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Faculty of Economics

Disseminating research at the frontier of economics is just one of the roles of a new research institute which will shape young minds and transform economic research. Based within the Faculty of Economics at the University of Cambridge, the new Weslie and William Janeway Institute for Economics is to launch on October the 19th.

 

The Janeway Institute Logo

The Janeway Institute will be primarily funded by Weslie and William Janeway. William Janeway is an alumnus of the PhD programme at Cambridge and has played an active role in the Faculty over the last decade.

He would like the new Institute to focus the lens of its research on inequality, climate change, epidemics, gender, the digital economy, the impact of automation and machine learning. “There is great research being done for example in behavioural economics, network economics and the influence of peer pressure,” he says. “Macroeconomics and the polices that are developed have an impact on everyone’s day to day lives. The new Institute will ensure that theory is never decoupled in an abstract way from the real world.”

Overseeing the launch of the new Institute is Professor Vasco Carvalho, a Professor of Macroeconomics in the Faculty of Economics, and a Fellow of Jesus College.

Professor Vasco Carvalho says the new institute will have three core missions: to produce frontier work in economics, to shape young minds by investing in the next generation of economists, and to act as a hub, bringing together researchers both in economics, and across the sciences. That hub will host hundreds of visitors over the years, and many conferences.

“Effectively, the Janeway Institute will take the place of Cambridge-INET,” says Professor Carvalho, because the aims and objectives of the Janeway Institute will be similar, but the new Institute will benefit from being funded by an endowment rather than a grant. “A grant must deliver on what was promised at the beginning of the grant, which constrains research directions.”

William Janeway was delighted to be involved in the evolution of the Institute, and largely fund it. As he says “It struck my wife and me that it was an extremely high priority to perpetuate the work of INET at Cambridge. It is also an extraordinarily exciting time to be an economist, and to be part of the reconstruction of a discipline which in recent decades I feel had reached such an abstract level of theory - particularly at the macro level - it had ‘decoupled itself’ from what is really going on in the markets, and the ‘real world’. Now there is a chance as an economist to really connect with matters day to day for many people.”

 

 

The previous institute carrying out this research was Cambridge-INET, which was formed a decade ago, in partnership with the Institute for New Economic Thinking (or INET), a New York City–based non. profit think tank which runs a variety of affiliated programs at major universities. It awarded a major grant which allowed the Faculty to investigate these issues.

“The Cambridge INET was seen as a jewel in the INET crown,” says William Janeway. “It is these qualities I want to perpetuate in the new Janeway Institute and the Faculty of Economics.”

It was at the forefront of economics, with the research benefitting from the credibility of a well-established department with a long tradition of frontier thinking. This work will be carried on in the form of the new Janeway Institute, which will also be funded by an award from the Keynes Fund and the Cambridge Endowment for Research in Finance (CERF).

William Janeway is a venture capitalist, who has been part of the core of the digital revolution.

“Digitalisation has seen extraordinary increases in the generation and capture of data. In particular, we now know much more about individuals’ behaviour – individual, group, elective, social behaviours, and most importantly market behaviours,” he says. “Economics has always been the data rich social science. So now I want to see more and more powerful techniques for cutting through the sea of correlations, and the development of machine learning that can help us understand those correlations.”

He recently launched a new video series that explores economic growth and development, and how that growth has come through technological innovation. However, that growth has also seen much more disparity in wealthy than in previous generations.

 

The Janeway Institute Graph Banner

 

“Another area I hope the new Institute will play a role in exploring is the recognition of the extreme increase in inequality and wealth that we have seen over the past few decades,” he adds. “That has consequences for macroeconomics along with a number of industries and markets. What I really want to see is the exploration of these sources and causes of rising inequality over the past 50 years.”

The digital revolution, like many other major sociological changes before them, such as the rise of the railways, or electrification, have also seen the rise of economic bubbles, and he feels this is worth of detailed research. “Some bubbles seem to generate no benefits to society at all. Think of financial bubbles in tulip bulbs for example. They just caused immense damage. However, the railway mania, and now the digital mania, have built some hugely significant infrastructure, that would have been immensely difficult to build otherwise.”

The technology driven by the dot-com bubble has, among many other advantages, helped disseminate economic theory; an innovation the Faculty of Economics has taken full advantage of. “It’s vitally important that the Faculty stays in touch with alumni and ensure they stay up to date with the latest economic theory: thankfully, new technology means the ‘friction’ involved in disseminating theory to a large and diverse community is far easier than it was even a decade or so back. As the Faculty proved in Covid, we can now communicate the latest research vastly more effectively than we used to, and that is one major benefit of the digital revolution.”

 

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Professor Vasco Carvalho says the new Institute will allow research to take place, which will reflect key issues as they arise. “By taking an endowment, it will allow us to be much more flexible and agile, reflecting both the evolving academic strengths of the Faculty and societal concerns.”

As such he expects new research directions to emerge organically, covering diverse issues as he says, such as “inequality, climate change, epidemics, gender, the digital economy, or the impact of automation and machine learning.”

The new Janeway Institute will build on the INET multi-generational post-doc programme, and on its hundreds of working papers and research contributions, and publications that have helped redefine fields. “For example, by researching fundamental issues in gender, climate change, the digital economy. But also to develop fundamental methods to analyse these questions,” he says.

He also adds that he is looking out for new partners. “There aren’t that many opportunities out there to engender change within the profession, but by partnering with the Janeway Institute, you are partnering with one of the most venerable institutes in the world, which will help to develop new stories and push the frontiers of economics and address the pressing issues of the day.”

The new Weslie and William Janeway Institute for Economics will launch on October 19th, at an event attended by the University of Cambridge Vice-chancellor, Stephen Toope.

https://www.janeway.econ.cam.ac.uk/

 

The new Weslie and William Janeway Institute for Economics will launch on Tuesday October 19th 2021, at an event attended by the University of Cambridge Vice-chancellor, Stephen Toope, with a series of opening speeches and followed by a panel conversation on the subject of 'Economics Evolving: Recent Trends and Future Directions'. This will be at 4pm BST (GMT+1)

 

Watch live:

 

Tags:

Macroeconomics

Inequality

Climate Change

Gender

Epidemics

Digital Economy

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