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...»
Tim Harford’s piece in the New York Times today is a stunning visualisation of what economists term revealed competitive advantage - if you have a few moments please do read through it - superb for understanding the inter-connections between trade performance and structural changes in output, jobs and investment.
“Economies change in structure over time, moving from simpler goods to scarcer, more valuable ones. Countries rarely make radical structural changes. Instead, they generate capabilities gradually, and new industries usually develop from existing ones. Unfortunately, some industries — oil extraction, say, or fishing — do not naturally lead to anything new without a huge leap.”
“The only way”, says William Hague, “to increase our national prosperity and secure our growth for our economy, is through trade, and our Embassies play a vital role in supporting British business.” Therefore the Foreign Office announced today that they are opening five new Embassies and many Consulates, from China and India to El Salvador and South Sudan. This two minute clip from the Foreign Secretary’s speech to the House of Commons today could make a good lesson starter for a revision session on trade, the capital account, comparative advantage, government intervention for competitive advantage, and so on.
This is a new eight-page revision briefing note for students taking AS and A2 macroeconomics courses on developments in the Chinese economy and their impact on the UK and the wider global economy. Fans on our Facebook page voted for it and we will be adding some more revision briefings in the next week based on the votes and preferences on the page! What is happening in China and in China’s changing economic relationships around the world is and will continue to have a profound impact on the UK and European Economy - this revision briefing looks at some of these connections. Download it here in pdf formatread more...»
Here is an essay plan on this question: Assess the extent to which a rise in imports may affect macroeconomic performance (25 marks). Like many macro questions, the focus is on the longer-term performance of the economy – this requires a brief explanation at the start of the answer – e.g. economic growth, unemployment, inflation and material well-being. The essay plan can be downloaded using the link below:
Remittances are the sending of money to people in another country. Despite a recent dip because of the global recession, total remittance flows have grown in the world economy over the longer-term as the scale of migration between countries has grown. For many lower-income nations, remittance income is now a sizeable contribution to their Gross National Income (GNI) The World Bank estimates that there are over 250 million people living overseas who send some of their earned income back - remittances to all countries topped $305bn in 2008. The biggest single recipients of remittances are India, Mexico and China but measured as a share of national income is probably a better way of considering their relative importance. The World Bank calculated that in 2007, remittances as a share of GDP was particularly high in these countries:
Our Timetric charts provide some data background to the importance of remittances
One aspect of globalisation is that manufacturers source their supplies from around the world. This will depend on the comparative advantage those countries have developed in producing various types of components. Japan produces about 30% of the global output of ‘flash memory’ used in electronic cameras and smartphones, and about 15% of the DRAM memory used in PCs. If something happens to disrupt that supply chain, as is clearly the case after the horrific events in Japan, there will be global effects.read more...»
Here is a link to an article written by John Gapper in the Financial Times about the long term decline of the US container shipping industry. The finger of blame is pointed at the protectionist ruling that “all domestic cargo must be carried in US ships made in US shipyards, crewed by US citizens .....Of the world’s 7,200 container ships in 2007, only 89 were US-registered compared with 1,250 European ships and 860 in Greater China ......An alliance of shipping companies, trade unions and US shipyards has blocked liberalisation.”
This is also a really good article on the economies of scale in container shipping.
The US trade gap with China hit a record $273.1 billion in 2010 raising fresh fears of a deteriorating trade relationship between the world’s two biggest economies. But a quick look behind the figures suggests that the US economy is enjoying a surge in exports a major stimulus to their recovery hopes.
The raw data is that US goods exported to China totaled $91.9 billion in 2010 while imports from China rose 24 percent to $364.9 billion. In fact that represents a rise in the value of US-China exports in 2010 of more than 31%.
And the true scale of the trade imbalance with China is likely to be much smaller than the conventionally published data suggests.
The deepening economic ties between China and the continent of Africa is a hot topic in the globalisation debate and one that has been covered in a two part series on the BBC by Justin Rowlatt. Details here. Episode 1 / Episode 2 More programme information can be found here.
Diane Coyle has a revealing blog post on the subtleties of this relationship in this blog post where she reviews the new book The Dragon’s Gift.
For visual learners this photo archive from the BBC is superb!
Here are some more recent news stories on this topic:
Poverty and Development: Africa-China relations mutually beneficial (Tutor2u Politics Blog)
Transfers of money across national boundaries by migrant workers appears in both the current and capital account of the balance of payments.read more...»
The BBC produced a nice little graphic this week to go illustrate comparisons between the US and Chinese economies, alongside the talks between President Obama and President Hu Jintao. Relations between the two countries have been strained by issues such as the trade imbalance and China’s growing military might. The figures here give some background to those issues.read more...»
The Christmas edition of The Week magazine has a selection of Statistics of the Year which have been published during 2010 and I like this one from Prospect Magazine - China now exports as much every six hours as it did in the whole of 1978. Could be used to illustrate the speed of growth of trade with the rest of the world?read more...»
The EU imposes tariffs on imports from China, Vietnam and Cuba, because it considers that they are not market economies. The World Trade Organisation allows importers to place extra duties on goods which are being ‘dumped’ on the world market - that is, being sold at a price which is below the price in the country of origin. These two issues came together at the beginning of 2009, when the EU decided to impose anti-dumping duties of up to 87 percent for the next five years on screws, nuts and bolts imported from China - but in mid-2009 China claimed to the WTO that the threshold price had been wrongly calculated, and that the tariff breaks international trade rules.
Over a year later, the WTO has finally reached a decision in China’s favour, saying that the tariffs must be removed - marking a victory for China in its first WTO dispute against the European Union. In a trade dispute between the two, China has imposed its own tariffs on imports from the EU. This story, reported by the BBC and China Daily amongst others, gives evidence for the economic theory that import tariffs tend to lead to retaliation and there is a net reduction in trade - and also for the practical economics which shows that, however sensible the theory may sound, in practice countries often make decisions which suit their own domestic purposes.
Some fantastic data from the World Trade Organisation for teaching students about world trading patterns and getting them to analyse some fairly up-to-date data…read more...»
Geoff reported yesterday that John Humphrys of the Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme is in China this week and recommended listening out for his reports. Yesterday’s programme included a particularly interesting report into the widening wealth gap in Shanghai. China’s booming economy delivered 49 new billionaires last year alone as the country became the world’s second largest economy - where the gap between rich and poor is bigger than any other sizeable country in the world. The report opens on the floor of the stock exchange, which is not what you would expect – the trading room is open to anyone who wants to play the game of gambling on the stock market, with nurses dropping in for an hour in their lunch break, and pensioners taking their knitting with them as they sit watching the screens showing movements in the prices. This is a fascinating 10-minute report which covers everything from the risk of high inflation to unequal access to cutting edge medical facilities. It includes the dilemma for the government as they trade off the desire of workers to earn more and be able to afford the type of goods that they are making for export to richer economies against the growth of the economy, with low wages as the basis of their competitiveness, and the risk of currency and trade wars as the west seeks to protect its industries from cheap Chinese imports.read more...»
In 1930 the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act was passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. It was an attempt (by increasing tariffs) to ease the effects of the Great Depression but in fact it made it worse. Recently the House of Representatives passed legislation aimed at imposing trade sanctions against China unless it allows its currency to appreciate, thus diminishing its export advantage. Furthermore Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner warned against currency policies that might intensify “short-term distortions in favour of exports.”read more...»