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Keynes Fund

 
 

The Keynes Fund for Applied Economics promotes innovative and path breaking quality research in economics and finance. A key part of the Faculty of Economics, it provides resources for early stage researchers as well as for established academics in Cambridge, with a special emphasis on understanding key distortions that affect market allocations and create inefficiencies, and on finding policy solutions to correct such inefficiencies.

 

 

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The Keynes Fund is for anyone at Cambridge who has a good research project, but is struggling to find the financial support to carry it out. It looks for early stage, cutting-edge research in Economics and Finance, including from Post-docs and PhD students.

The Keynes Fund was established in 2012 through a generous donation to the University, and provides financial support for researchers at the University of Cambridge working within its remit:

 

  • The focus of the teaching and research supported by the Fund shall be the sources and consequences of failure of market efficiency, particularly but not exclusively as a result of Agency costs. In particular, the income of the Fund shall be used to encourage research into: capital market mispricing; the design of incentive systems and mechanisms to reduce the incidence and significance of institutional or general economic failure as well as into responsive public policies. The scope of work to be funded shall include interactions between the financial markets and the real economy.

  • The Managers of the Fund shall encourage research based on empirical observation of the behaviour of market participants, drawing as appropriate on relevant work in the other social sciences, biology and history. They shall also encourage academics to extend the frontiers of traditional economics in order to raise Cambridge's profile in the critical area between economic theory, best private sector practice and public policy, with a bias towards promoting long-term thinking, dampened pro-cyclicality, improved economic growth and reduced income/wealth disparities.

 

Although most of the proposals submitted to the Keynes Fund are from academics in the Faculty of Economics and the Judge Business School, the Fund also has a significant number of proposals by social historians, and from academics in law, linguistics, education, and politics and from mathematicians with an interest in finance, and it seeks to fund research with an interdisciplinary dimension. The Fund is keen on helping early career researchers, who often struggle to find external funding, as they seek to establish their academic career.

So far, more than 60 research projects have received about two million pounds in total. Research funded by the Fund has appeared in top peer reviewed journals such as the Economic Journal, the Journal of the European Economic Association, Journal of Public Economics, the Journal of the American Statistical Association, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Grants are typically to pay a research assistant’s wages, or to buy data, because applied research is a lot more labour intensive than it used to be, and buying data is now very costly. However, the Fund has also funded full-time post-doc positions that enable young researchers to come to or stay in Cambridge to work with established Cambridge academics.

Without funding many will struggle with freely available data that may be very basic or incomplete; not meeting academic rigour. Although there is a vast amount of data often collected electronically, that comes at a cost, and it may need a full time researcher to shift through it and for some types of projects based on historical data old-fashioned manual data collection is still the order of the day.

Much of the research supported by the Fund is highly relevant to understanding real-world problems and to finding solutions and essentially to gain a better understanding of economic and social interactions.

The size of grants varies. Most applications to the Keynes fund are for less than £50,000, but some can be more than double, such as those that hire a post-doc to work with a researcher, that promotes top level applied research and create positive externalities for the Cambridge research environment.

The fund is trying to find solutions that will work in the longer term. We don’t want quick fix solutions, we want applied research that will fix some of the essential issues in economics and finance, to fix market failures and influence the design of economic policy.

The Keynes Fund has significant reserves, and runs two calls for project proposals annually. However, the Fund is much quicker and nimble from an application point of view than other funding bodies, and can in exceptional circumstances turn around an application and provide resources within just a few days when required. For example, the fund had a very quick response to the Covid crisis.

Decisions on which projects gain funding are made by a board with external members which meets every six months and all proposal are subject to external expert peer review.

We’d like to hear from people who have the genesis of a good theory or a good design for an empirical question that they would like to research. Applicants may not have a long academic background or vast amounts of research already, but they have what the fund likes to see – a good idea.

 

 

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Each year the Keynes Fund hosts a Research Day; an annual celebration of the high-quality projects sponsored by the fund and the research these projects have produced. Videos from the event in 2020 can give you a good idea of the type of research the Fund supports or you can take a look at videos related to the most recent projects.

 

Each year the Fund hosts the annual Keynes Lecture which has featured Jean Tirole, Hyun Song Shin and Cristina Romer.

 

 

See all Keynes Lecture videos >>