The winner of the 2016 New Statesman/SPERI Prize for Political Economy is Professor Simon Wren-Lewis. Yesterday evening Professor Wren-Lewis delivered his prize lecture to an audience at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster on “What Brexit and austerity tell us about economics, policy and the media”.
The biennial prize is jointly run by the New Statesman and the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) It is given to the scholar who has succeeded most effectively in disseminating original and critical ideas in political economy to a wider public audience over the preceding two or three years. The first New Statesman/SPERI Prize was won in 2014 by Mariana Mazzucato, professor in the economics of innovation at the University of Sussex.
Professor Wren-Lewis’ prize lecture explored why the media fails to accurately report the consensus view from academic economists about the risks of austerity and Brexit to the economy. He argued that political coverage in the broadcast media needs to prick the Westminster bubble and open itself up to economic expertise.
Professor Tony Payne, Director of SPERI:
“Following Brexit and Trump’s victory these are highly uncertain times and the media’s role in the political process is under great scrutiny. As such it is more important than ever for academics like Simon to inform the public debate and communicate their academic expertise.
“Throughout his career Simon Wren-Lewis has produced critical, important and original ideas in political economy and always maintained a strong commitment to public engagement. His lecture was a powerful illustration of this and demonstrated why he was awarded this year’s NS/SPERI prize.”
Upon receiving the prize Simon Wren-Lewis said:
“I am delighted and honoured to receive the New Statesman/SPERI Prize, and I confess a little surprised given the strength of the shortlist. The move to austerity in most of the major countries in 2010 showed the importance of communicating economic knowledge to both policy makers and the public, and helped inspire my own efforts in that direction. As that policy continued despite mounting evidence of the harm it was doing, it became important to understand why policymakers were ignoring the academic consensus. With Brexit we find this consensus apparently ignored by the public.”
Simon Wren-Lewis is a highly respected macroeconomist who has advised the Bank of England and is now a professor of economic policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University. He is the author of a lively, frequently updated and widely read blog, Mainly Macro.