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Free Market Thinking - Indirect Taxation and Deadweight Welfare Loss

Monday, January 26, 2015

Free market economists are major critics of government intervention in markets. Only if it is fundamentally necessary should governments step in ( if there are substantial third party costs and if the free market is failing to allocate public goods are good examples) and even then, the use of effluent charges is best. Not many students are able to understand why the imposition of an indirect tax is market distorting and why specifically a deadweight welfare loss occurs as a result of the imposition of the indirect tax. This video explains exactly that, comparing free market equilibrium to the new tax equilibrium isolating all surplus, cost and benefits involved, finishing with overall welfare. The conclusion will be that an indirect tax will lead to net loss of social and economic welfare for society thus the key question for governments before making the decision to intervene is to question whether the benefits of intervention in the form of government revenue and potentially solving a prior misallocation of resources outweigh the costs of a loss of welfare. Higher level thinking for your top students. Enjoy

Clued Up - Economics News

Here is a great idea! CluedUp is a new solution for students really keen to improve their contextual knowledge in AS economics

To subscribe to the daily email click here

Check out the blog:

I'll be following Clued Up carefully in the coming weeks. 

Teaching Vacancy - HOD Economics at The Harrodian School, Barnes

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Many thanks to the team at The Harrodian School, London for alerting us to this excellent economics teaching opportunity. All the details below.

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Yet another great resource for analysing global inequality….with snowballs

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The  World Economic Forum at Davos tends to stimulate and showcase lots of fascinating material, and has a focus on global issues which is of particular interest for teaching about developing economies - all very useful for Edexcel Unit 4. I strongly recommend having a look at a new BBC collection called A Richer World which is a rich source of data and strong material for application of the theory we are teaching in the Growth and Development section of the syllabus.

If you don't get around to using anything else from there, I strongly recommend a great 3.45 minute video of Hans Rosling and Evan Davis analysing changing global inequality with the aid of seven snowballs.

Detailed Diagrams - Indirect Tax

Friday, January 23, 2015

If you're like me and you love the logic and intuition of Economics diagrams, going the extra mile and 'dissecting' a diagram into its components is a joy rather than a complexity and unnecessary faff. Striving the get out the maximum detail from diagrams is also a great way to differentiate the class and to work out who your real stars are. The indirect tax diagram, besides the usual analysis has plenty to offer. Take a risk go through the whole lot for a lesson, your students will love you for it and will no doubt be intrigued. The beauty of Economics right here in this video!

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The UK’s North-South gap may be widening again

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Inequality is on the rise. Not so much between countries as within them. There is some worrying indications, reported this week, that the gap between Britain’s best performing and worse performing regions remains thoroughly entrenched.

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A richer, but more unequal world

This issue is emerging as one of the big, if not the biggest, economics story of our times. The world is vastly richer than in even the recent past, with many poor countries making good progress in catching up with the richer ones.

Yet within almost all economies, income and wealth gaps are widening. Last year Oxfam were talking about a double decker bus, representing the world’s richest people, who own half the wealth. This year wealth is concentrated in even fewer hands.

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Bupa expands in India as rules on foreign investment are eased

Sunday, January 18, 2015

News that Bupa has taken a 49% stake in a joint venture with an Indian healthcare provider marks the impact of a new set of legislation going through parliament. The government in New Delhi wants to makes it easier for foreign firms to invest in the country reports the Times of India.

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Does the aid bill really show the UK’s commitment to development?

Friday, January 16, 2015

The title of this blog is taken from a Guardian article which is a stepping stone into a discussion about how best the UK can support development across the world.

You might think that the best indicator of our desire to help is the amount of money the UK government commits to overseas aid. That opens up two more discussion points. Firstly, does aid actually help poor countries? That’s a debate for another blog. Here, I’m going to focus on a second point: is there more to supporting development than being generous with aid?

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OCR F585 Toolkit

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I am working hard to put the finishing touches to this new resource and will get it out to schools as soon as possible!

Analysis of inflation - impact on households with different income levels

The economic news this week has been dominated by the announcement of a very low rate of inflation.  Information from the ONS shows a few more interesting nuggets of data that economics students might like to know.

A reminder, also, that when we start talking quantiles, deciles and indexes, we are now only a few short months away from the arrival of new specifications for the A level and teachers need to start thinking about how they will integrate further quantitative methods into their lessons.  If you wish to know more, stock up on a few resources and think about how the A level will change please join us on our latest teacher CPD event in London on the 12th of February looking at how to Master Quantitative Methods (book online from here).

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Why apologise for low inflation?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

CPI inflation has slipped well below the lower limit of the Monetary Policy Committee's target, to 0.5% - that is far lower than it fell during the recession, and the lowest level since May 2000. So, as Mark Carney prepares his letter to the Chancellor to explain how this has happened, and what the Bank of England intend to do about it, the BBC have published an article which examines why we need some inflation. It is one of those articles which is truly useful - probably more so than a text book as it is based on real, current context. Highly recommended to AS students learning about inflation for the first time, and A2 students who need to revise the basics. 

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Teaching Vacancy - Economics at City of London School

Due to illness, an opportunity has arisen to work with our good friends in the fantastic Economics team at City of London School.

Trust me, this is a wonderful place to work, right next to St Paul's Cathedral and a stone's throw from Millennium Bridge.

City of London School are looking for someone to teach Economics AS and A2 from 19th January - 17th April. The holidays will be fully paid and the pay is £55k pro-rata. The timetable is rather light too from 9-1am Mon-Wed and 9-3.30 Thurs-Friday.

If you are interested, please contact David Rey via email for more details.

Eurozone QE

Some thoughts on what may be to come next week

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Can Adam Smith Solve the Problem of Youth Unemployment in Europe?

Youth unemployment remains a serious problem in Europe. There is the tiniest glimmer of hope in that the number of young people under 25 unemployed in the Euro zone is 58,000 lower than it was a year ago. But that still leaves 3.4 million without a job. In Italy, the youth unemployment rate is 44 per cent, in Greece nearly 50 per cent and in Spain 53 per cent. 

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Teaching the New A Level Economics: Mastering Quantitative Methods

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ESSENTIAL CPD COURSE: Teaching the New A Level Economics: Mastering Quantitative Methods

Extra course date now available - 12 February 2015 - London

You can also book this course directly from our online store or download and send us a completed booking form

A key feature of the new A Level and standalone AS specifications (for first teaching from September 2015) is a greater focus on quantitative methods.

The Ofqual subject criteria with which awarding bodies must comply states that specifications must require learners to:

"...develop analytical and quantitative skills in selecting, interpreting and using appropriate data from a range of sources"

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Using the price mechanism to boost allocative efficiency: car parking charges

Monday, January 12, 2015

The price mechanism should help the economy to allocate resources more efficiently. Scarcity drives up prices, sending a signal to the economy – usually giving firms an incentive to produce more, and households the motivation to ration their consumption.

Offering free parking sounds like a terrific idea, until you think of some of the possible consequences.

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Teaching Vacancy - Business & Economics at The King’s School, Grantham

What a superb Business & Economics opportunity here - a chance to work with our good friends at The King's School, Grantham. Applications need to be in by 20 January 2015. Please mention you saw this opportunity on tutor2u!

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Tesco and Coca Cola look to streamline their costs

Friday, January 09, 2015

This week we have read news of two corporate giants taking strides to rein in their operating costs amidst challenging business conditions. 

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The labour market and ‘foreign bricklayers on £1000 a week’

Perhaps you are starting to look at labour markets, which economists usually understand in terms of the supply of, and demand for, labour services. This is a good example of these two forces coming together to determine wage rates.

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Prospect theory: will the Greeks keep a hold of Nurse?

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Will 2015 be the year in which fantasy economics in Europe is finally put to the test? Somewhat to the surprise of many commentators, in December the Greek political class failed to elect a new president even after three attempts. Parliament has now been dissolved and an election will take place on 25 January. The left-wing Syriza party currently leads in the polls.

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Going over the edge

A bureau d'echange in Moscow

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Our World in Data

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

I recommend colleagues have a look at Max Roser's World in Data website that presents the Long-term Data on how our World is Changing – Visualised in Maps and Graphs. Click here for the Facebook page:

Tim Harford on the The Big Data Trap

Our good friend Tim Harford recently gave the annual lecture at the Royal Statistical Society and the talk is available via You Tube. 

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Follow the Economics Hashtags!

An ever-growing community of teachers are using common hashtags to support, extend and enrich the work of their students across the various economics units at AS, A2 and IB level.

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Unit 4 Edexcel Economics Key Tips

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Unit 4 Edexcel Economics Key Tips:

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Liberte, equalite et émigration: France’s top rate of income tax is removed

Thursday, January 01, 2015

As 2015 comes in, France’s 75% rate of income tax disappears. It was paid on earnings of over €1 million, by around 1000 staff in 470 companies. This Guardian article suggests it raised comparatively little- €260m in 2013 and €160m in 2014- as France’s national debt rose to over 80% of GDP- 

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Marshall Society Economics Conference - “The Power of Policy” Saturday 31st January

Monday, December 29, 2014

The second annual Marshall Society Economics Conference in Cambridge on Saturday 31st of January 2015 promises to be another superb event. 

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Eton College Political Society Panel Event

Here are some details of an event being held at Eton College on Wednesday 28th January likely to be of interest to Economics and Politics students. A panel of young political activists debate the top topics of the day in a question-time style event

Please email Geoff Riley for details of ticketing for visiting schools and colleges

The event starts at 8.15pm and tickets are free but must be booked in advance.

2015 AS Micro Quick Revision Guide

Following on the from success of our 2014 Quick Revision Guide for Macroeconomics, the new 52-page, full-colour printed revision guide written by Geoff Riley is designed to support students preparing for their AS Economics exams on microeconomics. 

To order your copy click here:

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Changes in the Californian egg market.

Friday, December 19, 2014

New changes in the egg market in California are a great resource for teaching a number of economic concepts, particularly supply and demand in action. A number of scenarios are possible as different rules in different states impact on egg producers decisions on how to produce their eggs and where to sell them.

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#ukedchat Twitter chat 8pm Thursday 18th December

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Just a quick heads-up about this Twitter chat.

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Market Structures in Transport

An excellent video made for the Economics classroom applying the theory of market structures to the world of transport in Singapore. This is superb as it goes through each transport mode analysing the market structure befitting before digging into the conduct within that market. Terminology used will be familiar to students and will provide that crucial A* level content to exams for a given market structure question. Well worth a watch in a lesson.

Teaching Vacancy - Business Studies and/or Economics at Charters School, Sunningdale

An opportunity to teach Business and Economics at a thriving department here - with our good friends at Charters School in Sunningdale, Berkshire.

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Climate change in the news: Agreement in Lima, the Beijing school ‘dome’ and other solutions

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

With the climate change agreement in Lima national responsibilities are now linked more flexibly to the rate of change of economic growth, placing more responsibility on fasting growing developing nations to do their bit. The US and China have, much like they did at talks for the Kyoto Protocol, limited their commitment to cut pollution. Pollution affects us all and as such is an example of the tragedy of the commons. Global agreements such as those at Lima are essential to try to reduce the growing problems greenhouse gases are causing.

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20p tax on sugary drinks propsed.

Here's one of those stories that help illustrate the point about de-merit goods really well.  The Children's Food Campaign are calling for a specific tax on sugary drinks to help combat obesity in children.  Key points:

  • Sugary drinks is the example of a de-merit good
  • Tax is the proposed strategy for reducing consumption
  • Costs of obesity given here (in terms of number of illnesses that could be reduced)
  • Article gives a counter argument from British Soft Drinks Association using evidence from France

Click here to read the article from The Grocer website

    Christmas quizzes

    Monday, December 15, 2014

    If you are stuck for an idea for the last lesson of term, here are two possibilities. 

    Ian Stewart's Deloitte Monday Briefing this week has a Christmas quiz, with a range of questions which covers, as they put it "a wide-ranging test of knowledge, from the most popular activities during conference calls to the price of Christmas puddings." It has some reasonably serious content, so can give a bit of an excuse for use during an economics lesson.

    Secondly, have a look at this 20-question interactive quiz from the Engaged Learner blog. It has questions about Christmas songs and films, so you can use it as it is as a fun session at the end of a lesson. Alternatively, borrowing an idea from WOW Economics, you can blank out the questions and answers on slide 2 and put your students in two teams; each team writes their own set of questions and answers about the topics they have covered this term, during the first half of the lesson, then sets the quiz for the other team in the second half. You could add to the festive competition by giving each team 20 sweets at the start; for each question they get right, they keep a sweet, but for each one they get wrong, they have to give a sweet to the other team!

    Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

    According to the Guardian, "rarely has a trade agreement invited such hype and paranoia". The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – or proposed free trade pact between the US and the European Union – has triggered apocalyptic prophecies: the death of French culture; an invasion of toxic chlorine chickens into Germany; and Britain’s cherished NHS will become a stripped-down Medicare clone.

    From the point of view of free-trade cheerleaders, EU carmakers will more than double their sales, Europe will be seized by a jobs and growth bonanza and Americans will beg European firms to build their roads and schools. The world’s biggest trading nations will have no choice but to play by the west’s rules in the new world created by TTIP.

    Sounds like a good place for an investigation into rival views – trade liberalisation or protectionism – which is best?

    read more...»

    The Size of the UK Banking System

    Thursday, December 11, 2014

    AQA ECON4 requires students to have an appreciation of the importance of the UK banking system and the City of London to the UK economy. This clip from the Bank of England helps emphasise this.

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    Nobel prize winning lecture: Jean Tirole

    Jean Tirole giving his Nobel Prize winning lecture on Market Failure and Public Policy

    The games economists play at Christmas

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014

    Many of you will know that Game Theory is an established branch of economic thought. It can be used to model a wide variety of situations, leading to predictions of the behaviour of economic agents. This blog is for people who are new to that idea.

    I am an enthusiastic player of board games, but regard Monopoly and Risk as pretty awful. Many of my pupils ask to play Monopoly in the last lesson at the end of term. Like a proper Grinch I always say no, but usually use the conversation as an opportunity to raise a discussion about what (if anything) you might learn about economics from the game.

    I was therefore drawn to an article in The Guardian by Paul Mason (who ranted about the banks recently) who argues that “the world is like a real-life game of global domination, where five mighty empires across the globe are gearing up for an economic wargame where there could be no winners”.

    read more...»

    Plunging commodity prices reignite discussion of primary product dependency

    Tuesday, December 09, 2014

    As world commodity prices plunge, who gains and who loses?

    read more...»

    Amazon and Tech Change

    A great video to show how technology is changing labour markets: Amazon and their robots

    Amazon's Robot Army - Keva Robots: Watch this clip here.

    A more detailed article can be found here.

    Poverty and inequality: does trickle-down economics work?

    Two reports published in the last 48 hours provide some really useful background for teaching about policies to address the issues of poverty and inequality in developed economies. The Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom was published yesterday, and concluded that because of falling real incomes, delays in paying benefits which people are legitimately entitled to, and sharp rises in fuel bills, many families are "one unexpected bill away from financial crisis".

    read more...»

    What TYPES of capital should we be accumulating?

    Sunday, December 07, 2014

    I like to read Jeff Sachs for his alternative viewpoints. He often writes about investment and has recently argued that the problem with both free-market and Keynesian economics is that they misunderstand the nature of modern investment. Both schools believe that investment is led by the private sector, either because taxes and regulations are low (in the free-market model) or because aggregate demand is high (in the Keynesian model).

    In Sachs’ alternative view, private-sector investment today depends on investment by the public sector. But investment into what? What types of capital should we be accumulating?

    read more...»

    A lesson in monopsony power

    Many thanks to Newsnight for providing the material for a lesson about monopsony power - if nothing else, it makes a change from taking Tesco as the model for this topic. On Friday, Newsnight carried a report about Premier Foods, a conglomerate which owns many different grocery brands such as Mr Kipling, Ambrosia, Bisto and Oxo. Their allegation is that Premier Foods has been using its power as a major customer to request payments from its suppliers; if they don't pay up, they are 'delisted' from supplying the company. In other words, monopsony power.

    read more...»

    Unequal Opportunities for UK Actors

    Friday, December 05, 2014

    Julie Walters is the latest actor to claim that opportunities for young actors in the UK are unequal in today's Daily Mirror.  There seems to have been a slew of similar claims in recent months from the likes of Ian Mckellen, Judie Dench, Stephen Morrisey and Stephen McGann. 

    How would economists illustrate this issue?  

    If you are an A2 Economics student (and depending on which awarding body you sit), you may well have covered Marginal Revenue Product, drawn the 'walking stick' MRP curve and applied such a theory to inequality of opportunity for females or people from a minority ethnic background in the UK.  Could the same be applied to acting?

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    Rail fares rise pegged to inflation

    Every so often I read an article and start to tot up the number of economic concepts being covered in just a few words.  This occurred to me again this morning when reading this BBC news article on train fare rises.  Train fares are pegged to July's inflation rate and, as inflation is quite low at the moment, this means that the average rise of 2.2% is also relatively low (although regular train users may still feel aggrieved).

    Have a read yourself and see how many concepts crop up or give them same exercise to your A2 students.  My thoughts are below:

    read more...»

    PNC Christmas Price Index 2014

    Thursday, December 04, 2014

    American financial services firm PNC have been producing an index of the price of Christmas for many years. They take the carol The 12 Days of Christmas, and calculate the cost of all the 'gifts' given in the carol, then create an index of how much those prices have changed over the last year. They accompany the index with a story-telling video, and they have often made an entertaining, if quirky, Christmas lesson. 

    This year's version is, frankly, a little weird. They have created a 'story' around each of the gifts, which is supposed to bring the carol back to popularity for a new generation. The stories range from a lonely Partridge in a Pear Tree who visits all the other characters in the carol, to videos of milking maids playing a tune, leaping squirrels singing the carol, and hens forming a 'rock band'.

    It's also a bit clunky to work your way through. After watching the intro, if you click on the cross in the top left hand corner you will get the twelve stories to select from, each with a video which will appear underneath the selection. I can't really do justice to it all with a description - but I'm not sure it works quite as well as a Christmas lesson as it has in other years. Have a look and see what you think....perhaps I am missing the point?

    The Angry Economist is back - with an Autumn Statement special edition

    Wednesday, December 03, 2014

    He's back!  Sort of by popular demand!  If you're looking for a quickfire activity for your Economics lessons this week then download the latest edition of the Angry Economist.  Ask your students to choose one of the 8 policies announced in today's Autumn Statement by George Osborne and our favourite curmudgeonly economist randomly chooses an objective to analyse.

    How does the proposed funding for new roads impact on equality for instance?  How does the change in Stamp Duty application affect economic growth.  A fun and quick way to get your students analyzing first thing in your lesson.

    Download the Angry Economist Autumn Statement Edition here.

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