Expertise: GDP, Brexit, Global Economics
Diane Coyle (OBE) is the inaugural Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge. Previously she was Visiting Professor at the University of Manchester’s Institute for Political and Economic Governance. In 2017, Diane was awarded the prestigious Indigo Prize in economics for submitting the best hypothetical plans to overhaul GDP as an economic measurement as economies move more into the digital and information age.
In the 2018 New Year Honours Diane was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for “services to Economics and the Public Understanding of Economics”.
She runs the consultancy Enlightenment Economics. Diane is a Fellow of the Office for National Statistics and a Member of the Natural Capital Committee. She was Vice-Chair of the BBC Trust until April 2015, a member of the Migration Advisory Committee from 2007-2012, and a member of the Competition Commission from 2001-2009. She is also a visiting research associate at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.
She specialises in competition analysis and the economics of new technologies and globalisation.
She is the author of several books, including Cogs and Monsters: What Economics is and What it should be. (2021) Markets States and People: (2020)GDP: A Brief But Affectionate History (2014), The Economics of Enough (2011) and The Soulful Science (2007), Sex, Drugs and Economics (2002), Paradoxes of Prosperity (2001), Governing the World Economy (2000) and The Weightless World (1997).
Diane has also published numerous book chapters, reports and articles, and was formerly a regular presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Analysis.
She was previously Economics Editor of The Independent and before that worked at the Treasury and in the private sector as an economist. She has a PhD from Harvard.
Diane was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours for her services to economics.
How economics needs to change to keep pace with the twenty-first century and the digital economy
Digital technology, big data, big tech, machine learning, and AI are revolutionizing both the tools of economics and the phenomena it seeks to measure, understand, and shape. In Cogs and Monsters, Diane Coyle explores the enormous problems―but also opportunities―facing economics today if it is to respond effectively to these dizzying changes and help policymakers solve the world’s crises, from pandemic recovery and inequality to slow growth and the climate emergency.
Mainstream economics, Coyle says, still assumes people are “cogs”―self-interested, calculating, independent agents interacting in defined contexts. But the digital economy is much more characterized by “monsters”―untethered, snowballing, and socially influenced unknowns.
What is worse, by treating people as cogs, economics is creating its own monsters, leaving itself without the tools to understand the new problems it faces. In response, Coyle asks whether economic individualism is still valid in the digital economy, whether we need to measure growth and progress in new ways, and whether economics can ever be objective, since it influences what it analyzes. Just as important, the discipline needs to correct its striking lack of diversity and inclusion if it is to be able to offer new solutions to new problems.
Filled with original insights, Cogs and Monsters offers a road map for how economics can adapt to the rewiring of society, including by digital technologies, and realize its potential to play a hugely positive role in the twenty-first century.
A textbook that examines how societies reach decisions about the use and allocation of economic resources While economic research emphasizes the importance of governmental institutions for growth and progress, conventional public policy textbooks tend to focus on macroeconomic policies and on tax-and-spend decisions. Markets, State, and People stresses the basics of welfare economics and the interplay between individual and collective choices. It fills a gap by showing how economic theory relates to current policy questions, with a look at incentives, institutions, and efficiency. How should resources in society be allocated for the most economically efficient outcomes, and how does this sit with society’s sense of fairness? Diane Coyle illustrates the ways economic ideas are the product of their historical context, and how events in turn shape economic thought. She includes many real-world examples of policies, both good and bad. Readers will learn that there are no panaceas for policy problems, but there is a practical set of theories and empirical findings that can help policymakers navigate dilemmas and trade-offs. The decisions faced by officials or politicians are never easy, but economic insights can clarify the choices to be made and the evidence that informs those choices. Coyle covers issues such as digital markets and competition policy, environmental policy, regulatory assessments, public-private partnerships, nudge policies, universal basic income, and much more. Markets, State, and People offers a new way of approaching public economics. A focus on markets and institutions Policy ideas in historical context Real-world examples How economic theory helps policymakers tackle dilemmas and choices