Image: Tanvi Jain/The Boar

The Boar goes on a WEScapade: our trip to the Warwick Economics Summit

A new year has dawned upon us, and you know what that means: it’s time for another edition of the Warwick Economics Summit (WES)! The Boar was fortunate enough to be able to attend, taking part in three jam-packed days of keynotes, panels, and career events. So, what was our escapade to WES (a WEScapade, if you will) like? Well, we’re here to tell the tale.

WES got the show going on 2 February, with The Oculus opening its doors to student delegates from across Britain and beyond. The Summit started off with a Careers Fair – complimentary coffee in hand, we traversed a range of stands, talking to representatives from law firms, government regulators, and even the European Parliament.

Then, it was time for some speakers. First up at the lectern was John Ridding, the CEO of the Financial Times, who discussed AI and the worrying ramifications it’s had for democracies globally. His speech was followed by a keynote by the President of Timor-Leste, Jose Ramos-Horta, a panel discussing the prospects for the global economy this year and, to finish the day, a half-hour-long masterpiece by the Competition and Market Authority’s Philip Marsden – who rapped about antitrust and competition law to the tune of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’. All in all, we were left with lots to mull over, and just as the Summit’s first day satisfied our intellectual curiosities, it satiated our stomachs too, with a pizza and wine reception bringing a busy few hours to a relaxing end. 

The second day carried on with a bustling atmosphere and some very interesting talks lined up. The de-dollarisation panel was highly exciting, with some great questions spurring discussions after the speeches.  The final vote made things even more interesting. The live audience vote initially seemed to be in the favour of the team arguing that de-dollarisation would do more harm than good, but the opposition slowly caught up with the end result being a tie, cementing that there is yet to be a consensus regarding whether we will ever see de-dollarisation, and, if so, what it will achieve. 

Another highlight of the day was the talk by Stephanie Kelton – an economist and leading pioneer of the heterodox Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). The MMT movement is an upstart one that has polarised the economics profession, to say the least. But Kelton juxtaposed old and new, arguing that whilst MMT has only recently gained prominence, it has many of its foundations in traditional Keynesian economic theory. Dixon Junior Gao-Cheung, a delegate at WES, noted that in an economic climate that can often seem grim and uninspiring, Kelton’s philosophy was a gleaming source of hope: “I loved what Kelton said … to have her on campus was really magical.” Gao-Cheung also noted that “a lot of economic news is quite depressing”, with MMT providing much-needed optimism and pushback against “an economic orthodoxy that needs to be challenged”. 

The talk by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the WHO, was less a talk but more of a plea and call to action to bring about the Pandemic Preparedness Treaty (an agreement between countries for better management and collaboration in the event of a future pandemic), aiming to spread awareness amongst young people about how to prepare for the next inevitable “Disease X” pandemic. The panel of students sharing their Covid-19 pandemic experiences definitely enhanced the experience and gave more context to the impending urgency of making the agreement a reality. Hearing about experiences similar to what we experienced also refreshed the memory of Covid-19, making it clear that complacency would get us nowhere. 

The Summit came to a close on 4 February, with events including an address by Kosovo’s President, Vjosa Osmani, about gender equality; a speech by former CEO of Aston Martin, Dr. Ulrich Bez, about his experiences in the automotive industry, and a talk by former ECB Governor Jean-Claude Trichet about the recent resurgence of inflation. However, the highlight of the day by far was a monetary policy panel, featuring central bank governors from across the world. Throughout the panel discussion, topics such as public debt sustainability repeatedly popped up, but what was notable about it was how each speaker discussed a different aspect of monetary policy – highlighting the sheer diversity of the field. The former Governor of the Malaysian Central Bank, Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, elaborated on monetary policy in emerging market economies, an issue that is arguably overlooked in the Western mainstream press. Other speakers discussed monetary policy in the Balkans, alongside how central banks ought to respond to the existential threat that is the climate crisis.

The sheer professionalism with which the Summit was organised and executed was incredible given that it was entirely student-run. WES was a product of months of preparation, with three Overall Coordinators and eight teams comprising 62 people running the show.

One of the people in charge was Joseph Brennan, one of three Talks Team Coordinators, whose role included crafting the content of the Summit, inviting speakers, and organising their travel and accommodation arrangements: “From my perspective it was quite surreal. Seeing the outcome of my invitations and long chains of communication, to speakers who attended in-person, was an experience I will never forget.”

Brennan noted the weeks leading up to the Summit were fraught with challenges, with some speakers dropping out at the last minute and rail strikes placing pressure on the Summit’s budget. Tauseef Parkar, a member of the Technology Team, shared similar experiences, noting the stressful nature of dealing with technical difficulties: “The main challenge is if something goes wrong, everyone can notice it in real-time. So it’s important to be on top of everything at all times.”

Having covered much of the Summit together, we at The Boar figured it may be worth delving deeper into what each of our individual experiences at WES was like. Here’s what we have to say:

Tanvi Jain

This being my first time attending the Warwick Economics Summit, I was prepared and was expecting hundreds of people sitting and listening to talk after talk. The atmosphere I was met with was much beyond what I had thought the Summit would be like. Seeing a lot of familiar as well as completely new faces, and meeting really interesting people from other universities as well was a major upside and made my time there much more enjoyable in terms of the conversations I had. 

The debates were my personal favourite. They kept me listening throughout and at the edge of my seat. There is something about listening to prominent people in a subject area discuss their completely stark views on a platform which is very intriguing.

The de-dollarisation debate panel especially developed a genial and academic atmosphere from the get-go. The variety of the panel particularly interested me in its diversity of people. 

‘Meet the Speaker’ sessions are another excellent opportunity which I would highly recommend to anyone attending WES to get the full experience. It is essentially a chance to talk to a chosen speaker as part of a small group of 58 students and ask questions. Rather than being a daunting environment where you are interviewing someone, they were rather, as the name suggests, ‘meeting’ the speaker and having the opportunity to have interesting conversations with them in an exclusive environment. Talking to Financial Times Frankfurt Bureau Chief, Martin Arnold, was definitely a highlight. We got to know more about the journalistic world, how big names like the FT make decisions, as well as Mr. Arnold’s insightful opinions regarding contemporary economic issues like Central Bank Digital Currencies. 

All in all, WES was an intellectual push into thinking about topics which previously seemed out of reach in their professional obscurity. 


Abhay Venkitaraman

Warwick’s milieu is intensely career-focused, and it often seems like economics is viewed purely instrumentally – as a means to a broader end rather than a discipline to be appreciated in its own right. That’s why WES was so refreshing – it provided us a space within which we could explore and admire the academic aspects of the profession.

To put it plainly, the Summit was an intellectual cornucopia. We had the opportunity to listen to a plethora of experts from such a wide range of backgrounds – and this meant that not only did I leave WES having learned a tonne, but also being more curious about economics than ever.

Whilst this newfound curiosity meant I left the Summit with a million unanswered questions in mind – I was certainly able to have a fair few of them responded to at the Meet the Speaker sessions I attended. I had the pleasure of talking to Joeri Schaasfort, an economist and creator of the Money&Macro Youtube channel, where he posts videos analysing everything from China’s economic crisis to Credit Suisse’s collapse. Conversing with Vince Cable, former MP and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, about topics such as the situation in Yemen and his party’s future prospects, was also an incredibly rewarding experience. What’s notable to me is that figures like Schaasfort and Cable can often seem intimidating from afar given their prominence, but when you actually meet them eye-to-eye, they’re actually quite friendly and approachable.

Like any endeavour, WES had its limitations. In particular, I think more of the Summit’s events could have been oriented around income inequality and economic injustice – given the pressing threat they pose worldwide. On the whole, though, the Summit was truly enriching, and rest assured – when another edition of WES rolls around at this time next year – I’ll be the first to grab a ticket.



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