Trent J. MacDonald is a political economist and data scientist based in Melbourne, Australia. He is currently Research Fellow with the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society. In recent years, Trent has gained industry experience conducting social and market research as Project Director of Data Science with Roy Morgan Research. He has a strong academic research background, having worked in the Creative Industries Faculty at QUT University, the Swinburne Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University, and the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing at RMIT University. Prior to this Trent was a research fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, researcher at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, and tutor and research assistant in the School of Economics at University of Queensland.
Trent received his PhD in economics from RMIT University in 2016, having previously received a bachelor of economics with first class honours and a bachelor of business management from the University of Queensland. He wrote his PhD thesis, titled ‘Studies in evolutionary political economy: Theory of unbundled and non-territorial governance’ under the guidance of Professor Jason Potts and Professor Sinclair Davidson. In 2015, Trent won the Don Lavoie Memorial Award from the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, for the best thesis chapter or research article by a graduate student. Upon examination his thesis was assessed to have made “a significant contribution to the field beyond that normally expected” at the doctoral level:
“Extremely thought provoking, very well written, clearly presented and highly original in its analysis.”
“Demonstrates a broader range of in-depth knowledge than is normal among PhD candidates at top universities around the world.”
“Has the potential to set the stage for a new research program in political economy.”
Trent’s thesis employs a variety of theoretical approaches—including new institutional economics, comparative analysis, Virginia public choice, microeconomic game theory, and Hayekian political economy—to arrive at a unified conclusion about potential efficiency gains from a variety of jurisdictional reforms, with a particular focus on non-territorially unbundled solutions. This sheds light on the political mechanism of “non-territorial secession” and the emerging phenomenon of “cryptosecession” as well as clarifying the conditions under which these might eventuate. Findings enhance our understanding of how to govern increasingly complex and non-territorial polities.
More generally, Trent’s research makes use of novel combinations of ideas from a diverse set of economists and political theorists. His major influences are F.A. Hayek, James M. Buchanan, Vincent and Elinor Ostrom, Richard E. Wagner, and their many contemporary followers. Fields he engages with include: institutional economics; evolutionary and complexity economics; constitutional economics and public choice; Austrian economics; Virginian political economy; political-economic geography and urban economics; cultural and creative industries economics; and innovation economics. Trent is animated by the challenge of taking insights from research programs that are seemingly distant and weaving a tapestry of ideas that nevertheless is mutually consistent, reinforcing, and (hopefully) intellectually enriching.