Just a few years ago the Zimbabwean economy was in collapse and meltdown and the political system on the point of disintegration under the disastrous handling of the dictator Robert Mugabe. When hyperinflation ruled, a sign once appeared in the toilets of a hotel in Harare, “please do not flush Zimbabwean dollars down the toilets”
Three years since the creation of a coalition government, there are some tentative but notable signs of improvement. Inflation has fallen and the use of the US dollar and other regional currencies as legal tender has helped to finance essential imports of basic products. Unemployment remains above 75% of the labour force and there is huge absolute poverty, but the glimmers of hope are there as shown by this recent news report from AlJazeerah English.read more...»
Per capita incomes in China are rising though still low by advanced-nation levels. China ranks at 119 in terms of average incomes, according to World Bank data (per capita incomes, PPP adjusted). But China is now the biggest car market in the world and there has been a huge rise in the sales of luxury goods to China (these products have a strong income elasticity of demand).
China wants to achieve a re-balancing of her growth – towards domestic consumption and away from exports. Another key aim of the plans for the next 5 years is a surge in market-driven entrepreneurial activity. Plus a continued shift towards higher-value, high-knowledge manufactured products.read more...»
This is the first of a short series of blogs focusing on economic growth and development in the Indian economy, Our first blog provides some background data and study videos on India.read more...»
What happened in the UK in 1851, the United States in 1920 and in the World in 2008? These three years mark the estimated year when the size of a given urban population overtook the size of the rural population. And now China has reached this significant landmark.
The Chinese Bureau for National Statistics reported recently that in 2011, the proportion of urban population reached 51.27 percent (1.3% higher than in 2010) with the urban population standing at 690.79 million persons, an increase of 21 million persons in a year. China’s rural population stood at 656.56 million persons and for the first time her urban population was 34.23 million persons more than the rural population.
Click below for some study / teaching resources:read more...»
In this blog entry we will be bringing together some short video resources that might be useful when teaching and studying the economics of inequality. Please do add some more resources using the comment box at the bottom and we can add them to the listing.read more...»
I am using Russia’s entry to the World Trade Organisation in my teaching on international trade and development this term. It appear to be a significant moment for the global economy. Russia is the last member of the Group of 20 major economies to join, after China gained membership in 2001. Progress towards membership has been delayed by numerous geo-political issues not least the disputes with neighbouring Georgia.
Joining the WTO involves making a commitment to the rules of the international trade system - for Russia as with other new members, this will mean reduced import tariffs, the staged elimination of industrial domestic and export subsidies, and better greater access to foreign companies. Russia will also have to improve adherence to international accounting standards.read more...»
Joseph is 29 years old and makes a living selling vehicle parts in the dusty trucker town of Igawu in Southern Tanzania. When he approached me during my breakfast and flashed 2 fresh $100 bills, I was naturally interested to know where they came from. I offered him a ride north to find out…read more...»
Last night’s edition of Newsnight should be required viewing for all AS and A level economists - and it is a huge shame that it is only available on i-player for another 7 days. Introduced on the shock news that even Tesco is vulnerable to the downturn, it included reports from Andrew Verity looking at whether the British economy will ever wean itself off shopping and the City, and an excellent (and all-female!) discussion including Deborah Meaden and the FT’s Gillian Tett. Try challenging your students to watch and listen to this while noting down every aspect of the syllabus which is mentioned or referred to - that will keep them busy!
There was also a debate between Employment Minister Chris Grayling and disability campaigner Sue Marsh about the government’s welfare reforms, defeated in the House of Lords the night before, and finally Tokyo correspondent Roland Buerk looking at Japanese economic stagnation of the late 1980s and 90s, to consider whether it was a “lost decade” and what could be learnt from it.
In this special report from BBC reporter Fergus Walsh, the rapid population growth in the African country of Zambia is examined. Population growth in the country is so quick that it could perpetuate deep poverty in the country despite relatively fast growth in recent years. In Zambia, the UN predicts that the population could triple by 2050, reaching 100 million by the end of the century.
The Guardian has reported new research from the CEBR that Brazil is set to overtake the UK to become the sixth biggest economy in the world. The U.S., China, Japan, Germany and France occupy the top five places.
Typically the Sun newspaper gets their economics muddled with this piece of sloppy writing
“BRITAIN will fall to seventh in the league table of the world’s richest countries next year when it is leap-frogged by buoyant Brazil.”
Brazil richer than the UK? The Sun is confusing the size of GDP with the level of real GDP per capita (adjusted to a purchasing power standard). And as our Timetric chart shows below there remains an enormous gap in average living standards between the UK and Brazil.read more...»
If you are at all interested in the latest research findings in the domains of poverty, inequality, economic and social exclusion and the social impact of government policies, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation website is highly recommended. In this particular blog the JRF provide a revealing list of things that they have found during the course of 2011 - there is some excellent background evidence here for AS and A2 students wanting data to support their work on poverty and inequality and social trends in the UK.
You can also follow the JRF on Twitter - use this link
What links rising VAT and energy prices, higher unemployment, loss of bonuses, a reduction in overtime and more part-time working?read more...»
This blog brings together some recent videos on progress made towards meeting some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The Millennium Development Goals include ambitious targets to
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality and improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development
Channel 4 recently focused on the causes and effects of the hundreds of thousands of empty homes in the United Kingdom. Why is it given persistent shortages of affordable housing that perhaps a million homes lie empty and unused whilst an estimated two million families are in severe housing needs. New housebuilding has collapsed and in Britain we are building 100,000 fewer new houses every year than we need just to keep up with the changing mix of households and demographic change.
An interesting exercise is to show students some of the Channel 4 Campaign videos and then get them to put together policy ideas as to how to reduce the volume of empty homes and reduce the length of housing waiting lists.
Links to some of the Channel 4 videos can be accessed below:read more...»
The CPI headline inflation rate has fallen to 4.8%. This BBC chart shows recent changes in the rate of increase of the general price levels using CPI and RPI indicators.read more...»
Courtesy of the Greg Mankiw blog, I have found a tool which enables users to generate data series for a range of countries and indicators of inequality.read more...»
Here is a revealing three minute video on the challenges facing America’s declining middle class. Falling real incomes, rising living costs, deep structural unemployment problems - moving on up has got harder to do - what are the social effects of this across so many states?
Pete Davies from Greenhead College attended a superb talk by Martin Wolf CBE (Financial Times) at Leeds Business School last week. The focus was on the Great Convergence between developed and emerging economies, and Peter kindly took some excellent notes from the talk which will be of great use to teachers and students covering this key globalisation / development topics. They can be downloaded below as a word file - many thanks to Peter for making them available through the blog!
Peter Day’s World Business programme on BBC this week is an evocative report on the travels of two people who have explored where we get most of the clothes and the shoes adorned with global brands.read more...»
Everyone knows about the Lorenz Curve but with the OWS events of late I came across the ‘L Curve”.
The red line represents a graph of family income across the population. The height of the curve at any point is the height of a stack of $100 bills equalling that income.
On the scale of the football field graph shown here the bottom 99% of the population measure their incomes in inches. The top 1% measure their incomes as stacks of $100 bills feet or even miles high! The total wealth of the few people in the vertical spike equals the total wealth of the rest of the population combined.read more...»
Life expectancy in the United Kingdom continues to improve. But one important aspect of the deep and structural divide in incomes, economic activity and status and health across different groups in Britain is the marked variation in average life expectancy for men and women. The UK Statistics Commission has just published new data on this covering the period 2004-2010 and finds that:read more...»
Here is one of the short information videos launched by the World Bank on the occasion of World Food Day - excellent as an introduction to the economics of high and volatile world food prices. Every night, 1 billion people go to bed hungry because food is too expensive.read more...»
Over many years the rate of change of unit labour costs (ULCs) has been a decent reliable indicator of inflationary pressures in the UK economy. Times when wage costs adjusted for productivity have grown quickly have often coincided with a rise in the annual rate of inflation - little wonder when payroll costs are a sizeable chunk of operating expenses for many businesses.
But in the last couple of years we have seen a growing disconnect between unit labour cost inflation and the published figures for CPI.read more...»
The government in Denmark, has introduced additional taxes on foods which contain more than 2.5% saturated fat. It will add 25p on packets of butter, 8p on crisps.read more...»
Film-makers Marc Francis and Nick Francis won many plaudits and awards for their wonderful documentary Black Gold - uncovering the struggles of coffee farmers in Ethiopia to sustain their businesses against the monopsony power of multinational coffee roasters. They have a new film being released in the UK this autumn - When China met Africa. On the front line of China’s foray into Africa, the lives of a farmer, a road builder, and a trade minister reveal the expanding footprint of a rising global power. Watch the trailer using the link below.read more...»
This downloadable assignment for AS macro looks at aspects of national income and the measurement of changes in the standard of living for different countries over time. The emphasis is on building confidence in handling economic data including a range of development indicators for four countries - China, India, South Africa and Mexico. The pdf document can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.
Many thanks to Pete Davies from Greenhead College, Huddersfield for pointing out a stunningly good article on the shift of manufacturing for garments towards the low-labour cost Bangladeshi economy. Read: Bangladeshi apparel gains from China’s rising costs - there is so much in this article about the relative cost differences and the importance of trade in garments for the Bangladesh economy, especially now that the European Union (EU) has allowed duty-free access to Bangladeshi clothes into the single market since the start of 2011.
Not all of the benefits of growth are evenly distributed. A rise in real GDP can often be accompanied by widening income and wealth inequality in society that is reflected in an increase in relative poverty.
“Although economic growth in China has created vast wealth for some, it has amplified the disparities between rich and poor. Although the average wealth per Chinese citizen was $17,126 - almost double that of other high growth economies such as India - median wealth was just $6,327. In 2010, China’s Gini-coefficient stood at 0.47. Inequality in China has now surpassed that in the United States.” Source: Dr Damian Tobin School of Oriental and African Studiesread more...»
Here is an updated macro presentation on gross national income and the discussion over measurement of the standard of living.read more...»
I don’t think this dilemma is anything new, but Aviva’s Family Finance Report presents some up-to-date figures which show how difficult it can be for working parents to fund the cost of the childcare that makes it possible for them to take a job. Based on average pay rates, they estimate that a parent of two children working full time would only keep £120 a month of their pay after paying all the costs associated with work, including travel as well as childcare, while those who take a part-time job may actually be £98 a month worse off. The trade-off faced by working parents if they decide to swap the unpaid role of full-time childcare at home for paid work outside the home, which necessitates paying for some other form of childcare, has always been an issue, but the gap between the gain in pay and the loss in costs seems to be getting more difficult to manage.
The report also looks at costs for child-related expenses such as school trips, clothes and sporting activities which have risen by 6.9% over the past year. Compare this with the fall in family incomes estimated at 2% between May and August this year - and the strain on family budgets is very clear. This report goes on to give some more data about the burden of unsecured debt and the measures government is taking to try to make working a more affordable option for families, which will be useful when looking at government intervention to deal with the poverty trap and the distribution of income.