Economics and Management/Economics Personal Statement
It seems that applying economics can elucidate any subject. Just one example of a problem facing the world is the tide of war-displaced refugees making their way to Europe. They risk their lives for the opportunities of our economic system. I recently visited a Calais refugee camp, hoping to learn about their motivations and intentions. Hearing their struggles and hopes reinforced that there is no easy solution to their problems. Yet if any academic discipline can improve this situation, it must be economics. I realised how much we take our own economic system and security for granted, and I am interested in finding out more how it functions, and how similar or better systems might be implemented elsewhere. Only by analysing and understanding our decisions and actions can we improve future outcomes.
Reading Thomas Friedman's The Lexus and The Olive tree has helped me to understand the world economy’s current state - how countries have developed at wildly different rates, yet are linked at on scale never before seen. Michael Lewis’ The Big Short made me aware of our system’s flaws: it was disconcerting how the expansionary monetary policy discussed at A-level could have led to the 2007 financial crisis.
I have found economics as useful in analysing the past as the present. Last year I linked my economics studies with my EPQ in History. I addressed whether the ‘wonder weapons’- a series of radical German weapons World War Two - helped or hindered the German war effort. I analysed economic data to quantify the wonder weapons’ effects, and thus the wisdom of the German leaders in choosing to deploy them. I placed particular emphasis on the weapons’ opportunity cost, and calculated that with the money invested in the programmes (2% of German GDP), a more effective war could have been waged with conventional weapons. This mismanagement prompted me to think about how economics might be applied more effectively to real situations. I had my first taste of an economics-related career as an intern analyst at Standard Chartered bank, where I compiled a report analysing the Indian Airline Industry. I assessed the prospects of each carrier, and presented to the team I was working with. I enjoyed using economic data to draw conclusions about the market. I developed my skills in research, analysis, presentation and collaboration. It was satisfying when I recently read that Indigo - the airline I had concluded would profit best from India’s rising middle class - was filing for India’s largest IPO in four years.
I am also interested in the factors affecting our personal decisions. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed books on behavioural economics, such as Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, and Richard Thaler’s Misbehaving. Kahneman’s revealing of the logic-gaps in the human thought process was striking. I found the frequency with which we fall foul of our innate biases and assumptions revealing and concerning. A summer job as a sales assistant demonstrated the relevance of these principals. I noticed a management focus on short term goals, and lack of relevant event-framing: for example, managers distilled yearly sales down to what everyone would have to sell per hour- a behaviour Kahneman described as being counterproductive in the long run. Employees were also expected to at least match last year’s sales each month, taking no account of the external variables impacting business.
I hope to use my university study to better understand and explain the behaviour of the markets and those involved in them. I endeavour to examine, question, and learn about the principles that explain and influence our actions. The interest and skills I have developed have equipped me to delve further into the subject, and make the most utility of my education.
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My personal statement for Economics and Management (E&M) at Oxford, and straight Economics elsewhere.
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