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...»
Britain is the largest exporter of creative products in the world .... take a moment to allow this to sink in .... Britain stands at the top of the global league table for selling creative goods and services around the world, there is a strong demand for UK-centric cultural and creative output.
The Independent today carried an analysis article on the background to this wonderful success story. In 2009 - during a year when global trade slumped by more than 10 per cent - “the international sales of British TV programmes rose 9 per cent to £1.3bn….. the most popular UK shows and formats to be sold abroad include Strictly Come Dancing, Come Dine with Me and Spooks. The BBC’s commercial arm said its sales and distribution profits in the last financial year rose 4.6 per cent to £64.2m.”
According to the report - North America represented 41% of total export revenue in 2009, with Europe contributing 29% and Rest of World 30%
This is a staggeringly good performance and it is one specific area of our trade accounts where the UK is clearly able to build and sustain a competitive advantage. Trade figures do not lie - they reveal comparative advantage and this is an industry that the government would do well to nurture and support as best it can. It is a proven success.
Movements in the external value of currencies have direct and indirect effects on plenty of macroeconomic variables such as inflation, exports, output, profits and - ultimately - jobs. This week we have seen the Japanese central bank intervening in the foreign exchange market in an attempt to drive the value of the Yen lower. Japan is struggling to sustain a recovery after the global financial crisis and a weaker currency is seen as a vital part of the attempt to prevent another draining bout of price deflation.
And the long-running dispute between the United States and China about the alleged under-valuation of the Yuan against the US dollar continues to rumble. This BBC news video takes a swing through New Jersey to find trade unions lobbying government for more action on the exchange rate issue.
This looks like a potentially useful teaching resource for colleagues wanting to update on developments in international economics. The OECD Insights publications provide what the OECD says are reader-friendly books that uses OECD analysis and data to introduce some of today’s most pressing social and economic issues. Further details here:
The titles so far are
International Migration: The Human Face of Globalisation (2009)
International Trade: Free, Fair and Open? (2009)
Sustainable Development: Linking economy, society, environment (2008)
Human Capital: How what you know shapes your life (2007)
There are two forthcoming publications
From Crisis to Recovery
Fisheries: While Stocks Last?
This BBC news video looks at demands for better pay among the three million or more workers (the majority of whom are women) who work in garment factories in Bangladesh. The country has over 4,000 textile factories and has become one of the world’s biggest exporters of clothing. But for many the jobs available offer long hours and very low pay of around $25 dollars a week - the trade unions are lobbying for average wages three times this figure. Will it threaten the competitive advantage of Bangladeshi producers looking to hold onto contracts from many western buyers?
The video is a good resource to use when teaching aspects of labour markets and globalisation in developing countries
Just as with your AS exams from one year ago, AQA unit 4 macro papers contain data response questions and the first part involves drawing evidence from statistics either in table or chart format - a good example is the one above which tracks the current account balances for the UK and the USA from 1995 onwards. Note that 2010 and 2011 are labelled as forecasts - always something to pick up on when writing about the data in your answer.read more...»
A hat tip to Harriet Thompson for this heads up - a debate at the Economist on “This house believes that making trade fairer is more important than making it freer.”
Here is a brief two page revision note on the balance of payments designed as a resource for AS macroeconomics students. Click below for the file (written in May 2010)
Balance of Payments revision note
This new streamed revision presentation for A2 economics examines the topic of protectionism and the threats to the process of globalisation.
This new streamed revision presentation guides students through some key evaluation points on the changing patterns in global trade & investment. Ideal for A2 revision.
Students wanting to demonstrate up-to-date understanding of the UK economy should find this streamed revision presentation really useful. It was delivered by Geoff at our AS & A2 Economics workshops in London & Manchester. It provides a comprehensive coverage of recent developments in the UK economy and highlights some potential downsides and upsides as the economy attempts to sustain a recovery during 2010 and 2011. Has the era of macro economic stability been replaced by a new phase of macro economic uncertainty, slower growth and a recovery constrained by debt? Or are there grounds for being more optimistic about the near-term future for the British economy?
Here is a brief recommendation to those studying globalisation to listen to this programme from the BBC World Service. Presented by Peter Day, it examines the way in which standards are set for the goods we import and consume:‘World trade in goods and services - from the butter on your bread to the existence of the mobile phone - is held together by an invisible web of standards set by all kinds of official and semi official organisations.’ Potentially useful in considering patterns of international trade, regulation, and comparative and competitive advantage.
Investment in broadband capacity and speed has a strong impact on economic growth according to new research.read more...»