Markets Fail' by John Cassidy, I discovered the concept of rational irrationality: where behaviour on an individual level is rational, but when aggregated in the marketplace, produces a fall in social welfare. I found this idea extremely appealing as most agents involved in the financial crisis were acting in their own self-interest by maximising profit but a global credit crisis ensued.

In order to apply economic theory learnt in the classroom to real life, I took part in a two-week work placement at Sequoia Investment Management Company. I was shocked to see that loans were securitized in the form of CDOs, the same way banks structured mortgages pre-2007. Have lessons truly been learnt?  My study of the financial crisis triggered me to participate in the Royal Economic Society's Essay Competition, evaluating if quantitative easing must always lead to inflation. Moreover, I have taken the chance to broaden my knowledge by participating in the Baillie Gifford Essay Competition, examining the economics of individual financial planning.  

Outside of the classroom, I was Head of Finance for my company 'Endeavour' in the Young Enterprise competition where I managed the accounts and devised an equitable dividends structure. We produced a phone charger powered by a bicycle dynamo, which was widely acclaimed by judges and local businesses and resulted in us being crowned Essex champions. Having recently been appointed as a Prefect at my school, I have also helped to organise school functions. Additionally, I take part in a number of sporting activities; I am a football player for the local team Frenford Boys and played football for the C.H.A. team.

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