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UK Economy: Debt and Barriers to Growth

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The BBC's Robert Peston looks at the broader issue of heavy debt in the UK economy and whether it is holding back economic growth.

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UK Economy: Is the Real Wage Squeeze Ending?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Nominal weekly wage growth is now running at approximately the same pace as consumer prices inflation hinting that a long period of declining real wages might be coming to an end. The precise measurement of whether real wages are no longer falling is open to doubt, what matters more is the longer run context. The UK has seen a persistent decline in real wages and this has undoubtedly affected the strength of the economic recovery from the 2008-09 recession. 

As this short FT video shows, younger workers have seen the steepest declines in real wages.

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Key Data on the UK Economy

Friday, April 18, 2014

At this time of the year many students are wanting to get up to speed with some of the important data for the UK economy so that they can consider including it in some of their exam answers. Here is a one page revision handout on the UK drawing on a large number of indicators and (as far as possible) providing the data for 2013. Sources used include the IMF, OECD and UK Treasury.

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Economics News Quiz - 16 April 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Here is our weekly economics news quiz. Ten questions on the latest economics and business news in a quiz format powered by the Zondle website!Have a go and good luck!

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Unit 4 Macro: Prospects for UK growth - A New Survey

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fears that the financial crisis will have a significant negative impact on long-term UK economic growth are unfounded, according to a majority of the UK macroeconomics profession surveyed by the Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM). What’s more, the CFM survey indicates some optimism about the UK’s immediate capacity for higher growth: while roughly half of the respondents share the views of the Office of Budget Responsibility, the other half is substantially more optimistic about the capacity for the economy to recover.

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Unit 2 Macro: The Changing Face of East London

Saturday, April 12, 2014

This Financial Times video report looks at the economic transformation of East London prompted in part by high levels of inward investment from the Far East. Consider the economic benefits of this investment but also the challenges of rejuvenating a part of London which for decades has lagged behind the rest of the capital in nearly every economic and social metric,

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The ‘Gentleman in Whitehall’ does not know best

Friday, April 11, 2014

The government is relaxed about people cashing in their pension schemes to buy a Lamborghini. But the left-leaning liberal commentariat is certainly not. Abuse has been heaped onto George Osborne’s Budget measure of removing the requirement for people to buy an annuity. The main thrust of the attacks is that individuals may act irresponsibly. They may take financial decisions that are not in their best interests.

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Unit 2 Macro: Revision on Managing the Economy

Thursday, April 10, 2014

One of the most significant roles of a modern government is to ensure that the economy performs to its full capacity. The government has to consider the performance indicators like inflation, unemployment and economic growth and devise policies to achieve their aims. In this session we will consider the options that fall into the fiscal and monetary policy

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State of the UK Economy - Threats to Recovery

Falling unemployment, declining inflation and stronger growth – we are seeing a better picture for the UK in 2014? But can it last?

After several years of weak expansion, the UK economy is enjoying a relatively strong cyclical recovery. Can the UK continued to experience a recovery in output, jobs and investment? Will the recovery be balanced and sustainable? How resilient is the UK? What are some of the major threats to growth in 2014 and beyond? This revision presentation hopefully provides some context.

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Unit 2 Macro: Supply Side Policies and Competitiveness

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A revision presentation used at the workshop in Dubai on aspects of supply-side competitiveness in the UK economy

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Labour Market: UK Minimum Wage does not Cost Jobs

The introduction of a national minimum wage does not lead to job losses. That is the central finding of research by Peter Dolton and
Michael Stops, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2014 conference.

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Unit 2 Macro: Fiscal Policy to improve Net Trade

Here is a good applied example of how fiscal policy can be used to help improve the UK's net trade position. Export finance is often a problem especially for small and medium sized businesses looking to expand beyond the domestic economy to new export markets. Improving the trade position is a key aspect of re-balancing the economy and make the recovery more sustainable.

Read: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-exp...

Unit 4 Macro: Economic Benefits of EU Membership

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Membership of the European Union (EU) has had a big positive effect on average incomes in all but one of its member countries. That is the central finding of research by Nauro Campos, Fabrizio Coricelli and Luigi Moretti, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2014 annual conference. They also find that the more financially developed countries have grown significantly faster after joining the EU.

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Financing the current account deficit

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

More on the implications of the UK’s massive current account deficit. Geoff has put together almost everything you need on the topic here, and he points out that the main implication is a net leakage from the circular flow of income, reducing AD and weakening multiplier effects.

A current account deficit is not necessarily a disaster; after all, imports are good too, sustaining our standard of living and is partly a reflection of the demand for intermediate goods our economy needs to stay efficient.

I’m going to pick up on the the statement that there is nothing wrong with a trade deficit. It simply means that a country must rely on foreign direct investment or borrowed money to make up the difference.

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Unit 2 Macro: Falling Inflation in the UK Economy

Monday, March 31, 2014

The UK’s official inflation benchmark, the Consumer Prices Index, slid to 1.7 per cent in February – the lowest for more than four years. What are some of the main factors causing inflation to fall below target?

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Unit 2 Macro: Network Rail plans £38bn Investment Programme

A significant 5 year rail infrastructure investment plan adds weight to the belief that capital spending will be a major driver of the next phase of the UK economic recovery. Network Rail is state owned, a not-for-profit business whose commercial returns are reinvested into the rail network.

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Unit 2 Macro: The UK Current Account Deficit

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Britain’s current account deficit for 2013 as a whole (4.4% of GDP) was greater than in any other developed economy and the widening current account gap is raising fresh concerns about whether the UK's economic recovery is balanced and sustainable.

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Unit 3 Micro: Energy firms face competition inquiry

Friday, March 28, 2014

The big six energy firms in the UK - who account for more than ninety per cent of suppliers to UK household, commercial and industrial consumers - will be subject to another investigation by the competition authorities.  

A report by regulator Ofgem has called for an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which could take nearly two years to complete - effectively pushing the issue into the long grass well beyond the date of the next election. 

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Unit 2 Macro: London House Prices continue to Surge

There seems little that is stopping the surge in London house prices at the moment but do you think the rapid acceleration of prices is good for either London or the wider UK economy? 

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Scotland’s De-Globalised Economy

A century ago, Scotland probably had the most globalised economy in the world. Since then, especially since the 1960s, Scotland has de- industrialised, and because industry is so much more globalised than other sectors, the economy has also ‘de-globalised’.

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Unit 4 Macro: Rebalancing the Economy

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


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: Regional Multiplier Effects with Siemens Investment

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

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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International competitiveness - the UK steel industry

Monday, March 24, 2014

I found this great little video from the FT on the Business blog, where Jim posted it last week. It looks at the decline of the UK steel industry, which supplied 67% of the world's steel in the industrial revolution, and now contributes less than 1%.  

It makes a great starter for looking at issues around competitiveness - the data included in it shows not only the decline in output and employment of the industry, but can be used to trace the increase in labour productivity over the last twenty years, resulting from significant investment; the potential impact of fiscal policy (which can also be linked to announcements around carbon trading and energy taxation in last week's budget); and also to make some reference to the importance of inward investment in the capital account of the Balance of Payments, as all three of the remaining biggest steel producers in the UK belong to overseas owners.

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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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Geographical mobility of labour in the UK

Saturday, March 22, 2014

One type of market failure that contributes to inequality and unemployment is the geographical immobility of labour

If the labour market really ‘cleared’ effectively, wages would equalise across the economy. Workers would drift away from regions with low wages and/or high unemployment towards areas where wages were higher and labour was scarce. 

Instead, we see wide disparities in earnings and pockets of regional unemployment - at the same time as skills shortages and wage inflation elsewhere.

Why are people finding it hard to move across the UK in search of work?

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Paul Ormerod: Trends in Inequality: Truth and Myth

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Concern about inequalities of income and wealth is now a fashionable topic. It featured strongly in the gathering of the world’s top brass at Davos earlier this year. Much of the popular coverage of the topic gives the impression that not only is inequality at record highs, but that it is confined to the wicked Anglo-Saxon economies. A recent paper published by authors linked to the George Soros-funded Institute for New Economic Thinking shows very decisively that neither of these points is true.

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Unit 2 Macro: Structural Decline in the UK Steel Industry

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

If you are looking for a solid example of a manufacturing industry that experienced deep long term structural contraction then the UK steel sector is a good one to use.

Global steel output has more than doubled in the last four years but what remains of the UK steel industry is battling against rising costs and the challenge of meeting stringent climate change policies. The Financial Times visits Celsa's plant in Cardiff to find out if UK steelmakers still have a viable future. Can British producers take advantage of a rebound in steel output and profits if the European Union economy shows signs of a more durable and stronger recovery?

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Unit 2 Macro: Hurdle Rates and New Housebuilding

The government wants more new homes to be built, so too do hard-pressed home-buyers facing a continued problem of low property affordability. But cautious construction companies are reluctant to press ahead favouring share buy-backs (returning money to their shareholders) and only a limited expansion of new building.

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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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Budget 2014 - A 15 Question Quiz

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The 2014 Budget will take place on Wednesday 19 March. Here is a general knowledge quiz on the Budget and the current state of the UK economy that you might want to take to test your understanding! Good luck! We will be covering the budget speech and the economic background to it extensively here on the Tutor2u blog.

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Unit 2 Macro: Ageing Infrastructure and Economic Growth

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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Fiscal drag and the 40% tax rate.

There is plenty of evidence for the assertion that increases in indirect tax have led to the burden of of those regressive 'stealth taxes' falling on lower income earners. However, Norman Lamont, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, was on Newsnight on Thursday night to discuss the direct tax effects of income tax He was arguing for the threshold at which the higher tax rate of 40% kicks in to be raised.

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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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Quick Quiz on Developments in the UK Economy

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Test your UK economy awareness and general knowledge with this fifteen question quiz! Good luck! 

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30 Years since the Start of the Miners’ Strike

Monday, March 10, 2014

It was an industrial dispute that reshaped not just the British coal industry but also many other sectors. In 1984 a national strike broke out pitting Arthur Scargill against Margaret Thatcher. Channel 4 news looks back at the 30th anniversary of the start of a year-long bitter battle whose scars are still apparent.

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Unit 2 Macro: 5 Years of Low Interest Rates

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

I am setting my AS macro students an essay this week evaluating the economic effects of five years of ultra-low monetary policy interest rates. Tom White blogged about this a day or so ago (click here) linking to an excellent article in the Guardian. It is a great way for students to deepen and broaden their understanding and awareness of recent developments in the UK economy.

Teaching colleagues covering monetary policy might want to use the data charts on interest rates contained in the PowerPoint file shown below.

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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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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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Paul Ormerod: Forward guidance needed for companies, not consumers!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Most of the commentary on the UK’s economic recovery focuses on consumers. Are they taking on too much debt again to finance their spending? Is there a bubble in house prices, as people get excited about bricks and mortar again? Certainly, in terms of its sheer size, spending by consumers is by far the biggest component of GDP, making up around 60 per cent of total domestic expenditure.

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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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Executive Pay: Shareholders have failed to curb excesses

Despite public calls for shareholders to get tough on executive pay, a new study of the UK’s highest paid company directors reveals that shareholders are overwhelmingly inclined to approve the pay packets of top directors, just as they were before the crisis

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Unit 2 Macro: National Income and the Standard of Living

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Here is a revision presentation for an AS Macro topic - measuring national income and the standard of living

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All the basics of UK government debt and deficit

Saturday, February 22, 2014

To follow up on Hugh Pym's video which explains the difference between government debt and government deficit, here is another fantastic resource. Definitions, data and descriptions of debt and deficit, chapter and verse on the structural deficit and on government borrowing. It looks like the perfect lesson resource - as its title says, all you need to know.

The Problem With Hitting Targets - Deflation

Monday, February 17, 2014

As Japan continues to push forward with Abenomics, monetary stimulus tapers off in the USA and and a halt elsewhere in the world alongside still timid business and consumer confidence, deflation becomes a serious risk for the advanced economies in the short term future.

The area with the biggest concerns without doubt is the Eurozone with deflation pushing up the real value of still cripplingly large debt levels, worryingly that analysts, forecasters and Eurozone representatives are finding difficult to objectively quantify. What the world really needs to see is business confidence and spending to pick up in advanced economies, fuelling positive inflationary pressure dampening the impact of exported deflation from Japan as a result of Abenomics. The Euro Area have yet another worry to add to their ever growing sickness list, worth watching very closely as to what happens in the coming months. This video explains further:

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Mark Carney redfines the MPC’s role again.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

He might have only had his feet under the Governor's desk for 8 months but BOE Governor Carney has announced changes to the role of the MPC for a second time as forward guidance has been overhauled.

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Forward Guidance Mark II - From Forward to Fuzzy!

Forward Guidance Mark II began yesterday as the Forward Guidance Mark I didn't really go as planned, approaching the 7% threshold for unemployment way too quickly for the BoE's comfort. The following video clips discuss some of the issues from yesterday's announcement. Big debate about whether the new Forward Guidance is more fuzzy than it is forward.

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Pay and Productivity

Monday, February 10, 2014

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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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 2 Macro: Quiz Questions on the Labour Market

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Here is a resource (in editable word format) that I use when introducing the topic of unemployment - I find it works for students to get a sense of the numbers for employment and unemployment when we get onto the policy issues. The resource has the answers at the back!

Hope this might prove a useful classroom resource!

Here_are_some_questions_on_the_UK_labour_market.docx

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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