AN in-person and online audience was welcomed to Scotland’s first economics festival on Friday evening.

Organisers opened Scotonomics in Dundee with a reflection of their own time studying in the city, panels on innovation, currency and macroeconomic models, and a conversation with Alex Salmond.

Kairin van Sweeden and William Thomson, who were inspired by Irish economist David McWilliams’ first economics and comedy festival Kilkenomics, are University of Dundee graduates and hope to bring Scotonomics around the country in future years.

Thomson told the audience that when visiting the university recently he saw a food bank in the student union, and how times have changed.

He also shared what had begun as an idea to have a relaxed discussion about economics in the pub one Saturday night, became a three-day economics festival, encompassing art, music, comedy and, of course, economics.

Irish comedian Tadhg Hickey lent his presenting skills to a panel with economics professor Steven Kinsella from University of Limerick and adjunct lecturer Dirk Ents from Torrens University.

The three discussed macroeconomic models, how these are used by companies and policy makers, and what ChatGPT had to offer when asked to create a model.

Kinsella published a paper on Wednesday, exploring what artificial intelligence can do when asked to create macroeconomic models. He summarised the results by saying the technology just wasn’t there – yet.

When asked if he ever finds economics boring, Kinsella said: “How could I? I tell my students that economics is an advice language for power.”

A panel of Pauline Smith, from Development Trusts Association Scotland, Nick Sherrard from Label Ventures, and Ray Bugg, the founder of DIGIT.FYI, discussed what innovation means in a modern economy, the role of local communities in innovation across Scotland and why Scotland is stuck being “the King of pilots”.

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Professor of Economics Steven Hail from Torrens University tuned in from Austrialia where it was 6am, to talk to the festival about currency with Dr Tim Rideout.

Rideout resented mock-ups of a future Scottish currency and explained the practicalities of setting up a Scottish payments system. Hail supported a Scottish currency and said if he was in Scotland “that’s what he would vote for”.

He also put forward an easy-to-follow analogy for Scots when it comes to the currency question.

Friday night closed just before 10pm with a conversation with former first minister Alex Salmond. The conversation focused on Salmond’s “economic journey” including the economic argument that underpinned the 2014 referendum, Sterilisation, and the reason for his u-turn.

Today is forecast to be the event's busiest day. There will be 15 sessions across two venues: Dundee’s Contemporary Arts Centre and The Little Theatre.

The second day will focus on devolved economic powers, current and future constitutional arrangements as well as challenges of devolution and independence,

Speakers on Saturday include Gary Gilespie, the Scottish Government’s Chief Economist, Dr Tim Rideout from the Scottish Currency Group, constitutional lawyer Shireen Morris, Amanda Burgauer from Commonweal and Stewart Hosie MP, SNP spokesperson for the economy.

Numerous panels will consider a Scottish National Energy Company and look to Wales for inspiration, cover the fragility of the UK state, and Scotland’s just transition and natural capital.

There will also be a myth-busting session and gallery tour of the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre to consider the source of Scotland’s wealth as part of the British Empire.