The Economic Crisis and its Implications for the Science of Economics

Conference Date: 
Friday, May 1, 2009 (All day) to Monday, May 4, 2009 (All day)


Concerns over the current financial situation are giving rise to a need to evaluate the very mathematics that underpins economics as a predictive and descriptive science. A growing desire to examine economics through the lens of diverse scientific methodologies - including physics and complex systems - is making way to a meeting of leading economists and theorists of finance together with physicists, mathematicians, biologists and computer scientists in an effort to evaluate current theories of markets and identify key issues that can motivate new directions for research. Perimeter Institute was suggested to be the gathering point and conference organizers plan to foster a very careful, dispassionate discussion, in an atmosphere governed by the modesty and open mindedness that characterizes the scientific community.


The conference will begin on May 1, 2009, with a day of talks by leading experts to an invited audience on the status of economic and financial theory in light of the current situation. Three days of private, focused discussions and workshops will ensue, aimed at addressing complex questions and defining future research agendas for the world that can help address and resolve them.



Invited Speakers for May 1st Talk

Richard Alexander, University of Michigan

Emanuel Derman, Columbia University and Prisma Capital Partners

Andrew Lo, MIT

Nouriel Roubini, New York University

Nassim Taleb, Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering, NYU-Poly Institute and Principal, Universa Investments

Eric Weinstein, Natron Group


Invited Speakers for the Workshop

Doyne Farmer, Santa Fe University

Jaron Lanier, Scholar at Large. Mircosoft Corporation, and Interdisciplinary Scholar-in-Residence, CET UC Berkeley 

Barkley Rosser, James Madison University

Leigh Tesfatsion, Iowa State University


Emanuel Derman, Columbia University

Scientists, Sciensters, Anti-Scientists & Economists

The syntax of economic theory closely resembles the syntax of physics. But physics deals with what seems to be the objective world. In contrast, the essence of economics is subjectivity and moral choice.  What can you reasonably expect from treating economics as a branch of science? This talk compares the nature and efficacy of models in both physics and finance, and tries to reach a sane answer to the question above.

Andrew Lo, MIT

The Adaptive Markets Hypothesis and Financial Crisis

Nouriel Roubini, New York University

Interpreting the failure to predict financial crises and recession

Leigh Tesfatsion, Iowa State University

Agent-Based Computational Modeling and Macroeconomics

Agent-based Computational Economics (ACE) is the computational study of economic processes modeled as dynamic systems of interacting agents. In this talk I will discusses the potential of ACE modeling tools for the study of macroeconomic systems. Six issues will be highlighted: Constructive understanding of production, pricing, and trade processes; the essential primacy of survival; strategic rivalry and market power; behavioral uncertainty and learning; the role of conventions and organizations; and the complex interactions among structural attributes, behaviors, and institutional arrangements.

Paper on which talk will be based:

Eric Weinstein, Natron Group

A Science Less Dismal: Welcome to the Economic Manhattan Project

An unexpected economic crisis provides an excellent opportunity to better understand the state of Economic theory as a science. While there appears to have been a broad systemic failure within the community of professional economists to predict the current collapse, it must be noted that there have been scattered successes which appear striking and demand our attention. The goal of this conference is to bring together economists, biologists, mathematicians, physicists, programmers, and financial professionals to explore the opportunities for bringing economic theory into closer contact with the more traditional sciences as the basis for ongoing work, partnership, and collaboration.