My fling with Keynes

keynesDespite aspirations to the contrary, it is a good long time since I last blogged. The problem with blogging so infrequently is that when I get around to it, my posts are too long. I’ll try to avoid that this time.

The main reason for my absence at the key board has been that during almost every significant slot of down time in the last two months, I’ve had my head buried in an Economics text book. Economics is one of the two courses I did this term as I crawl slowly to the completion of the part-time MBA I have my heart set on attaining. The final exam, which counted for almost all the marks for the course, was on Wednesday night this week.

Never having studied economics of any kind before, and because I didn’t go to many of the lectures ( for reasons that I am not about to clarify here) getting to grips with the subject has been something of an uphill struggle. It’s almost like learning a new language, once you think you’ve got a bit of an understanding, you go to apply it in the real world only to realize that your grasp wasn’t quite so thorough as you’d first thought. 

It’s been rewarding though.  Once you start to understand some of the basics, you can see their application everywhere you look and in many of the news items covered in the media. Consumer debt, the Bank of Canada’s interest rate, government stimulus packages, arguments for and against globalization, US balance of payments…..and how these things impact us as consumers, voters and taxpayers (assuming you pay your taxes).

While it is popular and completely justified to point the finger at the ‘fat cat bankers’ to quote a certain President, and blame them for the recent recession, so much of the economic quagmire we’ve experienced is because of the cumulative impact of our own day to day habits with respect to spending, saving, personal debt and consumerism. Also, as someone who has thought very long and hard about the benefits of a diversified local economy, I now understand more about specialization and globalization (i.e. where one country focuses a large portion of it’s efforts in to the production of one thing, say wheat, or coffee, then trades that thing with another country to get the other goods it needs) and although it isn’t good for the environment, this approach to production and trading has allowed us in the West the exceptionally high standard of living we now enjoy.

No fear though, the effort that it has taken to get me this far is a strong indicator that I am not destined for a career as an economist (although it would be an awesome job title) but I do think it is a subject that everyone would benefit from having a basic understanding of, since it impacts so much of our daily lives and environment.

Now, as so often happens just after my exams finish, I am sick. In fact I was sneezing and coughing all the way through my exam on Wednesday (I pity the poor guy who had to sit next to me) and I’ve been laid up on the couch for the past two days, sneezing and filling the waste paper basket with snotty tissues. It’s not the worst thing that could happen though as I’ve had the chance to tuck in to the big pile of reading that I’ve had on the back burner while I’ve been studying. And of course, now I get to blog again.

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