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Comparative advantage is a dynamic concept meaning that it can and does change over time. For a country, the following factors are important in determining the relative unit costs of production:read more...»
Revision notes and resources on the World Trade Organisation (WTO)read more...»
As econoMAX Editor Liz Veal reports, in the post war period, the world economy has increasingly separated itself into trading blocs. Trading blocs have grown in size and some have become more economically integrated.read more...»
This blog entry provides a link to a live version of a new Prezi for A2 macroeconomics on aspects of international trade and development. You will be able to access the latest version of the Prezi each time.read more...»
Here is a selection of visualisations from the MIT Media Lab Observatory of Economic Complexity - these cover changes in export patterns for a small cluster of developing and developed countries. What are the most notable and perhaps significant changes that students can identify?read more...»
I am launching into a short course in international trade, balance of payments and links to economic development issues. The standard fare is inescapable and there will be plenty of opportunity to cover theories of comparative and competitive advantage, evaluate the costs and benefits of protectionism and look at key trends in the balance of payments, terms of trade and capital accounts for developed and developing countries.
This time, in an attempt to freshen things up I am starting by looking at the work of Cesar Hidalgo and Richard Hausman at the MIT Media Lab and the Observatory of Economic Complexity. I first came across their work whilst reading Tim Harford's last book Adapt. They are mapping vast amounts of trade data from across the world to explore the extent to which export complexity, dynamic advantage and per capita incomes are connected. The data visualisations are tremendously interesting and I will be asking my Year 13 students to explore their site and choose some data of their own that sheds light on revealed comparative advantage in the world economy.read more...»
Ensuring students have a clear understanding of trading patterns across the world is an important topic in A2 Macroeconomics, and having the latest data at your fingertips will certainly be an important tool for both teachers and students.read more...»
In this prize-winning essay, James Richardson answers this question set by Professor Danny Quah from the London School of Economics
‘Global imbalance from the Rise of the East shows only that the
East is big enough to be culpable but not mature enough to be responsible.’
The unprecedented growth of the East has, in economic terms, defined the decades either side of the millennium. Led by China, which has enjoyed average real annual GDP growth of between 8% and 10% over this period  and which, according to Jim O’Neill, is now economically significant enough to be included in the G7 , Asia has propelled itself to the forefront of the economic scene. Indeed, the continent now accounts for 5 of the 20 largest economies by GDP , and projections by Jim O’Neill’s team at Goldman Sachs suggest that China could overtake the USA as the largest economy in the world ‘as early as 2027, perhaps even sooner.’  The Rise of the East, then, is as undeniable as it is impressive, but is it sustainable?
Identify four factors that act as constraints on Indian growth and development
Dambisa Moyo was on great form when she spoke to the Economics Teacher National Conference in London last week. Her new book Winner Take All investigates the causes and consquences of rising global demand for commodities. In particular Dambisa Moyo predicts increasing geo-political tensions and conflicts as countries scramble to secure ownership and supplies of land, water, energy and minerals. In this blog I have linked to some of Dambisa’s recent media appearances as Winner Take All was launched in the USA and here in the UK.read more...»
A useful series of flow charts on the BBC Business Webpage outlining some of the causes and effects of the present problems of the Eurozone economies.
A good starting point for AS students and teachers preparing for A2 Economics courses.
Will the East slow before it counts? Is the East only big enough to be culpable but not mature enough to be responsible? In this TED talk recorded at the LSE a few months ago, Danny Quah, Professor of Economics and Kuwait Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science looks at some of the darker undercurrents, dangers and risks from the changing centre of gravity in the world economy.read more...»
The Human Development Index (HDI) forms part of the annual human development report and is a composite measure of economic and social welfare that has three main components.
At its most basic the HDI focuses on longevity, basic education and minimal income and progress made by countries in improving these three outcomes.
The inclusion of education and health indicators is a sign of successful government policies in providing access to important merit goods such as health care, sanitation and education.
Click here for the World Human Development Map
1.Knowledge: First an educational component made up of two statistics – mean years of schooling and expected years of schooling
2.Long and healthy life: Second a life expectancy component is calculated using a minimum value for life expectancy of 25 years and maximum value of 85 years
3.A decent standard of living: The final element is gross national income (GNI) per capita adjusted to purchasing power parity standard (PPP)
“Human development is the expansion of people’s freedom to live long, healthy and creative lives; to advance other goals they have reason to value; and to engage actively in shaping development equitably and sustainably on a shared planet. People are both the beneficiaries and the drivers of human development, as individuals and in groups” Source: HDR Report, November 2010read more...»
The African Human Development Report 2012 is a key reference point for students and teachers who are passionate about their development economics. The issue of focus in the report this year is food security.
“Sub-Saharan Africa cannot sustain its present economic resurgence unless it eliminates the hunger that affects nearly a quarter of its people, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) argues. More than one in four Africans - close to 218 million people - is undernourished, African governments spend between 5-10% of their budgets on agriculture, well below the 20% average that Asian governments devoted to the sector during the green revolution there.”
The Plant Stat African Human Development Map is superb for students to use - it includes the facility to export your own charts for inclusion in assignments and classnotes - click here to access itread more...»
I have found Knoema incredibly useful for collecting data and imagine it would be an excellent site for teaching colleagues and researchers, particularly with its focus on Economics. The Guardian’s data team have a good article on it today.read more...»
A short glossary of some international trade and balance of payments key terms for AS macroread more...»
This highly interactive programme on Al Jazeerah a few days ago focused on the impact of foreign aid on the African economy. It runs for 35 minutes but there is plenty of interesting debate and many comments flying in on the twitter feeds. Plenty of discussion that might inform a revision session on the future for the African economy and the debate over the effectiveness of aid programmes.read more...»
Ports are a key part of the critical infrastructure of a country engaged in trade with the rest of the world. This BBC news video looks at the rapid expansion of container ports in the Gulf - facilities that offer a vital link between Europe to the west and China and India to the east.read more...»
Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are meeting for the 4th time to discuss a deepening of economic ties within the fast-growing bloc of countries. The acronym BRIC was first coined by Jim O’Neill from Goldman Sachs in 2001. Recently he suggested another group of countries that deserved to be included in a broader grouping of high-growth and increasingly influential economies in the world economic system.
These countries make up forty per-cent of the world’s population and over a fifth of global GDP. Crucially they, and another cluster of rapid-growth countries will be the main drivers of world growth in the years ahead even though they are not immune to the financial volatility and commodity price inflation inflicting external shocks on advanced nations.
One of the key items on the summit’s agenda is a proposal to establish a “BRICS Bank” that would fund development projects and infrastructure in developing nations. The summit is also on opportunity to discuss ways of building intra-BRICS trade, which expanded by 28 percent last year to $230 billion. There are divisions within the BRIC grouping - for example Brazil’s criticisms of China’s exchange rate policies but the summit is a reminder that the balance of power and influence in the world economy is changing forever.
Here is a selection of news articles and videos covering the BRICS summit for 2012read more...»
The US and China rely heavily on each other for trade but retaliatory protectionist policies continue to be a recurring theme between these two nations that prevent the free movement of goods and services between the two countries.
Allegations that the undervalued Yuan gives an unfair advantage to Chinese exporters, twinned with high US unemployment has led to protectionist American responses and a tariff (tax on imports) on Chinese solar panels to protect this strategic and growing industry. The move followed a review by the US Commerce Department which in a preliminary decision claimed that Chinese firms are benefiting from unfair export subsidies.read more...»
One of the dangers for a country implementing protectionist measures is the risk of retaliatory action. We have only to look at US-China trade relations to find plenty of evidence for this. The US objects to what they see as a Chinese policy of deliberately holding down the value of the yuan in order to boost Chinese exports. However, in addition to this they also object to government subsidies which the Chinese government give to some of their producers in order to help lower their production costs and so make their goods even more competitive in world markets.read more...»
Here is a great little article on the Today programme’s website by Evan Davis, looking at the relative merits of Plan A - Austerity - vs Plan B - government spending. He takes the arguments of Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, who believes that what’s required at the moment is a short term, temporary fiscal stimulus to boost output and jobs and of Roger Bootle, managing director of Capital Economics, who thinks it would be dangerous for the government to divert from its Plan A of spending cuts.read more...»
New data suggests that the rapid growth of exports from China is once again slowing down. This Reuters business news video (2 minutes) provides some useful background information on the recent downturn in export and import volumes and mentions that rising imports and a shrinking trade surplus may help the Chinese to rebalance their economy and perhaps provide a demand stimulus for exporters from struggling European countries.
That said the continued weakness of many EU countries will make it difficult for Chinese exporters to maintain sales and employment. During the global recession of 2008-09 millions of workers in Chinese manufacturing industry lost their jobs prompting many to return to their rural homelands in search of work and income.
* Which industries in China are likely to be most affected by a reduction in the growth of exports?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...»
A few weeks ago came the announcement that an Indian business is finally set to launch the World’s cheapest tablet computer. This laptop device will sell for around 18 times less than the price of an iPad in London! How can a laptop be manufactured for less than $US 40?read more...»
Before you read this blog please have a look at another blog written by our good friend Mark Johnston from New Zealand. Students of China and the US economy will find it fascinating!
There are good grounds for no longer calling China an emerging economy - it has arrived! The multiple significance of the rapidly-growing Chinese economy is plain for all to see but for Britain, only a small percentage of our exports of goods and services go there and this must change if Britain is to fully engage with and benefit from the rising might of the Chinese consumer. This article from the Daily Mirror provides a non-technical but clear explanation of the growing purchasing power of newly wealth Chinese, thousands of whom are flocking to western shopping malls to buy premium brands. Chinese foreign exchange reserves are also being used to buy up real assets - last week we heard that a Chinese sovereign wealth fund is set to buy nearly 9% of Thames Water.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...»
Here is a selection of short video clips that I use when teaching competitive advantage in markets and when introducing the factors that determine the competitiveness of UK producers in global markets. The focus here is on the UK economy but I will add some more videos to the blog as I work my way through this teaching topic.read more...»
The Guardian DataBlog has a superb resource here on the patterns of UK exports and imports in 2011. Ideal for printing out and using when introducing international trade. There is more official UK trade data here
As one of many turn-of-the-year round-ups, the BBC has polled 34 ‘leading economists’ in the UK and EU to find out what they expect for the EU in 2012. Unfortunately this report of the results doesn’t give details, but says that25 of the 27 respondents expect recession to return to Europe next year, with many finding it fairly likely that the eurozone will break up, and 20% expecting that at least one member will leave during next year.read more...»
In A2 macroeconomics the underlying causes of economic growth and development and constraints on both of these are covered in more depth. One of the concepts students might be familiar with is that of human capital.
I have always summarised the idea of human capital as being a measure of the overall quality of the human input available to produce goods and services in an economy. The ONS have published a new study on the value of human capital in the UK and they draw on a definition given by the OECDread more...»
Are you into your cycling? The huge expansion of interest in cycling in the UK from road racing through to BMX and mountain-biking has gone hand in hand with the fantastic success of British cyclists on the international stage. 2012 promises to be another strong year for the industry despite difficult economic conditions.read more...»
Jim O’Neill the Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management has a new book published early next week and it looks like being a tremendous resource for teachers and students wanting to deepen their understanding of crucial changes in the global economy. The Telegraph has been publishing extracts from the book - to have a view please click on the links below:read more...»
I’m soon to be discussing with my students the topic of ‘trading patterns’, and so I’ve been visiting the WTO to download their latest statistics on world trade to aid class discussion. Read on to discover these and some other useful resources for teaching trading patterns.read more...»
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!
I have just come across this page on the BBC website which act as a portal, collecting together a variety of stories around a topic, and is therefore really useful to refer students to. It is listed as a Special Report; I am not sure if it is new or not so apologies if you have been aware of it for a long time already; however, if you have not, it seems worth highlighting here.read more...»
At last night’s Senior Economics Society at Oundle we had a riveting talk by Hywel Rees-Jones, Managing Director of CDC, which covered so many areas of the issues of development economics. The talk was entitled “Can the invisible hand solve poverty in Africa?” Whilst conceding that some of the statements were broad generalisations across a variegated continent, Hywel discussed some of the key issues facing Africa.read more...»
This short video report from Will Ross for the BBC from the island of Lamu, considers a number of economic concepts.read more...»
Here is an interesting, if slightly challenging, article for the A2 macro economists on protectionism and the state of the global economy in the Telegraph: Protectionism beckons as leaders push world into Depression
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 feature article from the BBC web site is essentially about the vital importance of high-knowledge industries in sustaining competitiveness and growth in a globalising world. Europe lags behind many emerging countries in terms of the resources devoted to science and technology, research and development and creative industries in particular.
But the article makes reference to the expansion of science cities - knowledge clusters that bring together higher education expertise and entrepreneurial zeal - their number continues to grow from California and Boston in the USA, Cambridge in the UK, Education City in Qatar, Science City in Zurich and Digital Media City in Seoul. All good examples to use of the commercial leverage from external economies of scale in high-tech industries.
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.
Brazilians who wanted to get on in life used to leave the country to seek their fortune in the richer developed nations. But now that trend is reversing in a big way - the workers are moving back home, and being followed by a reverse wave of movement of people and capital away from the shrinking economies of the US and Europe to the booming, resource rich economy of Brazil.
This article has a number of interesting examples and raises issues such as the extent to which Brazil is likely to over-expand, and so risk a fast upturn followed by equally fast decline through the economic cycle, and the role that their high interest rates will play in avoiding that.
It makes an interesting read, and might just encourage a few to learn Portuguese and take the plunge - with the fabulous climate and geography, abundant resources, and the World Cup coming to Brazil in 2014 followed by the Olympics in 2016, why would you not?
Bizarre example of comparative advantage in action here, where, because of a shortage of the right kind of wood in China, ”Georgia Chopsticks, based in the southern state of Georgia, is operating around the clock to meet the demand and hopes to be exporting 10 million pairs a day by the end of the year, each set complete with a label marked “Made in USA.””. Read more here or watch the video below. HT Carpe Diem.read more...»
Nigel Cassidy reports in this video from BBC news on fears that the world faces “a century of hunger” if the international community cannot agree on new rules regarding food prices. Food security is a hugely important global economic, political and social issue and one of the best resources for keeping up to speed on this is the Guardian’s dedicated page of articles. Here is the link. Check the links at the bottom of the blog for past articles on this topic.
As Nick Clegg makes his delayed visit to Brazil this week, with the aim of doubling UK exports to this fast-growing economy, the UK’s former Consul-General in Sao Paolo has written an interesting piece for the BBC’s website. As Martin Raven points out, British business has taken a long time to take Brazil seriously, and this high-level visit replaces one that was due to take place in February but cancelled at less than a week’s notice because of the debate in the House of Commons over the AV referendum - which can hardly have helped. As a result, he says, the UK has fallen behind other countries investment into the Brazilian economy and “there are now more international German companies in Sao Paulo alone than in any individual city in Germany.”read more...»
The first episode of a 3-part series, Made in Britain, was shown on BBC 2 last night, and was a really useful hour for economics (or business) students. It examined how and why Britain has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs over the last two or three decades in the low-value part of the sector, with some film of outsourcing shot in China as well as plenty of archive material from this country, but argued that the move to high-end, low scale manufacturing has become Britain’s area of comparative advantage in industrial manufacturing. This included Evan being taken for a test drive in the new McLaren sports car, which was clearly an amazing experience - watch the clip to see his reaction! And this surely emphasises the Economic Importance of Manufacturing to the UK economy - see below! Sadly this episode is not to be broadcast again, but is available on i-player for another 22 days and is thoroughly worth watching. I will certainly be setting the recording machine for the next two programmes, on Mondays at 9.00 on BBC2 - episode 2 is to focus on how innovation can help keep Britain ahead in the global economy.read more...»
Geoff’s blog about ECON4 (see below) is fantastic advice, and I hope that my A2 students will spend much of the next 2 days working their way through it, checking they are secure in their knowledge of the topics he has identified, and can apply them to the context areas suggested there. If they have finished all that, and want yet more up-to-date evidence there is plenty in the news in the last few days.read more...»
Students who want to be able to quote current data and trends in the UK economy could do worse than spending some of their revision time picking out the highlights from the Bank of England’s Agents Summary of Business Conditions, published today.
There is plenty of opportunity to find evidence which can be used to back up evaluative arguments in macroeconomics papers here.
1/ Growth in domestic markets is sluggish at best, but investment in the export sector looks better, probably driven by the rise in exports to emerging markets, Germany and the US.
2/ The service sector looks far from buoyant, with so much spare capacity that investment intentions are low and recruitment in consumer services is down.
3/ Unsurprisingly, import and raw material prices are driving a need to pass on cost push inflation to buyers, although many found that their power to pass on price increases to consumers was very limited, in spite of widespread awareness of the increase in costs - reflecting fears that price elasticity is very high at the moment.
Stephanie Flanders has posted a very useful blog examining Eurozone growth, and whether the UK can best be compared to France and Germany or to Greece, Portugal and Spain. She starts with Ed Balls rejection of the Chancellor’s habit of likening the position of the UK economy to those of the southern states which are struggling so badly at present; the Shadow Chancellor believes a better comparison would be with our traditional competitors in northern Europe.read more...»