New Janeway Institute to transform economic research

New Janeway Institute to transform economic research

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Disseminating research at the frontier of economics is just one of the roles of the new Weslie and William Janeway Institute for Economics, which will shape young minds and transform economic research.

The new Janeway Institute will ensure that theory is never decoupled in an abstract way from the real world.”

William Janeway

Based within the Faculty of Economics at the University of Cambridge, the new research institute will be primarily funded by Weslie and William Janeway. He is a venture capitalist at the forefront of the digital revolution and an alumnus of the PhD programme at Cambridge who has played an active role in the Faculty over the last decade.

The new Institute will focus the lens of its research on inequality, climate change, epidemics, gender, the digital economy, the impact of automation and machine learning. 

“There is great research being done for example in behavioural economics, network economics and the influence of peer pressure,” he says. “Macroeconomics and the policies that are developed have an impact on everyone’s day to day lives. The new Institute will ensure that theory is never decoupled in an abstract way from the real world.”

Overseeing the launch of the new Institute is Professor Vasco Carvalho, Professor of Macroeconomics in the Faculty of Economics, and a Fellow of Jesus College. Professor Carvalho says the new institute will have three core missions: to produce frontier work in economics, to shape young minds by investing in the next generation of economists, and to act as a hub, bringing together researchers both in economics and across the sciences. 

The previous institute carrying out this research was Cambridge-INET, which was formed a decade ago, in partnership with the Institute for New Economic Thinking (or INET), a New York City-based non-profit think tank that runs a variety of affiliated programs at major universities. 

“Effectively, the Janeway Institute will take the place of Cambridge-INET,” says Professor Carvalho, because the aims and objectives of the Janeway Institute will be similar, but the new Institute will benefit from being funded by an endowment rather than a grant. “A grant must deliver on what was promised at the beginning of the grant, which constrains research directions.” The new Janeway Institute will build on the INET post-doc programme, and on its hundreds of working papers and research contributions, and publications that have helped redefine fields. “For example, by researching fundamental questions ranging from monetary policy to behavioural norms, from trading in financial markets to supply chain disruptions. But also, by developing fundamental methods to analyse these questions,” he says. 

William Janeway was delighted to be involved in the evolution of the Institute and largely fund it. As he says “It struck my wife and me that it was an extremely high priority to perpetuate the work of INET at Cambridge. It is also an extraordinarily exciting time to be an economist, and to be part of the reconstruction of a discipline which in recent decades I feel had reached such an abstract level of theory — particularly at the macro level — it had ‘decoupled itself’ from what is really going on in the markets, and the ‘real world’. Now there is a chance as an economist to really connect with what matters day-to-day for many people.” 

Professor Carvalho says the new Institute will allow research to take place, which will reflect key issues as they arise. The Janeways' endowment of the institute "will allow us to be much more flexible and agile, reflecting both the evolving academic strengths of the Faculty and societal concerns [such as] inequality, climate change, epidemics, gender, the digital economy, or the impact of automation and machine learning.” 


Adapted from a news release published by the Faculty of Economics

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