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Macro Policy Challenges in India and Japan

Sunday, January 26, 2014

My A2 macro students are now looking at some fascinating macro policy challenges facing a range of countries. This week they choose one from two set assignments. 

The first offers them an opportunity to analyse some of the causes of high inflation in India and consider how much of a threat it is to India's continued growth and development. 

A second assignment looks at Abenomics in Japan and whether it can lift the Japanese economy out of over two decades of slow growth and deflationary pressures. I am hoping that there will be some interesting insights allied to good A2 macro analysis as students crack on with their independent research. 

Download the assignment sheet below and I have added in some suggestions for further reading on the two topics

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Working for the Few - Development and Inequality

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Notes from a talk given by Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva (Head of Research at Oxfam) at the Marshall Society Economics Conference in Cambridge in January 2014

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The Emerging World and Poverty - Where Next?

Notes taken from the Marshall Society Economics Conference  - this panel session focused on growth and development issues in South Korea and sub Saharan Africa

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Poverty: New Thinking About an Old Problem

Here are some notes taken from a talk given by Peter Coy, Economics Editor for Bloomberg Businessweek, at the Marshall Society Economics Conference in Cambridge in January 2015

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China’s Development - Past Present and Future

Notes from a talk given by Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK at the Marshall Society economics conference in Cambridge in January 2014.

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Has austerity worked in Europe?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Inside Story from Al Jazeerah considers whether the worst is now over for some of the cluster of Euro Area countries who have received huge bail-outs  accompanied by fiscal austerity measures. The Spanish economy seems to be moving tentatively towards a stronger rebound despite persistently high mass unemployment.

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30 Most Innovative Countries in the World

Successful innovation is a driving dynamic of competitive businesses and countries. Bloomberg Rankings recently examined 215 countries and sovereign regions to determine their innovation quotient. They have narrowed this down to thirty countries and the results are available through this Bloomberg slideshow. Which nation comes first?

Click here to find out

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UK Economy Biggest fall in unemployment in decades

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Here are some news clips on the sharp fall in measured unemployment and a record rise in employment in the UK economy at the end of 2013. Students can find revision notes on unemployment using this link

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6 Charts on UK Unemployment and the Labour Market

It was no surprise when the latest release of unemployment and employment data for the UK labour market up to the end of 2013 made headline news across the media. There was a dramatic decline in the labour force survey measure of unemployment and news of a record level of employment. 

Many teachers will be covering unemployment as part of their AS macro course - I have put together six updated charts into a PowerPoint file for those who want to integrate the data charts into their teaching. Download using the link below:

PowerPoint file on Unemployment

Unemployment_in_the_UK_Economy.pptx  

The ‘output gap’: another piece of economic mumbo-jumbo

The concept of the 'output gap’ is central to mainstream macroeconomics. It is not merely of academic interest. 

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has a specific requirement to estimate the output gap, which it defines formally as “the difference between the current level of activity in the economy and the potential level it could sustain while keeping inflation stable”. 

The output gap is a key consideration for central banks around the world including the Bank of England. If output is well below its potential, nominal interest rates should be kept low, to try to stimulate the economy. And a large output gap should keep cost and price inflation low. Prices are hard to put up in a depressed economy. 

See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23145755 for a discussion of the changes made to the policy of forward guidance.

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Unit 4 Macro: Latvia Joins the Euro

Monday, January 20, 2014

On the 1st January 2014, Latvia became the 18th country to enter the single currency Euro area, joining Estonia who adopted the Euro four years ago. How will it affect the economy? Are the forecast benefits greater than the costs and risks? Here are some resources on the issue:

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Put yourself in the position of a Syrian refugee

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

This resource from The Guardian could offer students an excellent way of considering the negative social consequences of civil war and internal conflict.

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The recovery is well grounded – except in France

Thursday, January 09, 2014

The coming year looks like it will be a good one. At the start of each of the past five years, the economic scales have been tilted down, and the challenge has been to look for factors which might have tipped them back up. This year, the balance is reversed. The onus lies with the pessimists to prove their case. Not that there are any shortages on this score. For example, King Canute of Twickenham, aka Vince Cable, has solemnly commanded that house prices must stop rising, for fear of a new bubble.

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Unit 2 Macro: Europe’s Biggest Infrastructure Project

Monday, January 06, 2014

An important landmark has been reached in the construction of Crossrail, London's £14.8bn rail programme. The tunnelling of 21km of twin-bore tunnels dug beneath the capital is well underway and the project is now at the half way stage assuming things run to plan. The first tunnel was completed in November 2013

The scale of the project is epic - one of a number of infrastructure projects that are underway or in the planning stage in the UK. the importance of infrastructure investment is often debated by economists. They can affect both aggregate demand and aggregate supply and have wider effects on a nation's competitiveness. 

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Unit 4 Macro: Who Are the Extremely Poor?

Sunday, January 05, 2014

This short you tube clip published by the World Bank looks at some salient facts and figures on the extent of extreme poverty in the world

The extreme poor live on less the US$1.25 a day. Many lack basic sanitation and clean drinking water; they're malnourished and suffer from lack of education. The facts speak volumes

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Unit 4 Macro: Newsnight’s Economic Dream Team

Saturday, January 04, 2014

One for the A2 macro students! As 2013 drew to a close, Newsnight assembled a dream team of economists and economic commentators to pick their favourite graph of 2013, the one that they thought told the most compelling story of the underlying health of the UK and world economy

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Guardian Economic Development Blog - Top Stories in 2013

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Here is a selection of development storiesposted in the Guardian global development blog during the last year. Many of them are relevant for students wanting to extend and enrich their awareness for A2 macro papers.

Unit 4 Macro: Centre of Gravity in Car Manufacturing Moves East

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Volume car production has been surging in recent years in many Eastern European countries - this FT news video provides some of the background and offers some revealing insights into the complex sources of competitive advantage in a key industrial sector.

The vehicles that roll off the production line at the Czech company's state-of-the-art car plant near Prague now outstrip many western rivals not only on cost but on reliability and finish too.

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A new exhibition on the changing UK industrial landscape

Peter Marsh, formerly the manufacturing editor of the Financial Times, has let me know of the imminent launch of an unusual and interesting photographic project linked to the world of manufacturing. It's an exhibition of pictures of UK manufacturing operations taken by some of the world's top photographers and which will tour Britain from the end of January to September next year.

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Unit 4 Macro: Shaping Economic Development in Romania

There has been huge recent coverage of the impending relaxation of migrant controls for workers from Romania and Bulgaria - two countries that joined the EU single market in 2007. Here are some different views on the issue.

The World Bank has recently put two short You Tube clips on their channel focusing on the importance of economies of scale, labour mobility and competitive cities as drivers of growth and development in Romania and Bulgaria. They are both worth a look as useful short revision clips for economists and geographers.

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Unit 4 Macro: Vertical Farming - Growing Food without Soil and Water

Monday, December 30, 2013

This is a really interesting short video from the World Bank on how a Kenyan entrepreneur is using the concept of vertical farming to grow food and fodder using 80% less water. In the classroom, show the video and get the students to find ten ways in which this innovation can have a development impact - there is so much in this clip!

A Kenyan entrepreneur has adapted Hydroponics, a technique that allows to grow plants without soil, to African climate. The technique that traditionally needs an energy intensive climate control, now allows to grow plants in simple sheds without the use of electricity

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Eton College Economics Society: No More Business as Usual

In November 2013, Anthony Beaumont from Eton College organised a panel event on lessons to be learnt from the Global Financial Crisis. The highly successful event was attended by over 500 students from nearly forty schools and colleges. The panel included Anne Pettifor, Ha-Joon Change, Paul Ormerod and Crispin Odey. Tutor2u was pleased to sponsor the event by producing a colour booklet containing some relevant articles to the discussion. If you would like to have  a look at it, please check it out using the streamed presentation below. 

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Unit 4 Macro: Africa Growth Forum 2013

The International Growth Centre (IGC) held their first Africa Growth Forum in Kampala, Uganda in December 2013. All of the papers and presentations from the forum are now available from this link - there is some interesting extension material here for students and teachers looking to enrich their understanding of some of the growth and development dynamics facing the African continent at this crucial time. 

How Bad Has It Been? 2008-2013 in Historical Perspective

Friday, December 20, 2013

The end of a year is a good time to take stock. For the first time since 2007, prospects for the UK for the forthcoming year look unequivocally good. But looking back, just how bad have the last few years been across the developed world as a whole? And how do they compare with previous recessions in a historical context? To keep you out of suspense, the answer to both these questions is ‘pretty bad’. In one key respect, it has been awful.

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AS/A2 Economics Exam Technique Coaching & Revision Workshops in 2014

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The dates and locations for our popular exam technique coaching & revision workshops to prepare AS & A2 Economics students for exams in May & June 2014. The details are listed below together with important information about changes in way that bookings are processed.

Please note that for summer 2014 we are taking confirmed bookings only. Places are allocated on a strictly first-confirmed basis. Once each screen capacity is filled, the event is full and no further bookings can be accepted. Our overall capacity is lower than in previous years and we fully expect each workshop to be fully booked before the Christmas break - so please contact us early to ensure that your students can attend!

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London and Reinventing the Future

Friday, December 13, 2013

If you didn't quite grasp the importance of agglomeration economies in driving and sustaining growth and wealth creation in cities, then this wonderful piece from Bridget Rosewall will do it I am sure! It highlights the importance of vision and a willingness to take risks in bond-funded infrastructure projects in London (and elsewhere). Bridget Rosewall's new short book is available direct from the publishers - click here for details

London’s Super Sewer

With London’s Victorian sewage system struggling to cope, the 25km Thames Tideway tunnel is intended to boost capacity. But the £4.2bn Super Sewer project has run into considerable and vocal opposition. London's main sewers are over 150 years old and built for a city for 2.5 million people. The population of London is now over 8 million and when heavy rainfall arrives, there are frequent and sizeable discharges of raw sewage into the river Thames. 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage flushes into the Thames in a typical year - that’s enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall 450 times. The sewage discharges puts the UK in breach of the EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.

Critics of Thames Water argue that they have under spent on sewage system maintenance over the years despite recording persistently high profits. Thames Water announced £150 million profits in 2012.

Residents around the 21 proposed construction sites have protested about the externalities connected to the project. Other opponents argue that the money would be better spent on cheaper sustainable urban drainage techniques.

Future generations will benefit but today's water users will pay most of the construction cost with higher water bills imminent for a number of years to come. The Thames Water proposes adding £70 to £80 a year indefinitely to the average bill of Londoners to fund the 16-mile sewer from Acton in west London to Abbey Mills in east London. But a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance calculates that the tunnel could be built for between £30 and £35 per household per year

Guardian: London super sewer 'should be scrapped in favour of cheaper projects'

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Britain’s New Industrial Policy: Can We Learn from the Mistakes of the Past?

The phrase ‘industrial policy’ seems to take us decades back in time. In 1964, a powerful catchphrase of the new Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was the need for Britain to embrace the ‘white heat of the technological revolution’. Sadly, by the 1970s this vision had deteriorated into a list of institutions, stuffed with dull businessmen and trade unionists, meeting to decide how to prop up yet another failed sector of the UK economy.

But the concept is now back in vogue. Perhaps surprisingly, given the historical experience, the coalition chose to preserve Labour’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB) quango. The TSB has a budget of £400 million to “accelerate UK economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation”. A key way in which it plans to do this is through the purchasing decisions of the public sector.

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Unit 4 Macro: Tough Choices for a Troubled Euro

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The euro should either be dismantled in an orderly way or the leading members should do what is necessary to make it growth- and employment-friendly as fast as possible. That is the central message of Nobel laureate Professor Sir Christopher Pissarides, when he delivers his inaugural lecture as the first Regius Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics.

Professor Pissarides was once a passionate believer in the benefits of European monetary union. He now thinks that either the euro should be dismantled or the direction of economic policy dramatically reversed so as to promote growth and jobs and avoid creating a lost generation of educated young people.

‘We will get nowhere plodding along with the current line of ad hoc decision-making and inconsistent debt-relief policies’, he will say. ‘The policies pursued now to steady the euro are costing Europe jobs and they are creating a lost generation of educated young people. This is not what the founding fathers promised.’

The co-recipient of the 2010 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences will outline what needs to be done to bring Europe back to life:

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Have Bankers Been Practising Socialism?  The Debate About the Top 1 Per Cent

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Boris Johnson has got into trouble for his statement that it is "surely relevant to a conversation about equality" that just 2 per cent of “our species” has an IQ over 130. Over the past couple of years, the Occupy movement has made headlines by attacking the top 1 per cent.

The summer 2013 edition of the top American Journal of Economic Perspectives focuses specifically on the “Top 1 Per Cent”. This is written almost exclusively in English rather than maths, and top economists debate a range of intriguing questions.

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Mandela’s economic legacy

Twenty years ago, South Africa had a GDP of $136bn. Today, that has almost tripled to $385bn. Tax receipts have risen from 114bn South African Rand to 814bn Rand, and in the last ten years labour productivity per worker has risen from $8,800 to $25,600. Electricity was available to only 58% of households in 1996, now it is available to 85%. And social grants for welfare which were paid to 2.4mn people in 1994 are now paid to 16.1mn.

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Exam Tips - Best Paragraph Structure For A2 (Unit 4) Macro

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Tips on exam technique for answering unit 4 Macro questions - improve your exam scores by writing stronger paragraphs and evaluating well

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Development Economics e-book

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Working with one of my A2 Economics classes, we spent a few lessons rsearching useful case studies for the development economics section of Edexcel's course. Here is the results of our work.

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Resources from Tutor2u on Slideshare

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Tutor2u slideshare channel has just notched up over a million hits and we continue to add new resources each week. Here is the link to the site.

Updates on Economic Reforms in China

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Third Plenum has finished in China and with it has come some potentially significant reforms designed to rebalance the Chinese economy and shape future growth and development. The BBC's Linda Yueh has been prominent in reporting on this crucial stage of Chinese development and we have linked below to some of her recent output broadcast on the BBC.

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Unit 4 Macro: Inequality and Economic Development

This is an updated revision presentation covering aspects of inequality and economic growth/development - it is designed for Year 13 A2 macro students

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Unit 4 Macro:Apps to Help Farmers in Ghana

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This BBC news report is superb background for students who want a mini case study of the potential of mobile technology in improving farm yields and incomes for farmers in developing countries. A 29-year-old developer from Ghana has created a mobile app that he hopes will transform the livelihoods of farmers and help address food shortages

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Learn Maths, Young Person!  The Secret of Success in the 21st Century

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A currently fashionable pessimistic topic is the lifetime prospects of children born into the middle class. Graduate debt, lack of finance to buy homes and job insecurity after they graduate, the list goes on. Alan Milburn, the government’s ‘social mobility tsar’, put the seal of approval on this prevailing angst last month. His Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission pronounced that children from families with above-average incomes are now set to enjoy a worse standard of living as adults than their mothers and fathers.

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Unit 4 Macro: China: Opportunities, Threats, Success & Failure

Friday, November 08, 2013

This revision presentation highlights the key opportunities and threats faced by firms outside China looking to do business in and with China. It also provides examples of businesses that have succeeded in China and those that have struggled!

A fully editable and printable version of this presentation is included in our AQA BUSS4 2014 Toolkit on China which is being published on 8 November 2013.

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Unit 4 Macro: BBC’s New China Blog

This looks like being a great resource for students wanting to deepen their awareness and understanding of the Chinese economy. Here is the BBC's new China Blog. All the BBC's China journalists will be blogging here

Unit 4 Macro: OneDollarGlasses, MakaPads and the Jompy Water Boiler

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Tech City news focuses here on seven business start-ups geared firmly to being innovative in addressing basic problems facing millions of the world's poorest people in low-income countries. An ideal read and resource for students wanting some examples of how entrepreneurship and innovation can be used in supporting basic development and enterprise.

One dollar glasses

MakaPads

Jompy Water Boiler

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Hans Rosling on ‘Five ways the world is doing better than you think’

Don't you just love the BBC website? Just as I am preparing my lessons on global Poverty and Inequality for my A2 Macro students, here is an article written by Hans Rosling about the enormous progress most countries have made in recent decades. He uses statistics to suggest that tremendous global progress has been made towards improving quality of lives in five key ways.

There is a quiz - How Much Do You Know About The World, or 'The Ignorance Test', which will make a great lesson starter.

And as a follow-up, BBC2 has an hour-long programme tonight at 21.00 (22.30 in Scotland) called Don't Panic - the truth about Population (which will be available on i-player) - the programme synopsis says

"Using state of the art 3D graphics and the timing of a stand-up comedian, world famous statistician Professor Hans Rosling presents a spectacular portrait of our rapidly changing world. With 7 billion people already on our planet we often look to the future with dread, but Rosling's message is surprisingly upbeat. Almost unnoticed we have actually begun to conquer the problems of rapid population growth and extreme poverty."


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Immigration - the Fiscal Costs and Benefits

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

UK immigrants who arrived since 2000 are less likely to receive benefits and less likely to live in social housing than UK natives. What’s more, over the decade from 2001 to 2011, they made a considerable positive net contribution to the UK’s fiscal system, and thus helped to relieve the fiscal burden on UK-born workers.

The positive contribution is particularly evident for UK immigrants from the European Economic Area (EEA – the European Union plus three small neighbours): they contributed about 34% more in taxes than they received in benefits over the period 2001-11.

These are the central findings of a comprehensive analysis of the fiscal consequences of immigration to the UK, published today by the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) at University College London.

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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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Grangemouth highlights the competitive problems of the Rest of the UK

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The recovery in the British economy is now firmly established. Output in the services sector, the largest part of the economy, is above the previous peak level prior to the crash in 2008. There is a widespread myth that the recovery is fuelled by debt-financed personal spending. Yet since the trough of the recession in 2009 the economy as a whole has grown faster than spending by consumers.

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Unit 4 Macro: Mobile Technology and Growth in Africa

Suyash Raj Bhandari considers some of the ways in which the rapid expansion and adoption of mobile technology in Africa can act as a spur to growth and development on the continent. We link also to some useful background video resources on this issue.

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Unit 4 Macro: Amartya Sen

In a recent assignment, A2 students were asked to write a 500 word profile on each of two development economists of their choice and to capture their key ideas and connect to one or more current issues in development. I will be adding some of their responses to the economics blog. Here Ben Evans focuses on the work of Amartya Sen

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Unit 4 Macro: Muhammad Yunus

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Suyash Raj Bhandari profiles the Founder of the Grameen Bank, Mohammad Yunus

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Unit 4 Macro: Daron Acemoglu – Institutional Development

In a recent assignment, A2 students were asked to write a 500 word profile on each of two development economists of their choice and to capture their key ideas and connect to one or more current issues in development. I will be adding some of their responses to the economics blog. Here Ben Evans focuses on the work of Daron Acemoglu

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Is Britain’s economic recovery for real?

Monday, October 28, 2013

BBC Newsnight explores the latest UK growth data and holds a discussion about the durability and nature of the upturn in economic fortunes. Excellent background for evaluating this crucial stage of the cycle.

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