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Unit 3 Micro: Some Key Diagrams for Business Economics

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Here is a selection of key diagrams for the Unit 3 business economics course

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Carpet, bed and sofa retailers promise ‘genuine prices’ after OFT investigation

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

According to the Guardian, Carpetright and four other flooring and furniture retailers have promised to clean up their pricing after reaching a settlement with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). It looks like a good example of the potential for market failure arising out of asymmetric information.

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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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Oligopoly price wars - who will be the winner?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

There are two useful articles here for A2 economists about the news that Morrisons has made a £176m pre-tax loss for the year to February 2, and the strong impact that their plans to compete hard with the discount retailers has had on the stock market value of Tesco and Sainsburys. 

We often cite the UK supermarket industry as an example of oligopoly, and today's news around Morrisons (Britain's 4th biggest supermarket) gives plenty of scope for students to use some stakeholder analysis to look at what is going on in that market - who wins and who loses?

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Perfect Competition vs Monopoly Essay Guide

Monday, February 10, 2014

A quick but informative guide on how to structure an essay evaluating perfect competition and monopoly. For more videos, click here

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Energy companies charge cash-paying customers more - market failure and Government intervention

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

If you attended the recent tutor2u revision conferences for up-coming micro-economic exams (look out for the macro workshops and combined micro and macro to come in March) you will have seen how fuel-pricing was used as an example of market failure, government intervention strategies and government failure.  

Fortunately, the energy market is a gift that keeps giving to us in the economics world (every cloud has a silver lining) as a report out today (see this link for the BBC version of the story) indicates that Parliament is about to intervene to try and stop the energy companies charging more to customers who pay by cash rather than by direct debit (£114 per year, according to the report).

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Unit 3 Micro: Perfect Competition Summary

Friday, January 31, 2014

Here is an updated revision presentation on aspects of perfect competition - A2 economics revision notes can be found here

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10 Questions on Contestable Markets

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Here are ten multiple choice revision questions covering the topic contestable markets

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Government looks to abandon use of Microsoft Office to save money

It was announced yesterday that the Government is planning to abandon its use of expensive software such as Microsoft Office (see article in the Guardian here) partly as a way of reducing costs but also as a means of breaking some of the software company's 'oligopolistic' stranglehold on the market.

As well as offering an example of Government policy to combat market failure, this story gives us a little insight into the issue of contestability in the software industry.

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Unit 3 Micro: Google Buys Nest

Sunday, January 19, 2014

What type of business integration is happening here? The announcement of Google's takeover of smart home-appliance maker Nest for $3.2bn is potentially hugely significant for Google.

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Unit 3 Micro: Crystal Cannon Quiz on Market Structures

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Here are 12 questions (type the answer) on aspects of market structures for unit 3 economics

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Competition Commission investigating the Car Insurance Market

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

You may have seen news reports today about the Competition Commission announcing that it will continue its investigation into the car insurance market having decided that there are concerns to be addressed. The headlines concentrate on the market failure caused by the current system of non-fault claimants organising their own replacement vehicles (and then charging the at-fault insurers) but I thought it was just as interesting that the CC are looking at the relationship between the insurers and price comparison websites.

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Are RBS helping slay the zombies cluttering the UK economy?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I don’t know the answer to the question I've just posed, but I think the recent news about RBS raises some interesting issues about the perceived zombie problem in the UK economy.

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The Benefits of Choice: the Battle Never Ends

Friday, November 08, 2013

Do consumer choice and competition between suppliers improve the quality of outcomes for consumers? The answer might seem so obvious that it is hardly worth asking. But a powerful strand of political opinion is building up to an attack on the concept.

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econoMAX - Energy Price Capping – Does it Address the Right Problem?

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Ed Miliband’s promise at the Labour Party conference to cap energy prices for 20 months if Labour were to win the next election, has raised many questions about what we pay for domestic energy, how it compares with other countries, and what the energy companies do with their profits. Pondering those points has led me to an over-riding question, which is whether the price paid by consumers is really the most important issue for government intervention in the energy market.

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How Ronald Coase would have tackled the UK Nuclear energy problem

Monday, October 21, 2013

UK nuclear energy is painfully burdened by regulation. Energy prices are at an all time high, so much so that politicians are desperately trying to find policy solutions to utilise this dissatisfaction for votes. There are widespread complaints that energy companies' profits are too large. The Prime Minister encourages us to look for a cheaper energy deal. Surely there could not be any clearer signals from the market and society that now is the time for suppliers to enter the energy market. But unfortunately this is not the case; a detriment to us all.

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Unit 3 Micro: Perfect Competition

This is an updated revision presentation on aspects of perfectly competitive markets. You can access revision notes on perfect competition by clicking here. Take a revision quiz on perfect competition by clicking on this link.

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Unit 3 Micro: Business Growth, Takeovers and Mergers

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Revision presentation on business growth, business integration and the factors affecting the shareholder returns from merger and takeover activity.

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Oligopoly at work in the UK banking sector

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

You don't have to look very hard at the UK economy before finding evidence of oligopolistic market structures. I've had a good look through the T2U archive and found several articles on the topic over the years. If you've already seen Geoff's excellent presentations - Unit 3 Micro: Oligopoly - The Basics and Unit 3 Micro: Oligopoly and Game Theory you'll perhaps be ready to use your grasp of theory to analyse the UK banking market.

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Unit 3 Micro: Will Blackberry Survive?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The global smartphone market is brutally competitive as the executives at struggling phone company Blackberry are finding out. Sales of their phones have been hugely disappointing for some time and the re-launch of their devices seems to have done little for Blackberry as they compete against Apple and Samsung, the dominant players in the industry.

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Unit 3 Micro: Richard Branson on Lessons from Virgin Cola

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Virgin Cola was set up during the early 1990s and after a hugely successful launch sales started to out-strip established mega brands such as Coca Cola. An aggressive response from Coca Cola included attempts to drive Virgin Cola from the supermarket shelves and the brand never recovered. In this short interview from the Wall Street Journal, Richard Branson discusses some of the key lessons from the Virgin Cola story. It is a commonly used example when discussing barriers to entry in concentrated markets.

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Price fixing of chocolates in Canada - oligopolistic collusion

Friday, June 07, 2013

As an example of collusion, this news article showing alleged price fixing by Canadian chocolate manufacturers and their wholesale distributors illustrates how highly-dominant firms can impact against the public interest.

Reading this article and admitting that chocolate is the closest product that I consume which exhibits addictive qualities (apart from coffee and salt-laden crisps that is) it struck me that this perhaps could be used as an evaluative argument when considering the case for legalisation of slightly stronger narcotics.  

One argument for legalising cannabis is that tax revenue can be accrued and there would be a reduction in crime given the lowering of prices (and consequential drop in burglary and stealing to pay for the relatively expensive habit).  

This reduction in price, it could be argued, might only occur if the newly formed legal market for cannabis is highly competitive and doesn't suffer from oligopolistic distribution conditions like chocolate does in Canada (or in the UK, for that matter).

Just a thought.  Now, where's the other half of that Twirl?

Unit 3 Micro: Business Economics Key Term Glossary

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Mainly designed for A2 micro students taking exams in business economics

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Unit 3 Micro: Market Power and Market Pricing

Saturday, June 01, 2013

A streamed revision presentation on aspects of market power and business pricing in markets

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T-Shirts and consumer choice

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Firstly, I hope the first AS exam went well, whether that was macro (OCR), micro, and whether for the first time or a retake. I also hope that in amongst the revision you’re in the market for a more random blogpost…

This one’s a topic on which Paul Ormerod would have something to say. On NPR’s Planet Money radio show/podcast, they’re launching a T-shirt, and using this as a stimulus for a whole set of reporting on its genesis, from cotton subsidies to its design. The latest podcast investigated the colour of their T-shirts. “What’s the economics in that?”, I hear you cry…

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Revision Quiz: A2 Economics: Perfect Competition (1)

Thursday, April 04, 2013

This 10-question revision quiz focuses on the model of perfect competition.

Launch Revision Quiz: A2 Economics: Perfect Competition (1)


econoMAX - Behavioral Finance

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mark Johnston provides this introduction to behavioural finance.  As with behavioural economics, the conventional view of finance assumes that markets are efficient and that the price of shares, bonds and other financial instruments are a reflection of the fundamental economic values that they represent. Behavioural finance is all about understanding why and how financial markets are inefficient. If there is a difference between the market price of a share or bond and its fundamental value then in conventional economics no one can make money in financial markets by exploiting the difference.

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Unit 3 Micro: Business Economics News Stories

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

This Scoop It Board is curated daily to add new content and commentary on market and industry news relevant to A2 micro unit 3 students.

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Unit 3 Micro: Business Economics Glossary (EdExcel)

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Here is my current Business Economics glossary designed for the EdExcel unit 3 economics paper

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Unit 3 Micro: Scoop-It on Market Structures

Monday, November 12, 2012

Matt Smith has been curating a Scoop-It collection of news stories connected to unit 3 microeconomics and specifically the economics of market structures. Click here to view it.  

The #econ3 hashtag is a great way for A2 students to follow a growing number of teachers who post ideas, links and advice on Twitter. Likewise use #econ4  for tweets focused on A2 macroeconomics.

The 2012 GCSE fiasco - are there parallels with the Banking crisis?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Now, tutor2U is an organisation dedicated to supporting and building communities for teachers and lecturers.  So, if I post a blog that criticises the report  released today by Ofqual which suggests that some teachers over-graded coursework (particularly in English) during this summer's GCSE assessments you might accuse me of bias.  To paraphrase Jeremy Clarkson: "You would say that - you drive a Citroen Picasso."  However, in my never-ending pursuit of trying to find examples that resonate with young students of economics, is it possible to draw parallels with what happened during the GCSE assessment this year, and the mistakes made within the banking industry that lead to the current recession?

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Using McDonald’s as an example - I’m loving it

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I was told off this week by my students for using McDonald's as an example to illustrate my point yet again.  In fact it was the second week on the trot that I was reprimanded as they told me previously that I was always peppering my conversation with Latin phrases "'cos it makes you sound more clever."

"No I don't," I replied - I've told my students a million times not to exaggerate.  The offending example came as I was attempting to explain how fatty foods (especially those from the exalted temple of the Golden Arches) were a demerit good.  I thought about it for a little while and realised that two weeks ago I'd told them about the use of 'stars' to motivate McDonald's staff and their extensive training programmes when we discussed labour productivity.  I'd also mentioned them when we discussed possible issues relating to economies of scale and the fact that a homogenised world can lead to less choice (a weak argument in their view - a McDonald's in every town sounded like a wonderful idea) and discussed the use of persuasive advertising as an example of non-price competition.  They were right, I seemed to be talking about McDonald's all the time - and I'm a vegetarian!

"Mea culpa," I confessed.

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Unit 3 Micro: The Rise of Dynamic Ticket Pricing in Sport

Saturday, October 20, 2012
An autumnal hat tip to Ralph Bostock at the Royal Grammar School Clitheroe for spotting this excellent article from BBC news on the growing use of dynamic ticket pricing by professionals sports clubs. Dynamic pricing to increase revenue - also known as yield management - has long been a common feature of pricing strategies among airlines and bus, coach and train operating companies. Now we find it occurring more frequently for tickets to football clubs many of whom have been struggling to fill their grounds on match day. The Football League has regulations governing ticket prices but Derby County has been given the go-ahead for a trial of dynamic pricing - is it working to boost the gate?
Here is the link to the article  

West Coast Rail Line franchise decision - a fine example of Government failure

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Every cloud has a silver lining!  News reports out today confirmed that the original decision to award the next 15 year franchise of the West Coast Rail line to FirstGroup instead of the incumbent Virgin Rail has been rescinded and the bidding process re-opened at a potential wasted cost of £40 million (by the way, have they fixed that leaky roof at your school yet?).  This may seem like a fiasco to train users and the general public alike but to us Economics teachers it's a super example of government failing to intervene correctly in a market.

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Paul Ormerod: We are all better off than we think

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Apple’s iPhone5 has already smashed sales records.  The first day on which consumers could make purchases over the web, more than 2 million online orders were placed.  Little wonder that JP Morgan has estimated that sales of the iPhone5 could add as much as 0.5 per cent to American GDP. These numbers have attracted criticism. If consumers simply buy iPhones instead of other products, it is hard to see how output could be boosted by such an amount. 

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Unit 3 Micro: Microsoft launches a tablet to challenges Apple’s dominance

Monday, July 02, 2012

A potentially important moment for the contestability of the tablet market. Technology giant Microsoft has unveiled its touchpad tablet computer. The “Surface” will face tough competition from Apple’s iPad and many other devices including those made by Samsung. These video resources provide some background. The Surface tablet computer will not be available until the Autumn on 2012.

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BMW - Bavarian Monopolist at Work

Thursday, May 24, 2012

BMW have been fined SFr156m ($163m) by Swiss Competition Authorities for restricting the supply of BMW and MINI cars to Swiss purchasers.

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Made in China - but not quite so cheaply…...

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

How long can China keep its comparative advantage of cheap production for manufacturing goods? We are aware of rising inflation in China which is eroding their advantage, and here is an article about a UK firm which manufactures cushions, some from a factory in Kirkby on Merseyside and some from his factory in the Zhejiang province in China. The story comes from a programme ‘The Town taking on China’ to be shown on BBC2 at 8pm tonight - and subsequently on i-player.

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Unit 3 Micro: Key Diagrams for Business Economics

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Here is a revision download containing some key theory diagrams and accompanying explanation for topics in business economics / theory of the firm / market structures.

Key_Diagrams_A2_Business_Economics.pdf

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Unit 3 Micro: Revision on Contestable Markets

Sunday, April 08, 2012

This blog links to an updated revision presentation on the economics of contestable markets.

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Unit 3 Micro: Post Office Threatens Smaller Photo Businesses

Monday, April 02, 2012

As the Royal Mail moves towards an initial public offering the business is searching for as many ways as possible of expanding their revenue base to maintain the viability of hundreds of local post offices. One service is the lucrative market for passport and driving licence photos - a product that I suspect has a fairly low price elasticity of demand, I paid £5 for 5 photos in a train station the other week! This Channel 4 news video looks at the battle between the Post Office and independent private sector photo retailers who claim the government is skewing the market against independent shops by giving the Post Office a contract to renew driving licences and threatening to do the same for passports.

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France and Flexible Employment

Sunday, January 22, 2012

France economic growth and jobs

This article could be useful as an illustration of the EU context in relation to employment in general, and flexible employment in particular. Attracting inward FDI is arguably a significant benefit of UK membership of the EU, and one of the advantages which the UK can offer compared to, say, France is relatively flexible employment laws.

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Unit 3 Micro: Contestable Markets - Lucozade takes on Coca Cola

Monday, October 10, 2011

A sparkling hat tip to Pete Davies for spotting this one. 1.7 billion litres of cola drank were drunk globally in 2010 & now Lucozade (owned by GlaxoSmithKline) wants a slice of the action!  with the launch of Lucozade Energy Cola. They already have a well-established position in the energy drinks market. Can they overcome possible consumer resistance to this product and brand extension?

Marketing Week reports something revealing about their point of sale strategy. Lucozade Energy Cola has already reached retailers ahead of the launch apparently with written guidelines for shopkeeprs asking for it to be stocked in the “energy drink section on the chiller”, but placed “next to the coke selection where possible.!

Maybe the new product will find a way into the secret stashes of this Manchester schoolboy entrepreneur?

Competition Plan for Universities

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

So the Universities White Paper has been published.  Words like “Competition” on news feeds instantly make me sit up and take notice.  As my Year 12s embark on their odyssey into market structures and ever more close encounters with efficiency, I think this might just be the case study of the moment.  After all its subject matter is foremost in many of their minds.

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Do you agree that the government should provide support to the UK car industry?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

This is a fairly classic A2 macroeconomics question, and one that the European Automobile Manufacturers Association has been considering at their meeting in London last week. Their conclusion? That non-European governments should scale back assistance for their own automotive industries, but at the same time governments in Europe should support the industry’s efforts to cut car emissions.

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A2 Micro: Competition Policy

Friday, May 20, 2011

The aim of competition policy is promote competition; make markets work better and contribute towards improved efficiency in individual markets and enhanced competitiveness of UK businesses within the European Union single market.

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A2 Micro: The Importance of Profit

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Profit measures the return to risk when committing scarce resources to a market or industry. Entrepreneurs take risks for which they require an adequate rate of return. The higher the market risk and the longer they expect to have to wait to earn a positive return, the greater will be the minimum required return that an entrepreneur is likely to demand. Economists distinguish between different types of profit – explained below:

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A2 Micro: Market Structure, Conduct & Performance

This updated revision presentation is designed to help students preparing for markets-related topics on A2 economics specifications.

Market Structure Conduct & Performance - revision presentation

Download printable (pdf) slide handout

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Unit 3 Micro: Perfect Competition

A revised revision presentation on perfect competition comes in three formats

Streamed presentation can be found here

Handout (pdf)

Zipped VLE Version

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A2 Micro: Competition and Efficiency

Are highly competitive markets most likely to lead to outcomes that achieve economic efficiency? The common characteristics of markets that are considered to be “competitive” are:

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