Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds Politics and economics are usually studied as separate subjects, but in the real world they’re interconnected. Politicians often talk about economic matters– jobs, prices, wages, profits, trade, investment, productivity, growth. And economists produce theories leading to policies which politicians implement. Politics, it’s been said, is economics studied seriously. Great economists like Adam Smith called their subject “political economy,” with good reason. This course brings politics and economics together by looking at political figures who have changed economic history. Of the seven I’ve chosen, only one actually studied economics, Ludwig Erhard, whose policies enabled the post-war German economic miracle. By contrast, Franklin Roosevelt– FDR, author of the American interwar New Deal– boasted that he knew no economics.
Skip to 1 minute and 8 seconds But he did have good economic advisors, as did Mrs. Thatcher, who applied what she called common sense housewife’s economics in the UK. In the case of the modernising Japan, the Meiji emperor was just a figurehead for effective technocrats. Some of our economic heroes are seriously improbable. I mean, nobody in history has done more through economic policy to lift literally hundreds of millions of people out of poverty than Deng Xiaoping. Almost as improbable is the man who gave effect to the immensely powerful idea of free trade, Sir Robert Peel. And Alexander Hamilton, who 200 years ago laid the economic foundations of the United States.
Skip to 1 minute and 55 seconds Throughout the course, we’ll use the economic principles espoused by these seven political figures as a starting point to explore deeper economic theories and the wider impact they may have had on the world in which we live today.