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Conference Grants

Lent 2022 Funding Results

LSE Conference in International Economics
Researcher: Dr Dmitry Mukhin
Among the most provocative ideas of Friedrich von Hayek is the adoption of "private money", i.e. a system with financial institutions creating their own currencies that would compete with each other leading to an equilibrium, in which the most stable currencies survive ("The Denationalisation of Money", 1976). Despite the recent emergence of cryptocurrencies, the idea of competing currencies has not been fully implemented in any given economy. On the contrary, there is substantial competition of currencies at the global level where individual exporters and banks often choose foreign currencies as the unit of account, a medium of exchange, and a store of value. In line with the predictions of Hayek, the currency of the largest and most stable economy dominates with the dollar accounting for most international transactions. This raises several questions that are relevant for both academics and policymakers: Does the U.S. benefit from the global status of its currency? What are implications for other countries? Will the dollar retain its dominance in the future? Will the renminbi replace the dollar or are we moving to the world with multiple regional currencies?

To address these questions, the LSE organizes the conference on international economics bringing together the world experts on exchange rates, global financial cycle, optimal monetary and FX policy. These topics are especially relevant today when most countries, including the U.K., are struggling to deal with inflation driven by world commodity prices and are concerned about international spillovers of looming increases in U.S. interest rates. The conference will be a one-day event and take place at the LSE. Oleg Itskhoki (UCLA) has agreed to give the keynote address and the list of participants includes Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe (Columbia), Andrei Levchenko (Michigan), Vania Stavrakeva (LBS), Federica Romei (Oxford), Chris Boehm (UT Austin), as well as speakers from the Bank of England, ECB, and BIS
Conference: 'History, Culture, and Popular Beliefs'
Researcher: Dr Melanie Meng Xue
Cultural norms are a mechanism for history to influence present-day outcomes (Nunn 2009). But how do norms emerge? Where do norms come from, and what explains the variation across societies? The proposed conference brings together scholars studying cultural norms from diverse fields and disciplines, with a special focus on inquiries into popular beliefs using a folkloric approach.

F.A Hayek's most widely appreciated insight is how the price mechanism harnesses decentralized knowledge throughout society (see Hayek, 1945). Hayek also made important contributions to the study of cultural evolution (see Rubin and Gick, 2004). His later work emphasized how unspoken or inherited norms of behavior can shape human action (see Hayek 1979, Hayek 1988).

Through several different research projects, the presenters in this conference uncover how bottom-up economic forces lead to social change, often in ways that would be unpredictable from a top-down perspective. Peer-to-peer transmission of knowledge, cultural mores, and other ground-level innovations all influence a society's economic outcomes.

The first half of the conference program features cutting-edge work on cultural norms using the tools of behavioural economics, political economy, and economic history. Enke will present his analysis of the key determinants of moral universalism. Grosjean will discuss her research on combat exposure, networks of individuals, and the formation of autocratic values in the context of France in WWI and WWII. Xue's work examines the transformative impact of the Cotton Revolution on gender-equitable beliefs and the rise of women in the context of early modern China.

The second half of the conference program focuses on understanding popular beliefs using a folkloric approach. Before economists, researchers in folklore studies, social and cultural history, psychology and anthropology all used a diverse set of approaches to understand folklore. The conference brings together scholars from these backgrounds, together with economists, to make further conceptual progress on how folklore underpins popular beliefs.

  • Hayek, Friedrich (1979). Law, Legislation, and Liberty. University Chicago Press.
  • Hayek, Friedrich (1988). The Fatal Conceit. University of Chicago Press.
  • Rubin, P. H. & Gick, E. (2004), Hayek and modern evolutionary theory, in R. G. Koppl, ed., 'Evolutionary Psychology and Economic Theory, Advances in Austrian Economics', Elsevier, pp. 79-100.