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Faculty of Economics

Monday, 27 November, 2023

The appointment will reflect Professor Linton’s deep sector knowledge, as well as his passion for driving progress in economic research. His skills and experience will support the Faculty as it educates the next generation of economists.

“I am delighted to be taking over the role of Chair of the Faculty, and I look forward to promoting economic research and education in a part of Cambridge that I really enjoy, and I want all of our students, staff, and academics to feel at home,” he says. “I also welcome a close connection with the many alumni who have called the Faculty home over many years.”

He says many alumni will remember the first time they arrived in Cambridge to begin their studies. “For undergraduates, and many postgraduates, it was their first taste of the unique world of varsity, and the Cambridge academic rigour,” he adds. “Our alumni may have been a little daunted at the time – but look at them now. Cambridge is a unique world where students have the freedom to explore new avenues of study, learn from the very best academics, and engage in academics debate with their peers. As such, it has been great to see all students attending their lectures and seminars this term, and the terms ahead. We are an inclusive Faculty, and support lively and respectful academic debate.”

The new chair of the Faculty of Economics welcomed new members of the Faculty, returning staff, University and College Teaching Officers, and students at an event at the start of term in a packed Stone Room, on the top floor of the Faculty; a welcome event that many alumni will remember well from the start of their studies. Giving them a very warm welcome to the Michaelmas Term, Professor Linton addressed all new and existing members of the Faculty as all members started an exciting new academic year, including twenty one new PhD students.

The event was held in the Stone Room, which is named after renown economist and Nobel Prize winner Richard Stone. He was an undergraduate at Cambridge University, studying economics, an interest that was sparked in Stone by the ongoing great depression. In 1945, he was chosen to be the first director of the newly established Department of Applied Economics in Cambridge.

“The Faculty has changed a lot since those early days,” says Professor Linton. “Just as the science of economics has changed and developed too. Back then we studied the Marshall Plan in depth, as it was rolled out, and many other economic milestones as we watched the continued growth of international trade in manufactured goods, such as cars and electronics, along with some momentous events, including the collapse of the Bretton Woods monetary system in 1971, the closing of the gold standard, the 1973 oil crisis, and various recessions in the 1970s and 1990s, along with the stock market following likewise, such as Black Monday in 1987 and the 1992 Sterling Crisis. Each one of these events, dramatic as they were, influenced our understanding of the economy, and led to much research into the cause and impact.”

He says the Faculty has in turn had many milestones in itself. “Many undergraduates would remember watching in awe the Philips Machine. A working analogue computer developed in the 1950s which represents money as flowing around the national economy. Valves can be opened or closed to represent variable effects, such as the rate of interest on savings or investment. Although it now represents what is perhaps a rather outdated economic model, it is still with us, and we give regular demonstrations.”

He reminisces about other Faculty Milestones, as the present Faculty continues its long-established interest in public economics, macro-economics, business strategy, and the problems of economic measurement.

“The Faculty of Economics at the University of Cambridge is one of the longest standing, as well as being one of the leading economics faculties in Europe, and long may it stay that way,” he says. “We have a global reputation for outstanding academic achievement and world-class original research. The Cambridge Faculty of Economics undergraduate Tripos has been consistently rated as one of the best in the world. Our academic staff include some of the world's most distinguished economists, and over the years has included many Nobel Prize winners.”

Faculty members Sir James Mirrlees was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1996 for his work on optimal taxation and the theory of incentives, and Amartya Sen was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1998 for his work on welfare economics and income distribution.

Sir Angus Deaton studied for his BA, MA and PhD at Cambridge, under the supervision of Sir Richard Stone. He worked in the Faculty as a research officer in the Department of Applied Economics. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2015 for his analysis of consumption, poverty and welfare.

Distinguished economist Professor Oliver Hart was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in 2016 for his work on contract theory and the theory of incomplete contracts: their role in rationalizing the governance of companies and the design of law and institutions. He studied Mathematics at Kings College, Cambridge and from 1975 to 1981 was a Lecturer in the Faculty of Economics.

“Another tradition upheld by current Faculty members is that of involvement in public policy. I and the Faculty of Economics remains committed to keeping economics useful,” he adds. “Cambridge economists undertake innovative research that extends the frontiers of modern economic analysis, and our teaching programmes are internationally recognised for the excellent training and scholarship that is provided.”

“We are on an ambitious plan of hiring both at the senior and junior level. These positions will enable us to project our influence on academic research and on policy questions and to develop our teaching options to provide more and better choices for undergraduates as well as MPhil students,” he says. The faculty was placed first nationally in the last Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) in terms of the impact of its research on public policy, and we would like to build on this success. “We also hope to obtain better funding for our PhD students who now play such an important role in the research and teaching life of the faculty. There are plans afoot to develop the Sidgwick Avenue site including the Austin Robinson building, and the added space and the improvement of our existing space will help us to achieve our future objectives.”

Professor Linton is the Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Trinity College. He explained he had recently become chair of the faculty a little earlier than planned, but was happy to be helping lead this thriving institution.

Now becoming the Chair of the Faculty (Board) of Economics, he brings a wealth of real world experience in the finance and banking sectors. An Econometric Consultant to the Bank of England (2018-2019), Expert Witness to the Financial Conduct Authority (2014-2015) and Financial Services Authority (2008) he also gave evidence to Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (2012).

Professor Linton completed his BSc (1st Class) in Mathematics at the LSE in 1983, and his PhD in Economics at UC Berkeley in 1991.

He has published two books and over a hundred journal articles including recent work on the pandemic and on financial markets during the Brexit referendum.

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