At last year's NZ Association of Economics annual conference, I found a flier publicising Victoria's Master of Professional Economics programme. And it gave me a bright idea.
I'd been thinking for a while about that awkward Catch 22 situation many economics - and other - graduates often face, where they can't get their first job without some experience and they can't get the experience without that first job. It applies all over the place across all sorts of areas - competition, regulation, banking, consultancy, investment management.
So I thought there could be a useful course which would give students both the traditional academic rigour and some practical hands-on exposure to one of the staples of many working economists' lives - figuring out where we are in the business cycle, and making enlightened stabs at where the cycle is headed next. And I got in touch with Dr Adrian Slack who is the director of Victoria's graduate programme in professional economics to see if Victoria would be interested in running with the idea. We talked it through and put together an idea of what it would look like.
The upshot, I'm pleased to say, is that Adrian has piloted the proposal through the approval system and it's up and running. MMPE523, 'Business Cycle Analysis and Implications' is good to go: as noted here, Prof Viv Hall and I will be taking it over the fences for the first time this coming summer trimester (November '16 - February '17). It'll cover the economic theory of cycles up to the present-day state of post-GFC reassessment, the history and causes of cycles in New Zealand - an area where Viv, with the Reserve Bank's John McDermott, is the pre-eminent cycle-dating guru - through to the practicalities of assembling the "where are we now" data, forming a coherent analytical view of what's going on, and building your own two-year-forward set of GDP forecasts. We're also planning on getting in some third parties (public and private sector) who can talk about their experience in building and using cyclical models and forecasts.
So the next time that dreaded job interview question comes round, and the student is facing, "So, tell me, have you done much forecasting?", the answer will be, "Well, yes, I've been quite pleased with how my GDP forecasting model has been going. And it's got something you might be especially interested in - as part of the exercise I've built this little model of...".
If this would suit anyone you know, spread the word. Adrian's the go-to man for more info.