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Chief Economist and former Warwick Economics alumnus awarded Honorary Doctorate

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Chief Economist and former Warwick Economics alumnus awarded Honorary Doctorate

Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England and Warwick Economics alumnus accepts Honorary Degree

Andy Haldane emphasised the importance of economists engaging with the public and spoke warmly of the Department of Economics at Warwick as the place he “cut his teeth” during his visit to the University of Warwick to accept an honorary degree on Friday 19th July.

Andy joined the Bank of England in 1989 after graduating from the Department of Economics with an MA the same year. In 2012 the Wall Street Journal described him as “one of the world’s smartest financial regulators” and in 2014 he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine. Since becoming Chief Economist he has taken steps to strengthen the Bank of England’s research capacity, so that decisions are well-informed by research and analysis.

Andy describes his time studying in the Department as his “rite of passage” as an economist. He said: “The tools and techniques I learnt then have been fundamental for helping me make sense of what’s gone on in the economy in the last 30 years.

“Barely a day passes when I’m not drawing on those thoughts, those theories, those bits of evidence, to help me understand the economy, and most important of all, to try and do something public-policy wise to improve how it works.”

In addition to robust economic analysis, Andy sees communicating with the public about economics as a “fundamental” responsibility of his role. He has written some 200 articles and 4 books, including an occasional column in The Sun.

He said: “Making economics for everyone has very much been at the centre of what I’ve been trying to do. “Academia, researchers here at Warwick, the Bank of England – we have a crucial role in making sure that what we say is intelligible to everyone, because that helps us in keeping the economy strong and growing, and it helps everyone else. Making decisions about saving, borrowing, working – those are all economic choices. “The truth is the economy is for everyone, it affects everyone, and everyone making good decisions is crucial for our economy functioning well.”

Ten years ago Andy founded Pro Bono Economics in order to help charities and community organisations to measure the impact of their work: “Many charities were asking themselves the question, “what impact are we really having on society, and how can we better measure it?” and I felt that economists like me had the tools of the trade to answer that question – so I should fuse the two together, and put volunteer economists into the charities to help evaluate the charity’s societal impact.

“Ten years on I’m pleased to say we’ve helped hundreds of charities to do that, and now we’re spreading our wings a bit further.

A lot of focus goes into the fortunes of private companies, into the fortunes of the public sector, and too little focus goes into the third sector – charities, community and faith groups. I think they are absolutely crucial to the social glue of society, and need more prominence.

And part of what I hope Pro Bono Economics can do in the period ahead is to help to bring that third pillar, that third sector, into a position of greater prominence, so we have a more equal balance between the market, the state, and charities and communities. That third pillar, that social glue has been missing: it’s one of the reasons we see such polarity in society right now. And if we can help restore it that will be fantastic.”