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International export competitiveness - surprising shifts in the global pattern

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Boston Consulting Group have produced a fascinating new report which investigates the competitiveness of the world's top 25 goods exporting nations. Their press release highlights significant changes in the world order over the last decade. The newly-minted BCG Global Manufacturing Cost-Competitiveness Index incorporates four factors: energy costs, productivity, wages and exchange rates. That analysis shows that Brazil is now one of the highest-cost countries, and the UK is the cheapest location in western Europe. Mexico now has lower manufacturing costs than China, while costs in much of eastern Europe are basically at parity with the U.S.

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Unit 4 Macro: Livestock insurance in Kenya

Friday, April 25, 2014

This video from the Economist is relevant to students of development economics. Severe droughts can cost Kenyan farmers their livelihoods. A new insurance scheme aims to protect them from the whims of the environment.

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Unit 4 Macro: Country Profile Revision Sheet

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Here is a Country Profile revision sheet that I have created as part of my revision programme for my A2 students. 

The idea is to complete (neatly) one sheet each for six countries – leaving room on the other side for additional useful revision concepts and background context. ideally students will choose at least one African country, a middle income nation, one or more of the BRICS or MINT countries and an EU country other than the UK. 

The sheets can be duplicated for class use and make an excellent prompt for discussion. Download a free version by clicking this link. Country_Profile_Revision_Sheet.pdf

Unit 4 Macro: Rethinking Development Aid

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Private capital flows are now much bigger than traditional aid and there has been a geographical shift in where the world's poorest people live. This OECD video provides some useful background on these important changes as we head towards changes to post-2015 development goals.

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Nigeria becomes the biggest economy in Africa after GDP revisions

Friday, April 18, 2014

Measuring the size of an economy is difficult on so many levels. Of course, there’s always the GDP debate, which asks about the best way to measure economic and social progress. But even measuring GDP is a huge challenge. Nigeria has just experienced a vast 89% increase in GDP having ‘rebased’ its figures.

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Unit 4 Macro: Tourism and Economic Development

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

For many developing countries tourism is already a major part of their economy and a significant source of extra factor incomes and employment. But there is a fierce debate about the economic and social consequences of tourism - what roles can tourism play in economic development? Can travel to developing countries do more harm than good? This revision blog provides some arguments and resources on this topic.

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Structural Change in Asian and Australasian Countries

Using pubic data from the Asian Development Bank here are some illustrations of the structural changes in output that have occurred across a selection of countries in Far East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Consider the magnitude of the changes that have taken place over the last twenty years. Note for revision which countries appear at the top and the bottom of each individual chart and think about WHY they appear in that position.

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Inequality: The Gini Coefficient

The Gini coefficient is a commonly-used measure of income inequality that condenses the entire income distribution for a country into a single number between 0 and 1: the higher the number, the greater the degree of income inequality.

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Unit 4 Macro: Mobile Technology Helps Kenyan Farmers

Here is a short report on the impact that the widespread uptake of mobile banking is having on Kenyan farmers. Kenya's Mobile banking system M-PESA is widely cited as an example of how mobile money transfer systems can act as a catalyst for growth and development. At least two-thirds of Kenyans use their mobile phones to pay bills, transfer money, pay salaries and now to get loans. The availability of a reliable mobile -payments platform has also spawned a host of mobile phone start-ups helping thousands who don't have bank accounts.

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Unit 4 Macro: Mauritania in search of growth and stability

Monday, April 14, 2014

If you are searching for a vivid example of a country experiencing primary product dependency have a look at this short video report from the Financial Times. The lower middle income west African country is trying to modernise their economy but remains deeply at risk from outside external shocks including over-dependency on a single mineral and terrorist threats. Inequality may be the biggest risk to it's future.

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Unit 4 Macro: Asian Growth Requires Less Inequality

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The new annual report from the Asian Development Bank outlines what developing Asia needs to promote inclusive growth in the years ahead. Governments in the region should tackle widening inequality that is keeping millions poor, by using fiscal policy to help close income and wealth gaps and promote more inclusive growth, says the theme chapter of Asian Development Outlook 2014. The importance of equity in shaping future growth and development continues to gain momentum across the world and not just in the fast-growing Asian region.

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Unit 4 Macro: Africa Rising - RES Panel Event

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Here are some notes taken from the recent RES panel event on the African economy

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Unit 4 Macro: African Exports to China - Benefits and Costs

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Preferential market access to China is providing an important growth-enhancing outlet for African exporters that find it difficult to break into industrialised countries’ markets. But there remain dangers that current export structures and national capacity constraints may further entrap Africa given its comparative advantage in primary resources and China’s comparative advantage in manufacturing products.

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Unit 4 Macro: Gender Inequality and Economic Growth

Removing the barriers to labour market participation that women face in many parts of the world will lead to substantial productivity gains, according to research by Marc Teignier, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2014 conference. 

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Unit 4 Macro: Focus on Rwanda

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Rwandan economy comes under special focus in 2014 because it is twenty years since the genocide. This blog provides some summary growth and development data and links on Rwanda, a country that is attracting increasing interest from students and teachers as part of their development economics course.

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Unit 4 Macro: Africa’s Recent Success in a European Mirror

Friday, March 28, 2014

Europe’s pre-industrial economies provide valuable insights into whether Africa’s recent economic success can be turned into sustained growth. According to research by Professors Stephen Broadberry and Leigh Gardner, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2014 annual conference, the European experience suggests that the more important criteria are indicators of institutional quality and structural change.

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Unit 4 Macro: A Tale of Two Mexicos

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Are you studying Mexico as one of your chosen countries of focus for the A2 growth and development paper for EdExcel? If so, this new report from McKinsey might be of particular relevance for you. Either way, there will be plenty of useful comment here on development and growth drivers and constraints.

Why are rich countries democracies?

You may be asking why what sounds like a politics question finds a place on the economics blog. The answer of course is that the issue of governance crops up a lot in economics. Governments have to address the challenges thrown up by market failure, and offer a fiscal framework that helps tackle macroeconomic problems. Regulators intervene in uncompetitive markets. Those of you looking at development economics don’t get far before asking if poor quality government holds back the weakest economies.

Hence the question (above). All rich, developed, mature economies are democracies. Ricardo Hausmann offers and insight into why this might be so on the pages of Project Syndicate.

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Unit 2 Macro: Growth is Not Enough

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In this new RSA Short, Kate Raworth makes a powerful argument to look beyond economic growth alone for a true measure of prosperity and progress. Read more about Kate Raworth's work and her idea of doughnut economics by clicking this link http://www.kateraworth.com and follow her on twitter @KateRaworth 

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F585 Pre-Release Resources (and F583, F582 & F581 too)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I thought it worthwhile sharing my resources which I have been collecting for students (and teachers alike). I have been promoting them on Twitter (@Economics_KSF) through scoop.it but for those of you not on there, the link for the scoop.it boards are here:

http://www.scoop.it/u/economics-kcsf

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Unit 4 Macro: Oxfam and IMF Focus on Inequality

Monday, March 17, 2014

Inequality is an issue that remains firmly in the spotlight of the news media and also of policy makers in different countries.

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Corruption and the economy

Pub economics often explains the plight of poor countries in terms of the problems posed by corruption. That approach might have some value, and to raise the quality of your analysis of this topic, it’s helpful to say why and how it might arise, and the effects it might have. Rich countries are also vulnerable of course.

The Economist has a really helpful couple of articles on this topic, which it calls ‘crony capitalism’.

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Some Topical Issues in Trade and Development

Monday, March 03, 2014

I was delighted to give a talk to A2 economists at Wilson's School in Surrey today covering some aspects of trade and development economics. In particular we looked at the work of Hidalgo and Hausmann and their newly published Index of Economic Complexity. The slides from my talk are streamed below.

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Quiz on the Index of Economic Complexity

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Atlas of Economic Complexity is a new book (perfect for the coffee table) from Richard Hausmann and Cesar Hidalgo. It maps out the degree of complexity of individual economies around the world and provides a hugely visual and interesting insight into the importance of knowledge in shaping the future prosperity of countries in the global economy. I have put together a 10 question quiz on some of their key results - a useful activity I hope for students interested in the commodity composition of trade of developed and developing countries. Have a go!

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IMF joins in the inequality debate

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Inequality might be falling between nations as a global middle class is emerging, but inequality is on the rise within nations. Quite why this is happening is a matter of debate, but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has joined in the discussion asking if rising inequality is an obstacle to economic growth and development.

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Michael Metcalfe: We need money for aid. So let’s print it

During the financial crisis, the central banks of the United States, United Kingdom and Japan created $3.7 trillion in order to buy assets and encourage investors to do the same. Michael Metcalfe from State Street argues that these same central banks print money to ensure they stay on track with their goals for global aid? Without risking inflation? A Print-Aid matching scheme could boost aid payments by up to 40% or $200 billion.

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Growth and Development Challenges and Opportunities for Mexico

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In this independent research assignment, Year 12 Economist Doug Feagin considers some of the factors influencing the macroeconomic performance of Mexico - a fascinating country and one of the MINT cluster of countries discussed by Jim O'Neill in his recent programmes for the BBC. 

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Manufacturing in Africa

Monday, February 24, 2014

Economics coverage of Africa can be a bit bleak (though perhaps it shouldn't be, with incomes rising rapidly in parts of Africa). There are often bad news stories, particularly in terms of human development indicators. News of economic progress often centres on the exploitation of primary commodities, with all the risks and issues that presents.

If you hope Africa will experience development, you’re likely to want to see sustained and robust economic growth. That, in turn, will require industrialization.

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Robert Peston - How China Ruled the World

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Robert Peston looks at the astonishing investment in urban infrastructure in China in recent years - 30 new airports, 26,000 miles of motorways and a new skyscraper every five days have been built in China in the last five years - required viewing for those interested in a key aspect of Chinese economic growth and development. Link to How China Ruled the World (BBC World)

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Economic Growth and Development in Sub Saharan Africa

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Here are some links relevant to the June 2014 pre-release case study on economic prospects and challenges for the countries of sub Saharan Africa.

The IMF expects seven of the world’s fastest growing countries during the next five years will be in Sub-Saharan Africa – Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zambia.

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Unit 4 Macro: Safety Nets in Sub-Saharan Africa

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A new World Bank report looks at the growing scale and scope of welfare safety nets in a number of countries in sub Saharan Africa. We tend to take entitlement and access to welfare provision for granted in high income countries. 

What contribution can a welfare system make to promoting inclusive growth and development. Here is the World Bank's slideshow and follow this link for their latest research papers on the topic.

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Rethinking Slums

You all know about exploding rates of urbanisation and the growth of mega cities. There’s much to celebrate in this trend, and economists are keen to advise countries how to urbanise successfully.

After all, for most subsistence farmers, life can be so grim that even life in a slum or shanty town can be a marked improvement. I’ve reluctantly admitted this fact to myself, and come to see slums as a stepping stone on the process of development.

A new study, reported in the Economist, suggests I might be wrong, and that we shouldn’t be ready to tolerate slums, and should be more determined to see their eradication – they might even be a barrier to development.

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10 Questions on Development Economics (Matching Pairs)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Here is a ten question matching-pair quiz covering aspects of development economics - a short revision quiz for A2 macro students created using the free software available from Zondle. Have a go!

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Unit 4 Macro: Eurasia and Natural Resources

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Natural resource economics are applied in this new World Bank blog to the Eurasian region - plenty of overlap with your studies on the issue in the context of sub Saharan Africa and other parts of the world. Click here for the blog article. 

Click here for a blog article on the natural resource curse from Graham Watson (2012)

Our streamed revision presentation on the topic is below

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Unit 4 Macro: Development Progress for the Ivory Coast

Sunday, February 02, 2014

The BBC Africa Report looks at the importance of largely French funded infrastructure projects as a driver of growth and development in the Ivory Coast. But the economy is becoming more open to investors from other countries. Some of this investment may come from Japan - read this article

Related article - focusing on the mining boom in the Ivory Coast - Ivory Coast hopes for golden future as mining sector opened up

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Building a Future for Chocolate

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Here is a short video on the challenges and opportunities facing cocoa producers across the world but especially in sub Saharan Africa which accounts for 70% of global production. Supply is struggling to keep pace with rising world demand and there have been some structural declines in production in several countries.

The FT's Emiko Terazono reports from Ghana on how chocolate manufacturers and traders are striving to boost cocoa supplies, which are coming under pressure from climate change and urbanisation amid growing demand for confectionery in emerging markets. Farmers are being encouraged to develop supplementary incomes and invest in sustainable production methods.

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“We’re all middle class now”. Or should that be middle income?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

As the comedian Mark Steel once said, “anybody who says we’re all middle class now obviously hasn’t been to Wigan” (I can make that joke because my dad’s from there). One huge global cause for celebration is that the scourge of absolute poverty is in retreat. Instead we hear much more about rising inequality within nations, which is progress, of a sort. In amongst these discussions is talk of a rising new middle class (see above – link here). What might this mean?

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Strategies to promote development - the coffee industry in Vietnam

Sunday, January 26, 2014

BBC2 are showing a documentary about the massive growth of the coffee industry in Vietnam at 8.00pm tonight - if you miss it, it will be repeated on Monday 3 Feb at 23.30, and also available on i-player. It looks as if it will provide some excellent examples of agricultural strategies to promote development, as well as constraints on that development. 

I have asked my students to read this article from the BBC News Magazine which summarises some of the programme, and to look at this summary of the World Bank's development report produced last summer

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Working for the Few - Development and Inequality

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Notes from a talk given by Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva (Head of Research at Oxfam) at the Marshall Society Economics Conference in Cambridge in January 2014

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The Emerging World and Poverty - Where Next?

Notes taken from the Marshall Society Economics Conference  - this panel session focused on growth and development issues in South Korea and sub Saharan Africa

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Poverty: New Thinking About an Old Problem

Here are some notes taken from a talk given by Peter Coy, Economics Editor for Bloomberg Businessweek, at the Marshall Society Economics Conference in Cambridge in January 2015

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China’s Development - Past Present and Future

Notes from a talk given by Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK at the Marshall Society economics conference in Cambridge in January 2014.

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Capitalism: an engine for progress

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's the time of year when many commentators are going back to basics and asking if our dominant economic model - free market capitalism - is a force for good in the world.

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Global Inequality and the double decker bus

Monday, January 20, 2014

According to Oxfam, half of all the world's wealth is owned by 85 people, who could all fit onto a single double-decker bus. 

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Put yourself in the position of a Syrian refugee

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

This resource from The Guardian could offer students an excellent way of considering the negative social consequences of civil war and internal conflict.

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Unit 4 Macro: Who Are the Extremely Poor?

Sunday, January 05, 2014

This short you tube clip published by the World Bank looks at some salient facts and figures on the extent of extreme poverty in the world

The extreme poor live on less the US$1.25 a day. Many lack basic sanitation and clean drinking water; they're malnourished and suffer from lack of education. The facts speak volumes

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Guardian Economic Development Blog - Top Stories in 2013

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Here is a selection of development storiesposted in the Guardian global development blog during the last year. Many of them are relevant for students wanting to extend and enrich their awareness for A2 macro papers.

MINT - The Next Economic Giants (BBC Radio 4)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Here is a new series on BBC radio 4 that will excite students and teachers who enjoy tracking the changing centre of gravity in the world economy. Jim O’Neill, former chief economist and head of asset management at Goldman Sachs, presents the flagship four-part series in Radio 4’s focus on the MINT countries – Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey – tipped as the next to assume their places at the high table of economic success. Details of the programme can be found here.

Unit 4 Macro: Vertical Farming - Growing Food without Soil and Water

This is a really interesting short video from the World Bank on how a Kenyan entrepreneur is using the concept of vertical farming to grow food and fodder using 80% less water. In the classroom, show the video and get the students to find ten ways in which this innovation can have a development impact - there is so much in this clip!

A Kenyan entrepreneur has adapted Hydroponics, a technique that allows to grow plants without soil, to African climate. The technique that traditionally needs an energy intensive climate control, now allows to grow plants in simple sheds without the use of electricity

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Unit 4 Macro: Africa Growth Forum 2013

The International Growth Centre (IGC) held their first Africa Growth Forum in Kampala, Uganda in December 2013. All of the papers and presentations from the forum are now available from this link - there is some interesting extension material here for students and teachers looking to enrich their understanding of some of the growth and development dynamics facing the African continent at this crucial time. 

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