Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

Mannkal Student Internship Blog


Hannah Pham – London | Week 7

Hannah Pham, 27 February 2017

Time flies fast when you’re having fun! This week was probably my busiest week at the IEA. I have just finished my big project a couple of days ago and I am currently working on shorter articles for the IEA student think blog. I must admit the experience was hard work but very rewarding.

I ended up changing my topic of research on the weekend of week two and decided to move away from typical Brexit macroeconomic topics to something that receives less public attention but is becoming a very prominent problem in developed countries. I chose to explore the relationship between mental disorders and unemployment. One in five people from the age of 15-64 suffers from a clinical mental disorder.

Individuals with a mental illness are likely to be unemployed with the current unemployment rate at 30%.  Forty percent of total disability benefits claims are on the ground of mental ill-health and surpassed musculoskeletal disorders. Mental disorders incur an annual cost of £105 billion to the UK economy and loss of total productivity accounts for £15.1 billion each year.

Although researchers and policymakers recognised this problematic trend, efficient programs and policies have not yet been developed in many OECD countries to address this issue adequately.

On Monday, the IEA held the final round of debates between most reputable universities in the UK. It was interesting to see the high level of expectations, knowledge, and skills development opportunities these university students are exposed to compared to my university at home.

The students were extremely well-prepared, well-spoken, strategic, and confident with their arguments. There were two very controversial debatable topics. The first debate was on whether the world economy is facing secular stagnation and the second was on the economic costs and benefits of Brexit.

Even though I am familiarised with these topics, I recognised there is more room for personal improvements after observing how well these students performed.

On Tuesday, we held a very exciting book launch- the Index of Economic Freedom 2017. During my undergraduate years, I have used data from the index various of times and now, I finally had the chance to meet the brilliant economists behind the project. Australia is placed fifth in the most “free” nations list.

Economic freedom is directly linked to prosperity, innovations, lower absolute poverty, and vibrant economic growth. Perhaps, the most surprising finding of all is that freer economies have better environment protection. Clean-energy use and energy efficiency over the past decades have occurred not as a result of government regulation, but rather as a result of advances in technology.

Anthony Kim and I

Index of Economic Freedom 2017 launch

My final event of the week was a lecture with Dr. Andrew Berstein at the Adam Smith Institute. The topic was on Black Innovators and Entrepreneurs Under Capitalism, which originally was an essay. Dr. Andrew Berstein is an Ayn Rand specialist and philosophy professor.

He suggested the only way to end racism in the future is through the adoption of capitalism and individualism into our society. The lecture brought in heated moral and economic debates as this area of humanity is extremely complex.

On the weekend, I went back to Covent Garden market to look at handmade goods. These markets in my opinions are the best tourist attractions because they are like art galleries but much more lively and interactive.

And that is all for this week. I would like to send a big thank you to the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation for this incredible, life-changing, and educational experience. I cannot wait to share my experiences when I am home.

Writing from London with love,


Hannah Pham – London | Week 5

Hannah Pham, 14 February 2017

In the past two weeks, I have been helping prepare a speech for our director at the IEA, Mark Littlewood, to present at the Cook Society meeting.

I was privileged to also be invited to the luncheon. The Cook Society was founded in 1969 by Prime Ministers Sir Alec Douglas Home and Sir Robert Menzies. The club is a spin off of The Britain-Australia Society and only consists of a hundred members including the Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downer.

The meeting’s focus was on trading opportunities between UK and the other 52 Commonwealth countries but foremost, building UK-Australia relationship. In 2004, Commonwealth of Nations surpassed EU trading bloc winning the bigger share of World GDP and current trends depict a bigger, similar gap in the future.

IMF estimated EU GDP growth of 1.6% is slower than advanced economies average of 1.9% The UK is the fourth most important Commonwealth export market after USA, China and Japan. Intra trading between Commonwealth countries is 19 per cent cheaper than non-members as a result of shared history, cultural links, common legal systems and business practices.

Current Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) increases annual British grocery bills by roughly around 3-7 per cent. If the UK is to trade with Commonwealth of Nations, especially among the least developed countries, domestic consumers will witness an immediate drop in living expenses despite a depreciated pound.

For example, there will be up to 20 per cent drop in price of New Zealand wine. Other opportunities include an expansion of the UK Scotch Whiskey industry into India, which accounts for 25 per cent of UK’s total food and drinks export, once a tariff of 150% is removed.

Beside trade-only deals, the UK should look forward to a possible Commonwealth Immigration Policy. The UK should improve the freedom of movement with allies that would assimilate well into their culture. Such countries include Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand share the same head of state, the same common law system, the same Western culture, the same respect for democracy, and the English language. In short term, UK government should seek to reform Tier 2 visa system making it easier for Commonwealth citizens to gain employment in the UK and do not have to travel home to change jobs.

Questions were raised as whether Australia or other Commonwealth nations hold resentment against the UK when it joined European Union in 1973. High Commissioner Alexander Downer answered Australia will do whatever it can do to benefit Australia.

Beside meeting with Mr Downer, I’ve also met and talked to many intellectual individuals including a neurosurgeon, professors, retired CEOs and investment bankers with vast amounts of wisdom to share along with stories of their children and grandchildren.

Alexander Downer and I

On the weekend, I had the chance to visit the British museum. Real mummies on display and the 19th century collection were my absolute favourite attractions. Visiting a history museum reminded me that we all owe something to this Earth and to the work of our ancestors.

Our time is limited but if we work hard to invent and leave a good story behind like they did, it will pass on to inspire others and connect to a later generation beyond our imagination. That’s a wrap for the week. See you all again.

The British Museum

Writing from London with love,


Hannah Pham – London | Week 4

Hannah Pham, 6 February 2017

This Monday wasn’t like any ordinary Mondays. While walking home, I found myself caught up in the middle of a huge protest over Trump’s Muslim immigration ban. Thousands of people in London poured down to Westminster for an “emergency demonstration” against Prime Minister May’s visit to greet the new President of the United States.

One and half million more people signed a petition to ban Trump from visiting the United Kingdom. Against their wishes, Theresa May went ahead with the invitation hoping to build a good relationship with an unpredictable leader because after all, the US is one of UK’s most important trading partners.

Downing Street protest

On the weekend, Llew, Connor and I headed to China Town for mini celebration of the Lunar New Year. London is known for the biggest Chinese New Year celebration out side of Asia and it lived up to its name. Despite the shivering cold and wet, thousands of people from many backgrounds came together to this corner of London and celebrated the festival. We witnessed traditional lion dances and tasted cultural foods all night!

I feel blessed to experience such diversity and knowing it was an outcome of free market fundamentals.

Lunar New Year in the rain

Beautiful but impractical soap bars at Convent Garden

This week, the IEA hosted a book launch from James Tooley. James Tooley is a professor of education policy at Newscastle University and a supporter of the free market. He is the co-founder of several chains of low-cost private schools in India, Ghana, Nigeria and Honduras.

In his new book “Imprisoned in India”, Tooley exposed the corruption, injustices, imprisonment, misery and bureaucracy that he endured along with other innocent inmates in India. He wrote the book to raise awareness but most importantly, to seek answers to a very important question; “What are we going to do about it?”. We usually take our society and the peace we are living in for granted.

When the rule of law in a country is broken by a private player, it is already a bad situation. It becomes sinister when the government gets involved and abuses their power for personal gain, shielded from foreign actions and helpless citizens. Inspired by his courage and good work, I got myself an autographed copy and I’m very excited to read his journey.

"Imprisoned in India" book launch

More exciting things are happening to me next week, I can’t wait to keep you all updated.

Writing from London with love,


Hannah Pham – London | Week 3

Hannah Pham, 30 January 2017

What a busy week at the IEA! Firstly, we had our IEA Q&A session on Wednesday, which featured a variety of topics from Article 50, migration controls to delicious roast potatoes and its linkage to the credibility of Public Health Sector. However, the prime event of the week and contained much of my excitement goes to Thursday night event featuring Michael Gove MP, the Economist’s Adrian Woolridge, and the author of the “The Innovation Illusion” Fredrik Erixon.

“Why is the West Stagnating” was on the table for discussion and led to more pessimistic than optimistic propositions. One obvious answer was the uncertainty of current business environment. Because of uncertainty, about 1/3 of European GDP is uninvested corporate cash. Other problems discussed covered managerial issues, intolerance of creative destruction, modern regulations, technological progress, aging population, and the most absurd trend; modern capitalism are run by bureaucrats instead of entrepreneurs.

IEA event

Despite the general negative outlook of my generation’s career prospects, I met up with British former Secretary State of Justice Michael Gove, who was quite a celebrity in the room, for a memorable happy shot.

Michael Gove and his best pose

Flashback to a fantastic weekend when I was seriously lost at the National Gallery and accidentally stumbled across the famous Sunflowers painting by Vincent Van Gogh. I later found out this piece is currently priced at a whopping $84.2m USD.

Later that day, I paid a visit to Harrods, an extravagant shopping mall where I saw a Versace bed sheet for £2000. Expensive items aside, my main goal visiting Harrods was for this snapshot and to stand where Gordan Ramsay once stood while picking out his favourite caviar.

Stunning lights at Harrods

Selfie with Cardinal de Retz

As I was typing this, the British government has finally published its bill to trigger Article 50, which starts the process of a ‘formal’ Brexit. The bill only contains 132 words and is given five days for debate. Tension and anticipation is to be expected in the IEA office next week as we wait for the outcomes. Ciao for now!

Love from London,


Hannah Pham- Luân Đôn | Week 2

Hannah Pham, 30 January 2017

We started another busy week at the IEA with a lecture presented Dr Stephen Davies on current global political movements. Dr Davies identified a trend of political parties or what he called them -“National Socialist” parties – gaining popularity around the world including in the US, Europe (Spain, France, UK, Germany) and even in Australia. These political parties believe in high levels of social and economic interventions by the State. Though it sounds unreasonable as why should voters are voting for their freedom to be tamed by the government, Dr Davies explained a part of it is due to an identity crisis that certain voters are struggling with while experiencing the effects of globalisation.

On a delivery to the House of Parliament

Quick selfie with other interns at the IEA

This week, we were glad to host CEO Miles Celic and MP George Eustice for private lunches with the president of the IEA. I was given the opportunity to help prepare bits of the president’s conversations with his guests. Next week, we are holding two public conferences. MP Michael Gove will be speaking at one of the conferences on a controversial topic “Why is the West stagnating?”. I cannot express the extreme excitement of getting free passes to these two sold-out events.

Business aside, I dedicated my Saturday immersing myself in a diverse, fast moving world of London Fashion on the never-ending Oxford Street. Despite heavy showers and freezing cold weather, the crowd never wavered. For a moment, I was thankful I live in a such an isolated city, that even our annual boxing day sale push and pull can never be compared to this daily chaos.

I will be paying a visit to The National Gallery and window-shopping at Harrods this weekend. Simply can’t wait!

Writing from Luân Đôn with love,


Hannah Pham – London | Week 1

Hannah Pham, 16 January 2017

After a day and a half recovering from extreme jetlag, I made my way to my first destination in London – the Columbia Flower market located in a funky, little suburb called Shoreditch. Jazz buskers, vintage stores and blooming colourful tulips made me feel as if I was in a middle of a romantic drama movie.

Columbia Flower Market

IEA office

I started my internship at the IEA during the recent London two-day tube strike. The strike arose from disputes on fair wages and working conditions between worker unions and the Transport for London company. This is a prime example government failure, causing chaos and disruptive delays. I couldn’t help but think that free market is the only solution to this problem, a platform where supply meets demand.

My first week at the IEA was busy. After a warm welcome from Professor Philip Booth himself and other staff, we went straight to work. I had Dr Stephen Davies giving me advice on my research project and after some consideration, I decided to work on the issue of infant industry protection in Australia. During the week I was given small tasks such as mailing the latest EA magazines to destinations all over the world and delivering books to the House of Parliament.  I also met other interns at the institute, everyone is very friendly at the IEA.

Snowfall is aesthetically beautiful until you had to walk home through it! Nonetheless, the sight of fresh snow against the backdrop of Westminster Abbey was phenomenal. First time witnessing a snow fall was an epic ending to my first week in London. I’m looking forward for the weeks to come!

Writing from London with love,


Ilma Amin- Week 5 in CapX London!

Ilma Amin, 3 August 2016

I cannot believe my 5 weeks in London has come to an end! I have learnt so much and experienced out of the world cultural things that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. For that reason (along with many others!) I am so thankful for Ron, Paul, Kate and the rest of the incredible team at Mannkal for letting me live my dream as a journalist in London.

London, one of the most vibrant places in the world for journalism in the most auspicious time of all – the post Brexit London, that I am so blessed to witness with historical events happening on a daily basis (political reshuffle with a new Prime Minister steps away from my office, need I say more).

My last week began with me publishing my seventh article for CapX about advocating free-market ideals in the Southeast Asia region. Countries like India and China are rising to be global economic powerhouses thanks to their accelerating move towards free market ideals. I have a strong connection to Bangladesh, where my parents are from, and I believe countries like Bangladesh have so much potential they are yet to unlock because they are lost in a toxic cocktail of corrupt government and high taxation. Free market ideals are what countries need to make their mark in the world. You can find my article on this topic here.

I am so thankful for the team at CapX for always being supportive of the ideas I wanted to get across through all my articles and for constantly pushing me to reach my potential. They are encouraging me to write more for them whilst I’m in Perth, which I appreciate a lot as I get to still live my dream as journalist in Perth! Not only that, the team have taken their time out to show me around London throughout my stay. My highlight for sure was having farewell drinks at Parliament House!

With the Assistant Editor, Olivia Archdeacon and Deputy Editor, Rachel Cunliffe!
With the founder of CapX, Zac Tate!

London has been the greatest blessing of my life. I have learnt so much and I am so excited to advocate my understandings not only in Australia but in Bangladesh too! Not only that I have met so many new people with an incredible work ethic that I aspire to have- they have captured my heart forever! I am already planning for my future in London. Mannkal and CapX, I am forever thankful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

London I will be back for you!

Fra Mauro: It’s Waiting for You

Bruce Linkermann, 1 August 2016

At 9:08 pm 13 April 1970, about 321,000 kilometres from Earth and slated to land a lunar module on the moon to deliver 2 astronauts, Apollo 13’s “oxygen tank No. 2 blew up, causing the No. 1 tank to also fail”. For the next 3 and a half days the crew and mission control overcame a number of critical failures to the vessel, safely returning the astronauts to Earth.

I imagine that some readers, some future Mannkal scholars, will be debating whether to apply for a Mannkal scholarship. Naturally, I suspect that they, too, wonder what Mannkal is and what its objective is?

Mannkal is “a free-market think tank that sponsors students to go overseas to learn: (a) how markets and trade work; (b) what makes Australia so wealthy; and (c) how we keep it that way” and ensure Australia and Western Australia’s continued prosperity.

It’s sounds structurally similar to NASA’s Apollo Program; in that, NASA sent many missions to space and to the moon to perfect the preparation and execution of the procedures necessary to get to, and to arrive safely from, the moon, and Mannkal sponsors students to intern at think tanks all over the World to learn the ideas and develop the techniques necessary to shape Australia’s continued prosperity.


I went on my scholarship to the IEA in London for 6 weeks. Honestly, I arrived in London with the goal of writing a research paper. On the second night there was the thunderous storm and torrential rain on the eve on the Brexit vote. The following day was the seismic result on the vote, and subsequent days involved historic political upheaval. It was in the following 2 weeks that I figured out that I would not be able to write the research paper. It was, I suspect, the concomitant of these events, the nature of my role as an ops intern and the lack of pre-trip research in a specific topic. The fuller details will be fleshed out as I reflect on this trip in the coming months.

Been a busy bee

But I have learnt a lot. I have read a lot and seen a lot: seen castles, old pubs, historic sites like Stonehenge, Parliament and Kew Gardens; and read books, Bastiat’s The Law, and others; read papers on government and papers on economic theory. I read my fair share. I learned how future students can better prepare themselves to maximise their experiences. Each trip is part of larger sequence of trips. Each step is another that must be taken to reach a common objective.

While Apollo 13 did not achieve its objective, and while Jim Lovell and Fred Haise did not walk on the moon, their experience paved the way for Apollo 14. On 5 February 1971 Alan Sheppard and Edgar Mitchell, as part of Apollo 14, landed on Fra Mauro.

Watching ...

I invite you, future scholar, to apply for a Mannkal scholarship. Come join the footsteps of many before you who have embarked on this odyssey.

Mr Manners, I Think We Need More Builders

Bruce Linkermann, 25 July 2016

What is the difference between wealth and money? This was the question Paul McCarthy, the CEO of Mannkal, asked me at my initial scholarship interview about 12 to 18 months ago. And like condensation dripping off an ice-cold glass of water sitting on a kitchen counter, the sweat dripped off my brow as I waffled for a few minutes.

Earlier this week I finished writing a memo on a House of Lords debate on eliminating poverty in the UK. Most of the speakers seemed to favour spending more money on education, especially early child education, and increasing the number of affordable housing by spending more money on building housing and relaxing strangling planning law regulations. While these are all potentially beneficial strategies, especially easing planning law burdens on housing development, to me they do not seem to address the fundamental issue.

First, let’s define national wealth as all the real goods and services left from the past plus all the real goods and services currently being produced, and let’s define money as simply individual wealth in the sense that “other individuals will supply [other people] with the real goods and services that [they] want in exchange for [their] money”. Then, logically, increasing or redistributing the amount of money in circulation is frivolous. You can print more money and distribute it evenly to everyone in society—or, without printing a single new bill, you can redistribute all the existing money evenly to everyone—but there is still only the exact same amount of real goods and services left from the past and currently being produced. Yes, everyone will then be able to purchase the same amount of real goods and services as each other (the socialist dream) but, and this is big BUT, there is no wealth creation, only wealth stagnation. And I disagree with the contention that the amount of national wealth is invariable.

We must become builders. We must build wealth. We must build the structures that do not exist and augment the structures that do exist which stimulate the creation of real goods and services. The more there is, the more there is to go around, and therefore the less it will cost consumers. Poverty simply means that a section of people, of consumers, cannot afford to purchase real goods and services. The demand is there but the supply is not, so the price increases and “prices” those unfortunate consumers out. We need to increase the supply of real goods and services to drive down prices and increase the purchasing power of the existing amount of money.

The real question that should have been addressed is: How do we increase the supply of real goods and services; how do we build wealth? I hope, Paul, that this a more satisfactory answer to the difference between wealth and money than the clueless answer I gave when we first met. Please let me know your thoughts, for this question has been bugging me for a long time!

Onto my sightseeing: I went to a conference on Brexit at the Royal Geographical Society on Saturday. I must say, London is full of “Remainers” and they cheered loudly every time a negative comment was made about the Brexit vote. It’s sad, really. Daniel Hannan made the positive and powerful argument that the UK is a global powerhouse and should stand on its own two feet in making global trade deals. A chorus of boos rang out. So sad that Londoners think the UK is weak and in need of Claude Juncker’s omniscient guidance.

Absolute must see


On Sunday I went to Churchill’s War Rooms and the British Museum. The War Rooms are well worth the entrance fee and provide a wonderful opportunity to learn more about, at least in my opinion, the greatest man in western history. He saved Western civilisation when it was on the brink. As for his leadership credentials the fact that King George VI had to personally “persuade” Churchill to stay away from the D-Day invasion speaks volumes. He wanted to be with his men. I think character is something we learn from our role models. If I’m right, we should all make Churchill one of our role models.

Geez, that's pretty cool

The British Museum is breathtaking. I mean, wow. Of all the museums I’ve seen so far in London—heck, the world—this one was the best. Need I say more than “the Rosetta Stone”! If you come here to London and don’t go see it, you’re a fool. Also, I would suggest setting aside 4 to 5 hours at least if you want to see most of the museum. It is not small.

I’ve got one week left at the IEA and one weekend left in London: I’m heading off to plan out the next 11 days so I can make the most of my time left!

Ilma Amin- Week 4 at CapX London

Ilma Amin, 25 July 2016

Wow what a week this has been!! Starting on Monday, the Centre for Policy Studies had its Annual Margaret Thatcher Lecture with none other than former UK chancellor George Osborne presenting it! He discussed his notable measures to reduce public expenditure and raising the value added tax and offered his optimism in the future of the UK post Brexit. He suggested to the UK “seek the closest possible new ties with our European neighbours [as] they are, on the economy and on security, our friends not our foes”. Mr Osborne lost his position as chancellor as the new Prime Minister Theresa May made major changes to her cabinet.

After his speech I managed to actually meet him and had to obviously use this opportunity to ask his thoughts on the potential free trade agreement between Britain and Australia. He agreed that it would bring closer trade ties for us in the future.

The recent terror attacks in Bangladesh happened in the suburb that I live in whenever I go back, which really shook me to the ground along with all the major atrocities committed around the world. I was very lucky to have the team at CapX being totally on board with me writing about the growth of extremism and terrorism in Bangladesh. It is an issue I care very deeply about and I feel so gracious to be able to exercise my freedom of expression and have it published on the website for everyone to read here!

Carrying on with my list of London tourist activities, the assistant editor of CapX was lovely enough to show me around the Parliament House and Westminster Abbey. These two buildings truly capture Great Britain from its detailed architecture to its lunch rooms serving bangers and mash! On the hot Saturday afternoon I went to the world famous Portobello Road Markets. It truly lives to its reputation- the markets are vibrantly filled with stalls from different parts of the world!

Four weeks down and one more to go, my time in London is almost coming to an end. I am not going to lie I am feeling very sad to have to leave in a week but I am so excited to come back to Perth and share everything I’ve learnt here!

Conversations with former chancellor George Osborne!

At the Parliament House!

Exploring the world famous Portobello Road!