Nearly a decade ago, the world financial system collapsed. Eight years later came two giant political shocks—Brexit and the American presidential election—uncomfortably reminiscent of the earlier catastrophe. Both came like bolts of lightning out of what seemed like a clear blue sky, defying the predictions and nostrums of experts, pundits, and policymakers everywhere.
Exploring how we got here—and how we might avoid the mistakes of the past and imagine a better direction for the future—was the purpose of this conference.
We chose to convene in Edinburgh due to its history as a center of the Scottish Enlightenment in which Adam Smith questioned received wisdom, developed new models and theories, and helped shape economics as a distinct discipline. We are also gathering ten years after the start of the financial crisis that shook the world and continues to reverberate in economies and societies across the world. This provides an ideal time and place to convene to reevaluate economic theories and practices that have gotten us to where we are today—and to envision a more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable path forward.