Virtual community

‘Markus’ Academy’ brings together a virtual community of thought leaders in economics

There was a time when the idea of ​​having even 10,000 views on YouTube for a college economics seminar might have seemed unlikely, especially since the average YouTube video is played less than 1,000 times. But a video from Markus’ Academy this summer, focusing on the economic principles underlying the value of cryptocurrency assets, has already surpassed 24,000 views.

All in all, the The Markus Academy webinar series – a brainchild of Markus Brunnermeierdirector of the Bendheim Center for Finance in Princeton (BCF) – has over half a million views on the Princeton BCF YouTube Channel, nearly 100 videos and nearly 10,000 subscribers. The channel’s watch time exceeds 100,000 hours.

Brunnermeier slaunched the webinar series at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to discuss daily challenges and world events with influential guests through the lens of finance and economics. Conversations would be provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and build bridges between economists, opinion leaders and policy makers. He hoped the series would also foster a sense of community among students and decision makers. no matter where they are in the world during pandemic shutdowns.

“While the initial focus was on COVID, its focus has broadened to cover topics that include a sequence on inflation, the Chinese economic model, energy policy and the war in Ukraine, etc.” , said Brunnermeier, Edward S. Sanford of Princeton. Economics teacher.

The topics are vast and cover everything from climate change to quantitative easing to the impact of economic sanctions on Russia. His guest for the popular cryptocurrency summer episode was Hyun Song Shin, economic adviser and head of research for the Bank for International Settlements.

Other notable sessions have included:

  • Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell on the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy.
  • Russian sanctions: diving into the detailswith Elina Ribakova, Deputy Chief Economist at the Institute of International Finance, expert on emerging markets in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
  • Inflation Debate Part 2, the second round of a discussion between Paul Krugman and Lawrence Summers, informally called the “Superbowl for economists”. In Part 1 of the debate, in February 2021, Summers predicted high inflation driven by oversized fiscal stimulus packages, while Krugman was less concerned and argued that fiscal measures were needed to overcome polarization in the United States. . In part 2 in January 2022, the two were much more in agreement and provided a thorough analysis of ongoing inflationary pressures.
  • Antoinette Schoar, Stewart C. Myers-Horn Family Professor of Finance and Entrepreneurship at MIT, on “Bitcoin Adoption: What Regulators Should Consider.”

Ribakova said she finds the Markus Academy to be more rigorous than other economics seminars, while also being carefully curated, relevant to the wider economics community, and accessible to non-academics.

After her appearance, Ribakova said she was surprised by the wide range of people who contacted her for clarification, data or to exchange views. These included policy makers, journalists and academics. Although she published research on Russian sanctions for months, she said she was surprised at how many people paid attention to her work after Markus Academy.

Guardianship of Markus is essential,” Ribakova said. “In a world where we have access to vast amounts of information (from tweets to working documents) and little time, curatorship is more critical than ever. The fact that Markus himself decided it was relevant means that weeks or months later, most other seminars and publications will likely catch up with the ideas he and his speakers put forward in his seminar.

Alan Blinder, Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton – who also made a guest appearance on the historical tightening of monetary policy – says the series has been successful for the depth and breadth of its coverage of various topics, but also because the format is “small and digestible” compared to a multi-hour webinar. The Blinder episode has been viewed more than 14,000 times since it first aired in February.

Blinder said the combination of heavyweight speakers and timely topics was appealing within and beyond academia. “[The seminars], they’re not that technical and therefore accessible outside of a narrow academic audience,” Blinder said. “They are intelligible to people with some knowledge of economics. You definitely don’t need a Ph.D. to understand them. »

Blinder said Brunnermeier deserves credit for taking the initiative to create a new economic policy communications vehicle. “It’s not like he picked up something that was there and made it better,” Blinder said. “It was his idea to do this job, and he did it.”

Viewing habits have changed since the early days of the pandemic lockdown. “While at the start of the pandemic people had time to join the webinar live, nowadays most people watch it asynchronously,” Brunnermeier said. “Some viewers tell me they watch it while working out on the treadmill or ironing their shirts. As long as people don’t watch it to fall asleep, I’m fine with all those different viewing habits!

Brunnermeier has also kept busy during the pandemic by writing and launching a book titled “The resilient society(Endeavor Literary Press, 2021) on the many ways people, organizations and governments can better prepare for the next economic shock.

Even though the need for virtual connection and teaching has largely passed, Markus’ Academy will continue to fill the unexpected niche it found. “As long as we live in tumultuous times, great minds will come up with great thoughts and solutions,” he said. “I hope webinars will remain an important outlet for stimulating the exchange of ideas for a long time to come,” Brunnermeier said.

Find Markus Academy content and register for webinars on the Bendheim Center website.

Watch Markus Academy on Youtube.

Denise Valenti, Communications Office, contributed to this story.