Summer 2023 Newsletter


Chess and economics The 2023 World Chess Championship was won by Ding Liren, the first winner from China and the first new title holder in 10 years after Magnus Carlsen decided not to defend his title. Links to economics? Well you may have heard Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves was a junior chess champion and has been quoted as saying that thinking two steps ahead helps on the campaign trial. In 1997 Garry Kasparov, the then world chess champion, lost against the computer Deep Blue – a milestone in the history of artificial intelligence. Concerns that the lost race against machines would mark the end of chess as a popular game have proved unwarranted. Indeed, chess is booming! Online chess is so popular that The Play Magnus Group (set up by Magnus above) made it into the top 30 in the list of the top growing companies in 2022. The popular site crashed in January with over 10 million players online in a single day and there were over 100 billion games played in February. Of course, we wouldn’t be online without the www….

World Wide Web celebrates a big birthday This year the internet as we know it will turn 30. For anyone under 40 it is probably inconceivable to imagine a world without the internet. 1993 was the year when John Major took the UK into the Single Market and Meat Loaf dominated the UK charts. The premier league was in its second season, with Manchester United taking the title ahead of Blackburn Rovers. Remarkably, the principles and standards established back then such as URLs and HTML remain relevant to this day.

Also fascinating is that some tech dinosaurs such as Microsoft and Apple continue to lead the IT revolution, while others have just faded away. Raise your hand if you are still using WordPerfect or Lotus 1-2-3 or Altavista or Netscape. Google transformed search engines and the Apple iPhone (launched 2007 before the financial crisis) made mobile phones smart. Accessible Artificial Intelligence is just the latest chapter – your phone would now comfortably outperform Deep Blue at chess! Kasparov wasn’t quite ready in 1997 – are we now?

Another big birthday: Adam Smith, one of the founders of economics, was born in June 1723 His ideas are as relevant now as they have ever been; we are sure that the events hosted by the University of Glasgow (where Smith taught) to commemorate the occasion in early June and by Adam Smith’s Panmurehouse in Edinburgh (where he lived) will be worth following (many events also online). From using market forces and innovation to address climate change to raising productivity and a nation’s prosperity, Smith remain relevant reading. Huw Pill, the Bank of England’s chief economist, for example, might have focused on telling us to get more productive rather than (infamously) stating we had to accept being poorer.

Upcoming events and courses

Courses are currently delivered both online and in person. SPE Courses are run for professional analysts by economicsense on behalf of the Society of Professional Economists.

Cost-benefit analysis for non-economists 9.30am–12pm, 27 – 29 June 2023 Ideal for government analysts (outside economics), and policy and finance professionals who are involved in preparing and reviewing business cases and impact assessments. This course is run online. To book: Cost-benefit-analysis for non-economists

Strategic Career Development for Analysts 10am–1pm, 7, 14 July and 22 September 2023 This course is designed to support strategic career development for experienced analysts. Whether you are considering promotion, looking to deepen your knowledge as an expert in your analytical field or simply deciding what to do next, the course will provide you with tools to develop a fulfilling career. This course is run online. To book: Strategic Career Development for Analysts

Economics for non-economists 9.30am–12pm, 26 – 28 September 2023 This course provides an accessible overview of economics. Topics include market structure and competition, market failure and government failure, and international trade. At the economy-wide level we will discuss growth, fiscal policy, and monetary policy. To book: Economics for non-economists

SPE Courses

Cost-benefit analysis with applied example 9.30am–12.30pm, 3 – 5 July 2023 This popular course is ideal for analysts who want an overview of cost-benefit analysis. Run online over three half days we cover all basics of a good CBA and then bring the theory to life with an applied example conducted in excel. To book: Cost-Benefit Analysis with Applied Example

Introduction to Python 9.30am–4.30pm 18 – 19 July 2023 This course introduces Python, one of the world’s most versatile and fastest-growing programming languages. It is aimed at professionals using data analysis as part of their work, be it economists, financial professionals, or statisticians. This course is delivered in person by Dr. Paul Wohlfahrt at Mary Sumner House, London SW1P 3RB. To book: Introduction to Python

Introduction to R 9.30am–4.30pm 20 – 21 July 2023. This course introduces the popular programming language R. R offers the most comprehensive toolkit available in statistical programming, making it ideal for in-depth data analysis. The course shows how to use R to manage data and analyse cross-sectional, time-series and panel data sets. This course is delivered in person by Dr. Paul Wohlfahrt at Mary Sumner House, London SW1P 3RB. To book: Introduction to R

Behavioural Economics – 9.30am–5pm 15 September 2023 Designed exclusively for professional analysts, the course will bring participants fully up to date with this rapidly developing field, including the impact of heuristics/choice overload, reference dependent preferences, loss aversion, present bias and social preferences. The course is delivered in person by Jon Guest at Birkbeck, University of London, London, WC1E 7HX. To book: Overview of Behavioural Economics