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Does the aid bill really show the UK’s commitment to development?

Friday, January 16, 2015

The title of this blog is taken from a Guardian article which is a stepping stone into a discussion about how best the UK can support development across the world.

You might think that the best indicator of our desire to help is the amount of money the UK government commits to overseas aid. That opens up two more discussion points. Firstly, does aid actually help poor countries? That’s a debate for another blog. Here, I’m going to focus on a second point: is there more to supporting development than being generous with aid?

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IMF 2014 Review of the UK Economy

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Here is a link to a video report produced by the IMF as part of their annual assessment of the UK economy. Overall, the IMF is considerably more optimistic than it was in 2013 about prospects for near term recovery of output and continued reductions in unemployment.

Risks to macro stability are also considered, namely weak productivity growth and high housing prices

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Russia increases policy interest rates to 8%

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Russian central bank has raised their main policy interest rate by 0.5% to a new level of 8% in a bid to control inflationary pressures in the Russian economy. 

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LSE: The Amartya Sen Lecture 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Christine Lagarde is Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. She was appointed in July 2011. This blog links to the 2014 Amartya Sen lecture given at the LSE in the summer of 2014 on the topic of empowerment and in particular how women can build capacity and capabilities in countries seeking durable development - see also this blog from Mrs Lagarde in September 2013:

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The IMF on UK recovery, mortgage risks and the supply side

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Students preparing for unit 4 on Tuesday might spend half an hour or so analysing this report of the IMF’s update on the UK economy. Here are some key points worth noting:

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Unit 4 Macro: 2,500 Years of Financial Crises

Friday, April 25, 2014

Enrichment video for students interested in the long history of financial crises in the world economy. Financial crises date back to the 4th century BC, but we seem incapable of learning from them. Bob Swarup, author of 'Money Mania', explains to John Authers how innovation and crises are related. Both have their roots in growing complexity and in human nature.

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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.

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 but for those of you not on there, the link for the boards are here:

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IMF joins in the inequality debate

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Inequality might be falling between nations as a global middle class is emerging, but inequality is on the rise within nations. Quite why this is happening is a matter of debate, but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has joined in the discussion asking if rising inequality is an obstacle to economic growth and development.

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Scoop It Board for IB Balance of Payments

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dan Martin is curating a board focusing on useful articles for IB students who cover aspects of the Balance of Payments. Check it out by clicking on this link

Unit 4 Macro: Overseas Aid and Economic Development - Debt Relief and Debt Cancellation

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Many of the world’s poorest countries have been for many years saddled with high levels of external debt owed to other governments, institutions such as the IMF and foreign companies and individuals. 

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Paul Ormerod: Don’t say IMF, it’s IMF Squared!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

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.

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Unit 4 Macro: China’s Foreign Currency Reserves

Monday, July 16, 2012

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.

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Who’s afraid of the Euro crisis?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

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.

Eurozone Crisis - Lessons Learnt

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

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.

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Unit 4 Macro: India - the Road Ahead

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

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 below

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Unit 4 Macro: China and India - Notes from Martin Wolf

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Changing shares of world GDP

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!


The World Economy: how did we get here and where are we going?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

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.

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Greek debt decision tree

Sunday, September 25, 2011

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.

Unit 4 Macro: Greek Economy at Default’s Door

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.

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Unit 2 Macro: Greece on the Brink of Default

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.

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Unit 4 Macro: IMF Flags up Risks of Double Dip

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

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%.

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What is the IMF?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

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

Tracking the Global Economy - IMF on You Tube

Monday, April 11, 2011

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.

IMF signs off on UK’s fiscal plans

Monday, September 27, 2010

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.

More here.

Autumn leaves are falling for the global economy

Thursday, September 02, 2010

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.


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Little sign yet of a Yuan appreciation

Thursday, July 29, 2010

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.

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Japanese economy - exports up but debt squeeze tightens

Thursday, May 20, 2010

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.

Contagion spreads…

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

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?

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

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.

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The (sovereign) default option is costly

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

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:

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RES Competition: A New World Currency?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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.

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Update on the Greek tragedy

Thursday, March 04, 2010
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Rethinking the mantra of price stability

Sunday, February 14, 2010

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.

Guardian: More inflation may be better after all, says IMF

Paul Krugman: The Case For Higher Inflation

Economist Blog: Reorienting macroeconomic policy

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