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The labour market and ‘foreign bricklayers on £1000 a week’

Friday, January 09, 2015

Perhaps you are starting to look at labour markets, which economists usually understand in terms of the supply of, and demand for, labour services. This is a good example of these two forces coming together to determine wage rates.

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Trick or Treat Economics Challenge

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A seasonal quiz challenge for your economics students fresh out of the tutor2u Learning Lab.

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‘Wordsnake’ Activity on Elasticity

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Here's a fun resource that's trickier then it sounds.  'Wordsnake' is a resource developed by our very own Graham Prior.  At first glance it appears to be a wordsearch as you see a grid of what appears to be 100 random letters.  However, the key phrase being tested 'snakes' around the grid rather than being up, down or diagonal as in a normal wordsearch.

Students are given a question on screen with the answer hidden in the grid.  Who can be the first to spot the answer and call out its location?

If the answer is not obvious at first, the teacher can press the space bar and the letters reveal themselves one at a time. This version contains 5 questions relating to elasticity and demand.

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Unit 1 Micro: Key Diagrams and Glossary

Friday, May 09, 2014

A document containing the key diagrams and terms for Unit 1 Micro is streamed below. 

You can also download this pdf document for free from our online store here

For more revision support for AS Micro, visit our dedicated AS Micro blog channel. We also have a free AS Micro revision class on our sister site Zondle and a wide collection of revision notes for AS Micro here on the tutor2u website. 

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Unit 1 Micro: AS Micro Revision Quiz 4

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Here are twelve more questions covering markets and market failure - test your understanding with this zondle-powered quiz!

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Unit 1 Micro: Revision on Elasticity of Demand and Supply

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Our normal laws of demand suggest that as prices increase demand decreases whilst firms attempt to supply more (with the opposite happening as prices decrease). The concept of elasticity extends this understanding by asking the question ‘by how much does demand and supply change?’

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Unit 1 Micro: Selection of Revision Presentations

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Here are some streamed revision presentations for unit 1 microeconomics

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Unit 1 Micro: Key Term Glossary - Markets and Market Failure

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

An updated glossary of key terms for the Unit 1 Economics paper

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Unit 1 Micro: Markets and Market Failure Concept Glossary

Monday, December 10, 2012

An A-Z glossary for the Unit 1 Micro course

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Unit 1 Micro: How Hot Dogs Are Made

Sunday, November 11, 2012

For many industrial products the price elasticity of supply across different levels of demand is essentially perfectly elastic - i.e. a business can manufacture as much as is needed at a given unit cost for a given level of market demand. Processed food is a good example of this and I can find no better example of the idea than this stunningly clear five minute video on how hot dogs are made!

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Unit 1 Micro: Capacity problems following Olympic surge in demand

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A hat tip to Ed Marsh from Glyn School for spotting this excellent short news video  from BBC Midlands. Demand for swimming lessons in Corby and Northampton is running well ahead of the capacity of the pools to offer them - the problem is not a lack of pool capacity, more a shortage of qualified swimming coaches - what are they doing to rectify this? 

Unit 1 Micro: Revision Presentation on Elasticity of Supply

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A slide share revision presentation on price elasticity of supply

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Unit 1 Micro: Price Elasticity of Supply

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Revision Blog on Price Elasticity of Supply

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Unit 1 Micro: Revision on Price Elasticity of Supply

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Here is a planned answer to an exam question

“Discuss how the price elasticity of supply of coffee might differ in the short run and long run.”

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Government Plans to boost the Housing Market

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Government has announced today a scheme to help first time buyers on to the property ladder. It has been reported widely in the press with mixed reactions. The BBC article outlines the main proposals (here is the link to The Daily Telegraph). It is interesting from a political point of view that this government should chose to intervene in this market, though perhaps we should not be too surprised as it was the Conservatives that brought in the ‘Right to Buy’ legislation in 1980.

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Applications of Elasticity

Friday, November 18, 2011

Once students have understood the theory of the different elasticities, an important progression is being able to apply it to different markets.
One exercise that I use with my iGCSE and AS groups is as follows:

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AS Micro: Importance of Elasticity of Supply

Saturday, April 23, 2011

This revision note considers some areas of the AS micro course where price elasticity of supply can become important in your analysis. The document can be downloaded below:

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AS Micro Revision: Banana Prices

Friday, April 01, 2011

This revision note covers supply and demand factors that help to determine the world and domestic retail price of bananas. Despite rising world prices, the UK retail price of bananas has actually fallen in recent years. Can students explain why? What effect does intense competition within the UK food retail sector have on the prices we pay?

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Heard the one about the £250,000 fish?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I was browsing some back copies of the Guardian today, and came across a good example of markets in action. Last week a tuna fish fetched over 32 million yen at an auction in Tokyo.

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Economics at the Movies - The Yeo Valley Rap

Friday, November 05, 2010

This new rap produced on behalf of Yeo Valley foods in Somerset is cool, fun and has gone viral! The brief was to get across the healthy nutritional qualities of Yeo Valley products to a younger generation and this old timer thinks that they have done a great job! Quite apart from using it as a useful ‘bridge’ in a lesson I have brought it out when teaching elasticity of supply (the time it takes to switch from non-organic to organic farming when responding to changing market demand). And also barriers to entry in A2 micro - organic produce requires a licence/accreditation from the Soil Association.

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The Market for Potash

Saturday, October 30, 2010

This is a superb BBC news report on the rising demand for and prices of potash.

Potash is shorthand for potassium carbonate - a potassium compound often used in agriculture and industry. Potash is the third major plant and crop nutrient after nitrogen and phosphate and the vast majority of the annual global supply is used as a soil fertilizer.  It is a product with virtually no close substitute making the demand insensitive to the ruling market price - the price elasticity of demand for potash is very low and high prices make the product hugely profitable to supply

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Supply and demand of nuts

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A good article in the Telegraph on supply and demand factors affecting the price of nuts.

Profiteering from Icelandic Volcano

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Times features a very interesting article about the reaction or the percieved reaction of travel companies offering substitute forms of travel in the UK. Is the customer being ripped off? Is this price discrimination at work in the market?

Travel companies have denied profiteering from the volcanic dust cloud as stranded holidaymakers face paying premium fares to get home after the Easter break.

Channel ferry firms and Eurostar trains were fully booked this weekend as the Eyjafjallajökull volcano continued to pump ash into the atmosphere and aircraft were grounded across Northern Europe.

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Salt Union and Elasticity of Supply

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Big Freeze has caused a huge rise in the demand for grit to treat road surfaces. Most of this demand comes from local authorities and inevitably the supply-side of the market has found it difficult to match production with demand.

The Salt Union is the dominant supplier of rock salt to use on Britain’s roads. Their mine at Winsford in Cheshire is the UK’s biggest rock salt mine and is capable of extracting 30,000 tonnes per week, it has nearly 140 miles of roads some 200 metres below ground. But their plant has been working at full capacity since mid December and the Salt Union has admitted that - despite working 24 hours-a-day seven days-a-week at a maximum output of 30,000 tonnes a week, it is not possible to sustain the unprecedented level of repeat orders coming in. The potash mine at Boulby in Cleveland is the other big source of rock salt in the UK, it too is working at capacity and has opted to divert planned exports to local authorities because of unexpected depletion of stocks. The third main supplier of rock salt comes from Northern Ireland - the Irish Salt Mining and Exploration Company

Stocks of rock salt have dropped sharply and the main supplier is working at capacity - two factors that have made the short run supply of rock salt highly inelastic in response to strong demand. The free market price of salt ought to rise in such circumstances and there is evidence that local councils who have flexible salt supply contracts with the Salt Union are seeing a rise in the cost of salt per tonne. This BBC magazine article tries to unearth some of the detail on salt contract prices. 

Swine flu vaccines and elasticity of supply

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The scale of the ordering of swine flu vaccinations by governments across the world is eye-wateringly large! GlaxoSmithKline plc - one of the world’s biggest pharma companies has reported that governments around the world have so far ordered 440 million doses of its pandemic swine-flu vaccine Pandemrix. GlaxoSmithKline has been engaged in a tense race to get new swine flu vaccines onto the market fighting the likes of Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis AG and AstraZeneca to win contracts for public health programmes. For students of the price mechanism it is a fascinating example of many supply and demand concepts at work:

The challenge of scaling up production to meet huge levels of demand - this has involved out-sourcing
The relative importance of fixed and variable costs in developing and manufacturing/distributing a new drug
The elasticity of supply of vaccines to meet short term health requirements
The oligopolistic race to win and protect market share
Economies of scale in production
The balance of power between the major buyers and the multinational drug suppliers
Price discrimination tactics

The Guardian reports that:

“The company makes the vaccine in Dresden and Quebec but the demand is so great – about 60% higher than for usual seasonal vaccines – that it is also outsourcing production to third-party manufacturers.”

According to the Wall Street Journal

“Glaxo hasn’t released information on cost per dose of the vaccine. However, Chief Executive Andrew Witty said in July that Glaxo was charging wealthy nations $10.26 per H1N1 vaccine shot and developing countries less. The drug maker is also donating 50 million doses to the World Health Organization.”

The Independent reports that

“The United States has begun a massive campaign aiming to vaccinate 250 million people against the illness by year’s end.”

And the Times reports that “total booked orders for the drug are worth about £2.2 billion — a significant sales and profit windfall as a result of the swine flu epidemic”

World Tea Prices Climb to New High

Friday, September 04, 2009

The price of tea on the global market has surged to a fifteen year high. Supply and demand factors are both at work as this short streamed presentation shows

There are over 1,500 different types of tea so discussing what is happening to the ‘world price’ has its limitations! But this is an interesting market to explore for AS students covering as it does

*Market demand and supply factors
*The impact of price volatility
*Do tea producers actually gain from rising market prices
*Price and income elasticity of demand for tea
*Fair Trade and tea pricing policies
*The impact of changing tea prices on demand for and supply of related products
*The significance of world tea prices for macroeconomic performance of major tea exporting nations

Once students have the core supply and demand analysis, this is a topic that we can return to later on in the course and also in revision

Will O2’s network be able to carry the traffic?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

O2 has won the exclusive contract to sell the new Palm Pre in Britain and the contract means that O2 will be the only UK network selling the Palm Pre and Apple’s iPhone. These exclusive deals for O2 will consolidate its position as the dominant network service provider for smart phones. O2’s parent company Telefonica will also sell the phone exclusively in Spain, Ireland and Germany, buyers of the new phone will be tied into a two-year deal. But given the huge demand for these data hungry devices, will O2’s network capacity be sufficient to cope with the expected surge in phone demand and usage when the Palm Pre arrives in Europe this autumn? Existing iPhone users may find that network access speeds and reliability will suffer and thousands of extra users join the O2 system. More here from blog written by Rory Cellan-Jones.

Consumers stung by slump in bee population

Friday, November 21, 2008

If there is any honey left for tea, the chances are that it will be much more expensive in the days and weeks to come.

There are many causes including the impact of pesticides used in industrial farming, the longer-term impact of climate change, fungal infections, parasites and a shift genetically modified crops. But there is no denying a potentially calamitous decline in the size of the UK and European bee population.

This BBC report claims that the British bee-keeping fraternity are warning that there could be no domestically-produced honey left on supermarket shelves by Christmas. A mite infestation that has killed off a quarter of the UK’s honey bees this year and bee-keepers have been lobbying government for financial help to prevent the problems becoming a rout of the bee population. As market supply falls, the price of honey increases. But the effects are much broader than this. Bees pollinate many of the plants and vegetation which we then go on to consume so we can expect higher prices for our morning coffee or orange juice and also milk. Here we have a graphic example of inter-related markets.

A blog on the Guardian web site makes this point forcibly:

“Some 250,000 species of flowering plants depend on bees for pollination. Many of these are crucial to world agriculture. Bees increase the yields of around 90 crops, such as apples, blueberries and cucumbers by up to 30%, so many fruits and vegetables would become scarce and prohibitively expensive.”

One immediate response has come from the European Union which has agreed to set up recovery zones for bee hives - namely patches of farmland planted with pollen and nectar-rich plants. The fear is that this is too little too late, and the wider externalities from the demise of the bee population will prove to be very expensive for all of us.

Supplying the rising demand for wind power

Friday, August 22, 2008

This really is an excellent BBC news interview with the Chief Executive of Vestas one of the leading manufacturers of wind turbines in Europe. With rising demand for renewable energy supplies driven in part by persistently high oil prices - the pressure is on companies such as Vestas to deliver sufficient wind turbines to meet demand. The lead times between ordering a wind turbine and it becoming operational are long - including testing for wind strength and design of the wind farm site - a good example to use when considering elasticity of supply.

The Vestas web site provides a mine of good background information. The company claims to have close on 25% of the market share in wind turbines and has produced 35,500 of them in recent years. Vestas faces cost pressures of its own including the rising price of steel on world markets and increased transportation costs. Bottlenecks in the supply of key components also affects their ability to deliver orders on time. Vestas is committed to organic growth and is investing in a new blade technology factory in the Isle of Wight although only a few days ago the company announced the closure of a wind turbine tower factory in Campbeltown in Scotland.

New-generation wind farms inevitably create political controversy in the areas in which investment in wind farms is targeted - this scheme in Cornwall in no exception.

Expresso Book Machines - Printing on Demand

Sunday, July 27, 2008

“As many as 1m titles may soon be available through on-demand printing, including 600,000 titles being digitised by the publisher Lightning Source, available to be printed in one-off versions on the Espresso machine, as well as hundreds of thousands of “open-source” titles, such as classics with expired copyright.”Countless hours have been spent by look lovers searching in second hand bookstores and online inside the long tail of millions of back-catalogue books and pamphlets that are out of print. The second hand book industry is thriving and several towns such as Sedbergh and Hay on Wye have enjoyed a renaissance built on clusters of bookstores that lure browsers throughout the year. But perhaps the days of longingly poring over second hand book shelves are under threat from a technological innovation called Expresso Book Machine which claims to bring printing on demand into the mainstream of book retailing. This machine is featured in today’s Sunday Times.

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Change of gear and direction for Ford

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The market mechanism at work!

Ford Motor has announced in the wake of a second quarter loss of nearly $9bn and a double-digit decline in US car sales volumes that it is shifting its focus from pick-up trucks and fuel guzzling sport-utility vehicles towards smaller, more fuel-efficient passenger cars. It will bring six small European models to north America, and convert three existing truck and SUV assembly plants to small cars. It also plans to accelerate the introduction of a new fuel-efficient V6 engine and to double four-cylinder engine capacity.

There are costs involved in revamping production, re-tooling the factories that previously assembled SUVs and writing off assets that can no longer be used in making the smaller vehicles - but the aim is to reduce operating costs by $5n over the course of the next couple of years. This is a good mini case study in one of the factors that affects elasticity of supply - i.e. the cost and ease with which factor inputs can be switched to produce different goods and services. The issue of how the motor sector is adjusting to changing consumer preferences is a good application of the concept of allocative efficiency.

Production of the Ford transit van in the UK is currently under review This BBC news article looks at how some of the world’s biggest volume car-manufacturers are adjusting to falling demand and heavy losses.

The Guardian: Ford downsizes to beat the car industry crisis

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