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Festival of Economics 2022

At the annual Festival of Economics, directed by Diane Coyle and Richard Davies, economists and experts from around the world debate the key economic questions of our time.

We sold over 2,350 tickets for the 2022 event and welcomed policy-makers, journalists, school and university students, and members of the public. A list of the 15 events - run across the course of the three-day Festival in venues across Bristol - is included below with links to audio recordings.

We have also published summaries of the day's sessions by our writers-in-residence:

Audio highlights from the 2022 festival are available below.

Audio recorded and edited by Raphael Fischer.


Bank of England Citizens’ Panel

18:00 — 20:30, WATERSHED

A one-off live event that offers the opportunity to let the Bank of England know how the cost-of-living squeeze is affecting you and your household. Chaired by Romesh Vaitilingam, Economics Observatory editor-in-chief.


Prices and wages: What's going on?

10:45 — 12:00 |  WATERSHED  |  Access audio recording

With prices predicted to rise across the board for the remainder of the year, what can the relationship between wages and growth tell us? Our expert panel discuss the impact of today’s cost-of-living crisis have on our local businesses and the economic landscape at large.

Chaired by Chris Giles (Financial Times), with Vicky Pryce (Centre for Economics and Business Research), Sarah Smith (University of Bristol) and Imogen Waite (Season and Taste).

Photos of audience at Festival of Economics 2022

Talking Economics: Geopolitics and the global economy

12:30 — 13:45 |  WATERSHED  |  Access audio recording

Against a backdrop of war in Europe and increased concerns for Taiwan’s sovereignty, experts address the impacts of global politics on energy supplies, food security and the pound in our pockets.

Chaired by Anu Anand (BBC World Service), with John Kampfner (Chatham House), George Magnus (University of Oxford), Clara Mattei (The New School for Social Research) and Adnan Vatansever (King's College London).

Growth for good

14:15 — 15:00  |  WATERSHED  |  Access audio recording

In conversation with Andrew Kelly (Bristol Ideas), Alessio Terzi (Directorate?General for Economic and Financial Affairs, European Commission) discusses his book Growth for Good: Reshaping Capitalism to Save Humanity from Climate Catastrophe. He addresses how economic growth can be a force for good and argues that with the right policies and the help of engaged citizens, capitalism can be enrolled in the fight against climate change.

Cost pressures: Generational pains

15:30 — 16:45  |  WATERSHED  |  Access audio recording

A decade of cuts and freezes to social services, a dysfunctional housing market with seemingly insurmountable barriers to ownership and the current cost-of-living crisis will have a long-lasting consequences to people across all income groups and parts of the country. Our panel debates the ever-growing cost of running a family and household, against a backdrop of limited affordable housing, a social care crisis and generational inequality.

Chaired by Bethan Staton (Financial Times), with Oona Goldsworthy (Brunelcare), Stephen Machin (London School of Economics), Claire Ralph (Business West) and Vicky Spratt (author and journalist, i paper).

Photos from the cost pressures panel

Reflections on economics with Andy Haldane and Diane Coyle


A year on from leaving the Bank of England, after more than 30 years there, Andy Haldane returns to the Festival to reflect on the big economic events he witnessed as Chief Economist and member of the Monetary Policy Committee. In conversation with Diane Coyle (Bennett Institute, University of Cambridge and Festival of Economics Director).

Photos from reflections on economics session


Big Tech under control: Regulating the tech giants

10:45 — 12:00  |  WATERSHED  |  Access audio recording

Covid-19 accelerated the transition to a new age of digital progress, creating opportunities for the widespread and rapid adoption of both new and established platforms. Many of these businesses have been instrumental in supporting access to goods and services but have also had a negative effect, particularly on our mental health.

Our panel of experts examine how we ensure big tech accepts social responsibilities, and can be held accountable for what happens on their platforms, without limiting innovation. Chaired by Rory Cellan-Jones (author), Kate Bevan (Infosys Knowledge Institute), Harry Destecroix (Science Creates), Kimberley Long (The Banker) and Tommasso Valletti (Imperial College London).

Photos from big tech session

British Academy Lecture: Wage controversies

12:30 — 13:30  |  WATERSHED

The British Academy lecture is given by Stephen Machin (London School of Economics), who delves whether wages broken, if labour markets around the world are suffering from low wage work, wage inequality and weak real wage growth. He also addresses how the system can be transformed and how workers’ living standards be boosted with real wage growth, particularly as we head into a cost of living crisis. The lecture is followed by a Q&A with Sarah Smith (University of Bristol).

Boom and Bust: A global history of financial bubbles

14:00 — 15:00 | Watershed | Access audio recording

Diane Coyle (Bennett Institute, University of Cambridge) chats to authors John Turner and Will Quinn (both Queen's University Belfast) about their book Boom and Bust: A Global History of Financial Markets. They discuss why bubbles happen, and why some have catastrophic economic, social and political consequences whilst others have actually benefited society, as well as what we can learn from these events.

Big data: What is the future of number crunching?

15:30 — 16:45  | WATERSHED  |  Access audio recording

Data collection worldwide is rising at an unprecedented rate and almost every industry depends on how information is stored, processed, and applied. Will this massive growth continue? What are the trends in the future of data analytics?

These are some of the questions debated by our panel. Chaired by James Fransham (The Economist), with Tiziana Alocci (University of the Arts London and Market Cafe Magazine), Dénes Csala (Economics Observatory), Anna Powell-Smith (Centre for Public Data) and Arthur Turrell (Office for National Statistics).

Photos of audience at Festival of Economics 2022

Cryptocurrencies and the future of money

19:30 — 20:30  | ARNOLFINI  |  Access audio recording

From Bitcoin to Ethereum and Litecoin to Tether, there are now over 4,000 cryptocurrencies in circulation. In economic theory, money is said to have three primary functions: a medium of exchange; a store of value; and a unit of account. Our expert panel consider how and if crypto can fulfil these roles and what the continuing process of digitalisation of the world’s financial systems means for the future of money.

Chaired by Maria Farrell (writer), with Dinis Guarda (author and founder of Ztudium Group), John Turner (Queen's University Belfast), Will Quinn (Queen's University Belfast) and Jillian C. York (International Freedom of Expression).


Britain's decisive decade

10:45 — 12:00  |  WATERSHED |  Access audio recording

The UK is on the brink of a decade of huge economic change – from Covid-19 recovery to exiting the EU and transitioning towards a Net Zero future. Authors from the Economy 2030 Inquiry discuss the economics lessons the UK could learn from other countries and the UK's own history.

Chaired by Gavin Kelly (Resolution Foundation), with Lorenzo Codogno (London School of Economics), Sophie Hale (Resolution Foundation), Rainer Kattel (University College London) and Anna Valero (London School of Economics), all of whom have contributed to the inquiry.

Talking Economics: What Next for Central Banks? with Jagjit Chadha and Huw Pill

12:30 — 13:30 |  WATERSHED  |  Access audio recording

Jagjit Chadha (Director, National Institute of Economic and Social Research) and Huw Pill (Chief Economist, Bank of England) return to the Festival for another installment of their 'What’s Next for Central Banks?’ discussion.

The discussion, chaired by Anna Valero (London School of Economics), will examine the role of central banks and the challenges and opportunities of the past 12 months and those on the horizon.

Discover Economics School's Challenge


A special event for students (aimed at those in years 11 and 12), in which they hear from Bank of England economists, Rupa Patel and Jack Meaning (authors of Why Can’t We Just Print More Money), take part in an economics challenge and find out more about economics degrees and navigating university and UCAS applications.

LIVE PODCAST RECORDING Tim Harford: Cautionary Tales

19:00 — 20:30  |  GREAT EASTERN HALL, SS GREAT BRITAIN  | Access the audio recording

We tell our children unsettling fairy tales to teach them valuable life lessons, but these cautionary tales are for the education of grown-ups – and they are all true. In his hit podcast Cautionary Tales, Tim Harford brings stories of awful human error, tragic catastrophes, daring heists and hilarious fiascos.

Photos from Cautionary Tales recording

The Festival of Economics is presented in partnership with Bristol Ideas.
Photos: Bhagesh Sachania
Header image: Willem Hampson