Questions for potential Oxbridge Economics students

That time of year again – here are some questions that I have used for practice Oxbridge interviews for those students hoping to read economics at either Oxford or Cambridge. They might be of interest and could be useful for general class discussion.

  • Does the current crisis warrant a reappraisal of economics as broad as the one that followed the Great Depression?
  • Paul Krugman said – “The economics profession went astray because economists as a group mistook beauty clad in impressive looking mathematics for truth” Does he have a point here?
  • How can we know which economic policies to fight Covid-19 actually work?
  • Is now the time to introduce a universal basic income in the aftermath of Covid-19?
  • In the aftermath of the financial crisis do you see an end to the Neo-Classical theory and the Washington consensus and a return to the Keynesian Bretton Woods System?
  • Is economics becoming too mathematical?
  • In the response to the crisis we have seen more of the same – massive Keynesian stimulus in the form of both monetary and fiscal policy. What are your thoughts on this comment?
  • Politicians and some economists said that the global economic growth from 2003 – 2007 was different from previous growth periods in history and therefore shouldn’t be alarmist. Do you agree?
  • How could economists prevented a crisis like the GFC in 2008?
  • How does politics impact on decision-making for economists?
  • How has politics fed the belief that markets left to themselves deliver better economic outcomes?
  • Can economists be trusted to draw the right conclusions and learn the right lessons from the financial crisis?
  • Since the GFC there has been significant mention of the policies of economists Frederick von Hayek and John Maynard Keynes – who, if any, was right?
  • You state that you have read Jeffrey Sachs’ book “Common Wealth” – what policies did he advocate to reduce poverty. (Refers to a personal statement)
  • In the book “Dead Aid” you mention “Dambisa Moyo’s criticism of shock therapy in developing countries. Can you say the same in developed nations? (Refers to a personal statement)
  • Macroeconomics is essentially ideological – do you agree?
  • Keynes said “If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people, on a level with dentists, that would be splendid!” What did he mean?
  • In a recession, should governments reduce budget deficits or increase them?
  • Do zero-interest rates stimulate economic recovery or suppress it?
  • Should welfare benefits be maintained or cut in response to high unemployment?

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