7
May

By D.D. Guttenplan

Students of IE Business School in Madrid discussing their next moves for the economic policy game.

With the world economy mired in recession, the British prime minister learns that one of the country’s largest banks is experiencing liquidity problems and is close to collapse. The government has three options: It can publicly bail out the troubled bank, risking widespread panic in the financial sector; it can secretly move to shore it up; or it can leave the bank’s fate to the market. The government’s top economic advisers are divided. Time is running out. The prime minister must decide.

The situation sounds familiar — as do the periodic television news bulletins featuring a woman with a polished English accent breathlessly reporting the latest developments in the crisis. Despite the frequent references to the falling pound, this drama is unfolding not in the Treasury or the Bank of England — or anywhere in Britain — but in a Spanish classroom at the IE Business School.

Welcome to “10 Downing Street,” an economic policy simulation game in which students adopt the role of the British prime minister. Over the course of an 80-minute class, six teams of students debate policy options before voting on a course of action. The option with the most support is then put into practice — giving rise to a new set of choices and debates. The game’s author, an economics professor, Gayle Allard, says the teams have to collaborate rather than compete, “because in government you have to decide.”

“Students need to understand that policy making is not easy — and that one decision can condition all your future options,” she said.

As the game progresses, the students can compare their choices with those of Ms. Allard and other IE professors, and with the supposed views of a panel of economists and politicians, including Milton Friedman, John Maynard Keynes, Margaret Thatcher and Paul Krugman.

The game, which uses real actors, ends with a general election, but out of hundreds of possible decision pathways, “only about 40 percent lead to re-election” said Matthew Constantine, multimedia project manager at the business school. Read more…

As published in www.nytimes.com on May 4, 2012 (a version of this article appeared in print on May 7, 2012, in The International Herald Tribune).

Comments

No comments yet.

Leave a Comment

*

We use both our own and third-party cookies to enhance our services and to offer you the content that most suits your preferences by analysing your browsing habits. Your continued use of the site means that you accept these cookies. You may change your settings and obtain more information here. Accept