Below are accounts written by students who attended the Economics Conference at SOAS.
Banknotes and Digital Currencies- Cordelia Kafetz
At the first day of our Economics Conference at SOAS, Cordelia Kafetz (from the Bank of England) came in for our second session, which progressed into a very interesting and interactive lecture. She began the session by giving us an insight into her career, having initially studied Economics at Bristol University. Her advice on university choices, regarding location, course and social scene, were very helpful for a group of largely confused year 12 students from Latymer and Haberdashers Boys. Her past jobs included roles in corporations such as the HM Treasury, the European Commission, the Financial Services Authority and most recently the Bank of England. In 2009-10, she took a year out to travel, showing that a gap year was not needed directly after the end of A-Levels. The lecture then took a more interactive approach, with a quiz on the Bank of England and other economic concepts, such as liquidity. Matthew Colbeck-Rogers won a gold bar of Bank of England after winning, in a quiz which became highly competitive.
The Global Financial Crisis then became a key element to the lecture, as Kafetz diverged into reasons why banks fail. Not only was this part of the lecture informative, but it also is included in the A2 Economics course, and therefore was very helpful and productive for all the current year 12s listening in. Bitcoin, a limited online currency, also came in debate and how it is linked to the dark-web and a completely different side of Economics than the students and I had ever been introduced to. The lecture ended with a quick question and answer section. Questions ranged from personal inquiries on Kafetz's previous/future career, but also more specific technical questions, branching from the Brexit debate to the future of financial services in the UK. This ended off a highly informative talk, in which the audience clearly learnt a lot from. Hopefully my peers and I can recreate our newly-found understanding of digital currencies in future essays and exams, as the Economic course reaches its last year at Latymer for year 12 students.
Microfinance: Sandra Moreau
Having worked in nine different countries in three different continents, Sandra Moreau is the Finance Director at the European Youth Forum based in Brussels. She has worked previously to help the population who are considered to be ‘excluded from the Financial Systems’ in their respective nations. This includes 70% of the population in all developing countries, such as Kosovo where Moreau worked in for five years after the conflict, in order to assist the people who cannot gain a traditional bank loan for a business start-up. Reasons for this include: poor credit ratings, rural living and lack of education. Microfinance Institutions such as the European Microfinance Network (EMN) focus on lending loans to potential Entrepreneurs. Their products include start up loans of €4,000 with no interest and a one year repayment plan. It is separated from traditional banking as Microfinance Institutions are non-profit organisations simply looking to give people on low income a chance to start a business and help increase economic growth in their home nation to reduce the existing poverty that exists in these developing countries classed as LEDCs. Such Institutions favour new Production firms as they help to increase Aggregate Supply and lead to economic growth within the country as it brings about many benefits. The only downside that exists in Microfinance that was discussed in Moreau’s presentation included fake Start-ups as people take advantage in some cases of the ‘no repayments needed’ clauses. Others included the loss of finance due to failure of the business, however, this is at an unlikely proportion of just 5% of approved start-ups. Overall it was a highly impressive presentation from the inspirational Moreau giving insight into the world of Microfinance which many students had little knowledge about in the first place.
More photos from the conference can be found here.