Politics and Economics

Applied in: Winter 2013

University Offers: LSE, Bristol, Durham, Warwick, King's College

While David Smith's Easily Digestible Economics may have given me a grounding in economic concepts and the causes of the 2008 crash, it was through discussions with people who had lived during India's rapid industrialisation of the last 60 years that I first fully began to understand the symbiosis of economics and politics in any country, let alone an emerging one. I even managed to speak to a former Finance Minister of India, who taught me using India's history that, regardless of party ideology, governments are crucial for laying the foundation for growth, but also that their role should be restricted to merely 'setting the rules' and 'not playing the game' in respect of economic policy.

Alistair Darling's lecture on the British Economy Past and Future, and Peter Hennessey's The Prime Minister, emphasised this interdependency, explaining how economics is at the core of political decisions made by those holding governmental office, particularly during a recession. In addition, as a presenter in the Bank of England 2.0 competition, I developed a greater understanding of the immense challenge of selecting appropriate data items to help form economic policy. I sought to investigate the connection between economics and politics at a Microeconomic level in a paper I submitted for a Cambridge Marshall Society competition. In this I examined why regulation in football would fail due to oligopoly power of the elite football clubs and concluded how regulation must be imposed only in extreme circumstances due to the difficulties that exist when implementing policy and the high possibility of government failure.

Before reading Niall Ferguson's Financial History of the World, I failed to appreciate the importance of capitalism in the development of society, and how it encourages states with virtually no infrastructure to develop to the technological level we are at today. I was interested in Ferguson's argument, not accepted by many experts thinking about the current crisis, that capitalism has been highly beneficial to the development of society, especially in emerging countries, which he illustrates using the BRICS. I saw this view clearly in Hayek's Road to Serfdom, together with Freidman's Capitalism and Freedom, both of which also rightly explained the widespread benefits of capitalism, and how laissez-faire governments actually promote and create liberty and freedom in society as opposed to suppressing it. However, Ha-Joon Chang's lecture on '23 things they don't teach you about capitalism', taught me that a capitalist society is flawed also due to the inevitable high levels of inequality, but not to the extent whereby trickle-down economics is comparable to Soviet collectivisation, as he states.  

My role as a school prefect and volunteer at a nursing home, the latter in connection with the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, has allowed me to see other parts of community while acquiring key leadership and teamwork skills. I have developed these through my persistence in football and badminton, activities that may not naturally be my strong point but which I have come to enjoy immensely and greatly improved in, all through time and effort. This has also proved the case for over 10 years with trumpet playing and general involvement in school music.

At the retail outlet McArthurGlen I have currently begun to learn how elasticity of demand changes quickly depending on the political environment, and have been researching the rapid growth in online and discount sales since 2007; this has built on my experience with Young Enterprise where, via the production of a School Mobile App, I also learnt about the inelastic demand for goods that offer greater convenience in consumers' lives. During the remaining 6 months of my gap year I plan to visit India and Brazil, gaining, I hope, further insight into why developing countries prefer socialism as a means of development, and I look forward to exploring these issues in more depth at university.

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