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Unit 4 Macro: Rebalancing the Economy

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Re-balancing is an important aspect of the nature of the current recovery in the UK economy from the 2008-09 recession.

Economic re-balancing describes changing the balance of demand, output and jobs in different parts of the economy. 

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Unit 2 Macro: Growth is Not Enough

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In this new RSA Short, Kate Raworth makes a powerful argument to look beyond economic growth alone for a true measure of prosperity and progress. Read more about Kate Raworth's work and her idea of doughnut economics by clicking this link http://www.kateraworth.com and follow her on twitter @KateRaworth 

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Unit 2 Macro: Regional Multiplier Effects with Siemens Investment

Here is a good example of an inward investment project likely to create a strong multiplier effect for the economy of East Yorkshire. 

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F585 Pre-Release Resources (and F583, F582 & F581 too)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I thought it worthwhile sharing my resources which I have been collecting for students (and teachers alike). I have been promoting them on Twitter (@Economics_KSF) through scoop.it but for those of you not on there, the link for the scoop.it boards are here:

http://www.scoop.it/u/economics-kcsf

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UK Economy: Mind the Gap - Skills Shortages

Monday, March 17, 2014

Are skills shortages holding back the economic recovery? The Financial Times is running a video series looking at the problems businesses are having in recruiting people with technical skills. The apprenticeship programme is expanding but will it be enough to meet the growing gap between demand for and supply of engineers and other specialist jobs in industries surrounding precision engineering, nuclear power and many others? 

According to an article in the Financial Times:

"Migrants are filling a fifth of jobs in industries such as oil and gas extraction, aerospace manufacturing and computer, electronic and optical engineering because of a lack of skilled British graduates."

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Corruption and the economy

Pub economics often explains the plight of poor countries in terms of the problems posed by corruption. That approach might have some value, and to raise the quality of your analysis of this topic, it’s helpful to say why and how it might arise, and the effects it might have. Rich countries are also vulnerable of course.

The Economist has a really helpful couple of articles on this topic, which it calls ‘crony capitalism’.

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Unit 2 Macro: Ageing Infrastructure and Economic Growth

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Here is a revealing quote from a special study published in March 2014

"Simply put, too much of the city’s essential infrastructure remains stuck in the 20th Century—a problem for a city positioning itself to compete with other global cities in today’s 21st Century economy."

Which city do you think this report was referring to?

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Unit 2 Macro: UK R&D Spending Remains Low

Thursday, March 13, 2014

For years the government has tried to lift research and development spending as a share of national income - but seemingly to no avail. The latest data finds that the UK is spending less on R&D than any other EU country. What might this mean for the supply-side competitiveness of the economy? 

The data finds that

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Life is better now – despite the crisis

Friday, March 07, 2014

Here’s a great topic for an economics debate. National income is still lower than before the financial crash. We have a ‘cost of living crisis’. Yet it’s possible to argue that life is better now than it was in 2005. How can that point be made without being laughed out of the room?

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UK Economy: Mind the Gap: London v the Rest

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Mind the Gap! Evan Davis has produced two superb programmes on the regional imbalances in the UK economy. In the first he focuses on the agglomeration / network economies of scale that help to explain the skew in business investment towards the capital. In the second he looks at which cities elsewhere in the UK might be drivers of renewed growth of incomes, investment and growth! Here are the links:

Mind The Gap Episode 1 - click here

Mind The Gap Episode 2 - click here

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Unit 4 Macro: Low Investment Stifles the World Economy

Six reasons for low business investment are advanced in this article - private sector capital spending is a key driver of growth - why have companies been reluctant to authorize investment projects despite an environment of low interest rates?

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Some Topical Issues in Trade and Development

Monday, March 03, 2014

I was delighted to give a talk to A2 economists at Wilson's School in Surrey today covering some aspects of trade and development economics. In particular we looked at the work of Hidalgo and Hausmann and their newly published Index of Economic Complexity. The slides from my talk are streamed below.

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Quiz on the Index of Economic Complexity

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Atlas of Economic Complexity is a new book (perfect for the coffee table) from Richard Hausmann and Cesar Hidalgo. It maps out the degree of complexity of individual economies around the world and provides a hugely visual and interesting insight into the importance of knowledge in shaping the future prosperity of countries in the global economy. I have put together a 10 question quiz on some of their key results - a useful activity I hope for students interested in the commodity composition of trade of developed and developing countries. Have a go!

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Unit 2 Macro: Economic Growth

Here is a revision presentation for an AS Macro topic - economic growth

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A minimum wage in Germany - but the low-skilled jobs are in the UK

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In Germany the government has reluctantly agreed to introduce a minimum wage of €8.50 (£6.98) per hour. Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union party is opposed to the idea, but need to make concessions in coalition negotiations with centre-left parties such as the Social Democrats, who have campaigned for a national minimum wage.

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Growth and Development Challenges and Opportunities for Mexico

In this independent research assignment, Year 12 Economist Doug Feagin considers some of the factors influencing the macroeconomic performance of Mexico - a fascinating country and one of the MINT cluster of countries discussed by Jim O'Neill in his recent programmes for the BBC. 

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Manufacturing in Africa

Monday, February 24, 2014

Economics coverage of Africa can be a bit bleak (though perhaps it shouldn't be, with incomes rising rapidly in parts of Africa). There are often bad news stories, particularly in terms of human development indicators. News of economic progress often centres on the exploitation of primary commodities, with all the risks and issues that presents.

If you hope Africa will experience development, you’re likely to want to see sustained and robust economic growth. That, in turn, will require industrialization.

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German revival exposes deep fissure within Europe’s economies

Thursday, February 20, 2014

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Germany was seen by many as the new ‘Sick Man of Europe’. Between 1991 and 2005, GDP growth averaged only 1.2 per cent a year, compared to 3.3 per cent in the UK. Since then, the German economy has revived dramatically. The recovery in the German cluster of economies from the financial crisis has been as strong as in the United States, with the previous peak level of output being regained in 2011. Germany itself experienced virtually no increase in unemployment in 2008 and 2009, its exports are at record levels, and even the crisis in the Euro area has not prevented expansion in both output and employment.

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Robert Peston - How China Ruled the World

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Robert Peston looks at the astonishing investment in urban infrastructure in China in recent years - 30 new airports, 26,000 miles of motorways and a new skyscraper every five days have been built in China in the last five years - required viewing for those interested in a key aspect of Chinese economic growth and development. Link to How China Ruled the World (BBC World)

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10 Questions on Growth Economics

Monday, February 10, 2014

Here are some revision questions on economic growth designed as a short revision quiz for A2 macro students - have a go!

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Pay and Productivity

David Smith's weekly column in the Sunday Times yesterday is worth getting hold of, to study the conundrum around stagnant productivity and rising employment. He uses data from the ONS to look at average weekly real wages, which started falling in 2008 and are still falling now, to consider whether this year will show a turnaround in real incomes.

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Unit 4 Macro: Is Norway suffering from Dutch Disease?

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Norway has for many years recorded an enviable macroeconomic performance. It regularly tops the international rankings for the Human Development Index (HDI) and it has one of the highest figures for GNI per capita (PPP) among developed nations. It records huge current account surpluses in excess of 10% of GDP each year and strong growth and surging revenues from oil and gas production have given the Norwegian government a fiscal position that many other countries would die for!  Unemployment is the lowest of any European country.

That said there are some signs that the economy is suffering from an over-dependence on oil and gas - it is at risk of the Dutch Disease? 

The Dutch Disease is the idea that economic growth from exploiting and exporting natural resources can crowd out investment in other sectors, in part due to a strengthening exchange rate which causes a sharp rise in relative unit labour costs. High wages are also seen as a factor behind a trend decline in the average hours worked and a rise in the drop-out rate from high school education. 

Manufacturing wages in Norway have climbed by more than 150 per cent since 1997 against just 50 per cent in the US and Germany They are now 60-70 per cent higher than the weighted average of Norway’s trading partners, meaning “that for every hour worked here we need to be 60 per cent more productive”. (FT, 7 Feb 2014)

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UK economy: Tidal Lagoons

Friday, February 07, 2014

Cost benefit analysis, economies of scale, energy economics, regional development, economic growth, competitiveness ... there is a veritable a tidal wave of applied economics in this article from the Guardian on plans for Tidal Lagoon Power.

Unit 4 Macro: Eurasia and Natural Resources

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Natural resource economics are applied in this new World Bank blog to the Eurasian region - plenty of overlap with your studies on the issue in the context of sub Saharan Africa and other parts of the world. Click here for the blog article. 

Click here for a blog article on the natural resource curse from Graham Watson (2012)

Our streamed revision presentation on the topic is below

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Unit 4 Macro: Development Progress for the Ivory Coast

Sunday, February 02, 2014

The BBC Africa Report looks at the importance of largely French funded infrastructure projects as a driver of growth and development in the Ivory Coast. But the economy is becoming more open to investors from other countries. Some of this investment may come from Japan - read this article

Related article - focusing on the mining boom in the Ivory Coast - Ivory Coast hopes for golden future as mining sector opened up

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Building a Future for Chocolate

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Here is a short video on the challenges and opportunities facing cocoa producers across the world but especially in sub Saharan Africa which accounts for 70% of global production. Supply is struggling to keep pace with rising world demand and there have been some structural declines in production in several countries.

The FT's Emiko Terazono reports from Ghana on how chocolate manufacturers and traders are striving to boost cocoa supplies, which are coming under pressure from climate change and urbanisation amid growing demand for confectionery in emerging markets. Farmers are being encouraged to develop supplementary incomes and invest in sustainable production methods.

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Does Facebook have a Future?

So farewell, then, Facebook! That is the conclusion of a highly technical paper by two Princeton researchers, John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler, which received a lot of publicity in the press last week. The authors conclude that “Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80 per cent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017”.

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UK Boom and Bust?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In this short interview from the Financial Times, John Authers discusses with Roger Bootle, managing director of Capital Economics about the sources of the resurgence in growth in the UK economy. Bootle argues that there is little sign of economic re-balancing, consumption is the main driver of recovery and net exports are subtracting from growth at the moment. 

The current account deficit is widening - Bootle find this a deeply depressing shift and hints that the UK economy remains heavily dependent on exporting to weak-growing European markets.

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Imports are good too!

Monday, January 27, 2014

We are often (quite rightly), talking about Britain’s disappointing export performance. There are lots of good reasons to promote exports – an injection into the circular flow of income and the X in C+I+G+(X-M)

But don’t fall for the trap of thinking that exports=good and imports=bad. In the final analysis, one of the main reasons for exports is to pay for imports. Imports play a crucial role in making our economy more efficient.

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Macro Policy Challenges in India and Japan

Sunday, January 26, 2014

My A2 macro students are now looking at some fascinating macro policy challenges facing a range of countries. This week they choose one from two set assignments. 

The first offers them an opportunity to analyse some of the causes of high inflation in India and consider how much of a threat it is to India's continued growth and development. 

A second assignment looks at Abenomics in Japan and whether it can lift the Japanese economy out of over two decades of slow growth and deflationary pressures. I am hoping that there will be some interesting insights allied to good A2 macro analysis as students crack on with their independent research. 

Download the assignment sheet below and I have added in some suggestions for further reading on the two topics

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Working for the Few - Development and Inequality

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Notes from a talk given by Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva (Head of Research at Oxfam) at the Marshall Society Economics Conference in Cambridge in January 2014

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The Emerging World and Poverty - Where Next?

Notes taken from the Marshall Society Economics Conference  - this panel session focused on growth and development issues in South Korea and sub Saharan Africa

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Poverty: New Thinking About an Old Problem

Here are some notes taken from a talk given by Peter Coy, Economics Editor for Bloomberg Businessweek, at the Marshall Society Economics Conference in Cambridge in January 2015

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30 Most Innovative Countries in the World

Friday, January 24, 2014

Successful innovation is a driving dynamic of competitive businesses and countries. Bloomberg Rankings recently examined 215 countries and sovereign regions to determine their innovation quotient. They have narrowed this down to thirty countries and the results are available through this Bloomberg slideshow. Which nation comes first?

Click here to find out

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The ‘output gap’: another piece of economic mumbo-jumbo

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The concept of the 'output gap’ is central to mainstream macroeconomics. It is not merely of academic interest. 

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has a specific requirement to estimate the output gap, which it defines formally as “the difference between the current level of activity in the economy and the potential level it could sustain while keeping inflation stable”. 

The output gap is a key consideration for central banks around the world including the Bank of England. If output is well below its potential, nominal interest rates should be kept low, to try to stimulate the economy. And a large output gap should keep cost and price inflation low. Prices are hard to put up in a depressed economy. 

See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23145755 for a discussion of the changes made to the policy of forward guidance.

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Capitalism: an engine for progress

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's the time of year when many commentators are going back to basics and asking if our dominant economic model - free market capitalism - is a force for good in the world.

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David Rowan on disruptive entrepreneurs and innovators

Monday, January 20, 2014

We have been discussing the economics of innovation in class in the last few days. I came across this short talk given by David Rowan, editor of Wired magazine. What sets disruptive entrepreneurs and innovators apart from the rest? In his INK talk, David Rowan, editor of Wired UK, asserts it’s a “healthy disregard for the impossible” and offers nine tips for cultivating that mindset.

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The Economics of Medicine

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The pharmaceutical (medicines) industry poses interesting questions for economists.

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Business economics: the global car industry

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A great case study in The Economist, ideal for those of you wanting to link business economics theory to a clearly relevant case study.

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Unit 4 Macro: Centre of Gravity in Car Manufacturing Moves East

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Volume car production has been surging in recent years in many Eastern European countries - this FT news video provides some of the background and offers some revealing insights into the complex sources of competitive advantage in a key industrial sector.

The vehicles that roll off the production line at the Czech company's state-of-the-art car plant near Prague now outstrip many western rivals not only on cost but on reliability and finish too.

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A new exhibition on the changing UK industrial landscape

Peter Marsh, formerly the manufacturing editor of the Financial Times, has let me know of the imminent launch of an unusual and interesting photographic project linked to the world of manufacturing. It's an exhibition of pictures of UK manufacturing operations taken by some of the world's top photographers and which will tour Britain from the end of January to September next year.

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Unit 4 Macro: Shaping Economic Development in Romania

There has been huge recent coverage of the impending relaxation of migrant controls for workers from Romania and Bulgaria - two countries that joined the EU single market in 2007. Here are some different views on the issue.

The World Bank has recently put two short You Tube clips on their channel focusing on the importance of economies of scale, labour mobility and competitive cities as drivers of growth and development in Romania and Bulgaria. They are both worth a look as useful short revision clips for economists and geographers.

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MINT - The Next Economic Giants (BBC Radio 4)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Here is a new series on BBC radio 4 that will excite students and teachers who enjoy tracking the changing centre of gravity in the world economy. Jim O’Neill, former chief economist and head of asset management at Goldman Sachs, presents the flagship four-part series in Radio 4’s focus on the MINT countries – Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey – tipped as the next to assume their places at the high table of economic success. Details of the programme can be found here.

Unit 4 Macro: Vertical Farming - Growing Food without Soil and Water

This is a really interesting short video from the World Bank on how a Kenyan entrepreneur is using the concept of vertical farming to grow food and fodder using 80% less water. In the classroom, show the video and get the students to find ten ways in which this innovation can have a development impact - there is so much in this clip!

A Kenyan entrepreneur has adapted Hydroponics, a technique that allows to grow plants without soil, to African climate. The technique that traditionally needs an energy intensive climate control, now allows to grow plants in simple sheds without the use of electricity

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Unit 4 Macro: Africa Growth Forum 2013

The International Growth Centre (IGC) held their first Africa Growth Forum in Kampala, Uganda in December 2013. All of the papers and presentations from the forum are now available from this link - there is some interesting extension material here for students and teachers looking to enrich their understanding of some of the growth and development dynamics facing the African continent at this crucial time. 

Britain’s position in the economic ‘league table’

Sunday, December 29, 2013

'Tis the season of making predictions about the future.  What will 2014 bring?  There has also been a lot a coverage of a study making predictions as far ahead as 2030.  

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Unit 2 Macro: Are Robots Stealing our Jobs?

Monday, December 23, 2013

This is an age-old debate - the extent to which emerging technologies built on robots will replace labour and scale down the number of jobs in previously labour-intensive industries. Are we still several years away from robotics eliminating millions of jobs or will the process arrive far faster than many expect? The Washington Post reports on eight ways that robots are changing labour markets: Click here

Click below for a short interview with the excellent Tom Standage from The Economist  who discusses what types of robots we should be looking out for in 2014

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How Bad Has It Been? 2008-2013 in Historical Perspective

Friday, December 20, 2013

The end of a year is a good time to take stock. For the first time since 2007, prospects for the UK for the forthcoming year look unequivocally good. But looking back, just how bad have the last few years been across the developed world as a whole? And how do they compare with previous recessions in a historical context? To keep you out of suspense, the answer to both these questions is ‘pretty bad’. In one key respect, it has been awful.

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London and Reinventing the Future

Friday, December 13, 2013

If you didn't quite grasp the importance of agglomeration economies in driving and sustaining growth and wealth creation in cities, then this wonderful piece from Bridget Rosewall will do it I am sure! It highlights the importance of vision and a willingness to take risks in bond-funded infrastructure projects in London (and elsewhere). Bridget Rosewall's new short book is available direct from the publishers - click here for details

London’s Super Sewer

With London’s Victorian sewage system struggling to cope, the 25km Thames Tideway tunnel is intended to boost capacity. But the £4.2bn Super Sewer project has run into considerable and vocal opposition. London's main sewers are over 150 years old and built for a city for 2.5 million people. The population of London is now over 8 million and when heavy rainfall arrives, there are frequent and sizeable discharges of raw sewage into the river Thames. 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage flushes into the Thames in a typical year - that’s enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall 450 times. The sewage discharges puts the UK in breach of the EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.

Critics of Thames Water argue that they have under spent on sewage system maintenance over the years despite recording persistently high profits. Thames Water announced £150 million profits in 2012.

Residents around the 21 proposed construction sites have protested about the externalities connected to the project. Other opponents argue that the money would be better spent on cheaper sustainable urban drainage techniques.

Future generations will benefit but today's water users will pay most of the construction cost with higher water bills imminent for a number of years to come. The Thames Water proposes adding £70 to £80 a year indefinitely to the average bill of Londoners to fund the 16-mile sewer from Acton in west London to Abbey Mills in east London. But a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance calculates that the tunnel could be built for between £30 and £35 per household per year

Guardian: London super sewer 'should be scrapped in favour of cheaper projects'

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