The UK's membership of the EU is among the hottest of topics at the moment. With the UKIP party doing so well in recent elections and various senior political figures starting to show their real views on UK membership of the EU club even Barrack Obama was giving his opinions yesterday. This doesn't mean that the topic is any more likely to turn up on macro-economic exam papers over the next few weeks at AS and A2 (the OCR AS paper has already been and gone! Hope it went well) - the papers will have been written before the more recent votes.
However, the economic question about the UK's membership has been an important topic for quite a while and so it is worth having a look again just in case it rears its multi-lingual head. Added to that, students of economics will be in an ideal situation over the next few years to be able to make an informed decision in any referendum, based upon having some of the facts and figures and having developed their outstanding evaluative skills on the matter!
With this in mind, follow this link to find a short (10 minute) teaching resource that asks that very simple question - What are the economic arguments for and against remaining in the European Union? The Powerpoint file has a 4 minute timer to give students the chance to think about the answer and then a nice little graphic illustrating some possible answers that they could use in an exam. The BBC have also produced a succinct balanced webpage on a similar question.
The distinguished American academic economists, Carmen Reinhardt and Ken Rogoff, have been very much in the news. Their 2009 book, This Time is Different, was a comprehensive examination of financial crises over the past 800 years. The work received many plaudits and awards. They suggested that when the ratio of public debt to GDP in a country rose above the 90-100 per cent range, the chances of a financial crisis increased sharply. And the consequence was that economic growth in the country would be adversely affected.
The European Union's carbon emissions trading scheme is under huge pressure at the moment and there are many who believe that the market-based system of carbon pricing has effectively collapsed.
- There is a fundamental over-supply of carbon permits in the market - on some estimates, an excess of supply of over 840 million permits (one permit = one tonne of CO2)
- This has caused a sharp fall in the market price of carbon to below Euro 5 per tonne
- At such low prices there is an incentive to use coal rather than cleaner natural gas for electricity generation
- Latest figures show that greenhouse gas output in Europe fell in 2012 by 1.4% - but this is largely the result of very weak economic growth in the EU
(Source: The Economist) - click here
Increasing foreign language proficiency could be a key policy tool for encouraging greater mobility of labour between countries of the European Union and reducing the huge differences in rates of youth unemployment. According to research by Professors Ainhoa Aparicio-Fenoll and Zoe
Kuehn, including foreign language studies in the compulsory school curriculum fosters migration across European countries.
The recent debacle in Cyprus has essentially been shrugged off by the markets. The European Central Bank vigorously asserts the crisis in the Euro zone is over. So why is there continued unease about the financial viability of countries such as Spain and Portugal, a morass into which even the French are now being dragged?
Economic theory helps us understand a bit more about why this is the case. One thing which the last few years in Europe have shown very starkly is the massive difference between debt which is denominated in nominal terms and that which is in real terms. Nobel Laureate Chris Sims makes the point clearly in his recently published Presidential Address to the American Economic Association.read more...»
A newly constructed Social Progress Index has been unveiled for the first time with the hope that over time, it might become as widely quoted and recognised as the Global Competitiveness Index as a benchmark of progress made by individual countries in achieving sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth and development. In the 2013 rankings, Sweden comes first and the United Kingdom is second.read more...»
The annual NORFACE migration conference at University College London this week has generated plenty of new research papers on the economics of international migration, a topic that of growing significance for students of globalisation, competitiveness, innovation and growth. Some of the key findings are summarised below together with external links to relevant articles and news reportsread more...»
The European Union has just released some new figures on the spread of hourly labour costs among the member nations of the European Union. Labour costs are made up of wages & salaries and non-wage costs such as employers' social contributions e.g. national insurance payments in the UK. Students who have covered aggregate supply and demand theory might be able to consider why changes in labour costs can have an effect on key macroeconomic indicators such as inflation, demand, exports and growth.
Hourly labour costs are different from unit labour costs - the latter takes into account the productivity of people employed. For example, a 5% rise in hourly labour costs will leave unit labour costs unchanged if productivity rises by 5% over the same time period.read more...»
Germany’s low unemployment is in large part due to the ‘Hartz Reforms’, which started as early as 2003 and have reduced the long-run rate of unemployment by 1.1%. That is the central finding of research by Matthias Hertweck and Oliver Sigrist, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2013 annual conference.
Unemployment rates across much of Europe have surged to unprecedented levels in recent years, particularly among the southern countries. In contrast, German unemployment has continued to fall even during the Great Recession. The authors conclude:
‘Our results build a solid basis for the macroeconomic effectiveness of such labour market reforms. This is particularly important for policy-makers across Europe who are currently planning to undertake similar structural reforms.’
The scale and depth of the unemployment crisis in Europe is confirmed by fresh figures released by Euro Stat. Unemployment in the Euro Zone was 12.0% in February 2013 and the jobless rate for the European Union as a whole was 10.9%. Last month there were 26.3 million people counted as out of work in the twenty-seven countries within the single market, 19 million of whom live in Euro Zone countries. In the last year alone, unemployment in the Euro Zone has jumped by over 1.7 million but this aggregate figure hides large country differences and persistent regional and local variations. Here is the contextual data to take into the exam:
Here are some links to relevant articles and research sources for June 2013 OCR F585 pre-release case study. Our own toolkit is now available - click here for detailsread more...»
Here is a selection of resources on the Cyprus banking crisis and the controversial bail-in of uninsured large depositors. Particular credit to the team at Saxo Bank for an excellent info-graphicread more...»
Geoff and the team are hard at work preparing their comprehensive support pack for teachers and students preparing for OCR A2 Unit F585 on the Global Economy.
We're hoping to have the F585 Toolkit ready to despatch by Wednesday 27 March and we'll email it out to colleagues who request it over Easter if they have already broken up for the holiday.
The OCR F585 Toolkit can be ordered directly online here or by downloading and completing this printable order form.
The Toolkit provides unrivalled analysis and evaluation of each of the 5 F585 research extracts: namely
Extract 1: The birth and growth of the eurozone
Extract 2: New EU member states and the euro
Extract 3: Estonia’s economic growth and development
Extract 5: Estonia’s progress towards sustainable development
The economics news, and this blog, has recently featured the debate between those who favour more government spending on public infrastructure and those who favour sticking to the role of austerity, in the search for growth - see the debate (or spat) between Krugman and Sachs, Vince Cable's article in the New Statesman and Liam Fox's speech to the IEA last week for a range of different views. The idea that more UK spending on 'shovel-ready projects' (if such a thing exists) would help to kick start the economy through multiplied growth of GDP suggests that we don't spend enough. And this view would be borne out by those who suffer damaged car tyres from potholes, hold-ups on the roads and railways from lack of maintenance, and delayed or re-routed air travel when the airports can't cope with adverse weather. However, an article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend suggests that the UK's spending is well ahead of other countries,and that Germany in particular has a real problem with aging, collapsing infrastructure.
Robert Peston has an interesting piece on his BBC blog, considering what the UK's GDP growth would look like if it was possible to extract what he calls the 'bad bits' - financial services and North Sea oil and gas extraction - both of which are in serious decline. He suggests that we have been too dependent on these two sectors, and that both are now in serious decline. In particular, that the global financial services industry is now protecting itself by becoming much more national and less internationally interconnected, so that the City - as the world's most open and global financial centre - has therefore suffered.
Mark Austen considers whether the UK economy has on balance benefited from being outside of the Euro Area in recent yearsread more...»
Evaluating the UK’s macro performance outside of the Euro Zone
- Decision made in 2003 that the UK would remain outside
of the single currency
- UK remains a full member of the single market
- Supportive of further EU enlargement but distanced from deeper fiscal / banking intregration
Crucial question both in the short and medium term is whether non-participation in the Euro makes a significant difference to key macro outcomes
- Real GDP growth, estimated Trend growth (LRAS)
- Core CPI inflation and inflation expectations
- Employment and unemployment rates
- Trade balances (with EU and beyond)
- Trends in relative productivity and per capita incomes
Having German exchange students in my lesson has provided a super opportunity to discuss the position of the German economy within the Euro Area and to compare and contrast macroeconomic indicators between the UK and Europe's largest economy. Here is a selection of some of the video clips that have been used as prompts for discussion.read more...»
I am teaching aspects of the European single currency this week, naturally there are many charts that tell important stories about the macro challenges facing countries inside the euro area. I have made a file of charts available for download and I hope this might be of help to teachers covering the Euro for Unit 4 macro. See the link below:read more...»
This has to be my new favourite story, and it will work particularly well for A2 but for AS too, with elements of micro as well as macro.......
Did you know that China produces 80% of the world's supply of garlic?
Did you know that police in Britain, Ireland, Austria and Poland arrested smugglers for illegally importing at least €3m worth of garlic into the EU last year alone?
To fully understand trade, we must understand the value added at each stage ...... a crucial line in a new report from the OECD on the challenges of measuring the value of trade in a globalised world with deeply integrated supply chains. This is an important issue, traditional trade data rarely tells us the full story - a key evaluation argument that can be made in Unit 4 macro papers.
For example, the OECD report finds that one-third of the total value of motor vehicles exported from Germany actually comes from other countries, while nearly 40% of the total value of China’s electronics exports come from foreign sources.read more...»
An updated glossary of key terms for AS macroread more...»
Here is a link to Paul Mason's recent documentary on the rise and fall of the Spanish economy. A superb hour on the travails of one of the key countries inside the Euro Zoneread more...»
Mark Johnston explains how, over the last 4 years, the Icelandic economy has gone from financial disintegration to an emerging recovery and in doing so has taken a different policy stance than other economies faced with similar economic conditions.read more...»
There has been plenty of discussion in recent weeks about whether Britain might seriously start to consider leaving the European Union? Here is a selection of news pieces and discussion videos on the vexed question of UK membership.read more...»
Immigration lowers the wages of relatively low-skilled native employees in sectors of the service economy that hire bigger shares of foreign workers. But the cost reductions that employers enjoy from lower wages are typically passed on to consumers: price inflation is much higher for services with no change in immigrant employment than for services where immigrant employment is growing.
These are among the findings of research by Professors Bernt Bratsberg and Oddbjørn Raaum, published in the latest issue of the Economic Journal. Their study confirms that there are clear winners and losers from labour migration: low- and semi-skilled workers face increased competitive pressures on their wages and employment while consumers enjoy more services at lower prices.
Reducing the income tax rate and increasing the inheritance tax rate could induce a huge increase in UK GDP, according to research by Professors Alberto Alesina and Guido Cozzi and Dr Noemi Mantovan, published in the latest Economic Journal (December 2012)
Keeping up to speed with the latest macro developments in the EU econmy is never easy! I am making my constantly updated main chart room on developments in the European Union economy available for use by teachers. If you would like to share this resource please email me and I will send you a link to a drop box folder . Sharing via dropbox means that every time the data is refreshed (usually once a week) you will access to the very latest figures covering a vast array of macro indicators.
The headline news from the Financial Times could not be starker. Ford Motors has announced the closure of its last two remaining assembly plants in the UK with the probably loss of thousands of jobs. The Ford Transit plant in Southampton will close in early 2013 and a tooling factory will close in Dagenham, east London. Workers in these two factories are paying a heavy price for the sustained fall in new vehicle orders and production since the credit crunch came in 2007. Since then there has been a more than 20 per cent decline in total demand for vehicles. New passenger car registrations in Europe are expected to be just over 9 million in 2012 compared to 13 million in 2011 and 15 million in 2007. Demand for commercial vehicles has also suffered as businesses have cut back on their capital investment.
Ford is not alone in making difficult decisions to restructure their European business as a way of stemming losses and maintaining competitiveness in a hugely difficult market. Many other leading car manufacturers are taking steps to lower their production costs and survive this turbulent period:read more...»
As unemployment hits the headlines for the wrong reasons again : ‘The Eurozone is heading for disaster’.... ‘the lost generation’.... it is a great opportunity to study the theoretical concepts in this area. Unemployment in the eurozone hit a fresh high of 18.2 million in August; the highest unemployment rate was recorded in Spain, where 25.1% of the workforce is out of a job! Youth unemployment remains a particular concern, with the rate among under-25s hitting 22.8% across the eurozone and data from Eurostat shows that 55.4% of adults under 25 are out of work in Greece, compared to 52.9% in Spain!read more...»