[in-depth] the purpose of studying economics is to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists

“The purpose of studying economics is …to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists” ― Niall Kishtainy, The Economics Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained

GENERAL PROGRESS REPORT  

In the past three weeks of in-depth, I made a surprising amount of progress as the result of my mentor and peers’ aid. Before my first meeting with my mentor, I read and took notes on two books he suggested me to read: The Economics Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained and The Explanation of Economics. The first book, The Economics Book, provides a strong foundation on the history of economics and a variety of diverse economic concepts and focuses, including micro and macroeconomics (i.e. inflations, rational expectations, and boom and busts), society’s relationship with economics (i.e. economic policies, poverty, and economic liberalism), and banking and finance (i.e. financial engineering, financial and economic crises, and how banks function and run). There were diagrams, graphs, and illustrations that helped me visualize the concepts and make connections between history, society, and economic concepts. The Explanation of Economics, written in Chinese, went more in-depth into current topics, such as monopolistic competition and oligopoly, and supply and demand. As this book was written from a Chinese point of view, I had some trouble understanding the content and had to seek help from my parents, peers, and my mentor. David, who I’m working with for this year’s in-depth project, and I met with our mentor on January 23rd and January 24th to ask questions and clarify information we learn through reading. As our mentor has taught students previously, he was able to guide our learning by providing simplified answers, relatable and digestible examples, and other resources for autonomous learning. Furthermore, we developed a rough plan of our next steps and how David and I are going to approach this complex project. Overall, despite some differences in perspective, both meetings went smoothly and were educational beyond doubts. 

CHALLENGES/OBSTACLES  

However, I did struggle a bit with the information dumping format of The Economics Book and some of the controversial and competing theories presented. Though I understand that this book is more of a compilation of different ideas and thoughts, it was still difficult to digest everything in one reading. In addition, as I’m not as politically active as I should be, I had a bit of trouble keeping up with the policy aspects of economics and finance. But, overall, I haven’t experienced any major challenges currently, mostly as I’m still in the introductory period of our plan.  

NEXT STEPS

In the next few weeks, I hope to begin and finish reading The Interpretation of Financial Statements, research current events, and learn more about the finance side of economics. Furthermore, David and I prepared to tackle our first competitor comparison analysis and follow through with the rest of our updated project outline.

HOW TO HAVE A BEAUTIFUL MIND: HOW TO AGREE, DISAGREE, AND DIFFER

Before I met with my mentor, not only did I prepare by reading the materials he suggested, but I also read the first three chapters of How to Have a Beautiful Mind, by Edward de Bono. By implementing these three concepts, I hope to build a healthy and sustainable mentorship and a beautiful and fulfilled mind.

While meeting with my mentor and my peer, David, I remained respectful and open-minded. By “genuinely seek[ing out] points of agreement,” we were able to expand on each other’s ideas and grow the conversation from a lecture-like atmosphere into a more relaxed and personal mood. The employment of “agreeing” techniques from Chapter 1 can be exemplified when my mentor answered my questions on global saving imbalances. Instead of simply agreeing and moving on, I followed up with a question about money markets, which was mentioned in his answer, and offered some of my views on the matter. I feel that, as someone opinionated, it’s also essential to respect others’ perspectives while demonstrating my value and contributing to the discussion, in mentorships and other relationships.

Disagreeing kindly and effectively is truly an art form and I struggled with applying Chapter 2 during my mentorship meetings. As economics and finance often involve politics, my mentor, my peer, and I are bound to hold different views on global economic affairs and policies. When these views surface, I had to constantly remind myself to disagree “politely and gently rather than rudely and [frankly]” and distinguish between “differing [from] and disagreeing with an opinion.” When political disagreements occurred, I tried to examine the conversation, establish a difference between differing and disagreeing, and actively choose to agree, disagree, or differ. Luckily, my mentor also has a similar idea towards facing disagreement. Once we made our points and developed the conversation, we chose to move on instead of dwelling and “disagree[ing] for the sake of disagreeing.” While conversing, we have to maintain our stances and disagree when required, but never “to show how clever [we] are or to boost [our] ego.”

In all relationships, “difference enriches the situations” and knowing how to differ is a huge asset. When faced with disagreements, like the ones mentioned above, I separate objective facts from subjective opinions, analyze the sources of differences in opinion, which are most likely to be from heritage and environment, and accept the difference. Furthermore, though I wasn’t able to practice reconciling different opinions in the two recent meetings, I hope to make a genuine effort to reconcile and form agreements to disagree.

So far, it has been an exciting yet unusual journey and I look forward to its continuation and my growth! I’m also deeply grateful for a knowledgeable mentor and a supportive peer.

until next time,

joanna

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