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Llŷr Griffiths

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Llŷr is an Assistant Economist at the Welsh Government, focusing on Economic Policy. He studied a BSc at the University of Bristol.

Why did you choose to study economics?

I have always had an interest in current affairs / things going on in the world – and from discussion with friends and family I soon realised it was the economic elements (decision-making, trade-offs, distributional impacts etc.) that interested me.
It was economics’ ever-present nature – and its importance to people’s lives – that intrigued me. Pick up a newspaper (or even a phone/tablet these days!), go to any page, and you will find some form of economics.
It also encompasses a wide-ranging skillset. There is the analytical, math-based skills that are needed to quantify the impact of things; as well as the more descriptive-based elements of interpreting information, understand different schools of thought, and communicating complex concepts to ordinary people.

How would you describe economics?

Using an analogy, I like to think of economics / the economy as a big ‘supercomputer’. Within it there are loads of different bits of activity taking place in different areas of the computer (i.e. human interactions around the world), most of which are interlinked with each other in some way. Working well, this ‘supercomputer’ (i.e. the economy) is great, and it can generate some very good things which positively impacts the people using it (people, businesses etc.). When some elements fail to work, however, it may cause other things to also fail, and it is often very difficult – even for the experts – to determine what has gone wrong, what is affecting what, and how to fix the problem. And, just like an economy, it can overheat or underperform, which will sometimes require action from ‘an engineer’ (e.g. Governments or Central Banks) to step-in and help fix its problems to get it back to its best.
Essentially, I would define economics as the study of human interaction. Economists attempt to untangle this complex web of interaction, trying to work out the reasons behind people’s behaviours and decisions taken. And then finally, what do these then mean for society / the world.

If you had a time machine and could meet your 16-year-old self, what advice would you give them?

Pursue things you are interested in – not because you ‘need’ to do them.
If I had my time again, I DEFINITELY would choose another A-Level subject (geography) over Further Maths. I was worried that, have not done economics at all in school/ sixth form, that my maths would not be up to the level needed for degree economics. However, I found at university that lecturers spent a lot of time getting everyone up to speed with everything so that everyone was on the same level (as everyone is starting with a different level of experience and/or knowledge). I therefore wish I would have pursued something that I had a greater interest in (which would have brought me other benefits/skills) over something I did not really enjoy.
P.S. – Admittedly, this is personal to me, and Further Maths may be great for some!

What is your favourite part of economics?

For me, its two things:
1. Understanding what drives people’s choice. I have always been intrigued by individuals’ strong desire to find the cheapest options for certain goods, but how they then spend more than the amount saved on other goods which had cheaper alternatives. This decision-making process – and most importantly what drives people to carry-out these choices – fascinates me.

2. Market failures. Not the failures themselves (hopefully that goes without saying) – but how/why they come about, how/when (if at all) should governments step-in and intervene, and the potentially implications (good and bad) of doing so.

Is there anything you would do differently if you had the chance?

I belong to the “everything happens for a reason” school of thought – with every ‘mistake’ a lesson to learn from, and a chance to do better next time around.
I guess the only thing I could have wished for was that I found economics slightly earlier than I did. With no economics provision at my school, it was not until university when I started learning about economics in a formal capacity.
That is why Discover Economics’ work is so important – and hence the reason I got involved as a student champion whilst at university (which I would highly recommend!).

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