Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Week at a Glance

It's Andrew Leigh again. Of almost similar speech as the previous session, but added with more thoughts by this respectable politician. This time, he reminded me about the role of luck, comparative advantage and the unexpected consequences in life. Disasters can happen at the wrong time as they compete for media coverage. Some issues can be left overshadowed by the Olympics hype or some celebrity's brawl.

Economics can't explain everything but it can explain most things. Same goes to physical sciences, knowledge is growing and there will be times that things are wrong. It is not difficult to acknowledge and move on.

One asked Leigh about his university life, he encouraged critical thinking and practical learning, but not just theoretical studying. University should be a place to test and try ideas. Fortunately, economics encourage that. We could try playing economics in every conversation.

Some quotes are, a dollar makes different impact to different people and don't give power to the bad guy. Well, the bad guy gets the power because the good guy doesn't want power.

The ANU College of Business and Economics organised the Trevor Swan Distinguished Lecture, presented by Nobel Laureate Professor Edward C Prescott on Neoclassical Growth Theory: From Swan to now. It was a great honour to be present in a room with a Nobel Prize winner, Trevor Swan's descendants and some prominent figures in the college.

While Prescott lecture is not something I can catch up with due to the unfamiliarity of the Macroeconomics history, but it does spark an interest in me to understand the concepts. More interestingly, Prescott is convincing with supporting facts and research, addressing stages by stages on the state of economy. "We are learning so much and there are so much more to be learned. There are so many problems out there. Simplify down and try to show views on the question."

The next day, I went to a lecture to see Prescott once again. To my surprise, this session is far more inspiring than the lecture yesterday. The lecturer, Timo Henckel shed some light on Bob Gregory, who is an economist who is interested in everything and been to everywhere, he doesn't specialises in a single thing. Now that's inspiring in my case.

Gregory went on to give an introduction for Prescott, like always, a powerful and inspiring introduction remark. He mentioned that Prescott is a brilliant man who works all their life and has lots of ideas. The difference of him and normal people is he made impact on economics as a whole. We need to change people's views and innovation of ideas can tested by seeing which generation appeals to it. The iPhone is an innovative idea that started its appeals with the young generation and spread to the older generation.

Though ideas or thoughts are absolutely vital, but integrating thoughts are important. What Prescott achieved is, he integrated both micro and macroeconomics concepts.

Some words from Prescott:
"Students are important, the future of Australia depends on you"
"I don't believe in dictatorship, but I believe in people"
"Academicians are less stressed as they get to say what they think."
"Lecturers are motivated by what students asked."
"The East is picking up, it's glad to see them rising and they could have done better."
"When I teach a graduate student, I want to learn more than them."
Get interested in economics because "it became fun, with smart people around, so much fun than mathematical theory"

"People has to know your work, you have to market your contribution, having a good student helps" Gregory who is an excellent moderator contributes by saying "Having an idea itself is not enough, you need people to know it."

"Investing in English is worth it and valuable"
"Tune into the audience and see what's in their brain, and also seeing their background and major"
"Being able to solve problem but not memorising formulas"
"Get good at selling and presenting ideas. No one is going to judge you on something, don't get too frightened."

Did the Nobel prize cost you anything?
"I do things I like and ask why on it. Humans are social animals, don't have to be a nerd, I do like sports and parties." Gregory continued by saying "don't have to give up everything, don't have to work to death, have a bit of leisure."

Researchers work by getting a new question and don't have a clue how to do it at all. They take the question and push them to ways that other people can't, and create insights out of them. Pick up the idea and make progress, making progress is what differentiate. Logical thinking is crucial.

Henckel concluded the session by saying it's not important what the subject matters, it is to learn to think critically and analytically and logically. Learn to take things to perfection, read a lot, question on the good and bad, and emulate to be better.

Sorry that I didn't organise the quotes well. On a personal note, these words are particularly meaningful on that day itself. It was a day I have been waiting for 3 months. It was life-defining. I thank God for helping me through the challenge and granting me another chance.

Had a rather uninspiring session the day after. But it gives me some ideas on things I want to get involve in. And I have strike out a couple off my list. What's ahead will be interesting, but I do know where my decisions lie.

Wen Xin