Dan Martin is curating a scoop.it board focusing on useful articles for IB students who cover aspects of the Balance of Payments. Check it out by clicking on this link
Many of the world’s poorest countries are saddled with high levels of external debt owed to other governments, institutions such as the IMF and foreign companies and individuals.
In the boom decade of the 2000s, corporate rebranding and renaming was all the rage. Some were successful. Others are best forgotten, like PWC’s proposal to bestow the name of Monday on its consulting arm. But as the world’s economic recovery gathers momentum, perhaps it is time to revive the practice.
The rise in foreign currency reserves is largely the result of China’s enormous trade surpluses but also the consequence of intervention in currency markets by the Chinese central bank. To manage the value of the exchange rate it buys dollars and sells Yuan. China uses a large slice of their currency reserves to finance overseas investment including the role of Sovereign Wealth Funds to invest in developed and emerging countries including many in Africa. A rise in foreign currency reserves increases the money supply and has led to a surge in domestic lending including much money pumped into property developments.
A recent estimate valued Chinese foreign currency reserves at $3.2 trillion. In 2010, nearly two-thirds of China’s reserves were held in US dollar assets such as bonds, equities, money on deposit in US banks and property. But recently there are signs that Chinese investors have been diversifying away from the dollar.read more...»
What are the possible ripple effects of the euro crisis? There are a myriad of different opinions about what might happen and how far it might go.
This interactive graphic from the BBC website is a neat summary of just some of them - it starts with Greece itself, with comparisons to the debt crises in Spain, Portugal and Ireland then looks at the potential contagion effects of a collapse of confidence in Italy.
This may spread to banking meltdown in France, the UK and the ECB, with a Euro break-up rippling through the German and wider EU economies. As a result of the interdependence of the EU and its worldwide trading partners, global meltdown follows - which explains why Christine Lagarde of the IMF has been calling for more leniency towards Greece and other borrowers, and more action in Europe to boost growth.
Is there some way in which such negative multiplier effects can be avoided? Can macroeconomic policies be used somehow to protect domestic economies from the fallout? If they cannot, what next? This resource only presents one set of ideas, but might just help students to tease out some of the convoluted and complex issues which dog the EU and global economy at present.
Last week I attended a very interesting lecture at the LSE on the Eurozone crisis, given by Leszek Balcerowicz, a Polish economist who is former chairman of the National Bank of Poland and Deputy Prime Minister.
The following blog outlines his thoughts, but also includes useful links to articles to read.
Using the crisis as a case study will hugely benefit A2 students as it encompasses many of the topics covered in the syllabus.
Here is a short 12 minute video on prospects for the India economy produced by economists at the International Monetary Fund. It covers some of the key current issues including high inflation in a supply-constrained economy, partial progress in reducing poverty and the impact that poor infrastructure has as a constraint on further growth and development. Click on the video link belowread more...»
Pete Davies from Greenhead College attended a superb talk by Martin Wolf CBE (Financial Times) at Leeds Business School last week. The focus was on the Great Convergence between developed and emerging economies, and Peter kindly took some excellent notes from the talk which will be of great use to teachers and students covering this key globalisation / development topics. They can be downloaded below as a word file - many thanks to Peter for making them available through the blog!
On Wednesday 26 October 2011, I attended a fascinating lecture at the LSE by Nemat Shafik, Deputy Managing Director of the IMF.
She started with outlining the role of the IMF as a cooperative of 188 countries (the newest member being South Sudan), who poor their resources and finances in order to support each in times of difficulty. She then went on to talk about the current slowdown, its causes, the risks involved if the slowdown was to continue and the potential policies needed to aid a recovery.read more...»
I have been looking for resources to use with my A2 students to investigate the Greek debt crisis, and why it is causing such global concern. So first I am really grateful to find the powerpoint that Geoff has posted to the blog this morning, which sets out the scale of the problem there very clearly. I would like to suggest another resource I have just come across which I think complements the powerpoint quite well - especially to help answer the question “What will happen if the Greeks do default?”. Someone at the BBC has devised a decision tree looking at possible outcomes which depend on how the Greek authorities respond to their “Troika” of lenders - the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank. The potential outcomes range from a pyrrhic victory in which Greece forces its lenders to write off most of its debts, but bankrupts it’s banks, to global meltdown.
What the decision tree doesn’t include is probablilites for each outcome. That could be the class activity for the week, perhaps.
A2 level economists studying macroeconomics are almost certainly going to be discussing the economics of a Greek government default in the coming days and weeks. Many of the main macro indicators for Greece have been heading in the wrong direction for some time and the country provides a rich opportunity to study the causes and consequences of a fiscal, economic and wider social crisis. I haave put together a slide presentation of ten key macroeconomic charts for Greece. Students and teachers might want to use this (and edit / improve) when discussing events as they occur in the days ahead.read more...»
AS level economists studying macroeconomics are almost certainly going to be discussing the economics of a Greek government default in the coming days and weeks. Many of the main macro indicators for Greece have been heading in the wrong direction for some time and the country provides a rich opportunity to study the causes and consequences of a fiscal, economic and wider social crisis. I haave put together a slide presentation of ten key macroeconomic charts for Greece. Students and teachers might want to use this (and edit / improve) when discussing events as they occur in the days ahead.read more...»
Here are some of the salient points from the gloomy World Economic Forecast from the IMF which argues that the global economy has entered a dangerous phase.
The IMF report highlights many of the vulnerabilities facing both developed and emerging economies. In Britain the media is emphasising a sizeable reduction in the forecast rate of growth for the UK for 2011 and 2012. Real GDP in the UK is likely to expand by just 1.1% in 2011 and 1.6% next year and the IMF economists say that there is a one in five chance of a double dip recession.
Weak growth is terrible news for the Chancellor who is hoping for a significant expansion of the private sector to offset fiscal cuts and to meet the targets for fiscal deficit reduction. It is also awful for prospects of a meaningful reduction in unemployment and prospects of tackling the structural issue of very high youth unemployment rates.
Incidentally that risk of a double-dip is thought to be much higher in the United States where the probability of a second recession following a partial recovery is put at 40%.read more...»
The Telegraph has this guide to the history and expansion of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
The IMF’s own page explaining their roles can be found here
The IMF has a video channel on You Tube - a mix of interviews with notable economists and short features on individual countries such as the UK and Poland (both featured in recent months). Keeping in mind the traditional IMF policy prescriptions for economic reforms in countries where it is asked to provide bail-outs, the video resources may well be useful for colleagues wanting to embed some current video content in their teaching of global economics. Here is the link to their You Tube channel.
The IMF signed off on George Osborne’s fiscal deficit plans today.
The Fund praised the government’s bold strategy to eliminate the deficit within five years. The deficit reduction plan “greatly reduces the risk of a costly loss of confidence in fiscal sustainability and will help rebalance the economy,” the concluding statement of the mission said.
It welcomed the early action on the deficit and the weight given to spending cuts rather than tax increases.
The arrival of the Fall is often a time to take stock of where the global economy is heading and there have been several perceptive and fascinating blogs on this in recent days.
Back in June the Chinese authorities announced that they were prepared to allow a managed withdrawal of the pegged currency against the US dollar. There has been longstanding pressure from US law-makers that an undervaleud Yuan has given China an artificial competitive advantage in international markets. And that the huge rise in her current account surplus is indicative of an exchange rate that is some distance from a long-run equilibrium level.read more...»
Here are two useful update articles on some of the issues facing the Japanese economy.
First, the BBC reports on an IMF study that urges the Japanese to take immediate steps to cut their national debt which “at nearly 230% of GDP, is the highest of any industrialised nation.” The IMF believes that economic growth is sufficiently robust at present to take some of the tough fiscal consolidation measures needed. (In contrast to the situation in the UK?). Second, a report that finds that Japanese exports are providing a kick-start to hopes of a recovery in GDP as “emerging Asian markets such as China have been driving Japan’s economy.” Faster growth will be key to Japan breaking free from the latest bout of consumer price deflation.
The UK too is hoping for an export-led recovery in the second half of 2010 and well into 2011 but a dark cloud on the horizon are fears that financial turbulence in the Euro Zone will cause the Euro Zone economy to fall back into recession and the pound to appreciate against the Euro - both factors would hit British exporters looking to grow sales in a region that accounts for well over fifty per cent of our trade in goods and services.
After Greek’s junk status downgrade yesterday, as well as Portugal’s downgrade; S&P today downgraded one of the other PIIGS, Spain as the contagion effect takes hold… Last night’s (Wednesday) Newsnight discussed the potential contagion ( from 27 minutes).
With Spain’s economy making up 8.5% of the EU GDP, this downgrade has bigger consequences than Greece’s.
Could the UK be next?
Both companies and governments can issue bonds when they need to borrow money. The issue of new government debt is done by the central bank and involves selling debt to capital markets. The bond market is also the place where companies may seek to raise funds by issuing new tranches of debt.read more...»
No rich advanced nation has defaulted on sovereign debts since the end of the second world war but should the default option seem attractive governments should beware the longer term costs and consequences. The Economist this week has a feature on some recent research into the impact of sovereign debt default focusing in particular on the experience of Argentina. Three major effects are identified:read more...»
This issue has become highly topical in the wake of the global financial crisis and increasing claims that countries are manipulating the external value of their currency as a way of restoring or maintaining competitiveness in the world economy. The judges are looking forward to some incisive and challenging views on the issue from students choosing this question!
There is no doubt that currencies matter - and this essay invites students to discuss the role that a currency plays and whether the global village would be better off with a single currency presumably issued by a unified world central bank. For decades the US dollar has been a reserve currency and there is a lively debate at the moment about whether a new reserve currency is required either in place or or to accompany the US dollar.read more...»
In a break with the consensus that has enveloped policy makers in institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the IMF’s Chief Economist Oliver Blanchard has written a new paper (Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy) that suggests that a relaxation of tough inflation targets and acceptance of slightly higher average inflation is needed to give macro economic policy more traction in the years ahead.
For A2 economists this is an important policy debate. Are the economic and social costs of average inflation of say 3 to 4% much higher than achieving consumer price inflation of 2%?
Here are some links to coverage of the paper.
Paul Krugman: The Case For Higher Inflation
Economist Blog: Reorienting macroeconomic policy