This 10-question revision quiz focuses on economic efficiency.
Indian e-commerce lags behind countries such as China and a growing number of African nations. A new report in the economist looks at the future for the Indian mobile technology sector - can the adoption of cheap smartphones and adoption of 3G and 4G phone networks create new competitive advantages for the Indian economy? Who will investto build the telecoms capacity infrastructure? To what extent is the industry held back by hugely complex laws and endemic corruption? India is expected to have close to 165 million mobile Internet users by March 2014, up from 87.1 million in December 2012 - the potential is vast.
Cycling is a boom sport at the moment. The numbers of people active in on-road and off-road cycling continues to grow and sales of products such as turbo trainers that allow enthusiasts to train at home when the weather is inclement are also moving into a higher gear.
Here is a story of innovation, German manufacturing excellence, joint ventures and the commercial returns from people's desire to become more active. Electric-powered bicycles (e-bikes) are being built with the help of the multinational firm Daimler Benz. The bikes, which cost as much as $5,000, only help cyclists pedal if they want them to, but their motors can also effortlessly push up drivers to 45 kilo-metres per hour. A luxury product for now, but as economies of scale take effect, prices will fall and the product will become more affordable.read more...»
This Scoop It Board is curated daily to add new content and commentary on market and industry news relevant to A2 micro unit 3 students.read more...»
Here is my current Business Economics glossary designed for the EdExcel unit 3 economics paperread more...»
Here is a streamed version of a revision presentation on market power and pricing suitable for Unit 3 micro studentsread more...»
Several news sources are quoting the fact that Goldman Sachs have only appointed 70 new 'partners' to its directorship this month - the lowest amount of high level promotions in the company's public-listed history. The business appoints the partners as a recognition process for top-ranked employees following the tradition started when it was a private partnership. This relatively small level of new partnerships not only reflects the reduced level of profits made by one of Americas biggest banks, along with a general reduction in staffing of nearly 10% but also recognition that actually bigger isn't necessarily better in the banking world.read more...»
Matt Smith has been curating a Scoop-It collection of news stories connected to unit 3 microeconomics and specifically the economics of market structures. Click here to view it.
The #econ3 hashtag is a great way for A2 students to follow a growing number of teachers who post ideas, links and advice on Twitter. Likewise use #econ4 for tweets focused on A2 macroeconomics.
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!read more...»
The topic of economies and diseconomies of scale is a key one in microeconomics, and it's nice to see The Economist taking an interest in this important economic conceptread more...»
The economies of scale at Google are impressive and in some cases breath-taking. This visual tour provides a rich example of the size and complexity of the data centres that power the world's biggest search engine. If you are looking for some more impressive images of economies of scale in action, here is a picture tour of a Sainsburys distribution centre from a couple of years back
I was told off this week by my students for using McDonald's as an example to illustrate my point yet again. In fact it was the second week on the trot that I was reprimanded as they told me previously that I was always peppering my conversation with Latin phrases "'cos it makes you sound more clever."
"No I don't," I replied - I've told my students a million times not to exaggerate. The offending example came as I was attempting to explain how fatty foods (especially those from the exalted temple of the Golden Arches) were a demerit good. I thought about it for a little while and realised that two weeks ago I'd told them about the use of 'stars' to motivate McDonald's staff and their extensive training programmes when we discussed labour productivity. I'd also mentioned them when we discussed possible issues relating to economies of scale and the fact that a homogenised world can lead to less choice (a weak argument in their view - a McDonald's in every town sounded like a wonderful idea) and discussed the use of persuasive advertising as an example of non-price competition. They were right, I seemed to be talking about McDonald's all the time - and I'm a vegetarian!
"Mea culpa," I confessed.read more...»
If you saw my 'Diseconomies of Scale Activities' post on the 25th of September, I thought you might like to see the drawings made by my students for the 'Dog and Bone' activity.read more...»
The speed with which new consumer product technologies are taken up is
of enormous interest for lots of reasons. Emerging products and services
challenge demand, revenues and profits for established products and
bring about - as Schumpeter pointed out - gales of creative
In the United States, fresh data suggests that more than half of US consumers have smartphones and if the information is accurate, this means that smartphones have become one of the most rapidly adopted consumer technologies of all time.
I always imagined that if an Economics Teacher ever had the equivalent of a go-to flat-headed screwdriver in their teaching toolkit, it is the activity they use to illustrate the concept of diseconomies of scale. It is a theory that will probably be taught early on during the course and has the tendency to cause a look of confusion - 'Hold on, yesterday you said that big is good! We've just got used to the idea of falling average costs.'
Inventive teachers are always looking for ways to prove the proverbial 'too many cooks....' idea. Here are a couple of lesson starter resources that you might like to use to illustrate your point.read more...»
The international parcels industry is a superb example of a network industry where the fixed costs are high and the marginal cost of collecting, sorting and delivering each parcel is way below the average cost for a particular parcel business. Two global integrators, UPS and TNT Express are set to join forces in Europe as part of a merger but the European Competition Commission is investigating this planned horizontal integration on the grounds that a much larger combined business will raise market concentration levels to a position that might harm consumers.
“UPS and TNT Express are two out of the only four so-called “integrators” currently operating in Europe. Integrators are companies that control a comprehensive air and road small package delivery network throughout Europe and beyond and are capable of offering the broadest portfolio of such services. The other integrators present in Europe are DHL, which is owned by Deutsche Post, and FedEx, a US-based company”
(EU Competition Commission press release, July 2012)
This new video from The Economist provides some excellent background on the industry and gives a vivid illustration of the investment needed to run an international parcels business.read more...»
The milk industry is in the news once again with some dairy farmers threatening to go on strike and limit milk supplies in protest at cuts in the wholesale price of milk offered to them by the major milk processing businesses. I have put together some video resources available from different web sources and built them into a Storify slideshow, as more videos are added the slideshow will be updated automatically.
A potentially important moment for the contestability of the tablet market. Technology giant Microsoft has unveiled its touchpad tablet computer. The “Surface” will face tough competition from Apple’s iPad and many other devices including those made by Samsung. These video resources provide some background. The Surface tablet computer will not be available until the Autumn on 2012.read more...»
Here is a revision download containing some key theory diagrams and accompanying explanation for topics in business economics / theory of the firm / market structures.read more...»
Here is a superb news report from Channel 4 news about the shortage of skilled workers in the North East of England (an area of high unemployment). Nissan this week announced a big new investment in car making at their ultra-high productivity plant in Washington, Tyne and Wear. But many of the manufacturers along Nissan’s supply chain are finding it tough to get enough skilled people coming througth to make realistic bid for the orders that will come from Nissa. Some businesses are having to turn down contracts because they dont have the extra workforce to cope with the higher volumes of businesses.
Skills shortages are restricting the growth of many small and medium sized businesses especially in manufacturing. Little wonder that Nissan is working very closely with Gateshead College to run an apprenticeship scheme - an example of external economies of scale in action.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...»
Here is a revision presentation focusing on different entry and exit barriers in imperfectly competitive markets.
* Block potential entrants from making a profit
* Protect the monopoly power of existing firms
* Maintain supernormal profits in the long run
* Barriers to entry make a market less contestable
What is the connection between economies of scale and the minimum efficient scale?read more...»
Why do the prices of flat screen televisions keep falling, despite increasing demand?read more...»
Why is the distinction between fixed costs and variable costs not always clear?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...»
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is an emerging technology that takes product design data which provides a geometric representation of a product such as a pen and that data is then sent over to a machine that allows products to be manufactured ‘on the spot’ typically using additive materials in liquid or powder format.
This TED talk from Lisa Harouni (co-founder of Digital Forming) looks at examples of intricately designed products made using this new and increasingly affordable manufacturing technology. 3D machines can build structures, build replacement parts and parts within parts - the detailed resolution possible is incredible.read more...»
Correlation does not necessarily imply causation but analysts at Barclays Capital are worried that a surge in skyscraper construction in China and India might be a forward indicator of another burst of financial and economic distress. This report in the Independent covers their findings:
“Clusters of building activity usually coincide with periods of easy credit, excessive optimism and rising land prices, which often occur before market corrections.”
* India is scheduled to complete 14 new skyscrapers taller than 240 meters (787 feet) over the next five years from the current two
* China will increase the number of skyscrapers to 141, from the current 75, by 2017
* London’s Shard is expected to be completed in 2012 – at 1,017ft, it will be the tallest building in Western Europe
News video from the BBC: Skyscrapers ‘linked with impending financial crashes’
Guardian news video: Huaxi: the village that towers above China
Here is a link to a you tube video from the BBC looking at the modern food business and the huge profits to be made from the breakfast cereal industry. Part of the series The Foods that Make Billions (cereals, bottled water and yoghurt)read more...»