Macro-economic opportunities announced

Friday 2 January 2009

In response to the recent international benchmarking review of UK economics, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is announcing a major new initiative in applied macroeconomics.

The review highlighted the great strengths of the UK economics research base, which it described as 'exceptional by world standards'. To maintain this strength, the review recommended that further investment is required in applied macroeconomics. To address this recommendation the ESRC is taking the immediate step of providing £3.0m of funding for new studentships and postdoctoral fellowships in macroeconomics. 

Through the initiative, the ESRC hopes not only to recruit new graduates into research but also bring talented professionals from the financial sector and elsewhere into an academic career.

Peter Hahn is an example of a professional who has already made this switch, when, at the age of 47, decided to give up his career in the City and start a PhD. He moved from in the high risk, high reward world of finance, where deals are done and profit is king, to the intellectually driven world where questions and answers are the bottom line. 

After completing his PhD Peter Hahn, become a Research Fellow for Corporate Finance and Governance, at Sir John Cass Business School with support from the ESRC and Foundation for Management Education.

Dr Hahn says, "It's a great opportunity. I don't regret a minute of it. For others in finance, with the current economic problems, now seems a good time to take the risk. From a business perspective, I think the more industry input we have into research programmes, the better. From the academic perspective, it adds significant value to the research being undertaken. A win, win, win."

Dr Hahn, now 50, started his career very differently; working in two of the world's major financial centres, for some of the world's major corporations, such as Citigroup. 

Making the transition was not an easy one, as he himself says, "Having taken on the cutthroat world of finance, I was not fazed by the initial lack of enthusiasm from academia. Now I use my 'real world' experience to light the fire for learning in students. Being able to relate theory into examples from my previous life brings a different perspective to students."

To the research community, his knowledge fills a gap in understanding between the theoretical world and the real world that comes from experience, not observation.

"The journey has not been an easy one." comments Dr Hahn, "It's been a challenge and it continues to be a challenge. On the other hand, it's exciting and fun. The enthusiasm of the students, the business leaders of tomorrow, more than makes up for any frustrations. When I talk about my experiences in industry and can put the meat of reality onto the bones of theory with them, it gives them a depth of understanding. In return, I get an energy that comes from being around positive-thinking fellow students, albeit 20 years younger."

For further information contact

ESRC Press Office:

Notes for editors

  1. Opening on 5 December 2008 are the following calls:

    • Studentships in Macroeconomics

      A targeted competition to recruit 20 studentships in applied macroeconomics to which all recognised ESRC economics outlets can apply. There is no restriction on the number of applications from any single outlet. The competition will be steered to PhD projects which are focussed on evidence-based, policy-relevant and decision-focused macroeconomics and finance research. Studentships can begin from April 2009 onwards.

    • Highlight notice for Postdoctoral Fellowships

      These would be two year awards based upon a flexible starting salary to capture the best candidates. 

  2. A full copy of the International Benchmarking Review is available, via hard copy or PDF, on request from the ESRC press office.
  3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research, data resources and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It supports independent, high quality research which impacts on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2008/09 is £203 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes.