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International Competitiveness - a new ‘Higher or Lower’ game!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Download this engaging teaching resource to test student awareness of the international competitiveness rankings!

You may have already seen Geoff's blog on the newly released International Competitiveness Index.  The World Economic Forum annually release its table of competitiveness using a variety of data measures including economic performance, quality of education and labour efficiency.  The UK has moved up to 9th in the World.

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Siemens Boss on possible redindustrialisation of the UK economy

Sunday, July 20, 2014

This interview with Jurgen Maier of Siemens is well worth reading on several different levels. It challenges the conventional wisdom that UK will always lag behind Germany in terms of high value added manufacturing; it refers to the economics risks of Brexit (Britain leaving the EU) and it also stresses the importance to the UK of foreign investment from German businesses many of which have been in the Uk since well before the first World War - Siemens and Bosch are two well-known examples.

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Higher or Lower Game - World Cup addition

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

You may have already seen my blog/tweet sharing the 'Higher or Lower' game.  Below you will find a brand new version of the game featuring the 32 countries taking part in the FiFA World Cup starting tomorrow.

The aim of the resource is to get a feel and understanding of some of the important statistics relating to the economic performance of the countries.  In this addition, students can attempt to work out whether the 'higher' or 'lower' statistic relates to predicted GDP growth, unemployment, inflation and Government debt alongside the country's FiFA world ranking.

Teams are presented with the name of a country and its statistic in their chosen category.  They are also presented with the name of a second country.  They must say whether the second country has a higher or lower statistic.  This is repeat a further three times allowing the team to score a maximum of 4 points per round.

Have some fun and get a feel for countries statistics at the same time!  Is there any correlation between economic and football performance?

Click here to download the file.

Note:  The economic statistics accredited to England are those of the entire UK.  Sorry, I was unable to find the statistics relating to just England!

Higher of Lower? A fun way to learn predicted growth in GDP for the world’s major economies

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Here's a quick a fun resource to help students learn the predicted economic growth of the world's major economies.  Although a student wouldn't be expected to quote percentage growth statistics, it is always handy to have some figures ready to use as evidence or, at least, an understanding of the world's fastest growing states.

The game is called 'Higher or Lower' and is very simple.  You are presented with the name of a country (e.g. China) and the predicted growth in GDP (compared to 2013) for 2014, as calculated by the IMF.  You are also presented with the name of another country (e.g. United Kingdom).  Your task is to say whether you think that the UK's predicted GDP growth is either higher or lower than that of China.  Get the answer correct you earn a point and are presented with a third country and must predict whether their growth is higher or lower than that of the UK.  However, get an answer wrong, you are out of the game!  The maximum score of 37 (the number of countries in the database).  Play the game a few times and really start to get a feel for the statistics for the different countries.  The game is randomly set up so you can run it a few times a get a different sequence of countries each time.

Challenge your friends!  Alternatively, you can go to the table on slide 3 of the resource and learn all of the figures off-by-heart!

Click on this link to upload the game.  It is a Powerpoint-based game so you will need to have Powerpoint on your PC or Mac (versions beyond 2003).  When prompted you should 'enable' macros.  Sorry, this game does not work on mobile devices or OS like Android.

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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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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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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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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Eurozone problems - excellent video resource

Friday, February 14, 2014

Gains from international trade, the history of European economic integration, fiscal and monetary policy, the launch of the €uro and the 2008 financial crisis are all clearly animated and explained in this superb video. In just over 12 minutes it explains the problems of the €urozone and the threats and challenges it still faces. Definitely one to watch for the closing stages of an A2 macro course.

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Unit 4 Macro: CBI calls for Britain to stay inside the EU

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Confederation of British Industry has today launched a report called Our Global Future: The Business Vision for a Reformed EU - The report calls for further EU reform not least the completion of the single market in particular in services and the new internet economy. They argue for more free trade deals with other countries and regions.

The report produces estimates – based on past academic studies – that EU membership adds £62bn-£78bn a year to UK gross domestic product, equal to the combined economies of northeast England and Northern Ireland. That works out at £3,000 per household and £1,225 per individual. The fact sheets from the report can be found here

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Paul Ormerod: Energy and Emissions: Taxation or Technology?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Energy prices are in the news. The recent actions of some of the energy companies can plausibly be described as provocative, no matter how well founded their decisions might be. They run the risk of provoking the ire of both the Opposition and the Government.

One interesting aspect of the debate is that it has become even clearer that decisions taken by Ed Miliband himself in the Brown government are partly to blame for our high energy bills. The plethora of green taxes and subsidies has become very expensive for consumers.

But how effective have such policies been? Not very much, seems to be the answer.

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Unit 4 Macro: Time Running Out for the Euro

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cambridge economist Mike Kitson argues here that the Euro Zone will eventually collapse after a number of difficult years. As pressure again mounts in the Eurozone leading Cambridge economist Michael Kitson says the euro might 'stagger on' for a few more years but eventually it will disintegrate. Policy makers have been papering over the cracks in the Eurozone and causing major problems for many member countries which are trapped by tight fiscal rules

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Unit 4 Macro: Unemployment in Germany - The Hartz Reforms

Thursday, April 04, 2013

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.’

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Unit 4 Macro: Unemployment in Europe (March 2013 Update)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

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:

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Infrastructure spending: perhaps the UK is not so bad after all…..

Sunday, March 17, 2013

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.

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Unit 4 Macro: The UK Economy Outside of the Euro Area

Monday, February 04, 2013

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

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Unit 2 Macro: Video Resources on the German Economy

Sunday, February 03, 2013

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.

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Unit 4 Macro: OECD World Economic Outlook

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The OECD's world economic outlook is published twice and year and is a heavyweight publication with plenty of great relevant macro for ambitious A2 students. I have linked below to their latest report - including a streamed presentation on their key data forecasts and emphasis on some of the underlying challenges facing OECD countries.

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Unit 4 Macro: Looking to 2060: A Global Vision of Long-term Growth

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The balance of economic power is expected to shift dramatically over the coming half century, with fast-growing emerging market economies accounting for an ever-increasing share of global output, according to new OECD research. Here are some links to their report and to media coverage. 

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Unit 4 Macro: Teaching Trade in a Different Way

Sunday, November 04, 2012

I am launching into a short course in international trade, balance of payments and links to economic development issues. The standard fare is inescapable and there will be plenty of opportunity to cover theories of comparative and competitive advantage, evaluate the costs and benefits of protectionism and look at key trends in the balance of payments, terms of trade and capital accounts for developed and developing countries.

This time, in an attempt to freshen things up I am starting by looking at the work of Cesar Hidalgo  and Richard Hausman at the MIT Media Lab and the Observatory of Economic Complexity.  I first came across their work whilst reading Tim Harford's last book Adapt. They are mapping vast amounts of trade data from across the world to explore the extent to which export complexity, dynamic advantage and per capita incomes are connected. The data visualisations are tremendously interesting and I will be asking my Year 13 students to explore their site and choose some data of their own that sheds light on revealed comparative advantage in the world economy.

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A Very European Break Up - New Romantic Comedy

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What a fabulous new resource for students and teachers! She's German. He's Greek. Can their ten year relationship survive the pressure? This great short comedy from director Bob Denham is jam packed with references to the Euro debt crisis - show it to your class and see how many the A-Level student gets (offer a prize!)

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Unit 4 Macro: How Do We Measure Poverty?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The World Bank has this short 3 minute video on measuring poverty

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The Eurozone Crisis Flow Chart

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A useful series of flow charts on the BBC Business Webpage outlining some of the causes and effects of the present problems of the Eurozone economies.

A good starting point for AS students and teachers preparing for A2 Economics courses.

Unit 2 Macro: The Output Gap

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How much spare capacity does an economy have to meet a rise in demand? How close is an economy to operating at its productive potential? Has the recession damaged the economy’s productive potential? These sorts of questions all link to an important concept – the output gap. The output gap is the difference between the actual level of national output and the estimated potential level and is usually expressed as a percentage of the level of potential output.

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Unit 4 Macro: The Euro Zone Crisis (Revision)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Here is a revision blog on some of the key economic challenges facing the seventeen member nations of the Euro Zone or Euro Area

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Unit 2 Macro: News Videos on the German Economy

Friday, March 09, 2012

Germany is always an economy worth looking at by students keen to deepen their awareness and understanding of the European economy. There has been a number of good background news stories on the changing centre of gravity in the German and the EU economy and in this blog I am providing links to some of them - all ideal for prompting discussion in the classroom.

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Unit 3 Micro: Volkswagen targets growth markets

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Here is a one minute news clip packed with nuggets of good business economics. Profits have more than doubled at German car-maker Volkswagen after the company delivered a record number of vehicles last year. It delivered more than 8.2 million vehicles, up almost 15% on 2010. Listen and watch for information on their acquisitions and competitive strategy especially when targeting fast growing markets in emerging economies especially China, India and Brazil.

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Eurozone macroeconomics for 9 year olds - brick by brick

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


It’s time to start treating our A2 economics students like 9 year-olds…in a kind-hearted way.  How?  With this highly creative and engaging piece of analysis by the market analysts at JP Morgan.

The Eurozone crisis is both political AND economic, with the underlying issue one of who pays the bill for nation and bank bailouts.  The political impasse in Europe over the crisis is difficult to understand.  But this Lego-inspired graphic does a pretty good job of explaining who wants what. Follow the commentary underneath the graphic to hear the story.

Hand it out to your A2 students and see if they can make sense of it.

EU Economics: Comparing the UK with Europe

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Stephanie Flanders has posted a very useful blog examining Eurozone growth, and whether the UK can best be compared to France and Germany or to Greece, Portugal and Spain. She starts with Ed Balls rejection of the Chancellor’s habit of likening the position of the UK economy to those of the southern states which are struggling so badly at present; the Shadow Chancellor believes a better comparison would be with our traditional competitors in northern Europe.

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EU Enlargement - Evaluating the Impact

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Many of Europe’s newer member states have outperformed established EU countries since they joined the single market in 2004 and 2007. And as a result there has been a process of convergence in average living standards and improved employment opportunities. Europe’s new nations have injected extra dynamism into the region despite inevitable teething problems along the way.

For students revising aspects of EU enlargement here is a streamed version of a presentation I gave to a Tutor2u event in London a few weeks ago

A streamed version of the presentation is available here

PDF Handout of the presentation

Related news issues
Germany expects influx of Polish workers (BBC news, April 2011)

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Tracking the effects of the recession on GDP

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

An excellent resource for Unit 2 and Unit 4 macroeconomics. Vishnu Padmanabhan from Timetric has this excellent look at the impact of the recession on real GDP growth in OECD countries. Which countries did best and worst in the recession? It turns out that Australia, Poland, Israel and South Korea were the countries least affected by the crisis and all avoided a full-blown recession - experiencing instead a soft landing. Here is Vishnu’s article. Our own growing selection of Timetric charts can be found by scrolling down to the bottom of this blog entry.

The OECD has just produced their annual review of Going for Growth - a largely supply-side look at policies designed to promote long-term growth in productive potential in the world economy. Details can be found here.

AS Macro Key Term: Relative deflation

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The term “relative deflation” is generally used to describe an economy with an inflation rate, which has not necessarily descended into negative territory, but is markedly lower than comparable economies. Over time, a low relative rate of inflation can lead to an improvement in price competitiveness in international markets, assuming that there has not been a compensating change in the exchange rate between two countries.

In our data example shown below we track consumer price inflation in Ireland, Spain and Germany. For most of the period shown, the annual rate of inflation in Germany was substantially lower than two of her partners in the European single currency area - this is an example of relative deflation.

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Timetric: Unemployment Rates for Selected Countries

Saturday, March 12, 2011

In this Timetric chart blog we look at unemployment rates for a selection of country groups - these automatically updated charts will track what is happening to the standardised jobless rates for clusters of countries starting with one that includes the Euro Area, Germany, USA, UK and Japan. The second chart is the unemployment rates in the so-called PIIGS - Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain

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Unemployment in Germany and Spain

Monday, February 14, 2011

For many years Germany was criticised for persistently high unemployment rates and an inflexible labour market. But having weathered the worst of the steep contraction in global manufacturing output and trade in 2009 the German economy is being propelled forward by a strong surge in export sales. Unemployment is falling and for the first time in recent memory, the official jobless rate in East Germany is now lower than the state of California!

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EU Economics: EU Economy in Charts Jan 2011

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Here is an updated twenty five slide streamed presentation on macroeconomic developments in the 27 countries of the EU with a particular focus on the Euro Area and UK/EU comparisons.

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Germany speeds ahead

Friday, August 13, 2010

After a terrible 2009 in which real GDP dropped by 4.9%, the German economy has posted the biggest increase in her quarterly GDP since West was unified with the East. German gross domestic product expanded by 2.2 per cent rate in the second quarter compared with the previous three months. German industry is riding on the back of a rebound in demand in the global economy (her manufacturing businesses are closely tied to swings in the world economic cycle) allied to the competitive boost of the recent depreciation of the euro against the US dollar.

Steve Evans reports on the surging German economy


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Economist - Special Report on Germany

Friday, March 12, 2010

Some of the feature articles in the special report on Germany available in this week’s Economist can be found here

Innovation and Recovery for Germany

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

This is a good short video to show on the importance of innovation for the future health of the German economy - with a twist in the tail at the end as we meet a maveric investor!

Revision Presentation - EU & the Euro Debate

Monday, February 22, 2010

This revised and extended revision presentation examines the debate about Europe’s Single Currency.

Launch revision presentation on EU & The Euro Debate

Download slide handouts (pdf)

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Hundreds of jobs lost as Bosch moves from Wales to Hungary

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Bosch Group - a privately owned German multinational manufacturing business has announced the closure of it’s car parts factory in south Wales with the loss of hundreds of jobs. With 900 jobs going at the factory itself, the final scale of extra unemployment will be significantly higher because of the negative multiplier effects for the local and regional economy.

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Assorted Links (13 Jan 2010) - Aspects of the Recession

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

1/ BBC News Hard Talk - Will 2010 see a shift in economic power to the East?

2/ BBC News - National Institute suggests that the UK recession is over see also The Times - Britain’s recession the steepest for 88 years

3/ Telegraph - Oxfam donations fall in recession

4/ Justin Wolfers / Freakonomics - In defence of GDP

5/ BBC news - German economy shrinks by 5% in 2009 - see also Latvian recession “worst in history” says economist

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