Get Summer 2014 Right First Time with tutor2u Exam Coaching & Revision Workshops
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.read more...»
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.read more...»
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.read more...»
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.
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.read more...»
Revision presentation on business growth, business integration and the factors affecting the shareholder returns from merger and takeover activity.read more...»
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.read more...»
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.read more...»
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.
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?
Mainly designed for A2 micro students taking exams in business economicsread more...»
A streamed revision presentation on aspects of market power and business pricing in marketsread more...»
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…
This 10-question revision quiz focuses on the model of perfect competition.
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.read more...»
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.read more...»
Here is my current Business Economics glossary designed for the EdExcel unit 3 economics paperread more...»
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.
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?read more...»
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.read more...»
Here is the link to the article
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.read more...»
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.read more...»
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.read more...»
BMW have been fined SFr156m ($163m) by Swiss Competition Authorities for restricting the supply of BMW and MINI cars to Swiss purchasers.read more...»
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.read more...»
Here is a revision download containing some key theory diagrams and accompanying explanation for topics in business economics / theory of the firm / market structures.read more...»
This blog links to an updated revision presentation on the economics of contestable markets.read more...»
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.read more...»
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.read more...»
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?
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.read more...»
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.read more...»
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.read more...»
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:read more...»
This updated revision presentation is designed to help students preparing for markets-related topics on A2 economics specifications.read more...»
A revised revision presentation on perfect competition comes in three formatsread more...»
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:read more...»
There was a great in-depth look at activity in the car market in the Sunday Times yesterday with regards to electric powered vehicles.read more...»
A revision note on aspects of industries in which there is strong market power among one or a few businesses. Most markets are competitive with a number of suppliers (producers) competing for the demand of consumers. Some are more competitive than others. At AS level it is important to understand some of the factors that lead to market (monopoly) power and to evaluate the costs and benefits of markets where monopoly power exists together with the effects of different types of government intervention. The revision note is available to download here: Revision_Market_Power.doc
Is the multi-function and ubiquitous smartphone one of the best examples of creative destruction. This article “10 Things Killed by the Smartphone” points to a clutch of devices and products whose demand has been affected by the mass volumes of data-heavy smartphones that now dominate the market.
Nintendo 3DS and Sony PSP
Personal Video Players
Portable GPS Navigation Devices
Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)
Telephone Directory Assistance
Here are some links to recent news stories on competition and monopoly issues in the UK and the EU Single Marketread more...»
It would seem that the only way two major business are able to compete in the competitive mobile phone market is by joining forces. Microsoft and Nokia are set to pool technology and assets in the hope of creating a worthwhile impact on the smart-phone market. Will they succeed?
How can this story be used in the classroom?read more...»
The concept of market share is an important one in economics. But what data can teachers use other than the (slightly) tired example of Tesco, Asda et al in the UK supermarket market? One approach is to conduct a piece of primary market research amongst the class to see what their preferred Internet browser is and then to compare the market share calculated from student preferences with the overall global browser market…read more...»
If, like my school, you haven’t entered students for Unit 3 in January but are teaching both A2 units side-by-side for June examination, you might be looking for examples of competition policy and regulation to offer your students in the coming weeks. The report of the Independent Commission on Banking and the focus on regulation at last week’s Davos meeting are very well timed; this report filed today by Tim Weber of the BBC gives a neat summary of the time leading up to Lehman’s collapse, and offers a rather chilling conclusion from informal dinner-table discussions with the world’s top bankers that it is unlikely that regulators can, in practice, untangle the systemic risks in the financial system that make it imperative for government’s to step in and support failing banks.
If you would like to follow this up as an example with students, you might try some of the following links. There are numerous articles assessing the report of the ICB - just a couple are given here.read more...»
Here is some pure gold dust for students of competition and strategy in the food retailing industry! A leading analyst (Dave McCarthy at Evolution Securities) has written a lengthy research document building the case for Tesco to launch an aggressive price war - permanently cutting prices on hundreds of different items. Much of the case for the price discounting is reproduced in this Guardian article and key arguments are that Tesco is better able to withstand the hit on group profits from doing it, and that lowering the returns from the sector will help to bring an end to the land grab and building programme that ultimately may not be in anyone’s interests.
Has Tesco lost its way recently? Sainsbury’s was the best performing supermarket over the Christmas period. Its like-for-like sales were up by 3.6%. I have stopped shopping at Tesco partly because the retail experience is so dire (the mega store in Slough is just about the most soulless place on the planet) and also because Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have significantly raised their game in keeping products available on the shelves and in extending their value range. The Waitrose “Essentials” range has been a big success.
A new CEO provides a window of opportunity for a change of direction at Tesco and this analyst believes that Tesco needs to exploit first mover advantage before the rivals become too strong to absorb future price wars.
There are lots of excellent reports coming out at the moment focusing on the strategic issues facing businesses as they prepare for the new year. I was interested to pick up on one part of a report from Ipsos MORI which highlights the variation in levels of customer loyalty in different consumer markets.
A chart from this report is highlighted below and it generates some interesting comparisons that students might analyse as they consider the relative importance of customer loyalty as a barrier to entry:
According to the data, sectors such as grocery retailing and financial services enjoy much higher consumer loyalty than hotels, department stores or clothing retailers.
*Hotels are listed at the bottom of the table, yet they are active in promoting use of customer loyalty schemes?
* To what extent does high customer loyalty present an insurmountable barrier to entry for a new entrant wanting to build a viable scale in a new market?
* Is the best way to overcome entrenched customer loyalty to enter a market through acquisition?
Reading this piece gave me flashbacks to the mid 1980s when I would trek in excited fashion to my local petrol station who did a brisk trade in renting out VCR tapes to customers wanting to watch a move over the weekend.
A generation later and the movie rental industry has gone through several transformations. Content has migrated online and high street movie rental businesses are thin on the ground for good reason! Here is a new kid on the block attempting to challenge movie streaming businesses and the likes of Love Film. A US business Flix on Stix Kiosks allow you to download movies onto a USB 3.0 stick loaded with proprietary anti-piracy software. You choose how many movies or games to download and the rental period - the files are self deleting. It is an interesting business model that cuts out the cost of returning DVDs through the mail or in person. And rented movies can presumably be played on any device you choose within the rental period. Dynamic efficiency in action? More information here How long before this business model arrives in the UK?
There are lots of aspects of economics in this little story from the Independent on Wednesday 1st December. The final section of the report into the effects of the early snow falls is about Christmas tree shortages, and links to this BBC story about Nordmann fir trees, and the two together contain several references to the A level syllabus:read more...»
The European Commission has launched an investigation into Google after other search engines complained that the firm had abused its dominant position.
The EC will examine whether the world’s largest search engine penalised competing services in its results…