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UK Income and Wealth Inequality - A New Film

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Income and wealth inequality in the UK are higher than most people think they are and higher than they think they should be. These are among the messages of a new online infographics film:

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China about to overtake USA as world’s largest economy

New data suggests that China will soon overtake the United States with the largest GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity. This short Financial Times video from Chris Giles looks at the new data which are being driven by fresh estimates of what money can buy - i.e. the volume of goods and services that are produced in different countries and what one dollar can buy in one country compared to another. The data finds that poorer countries are cheaper than economists thought they were and richer countries are more expensive.

China barely breaks into the top one hundred of the countries of the world in terms of GDP per capita (PPP) - it is a large country but not rich!

The 2011 gross domestic product (GDP) of the European Union, the United States and China together accounted for half of the world GDP in 2011. In 2011, the GDP of the 28-nations EU represented 18.6 percent of the world's GDP, expressed in Purchasing Power Standards (PPP). It was followed by the United States with a share of 17.1 percent and China with 14.9 percent.

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Unit 4 Macro: TPP - A High Stakes Trade Deal

Sunday, April 27, 2014

This is a screamer of an article on TPP from Linda Yueh. all students taking Econ4 must be aware of what the TPP is and what it might mean for the world economy if the TPP is finalised and completed. There are numerous barriers in the way. Can the USA and Japan resolve and reduce decades-long and deeply embedded protectionist measures covering farm products and car making? TPP has the potential to boost trade and growth in both countries - but politics and vested interests often get in the way. Watch Linda's video here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27122428

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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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Unit 4 Macro: Livestock insurance in Kenya

This video from the Economist is relevant to students of development economics. Severe droughts can cost Kenyan farmers their livelihoods. A new insurance scheme aims to protect them from the whims of the environment.

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Unit 4 Macro: Global Ageing

This video from the Economist looks at some of the views on the economic and social impact of the ageing population in the world economy. 

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Supply-side growth, not inflation, is the cure to the debt overhang problem

Thursday, April 24, 2014

In the year to March 2014, consumer prices in Sweden fell by 0.4 per cent. This has prompted the central bank, the Riksbank, to abandon the normally cautious language used by such institutions. Over the same period, inflation was negative in a further seven European countries, such as Greece, Portugal and Spain. In eight other countries, inflation was still positive but very low, running at an annual rate of less than 0.5 per cent.

The Riksbank argues that these very low, often negative, rates of inflation are caused by a ‘very dramatic tightening’ of monetary policy. There is a definite risk of a slide into a prolonged depression similar to that of the 1930s.

Surely low inflation is a good thing? Well, up to a point.

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UK Economy: The Rise of Sterling

In recent months the external value of the pound has been rising quite strongly. Indeed it has outperformed a cluster of other countries even though we have seen a rise in the UK's current account deficit on the balance of payments. Stephanie Flanders, chief market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, talks to the Financial Times about the sterling's out-performance and what impact the strong pound is likely to have on the UK economy.

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UK Economy: Debt and Barriers to Growth

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The BBC's Robert Peston looks at the broader issue of heavy debt in the UK economy and whether it is holding back economic growth.

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Unit 4 Macro: Country Profile Revision Sheet

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Here is a Country Profile revision sheet that I have created as part of my revision programme for my A2 students. 

The idea is to complete (neatly) one sheet each for six countries – leaving room on the other side for additional useful revision concepts and background context. ideally students will choose at least one African country, a middle income nation, one or more of the BRICS or MINT countries and an EU country other than the UK. 

The sheets can be duplicated for class use and make an excellent prompt for discussion. Download a free version by clicking this link. Country_Profile_Revision_Sheet.pdf

Unit 4 Macro: A2 Macro Revision Quiz 1

The first of a set of ten question revision quizzes covering A2 macro topics - good luck!

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Unit 4 Macro: Matching Definitions with Concepts

Here is a new ten question matching concepts quiz powered by the Zondle platform - good luck!

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Unit 4 Macro: Rethinking Development Aid

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Private capital flows are now much bigger than traditional aid and there has been a geographical shift in where the world's poorest people live. This OECD video provides some useful background on these important changes as we head towards changes to post-2015 development goals.

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Unit 4 Macro: Brazil’s Unfinished Mega Railroad

Government failure and the harm it can wreak on local communities is evident in this short piece from the New York Times

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UK Economy: Is the Real Wage Squeeze Ending?

Nominal weekly wage growth is now running at approximately the same pace as consumer prices inflation hinting that a long period of declining real wages might be coming to an end. The precise measurement of whether real wages are no longer falling is open to doubt, what matters more is the longer run context. The UK has seen a persistent decline in real wages and this has undoubtedly affected the strength of the economic recovery from the 2008-09 recession. 

As this short FT video shows, younger workers have seen the steepest declines in real wages.

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Key Data on the UK Economy

Friday, April 18, 2014

At this time of the year many students are wanting to get up to speed with some of the important data for the UK economy so that they can consider including it in some of their exam answers. Here is a one page revision handout on the UK drawing on a large number of indicators and (as far as possible) providing the data for 2013. Sources used include the IMF, OECD and UK Treasury.

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Unit 4 Macro: Tourism and Economic Development

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

For many developing countries tourism is already a major part of their economy and a significant source of extra factor incomes and employment. But there is a fierce debate about the economic and social consequences of tourism - what roles can tourism play in economic development? Can travel to developing countries do more harm than good? This revision blog provides some arguments and resources on this topic.

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Structural Change in Asian and Australasian Countries

Using pubic data from the Asian Development Bank here are some illustrations of the structural changes in output that have occurred across a selection of countries in Far East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Consider the magnitude of the changes that have taken place over the last twenty years. Note for revision which countries appear at the top and the bottom of each individual chart and think about WHY they appear in that position.

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Inequality: The Gini Coefficient

The Gini coefficient is a commonly-used measure of income inequality that condenses the entire income distribution for a country into a single number between 0 and 1: the higher the number, the greater the degree of income inequality.

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Unit 4 Macro: Mobile Technology Helps Kenyan Farmers

Here is a short report on the impact that the widespread uptake of mobile banking is having on Kenyan farmers. Kenya's Mobile banking system M-PESA is widely cited as an example of how mobile money transfer systems can act as a catalyst for growth and development. At least two-thirds of Kenyans use their mobile phones to pay bills, transfer money, pay salaries and now to get loans. The availability of a reliable mobile -payments platform has also spawned a host of mobile phone start-ups helping thousands who don't have bank accounts.

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Unit 4 Macro: Prospects for UK growth - A New Survey

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fears that the financial crisis will have a significant negative impact on long-term UK economic growth are unfounded, according to a majority of the UK macroeconomics profession surveyed by the Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM). What’s more, the CFM survey indicates some optimism about the UK’s immediate capacity for higher growth: while roughly half of the respondents share the views of the Office of Budget Responsibility, the other half is substantially more optimistic about the capacity for the economy to recover.

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Unit 4 Macro: Mauritania in search of growth and stability

If you are searching for a vivid example of a country experiencing primary product dependency have a look at this short video report from the Financial Times. The lower middle income west African country is trying to modernise their economy but remains deeply at risk from outside external shocks including over-dependency on a single mineral and terrorist threats. Inequality may be the biggest risk to it's future.

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Unit 4 Macro: Food imports set to rise in China

Saturday, April 12, 2014

This is a revealing perspective on the challenges facing China in producing enough food to feed the hundreds of millions of Chinese squeezed into their ever growing cities. 

China's policy makers are trying to increase the size of farms to exploit economies of scale and get their farmers to focus on cash crops. But the reality is that China will have to import a huge amount of food in the years to come - this creates big opportunities for farmers in China's trading partners.

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Economics in Crisis: Money, Blood and Revolution

Economics does not fit on a left-to-right political scale, says George Cooper, author of a new book 'Money, Blood and Revolution'. Cooper believes that Economics is in a scientific crisis with many competing schools of thought, all of which have some validity but which cause a log jam and contribute to policy confusions. 

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The ‘Gentleman in Whitehall’ does not know best

Friday, April 11, 2014

The government is relaxed about people cashing in their pension schemes to buy a Lamborghini. But the left-leaning liberal commentariat is certainly not. Abuse has been heaped onto George Osborne’s Budget measure of removing the requirement for people to buy an annuity. The main thrust of the attacks is that individuals may act irresponsibly. They may take financial decisions that are not in their best interests.

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Unit 4 Macro: Quick Quiz on Exchange Rate Systems

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Using the IMF's annual survey of exchange rate systems for each country - have a go at this ten question quiz!

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Unit 4 Macro: Revision on Balance of Payments

All exam boards require candidates to have an understanding of the Balance of Payments and Exchange Rates. In this session we will focus on the causes of the UK’s Balance of Trade (aka Current Account) deficit, what we can do about it, and how an exchange rate depreciation should affect an economy, and has affected the UK post financial crisis.

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Unit 4 EU Single Market: Trade and Labour Migration

This short streamed revision presentation looks at aspects of the EU including exam style question on the economic effects of labour migration

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The ‘SLAP the examiner’ evaluation tool for Economics

Here at tutor2u, we like our acronyms to help students remember key phrases.  We're particular fond of any acronym that helps students remember how to structure paragraphs for more complex, evaluative answers that they have to give as part of their examination answers (search this site for WEESTEPS, BEESHATECOD and TWEEP).

Here's another such acronym (hat-tip to Paul Hoang, from Sha Tin College in Hong Kong for showing us this acronym), called 'SLAP the examiner' aimed at evaluation. I guess that this one has the advantage of containing only 4 letters(!).

The acronym stands for: 

S Stakeholder perspectives
L Long term vs short term implications
A Advantage and disadvantages of policy recommendations
P Priorities of the government or economy.

Click on this link to download a nice single sheet reminder of the acronym which has been applied to a couple of economics questions.

State of the UK Economy - Threats to Recovery

Falling unemployment, declining inflation and stronger growth – we are seeing a better picture for the UK in 2014? But can it last?

After several years of weak expansion, the UK economy is enjoying a relatively strong cyclical recovery. Can the UK continued to experience a recovery in output, jobs and investment? Will the recovery be balanced and sustainable? How resilient is the UK? What are some of the major threats to growth in 2014 and beyond? This revision presentation hopefully provides some context.

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Unit 4 Macro: The Rise of Managed Exchange Rates

The new IMF report on the global economy published in April 2014 includes a focus on the currency regimes chosen by emerging market countries.  An increasing number of central banks have switched from free-floating exchange rates to managed currency regimes - perhaps because they want to make more active use of the exchange rate as an instrument of monetary policy. 

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Unit 4 Macro: Asian Growth Requires Less Inequality

The new annual report from the Asian Development Bank outlines what developing Asia needs to promote inclusive growth in the years ahead. Governments in the region should tackle widening inequality that is keeping millions poor, by using fiscal policy to help close income and wealth gaps and promote more inclusive growth, says the theme chapter of Asian Development Outlook 2014. The importance of equity in shaping future growth and development continues to gain momentum across the world and not just in the fast-growing Asian region.

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Unit 4 Macro: Africa Rising - RES Panel Event

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Here are some notes taken from the recent RES panel event on the African economy

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The changing face of Government Spending - a teacher resource

Here's a short but fun classroom starter to stimulate discussion about how the Government Spends its money.  

Based upon information from a BBC article showing how Government spending has changed since 1953, the resource asks students to separate 'blocks' representing the percentage of overall spending on each department (e.g. health, defense) into those that they think represent spending in 1953 and those that represent 2013.  Having separated the blocks, students must then re-arrange the blocks into perfect squares on the printable 'mats' provided as part of the resource.

As well as stimulating discussion about how the Government spends its money and changes in its priorities, it may provide a useful hook for getting your students to remember the proportion of spending the Government places on each of its department which they can use as evidence within their exam answers.

Click on this link to download the resource.

Click on this link to go to the original BBC article.

Unit 4 Macro: African Exports to China - Benefits and Costs

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Preferential market access to China is providing an important growth-enhancing outlet for African exporters that find it difficult to break into industrialised countries’ markets. But there remain dangers that current export structures and national capacity constraints may further entrap Africa given its comparative advantage in primary resources and China’s comparative advantage in manufacturing products.

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Unit 4 Macro: Gender Inequality and Economic Growth

Removing the barriers to labour market participation that women face in many parts of the world will lead to substantial productivity gains, according to research by Marc Teignier, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2014 conference. 

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Unit 4 Macro: Fixed Currencies and Crisis Recovery

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The nominal exchange rate is a key adjustment tool to help countries avoid traumatic balance of payments crises. And when a country is in a crisis, external adjustment is delayed and more difficult under a pegged exchange rate regime. These are the central findings of research by Atish Ghosh and colleagues, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2014 annual conference.

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Unit 4 Macro: Economic Benefits of EU Membership

Membership of the European Union (EU) has had a big positive effect on average incomes in all but one of its member countries. That is the central finding of research by Nauro Campos, Fabrizio Coricelli and Luigi Moretti, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2014 annual conference. They also find that the more financially developed countries have grown significantly faster after joining the EU.

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Unit 4 Macro: Focus on Rwanda

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Rwandan economy comes under special focus in 2014 because it is twenty years since the genocide. This blog provides some summary growth and development data and links on Rwanda, a country that is attracting increasing interest from students and teachers as part of their development economics course.

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Unit 4 Macro: Africa’s Recent Success in a European Mirror

Friday, March 28, 2014

Europe’s pre-industrial economies provide valuable insights into whether Africa’s recent economic success can be turned into sustained growth. According to research by Professors Stephen Broadberry and Leigh Gardner, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2014 annual conference, the European experience suggests that the more important criteria are indicators of institutional quality and structural change.

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Scotland’s De-Globalised Economy

A century ago, Scotland probably had the most globalised economy in the world. Since then, especially since the 1960s, Scotland has de- industrialised, and because industry is so much more globalised than other sectors, the economy has also ‘de-globalised’.

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What’s happening to Chinese growth figures?

In a rather low key report on the BBC website this week, I found the shock news that China had a trade deficit of $23bn in February. This is alongside the HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) which focuses on small privately owned businesses, and which gave a reading of 48.1 for March, compared to 48.5 in February - with any figure below 50 indicating a contraction in activity. 

And today there is a forecast of the 'official' PMI, which looks at the larger state-owned factories; although this is slightly over the 'expansion' measure of 50, it is only predicted to come in at 50.3 - and is subject to a 0.3 downwards correction to allow for seasonal patterns, according to Louis Kuijs, chief China economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

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Unit 4 Macro: Infographic on the EU Single Market

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The economics team at Deutche Bank have produced this infographic on aspects of the EU single market and it might be useful for A2 students wanting extra background on the EU economy

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Unit 4 Macro: A Tale of Two Mexicos

Are you studying Mexico as one of your chosen countries of focus for the A2 growth and development paper for EdExcel? If so, this new report from McKinsey might be of particular relevance for you. Either way, there will be plenty of useful comment here on development and growth drivers and constraints.

Unit 4 Macro: Rebalancing the Economy

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Re-balancing is an important aspect of the nature of the current recovery in the UK economy from the 2008-09 recession.

Economic re-balancing describes changing the balance of demand, output and jobs in different parts of the economy. 

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Paul Ormerod: Trends in Inequality: Truth and Myth

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Concern about inequalities of income and wealth is now a fashionable topic. It featured strongly in the gathering of the world’s top brass at Davos earlier this year. Much of the popular coverage of the topic gives the impression that not only is inequality at record highs, but that it is confined to the wicked Anglo-Saxon economies. 

A recent paper published by authors linked to the George Soros-funded Institute for New Economic Thinking shows very decisively that neither of these points is true.

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Macro: Unemployment Statistics - What Do They Really Show?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Showing critical awareness of economic statistics is an important skill for all economists.

A hat-tip to Fiona Quiddington for this article on youth unemployment from the Telegraph which analyses youth unemployment figures with a more critical eye.

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UK Economy: Mind the Gap - Skills Shortages

Monday, March 17, 2014

Are skills shortages holding back the economic recovery? The Financial Times is running a video series looking at the problems businesses are having in recruiting people with technical skills. The apprenticeship programme is expanding but will it be enough to meet the growing gap between demand for and supply of engineers and other specialist jobs in industries surrounding precision engineering, nuclear power and many others? 

According to an article in the Financial Times:

"Migrants are filling a fifth of jobs in industries such as oil and gas extraction, aerospace manufacturing and computer, electronic and optical engineering because of a lack of skilled British graduates."

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Unit 4 Macro: Oxfam and IMF Focus on Inequality

Inequality is an issue that remains firmly in the spotlight of the news media and also of policy makers in different countries.

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Corruption and the economy

Pub economics often explains the plight of poor countries in terms of the problems posed by corruption. That approach might have some value, and to raise the quality of your analysis of this topic, it’s helpful to say why and how it might arise, and the effects it might have. Rich countries are also vulnerable of course.

The Economist has a really helpful couple of articles on this topic, which it calls ‘crony capitalism’.

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