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Unit 4 Macro: The Middle Income Trap

Monday, January 07, 2013

The middle income trap exists for some countries that make significant progress in reducing extreme poverty and experience structural change and growth but then find it difficult to make the climb from being a middle-income country to achieve high-income fully-developed status. GDP growth rates often slow down and a country can struggle to build and maintain international competitiveness.  Research from the World Bank finds that only 13 of the 101 countries deemed to be middle-income countries in 1960 had achieved high-income levels in 2011. Different studies find different thresholds for where growth tapers off, ranging from $8,500 to $18,500 at 2010 prices, adjusted for purchasing power parity.

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Unit 4 Macro: Economic Growth - the Solow Model

Sunday, January 06, 2013

The economist Robert Solow (pictured) developed the neo-classical theory of economic growth. Solow won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1987. 

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Unit 4 Macro: Links on International Financial Flows and Development

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Here is a series of links to recently available resources on international financial flows and their impact on growth and development

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Unit 4 Macro: Professor Justin Lin: how do developing economies grow?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I am linking in this blog to some of the ideas and arguments contained in "The Quest for Prosperity" the new book on economic development from Professor Justin Lin - in particular the case he makes for the need for a new development economics - devel econ 3.0! 

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Unit 4 Macro: Emerging economies in 2013 - Easterly and Moyo in Debate

Friday, December 28, 2012

This 34 minute debate features Professor Bill Easterly and Dambisa Moyo - looking at prospects for emerging countries in 2013 

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Unit 4 Macro: The Rise of Resource Nationalism

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In many countries, resource nationalism has become more frequent in recent years, indeed it has been one of the key stories in 2012 as several countries have introduced new resource taxes, natural resource licence reviews and expropriation of assets from private sector companies. This Financial Times news video looks at the trends including resource nationalism within countries as provinces and regions look to exert great control on the revenues from oil, gas and mining projects.

See also: Economist: Foreigners beware - oil and mining in Indonesia

Resource insecurity: New report from Chatham House

Interactive resource: New political economy of natural resources

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Unit 4 Macro: Mo Tanweer - Debunking the Myths of China

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mo Tanweer (Head of Economics at Oundle School) gave a phenomenally detailed and relevant talk at our Teaching the Global Economy Conference in London last week. Student Economist Mark Austen has provided us with some revision notes taken from the talk (reproduced below) and we have a streamed version of the presentation made available from Mo using Slide Share - enjoy!

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Unit 4 Macro: Paul Collier on Key Development Issues

Monday, November 26, 2012

At our Teaching the Global Economy at the RSA (London) in November 2012, the distinguished development economist Professor Paul Collier spoke on some of the leading development issues of the moment. A-level student Mark Austen was there to scribe some notes on the talk and the subsequent Q&A discussion. Here are his notes together with some connecting links and other resources. We hope that you find them useful.

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Unit 4 Macro: Growth in the Emerging Economies - Can It last?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I am linking here to a recent (October 2012) lecture and discussion at Gresham College in London. The three eminent speakers look at the limits to world economic growth from an environmental and economic perspective. Will inflation caused by rising primary product prices be likely to be the key constraint on economic growth? Douglas McWilliams, Thras Moraitis and Mike McWilliams consider whether this constraint will bite at a sufficiently slow rate for the impact of the extra growth in emerging economies to mean that the West will have to grow more slowly.

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Unit 4 Macro: Revision Resources on the BRIC Countries

Monday, November 19, 2012

Here are some regularly updated revision resources on the economics of the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China

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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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Rural life in China - never had it so good

Monday, October 29, 2012

This looks worth keeping an eye on - the BBC is "spending a week on the road looking at both the challenges ahead for the world's most populous nation and the advances it has made." - this is in anticipation of the leadership changes which are about to take place in China. The first report  looks at changes which have taken place over the last 50 years in a rural village near the Great Wall - others will follow later this week. Here is a link to Week in China , which contains all the video reports being added this week; Tuesday's looks changes in the cinema industry, including the demands of the WTO that China raise its annual quota of foreign film releases allowed into the country from 20 to 34; Wednesday's looks at the construction boom in Shanghai and by way of contrast Thursday's looks at Guizhou, the poorest province in the country, to illustrate the growing wealth gap in the country.

There is also a link to a series of graphics illustrating China's Economic Miracle  which shows some of those mind-blowing statistics about the country's economy.

Keynes Prize - Winning Essay - Global Imbalance from the Rise of the East

Monday, October 22, 2012

In this prize-winning essay, James Richardson answers this question set by Professor Danny Quah from the London School of Economics

‘Global imbalance from the Rise of the East shows only that the East is big enough to be culpable but not mature enough to be responsible.’ Discuss

The unprecedented growth of the East has, in economic terms, defined the decades either side of the millennium. Led by China, which has enjoyed average real annual GDP growth of between 8% and 10% over this period [1] and which, according to Jim O’Neill, is now economically significant enough to be included in the G7 [2], Asia has propelled itself to the forefront of the economic scene. Indeed, the continent now accounts for 5 of the 20 largest economies by GDP [3], and projections by Jim O’Neill’s team at Goldman Sachs suggest that China could overtake the USA as the largest economy in the world ‘as early as 2027, perhaps even sooner.’ [2] The Rise of the East, then, is as undeniable as it is impressive, but is it sustainable?

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Unit 4 Macro: Wage Inflation and Chinese Competitiveness and Growth

Monday, October 15, 2012

Unit 4 essay from Max Goswami-Myerscough

China has undergone high levels of wage inflation since the turn of the century. As stated in the extract, a US Bureau of Labour report showed that between 2002 and 2008 real hourly wages more than doubled in China’s manufacturing sector. Comparatively, wages only rose by 20% in the US. In addition to this, according to Jim O’Neill, by 2009 over 5% of the population of China (approx. 65 million) had incomes of around $35,000 p.a. China has been considered to be one of the main outsourcing destinations for cheap labour over the years but this may change if such high levels of wage inflation persist.

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Unit 4 Macro: Perspectives on Chinese Wage Inflation

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My students have been researching and writing about the rapid growth of wages in the Chinese economy. Here are some of their perspectives with each author appearing at the top of the relevant section.

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Unit 4 Macro: Video Shorts on Economic Growth and Inequality

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

When teaching economic growth and inequality as part of our A2 macro course, I used these news clips to support the lesson and discussion. 

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A2 Development Economics Assignments

Here are the two assignments that my students are writing about this week - I will post some of their answers on the blog at the weekend. I have also added in some research links to each question

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Unit 4 Macro: Lewis Turning Points

Monday, October 08, 2012

Lewis turning points are the defining feature of Arthur Lewis’ Dual-Sector Model, devised in 1954. 

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Unit 4 Macro: Financing Trade - Renminbi Rising

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Chinese renminbi is not yet as recognisable as the US dollar or the Euro but with China's continued growth and rising influence as a major global economic power, their domestic currency is becoming more widely used when settling accounts in trade in goodsand services. In this new Financial Times video Denise Law explores the benefits of using renminbi in trade even though the renminbi is not yet fully-convertible in world foreign exchange markets.

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Unit 4 Macro: Infrastructure Gaps and Development

Monday, September 17, 2012

Infrastructure includes physical capital such as transport networks, energy, power and water supplies and telecommunications networks. Poor infrastructure hampers growth because it causes higher supply costs and delays for businesses. It reduces the mobility of labour and affects the ability of exporters to get their products to international markets.

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Unit 4 Macro: Primary Export Dependence

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Many lower-income developing nations still relying on specializing in and exporting low value added primary commodities. The prices of these goods can be volatile on world markets. When prices fall, an economy will see a sharp reduction in export incomes, an adverse movement in their terms of trade, risks of a higher trade deficit and a danger that a nation will not be able to finance investment in education, healthcare and core infrastructure.


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Unit 1 Micro: Rising Wages and Demand for Robotics

Monday, August 20, 2012

In many production processes, human labour and machines are substitutes. Wages are rising quickly in countries such as China. For some years now the annual increase in wages in manufacturing in China has been above ten cent and this rise in labour costs is causing many businesses to consider investment in robotics to fast-forward the process of automatic in factories.

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Unit 4 Macro: Infrastructure and Development

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This blog will provide a regularly updated selection of news videos on the role that often small-scale infrastructure projects can play in supporting development in some of the least developed countries. Click below to view the current entries:

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Unit 4 Macro: China’s Green Development Agenda

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

There is a huge agenda for China with green development. The key point is that China is now fully committed to reshaping her growth in the years ahead, indded success in promoting green growth and development may be crucial to lifting China from being a middle income country to a high income economy.

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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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Unit 4 Macro: Savings and Investment in China

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saving is the difference between income and consumption. In countries such as China and India, the national savings rate is high in contrast to developed economies.  

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Unit 4 Macro: Rapid Wage Inflation in China

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wage inflation in China

Wages are rising fast in China – many economists believe that China has hit a stage in its development at which demand for labour starts to grow faster than supply, creating labour shortages and pushing up salaries. This is known as a Lewis Turning Point.

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Unit 4 Macro: Dambisa Moyo - Winner Take All

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Dambisa Moyo was on great form when she spoke to the Economics Teacher National Conference in London last week. Her new book Winner Take All investigates the causes and consquences of rising global demand for commodities. In particular Dambisa Moyo predicts increasing geo-political tensions and conflicts as countries scramble to secure ownership and supplies of land, water, energy and minerals. In this blog I have linked to some of Dambisa’s recent media appearances as Winner Take All was launched in the USA and here in the UK.

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Unit 4 Macro: China and Reinventing Innovation

Sunday, June 17, 2012

This 101 East programme from Al Jazeerah shown in June 2012 looks at attempts within China to fast track investment and progress in product innovation as part of the drive to sustain growth and make the leap from middle to higher income living standards. The programme is 25 minutes long. China faces allegations of unfair trade practices and intellectual piracy by some of its major trading partners in the US and Europe

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Unit 4 Macro: Global Tensions from the Shift to the East

Monday, June 04, 2012

Will the East slow before it counts? Is the East only big enough to be culpable but not mature enough to be responsible? In this TED talk recorded at the LSE a few months ago, Danny Quah, Professor of Economics and Kuwait Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science looks at some of the darker undercurrents, dangers and risks from the changing centre of gravity in the world economy.

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Can China Save the World?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Students of the Chinese economy will be delighted to hear that Mo Tanweer has just delivered another lecture on the Chinese economy at Cambridge University to great acclaim. The lecture notes are available here on slide share - some gold dust here to sprinkle over your A2 macro papers!

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Made in China - but not quite so cheaply…...

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

How long can China keep its comparative advantage of cheap production for manufacturing goods? We are aware of rising inflation in China which is eroding their advantage, and here is an article about a UK firm which manufactures cushions, some from a factory in Kirkby on Merseyside and some from his factory in the Zhejiang province in China. The story comes from a programme ‘The Town taking on China’ to be shown on BBC2 at 8pm tonight - and subsequently on i-player.

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Unit 4 Macro: Productivity Improvements in China

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Productivity is a measure of the efficiency with which a country combines capital and labour to produce more with the same level of factor inputs. We commonly focus on labour productivity measured by output per person employed or output per person hour.

A better measure of underlying productivity growth is total factor productivity which takes into account changes in the amount of capital available for each worker to use and also changes in the size of the labour force.

To give a simple numerical example, if the size of the capital stock grows by 3% and the employed workforce expands by 2% and output (GDP) increases by 8%, then total factor productivity has increased by 3%.

China has achieved impressive gains in productivity in recent years. Some of this is undoubtedly the huge spending on capital investment which has grown to nearly 50% of China’s GDP. The labour force has also grown although this is scheduled to level off and then decline in the years ahead.

What has driven improvements in Chinese total factor productivity?

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Global Economy- the 2012 BRICS Summit

Thursday, March 29, 2012

BRIC Summit 2012

Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are meeting for the 4th time to discuss a deepening of economic ties within the fast-growing bloc of countries. The acronym BRIC was first coined by Jim O’Neill from Goldman Sachs in 2001. Recently he suggested another group of countries that deserved to be included in a broader grouping of high-growth and increasingly influential economies in the world economic system.

These countries make up forty per-cent of the world’s population and over a fifth of global GDP. Crucially they, and another cluster of rapid-growth countries will be the main drivers of world growth in the years ahead even though they are not immune to the financial volatility and commodity price inflation inflicting external shocks on advanced nations.

One of the key items on the summit’s agenda is a proposal to establish a “BRICS Bank” that would fund development projects and infrastructure in developing nations. The summit is also on opportunity to discuss ways of building intra-BRICS trade, which expanded by 28 percent last year to $230 billion. There are divisions within the BRIC grouping - for example Brazil’s criticisms of China’s exchange rate policies but the summit is a reminder that the balance of power and influence in the world economy is changing forever.

Here is a selection of news articles and videos covering the BRICS summit for 2012

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Solar Panels and Tariffs

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The US and China rely heavily on each other for trade but retaliatory protectionist policies continue to be a recurring theme between these two nations that prevent the free movement of goods and services between the two countries. 

Allegations that the undervalued Yuan gives an unfair advantage to Chinese exporters, twinned with high US unemployment has led to protectionist American responses and a tariff (tax on imports) on Chinese solar panels to protect this strategic and growing industry. The move followed a review by the US Commerce Department which in a preliminary decision claimed that Chinese firms are benefiting from unfair export subsidies.

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Which is the world’s biggest employer?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

One of my favourite little statistical gems has always been the claim that the NHS is the world’s third largest employer, after the Indian Railways and the Chinese army, so it is deeply disappointing to find that this is not true - it’s actually only the fifth on the list with 1.7 million staff.

Ahead of the NHS are McDonalds’ global workforce in 4th place (1.9 million), Walmart, including Asda in the UK in third (2.1 million), the Chinese army 2nd with 2.3 million and, at the top of the table, the US Department of Defense with a whopping 3.2million staff - although only 1.6 million of these are on active service,with the rest in civilian and other support roles.

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Evidence of the dangers of protectionism

Saturday, March 10, 2012

One of the dangers for a country implementing protectionist measures is the risk of retaliatory action. We have only to look at US-China trade relations to find plenty of evidence for this. The US objects to what they see as a Chinese policy of deliberately holding down the value of the yuan in order to boost Chinese exports. However, in addition to this they also object to government subsidies which the Chinese government give to some of their producers in order to help lower their production costs and so make their goods even more competitive in world markets.

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Unit 4 Macro: Sovereign Wealth Funds

Sunday, March 04, 2012

A sovereign wealth fund is a government or state run investment fund usually created by super-normal profits from natural resources such as oil, gas or minerals. Here is some brief background on them:

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Unit 2 Macro: Rosling on China and the UK Converging

Friday, February 24, 2012

Here is a lovely three minute Newsnight video featuring Hans Rosling on the convergence in income per capita and health outcomes between China and the UK. Great presentation.

Unit 2 Macro: China’s Trade Engine is Spluttering

Friday, February 10, 2012

New data suggests that the rapid growth of exports from China is once again slowing down. This Reuters business news video (2 minutes) provides some useful background information on the recent downturn in export and import volumes and mentions that rising imports and a shrinking trade surplus may help the Chinese to rebalance their economy and perhaps provide a demand stimulus for exporters from struggling European countries.

That said the continued weakness of many EU countries will make it difficult for Chinese exporters to maintain sales and employment. During the global recession of 2008-09 millions of workers in Chinese manufacturing industry lost their jobs prompting many to return to their rural homelands in search of work and income.

* Which industries in China are likely to be most affected by a reduction in the growth of exports?

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China bans its airlines from paying EU carbon tax

Monday, February 06, 2012

On 1st January this year, the EU introduced an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) which levies a charge on flights in EU airspace based on carbon emissions. They estimate that this will add between 2 and 12 euros to flight tickets. Airlines are required to purchase emissions permits, like utilities and heavy industry in the EU, and airlines that do not comply face fines of 100 euros for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted for which they have not surrendered allowances. In the case of persistent offenders, the EU has the right to ban airlines from its airports.

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Unit 2 Macro: Focus on China - Trade and Growth

Friday, January 27, 2012

Export demand can be an important driver of growth and development. For many years China has practiced export-led growth with exports accounting for over 40% of GDP. China ran a trade surplus with the rest of the world of around of $200 billion in 2009 – this looks huge, but is fairly modest as a share of GDP. The surplus on the balance of payment current account has diminished from over 10% of GDP in 2007 to less than 6% in each of 2010 and 2011. But China still has a structural trade / BoP surplus.

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Unit 2 Macro: Focus on China - Inflation

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The super-charged growth in China has brought about a rise in inflationary pressures and is a good example of the possible conflicts between rapid economic expansion and rising costs and prices. The Chinese government’s inflation target is 4% but inflation is a growing worry for the Chinese government – after some mild deflation in 2009 there has been acceleration in the consumer price index. Agricultural prices have been a key driver of inflation with food costs up 12% in the year to March 2011.

For many commentators high inflation in China is a symptom of an over-heating economy with an unsustainable credit and property boom. Another factor behind high inflation is that Wages are rising fast in China – many economists believe that China has hit a point in its development at which demand for labour starts to grow faster than supply, creating labour shortages and pushing up salaries. This is known as a Lewis Turning Point.

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Unit 2 Macro: Focus on China - Carbon Emissions and Growth

Rapid economic growth in China has led to a sharp rise in C02 emissions per head of population and also electric power consumption per capita. Per capita emissions remain well below those of rich advanced nations but China is now committed to improving the sustainability of her economic growth and also in making big advances in researching, testing, developing and investing in clean energy technologies as a source of future exports. According to the 12th Five-year Plan (covering the years 2011-2015) China aims to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16 percent in the five years to 2015. Carbon dioxide emission will drop by 17 percent if the plans are met.

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Unit 2 Macro: Focus on China - Per Capita Incomes

Per capita incomes in China are rising though still low by advanced-nation levels. China ranks at 119 in terms of average incomes, according to World Bank data (per capita incomes, PPP adjusted). But China is now the biggest car market in the world and there has been a huge rise in the sales of luxury goods to China (these products have a strong income elasticity of demand). 

China wants to achieve a re-balancing of her growth – towards domestic consumption and away from exports. Another key aim of the plans for the next 5 years is a surge in market-driven entrepreneurial activity. Plus a continued shift towards higher-value, high-knowledge manufactured products.

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Unit 2 Macro: Focus on China - Changing Economic Structure

China has experienced fast growth in the last twenty years, in the last decade; the increase in Chinese GDP has been seven times the rise in the GDP of Japan. China has a new growth target of 8% pa for the next five years – a downgrading of growth but still way in excess of normal trend growth for any of the advanced economies such as the UK, Germany and the United States. In 2000, China’s accounted for 7.1% of the world’s total GDP (in PPP terms). By 2015 China will have a 19% share of global GDP. This is higher than any of the other BRIC nations

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Unit 2 Macro: Can China Stay Competitive

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This new five minute video report from the Financial Times is excellent on the competitive pressures facing many manufacturing businesses located in southern China. Wages are rising quickly and some manufacturing businesses have already moved either to lower-cost locations within the Chinese economy or to other countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia.

But there are alternative approaches and this video emphasises the decision that some manufacturers have made to stay put but instead to move up the value chain and produce higher-end, higher-priced products for advanced western markets. Businesses are reluctant to move factories and sacrifice the human capital that has been accumulated over in some cases over thirty years.

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Unit 2 Macro: Population Shift in China

Monday, January 23, 2012

China Population Shift

What happened in the UK in 1851, the United States in 1920 and in the World in 2008? These three years mark the estimated year when the size of a given urban population overtook the size of the rural population. And now China has reached this significant landmark.

The Chinese Bureau for National Statistics reported recently that in 2011, the proportion of urban population reached 51.27 percent (1.3% higher than in 2010) with the urban population standing at 690.79 million persons, an increase of 21 million persons in a year. China’s rural population stood at 656.56 million persons and for the first time her urban population was 34.23 million persons more than the rural population.

Click below for some study / teaching resources:

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Unit 2 Macro: Exporting to the Booming Chinese Economy

Before you read this blog please have a look at another blog written by our good friend Mark Johnston from New Zealand. Students of China and the US economy will find it fascinating!

There are good grounds for no longer calling China an emerging economy - it has arrived! The multiple significance of the rapidly-growing Chinese economy is plain for all to see but for Britain, only a small percentage of our exports of goods and services go there and this must change if Britain is to fully engage with and benefit from the rising might of the Chinese consumer. This article from the Daily Mirror provides a non-technical but clear explanation of the growing purchasing power of newly wealth Chinese, thousands of whom are flocking to western shopping malls to buy premium brands. Chinese foreign exchange reserves are also being used to buy up real assets - last week we heard that a Chinese sovereign wealth fund is set to buy nearly 9% of Thames Water.

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