I have to come clean as a self-confessed container nerd (geek alert: follow the world’s containers using this amazing tool). Not only are the ships hugely impressive from an engineering perspective, but they are a gift for an Economics or Business enthusiast. You might want to be thinking about economies of scale, or the negative externalities associated with transport – or perhaps discuss supply side issues and infrastructure. Container ships cover the lot.
A while ago I argued that container shipping is the greatest of all 20th century innovations, and this week The Economist has reported that the container has been a greater driver of globalisation than all trade agreements in the past 50 years taken together.read more...»
Here is a video report from the fast-growing country of Indonesia where infrastructure deficiencies threaten their sustainable growth rate.read more...»
I am delighted that one of my radio 4 heroes Peter Day is starting a new page on the BBC news website. Peter has always had a happy nap for understanding the dynamics of change in business and markets, expect plenty of revealing and thoughtful insights linking to his radio 4 work including World of Business. Click here to access his new page
What are the costs of a higher average rate of inflation? With CPI inflation staying persistently above target over much of the last six years, to what extent has this undermined UK macro performance? Or has a little extra inflation and an ultra-loose monetary policy (0.5% base rates and £375bn of quantitative easing) been a price worth paying to avoid an ever deeper recession and depression?
"The high retail price inflation seen in recent years has outpaced earnings and eaten into household spending power. Ongoing relatively high inflation will continue to impact consumer spending, especially with unemployment unlikely to fall quickly. The effect on consumer spending will vary between different demographic groups and product sectors, causing companies to revisit their offerings."
Here is the link to the Ernst and Young report - click here
Those of you who are about to take your Econ 3 exam (or whose students are getting ready for the final push), might find this story about sexism in TV an interesting example of inequality in the labour market. A report out yesterday and being pursued by Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman suggests that a lowly 18% of UK TV presenters over the age of 50 are women. Some channels are worse than others.
The story is also a good example of how current government intervention in this labour market is having little effect. Anti-ageist and sexist laws exist and yet there appears a very real 'glass-ceiling' when it comes to women over the age of 50 wishing to work on TV. If legislation is ineffective what other policies could students suggest might improve the situation? A quota system? Fines? Here is a real chance to offer critical and evaluative analysis on government intervention.
Follow this link to read a report.
According to the Scottish National Party, after the referendum on independence next year, Scotland will be a land of milk and honey. The highest per capita levels of public expenditure in the UK can easily be sustained. The whole of the revenue from North Sea oil and gas will belong to Scotland, regardless of the wishes of England and the Shetland Isles. Scotland can remain within the EU, despite clear statements from Brussels that it would have to reapply for membership, and the near certain Spanish veto this would attract.
The UK's membership of the EU is among the hottest of topics at the moment. With the UKIP party doing so well in recent elections and various senior political figures starting to show their real views on UK membership of the EU club even Barrack Obama was giving his opinions yesterday. This doesn't mean that the topic is any more likely to turn up on macro-economic exam papers over the next few weeks at AS and A2 (the OCR AS paper has already been and gone! Hope it went well) - the papers will have been written before the more recent votes.
However, the economic question about the UK's membership has been an important topic for quite a while and so it is worth having a look again just in case it rears its multi-lingual head. Added to that, students of economics will be in an ideal situation over the next few years to be able to make an informed decision in any referendum, based upon having some of the facts and figures and having developed their outstanding evaluative skills on the matter!
With this in mind, follow this link to find a short (10 minute) teaching resource that asks that very simple question - What are the economic arguments for and against remaining in the European Union? The Powerpoint file has a 4 minute timer to give students the chance to think about the answer and then a nice little graphic illustrating some possible answers that they could use in an exam. The BBC have also produced a succinct balanced webpage on a similar question.
In the wake of the terrible disaster in which the collapse of a factory building caused more than a thousand deaths, the Founder of the Grameen Bank Mohammad Yunus argues here the case for an international minimum wage in the garment industry and a small price premium to establish a Garment Workers Welfare Trust in Bangladesh.
"I propose that foreign buyers jointly fix a minimum international wage for the industry. This might be about 50 cents an hour, twice the level typically found in Bangladesh. This minimum wage would be an integral part of reforming the industry, which would help to prevent future tragedies. We have to make international companies understand that while the workers are physically in Bangladesh, they are contributing their labour to the businesses: they are stakeholders. Physical separation should not be grounds to ignore the wellbeing of this labour."
There is of micro and macroeconomics in this piece not least the question of price sensitivity of consumers in rich nations.
This is a cross posting from the Business Studies Blog
It is now six years since the global financial crisis triggered a prolonged downturn in economic activity. The UK economy, like other developed economies, has struggled to escape from a period of stagnant economic growth.
However, despite the weak economy, many UK firms have succeeded in significantly growing their revenues and profits.
Here are three examples of such businesses. Their strategies for success are different – but there are also some similarities.
Can you compare and contrast these three – and also identify some other businesses that have enjoyed similar success despite the tough economic environment?
You might also consider:
- What factors have driven revenue growth at each of the three businesses?
- Has their growth strategy been one or organic or external development?
- To what extent has their growth been driven by international expansion?
- Do you think their recent success can be sustained?
- What factors might that continued success depend on?
For many years Professor Andrew Oswald has researched the links between home ownership levels and labour market performance. This new paper with Professor David Blanchflower takes the debate forward - they argue that rising home ownership can bring about negative externalities for the rest of the economy, damaging labour mobility and curtailing new business start-ups. It is an argument worth looking at when we discover some of the structural causes of joblessness. Read the article here
See also: It's not the deficit that will haunt our children: it's unemployment (Heather Stewart, The Observer, May 2013)
See also: Forget inflation – what hurts the most is unemployment (David Blanchflower, Independent, April 2013)
Here is a link to a downloadable revision handout on key UK economic data designed for AS and A2 macro papers this summer. I hope it might be useful for some students and teachers.read more...»
The BBC's Chief Business Correspondent Linda Yueh @lindayueh has new page on developments in global economy http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/correspondents/lindayueh/ - definitely one for students and teachers to follow. The opening article focuses on a concept that we have been pushing in our own macro coverage in recent times, namely the emergence of a multi-polar world economy with growth coming from a bigger number of countries / regions and less dependent on the advanced western economies. Read the article here
Those of you who avidly follow Geoff Riley's blogs on this website may have read that he advises students to avoid getting too worked up about whether the economy is actually in recession.
Most economic students will readily tell you the official definition of a recession and can analyse the impact of an under-performing economy. However, it was interesting to read today that, having officially avoided a triple-dip recession last month we may have to revise whether we actually sank in to a double-dip recession in the first place. Follow this link to read the Telegraph's report on how the ONS are revising recent statistics on the economy's performance, suggesting that the shrink in the construction industry shrank by 5.0% (not 5.4% as originally reported) in the first three months of 2012 and, as a consequence, the UK did not slip into another recession.
As Geoff would tell you, whether the country was in a recession or not is the not the most important factor - the economy's sluggish growth should be the paramount concern and the word 'recession' has become more of a political tool. In the upcoming exams, students should remember that the avoidance of a double-dip or triple-dip is fairly irrelevant - the overall performance is the key indicator and there is still plenty to be worried about.
Here are some streamed revision presentations for unit 1 microeconomicsread more...»
Here's a very simple, but totally unsubtle reminder for your students on the upcoming dates and times of the AS and A level exams in Economics for the AQA, Edexcel and OCR awarding bodies.
Follow this link to download the 'Exam Countdown' file. There you will find a small and easy to use Powerpoint file called 'Exam Countdown'.
Follow this link for a quick tutorial on how to use the resource.
Open and run the slideshow (ensuring that you have 'enabled macros'). The screen will change to a setup slide after a couple of seconds. Click on the exam that you wish to remind your student about and the countdown timer will start. The timer shows how many days, hours, minutes and seconds remain before their exam starts. There's nothing like instilling a sense of urgency!
Please note this file is fully functional. If you would like an editable version (where you can edit the times, dates and 'event') you will find one as part of the 'Super Teacher Utility Belt' resource available from our PowerPoint games-based learning site.
This presentation looks at three evaluation questions in A2 macro and suggests an approach to scoring high marks for evaluation.
Here is a streamed (and downloadable) presentation on policies to cut unemployment in the UK economy.read more...»
Here's a short activity that can be used to add something a little different to your upcoming revision sessions for AS Macro topics. The Codecracker file (downloaded by clicking on this link) can be used either in class or given to your students as an exercise at home.
The file has 8 multi-choice questions on a variety of topics from the AS macro syllabus. Students have to get all 8 right (collecting letters along the way) to get the correct code. If they get even one answer wrong then the code will not be cracked (and they have to start again!). This may last 5 minutes or 50 minutes!
This is stand-alone Powerpoint file called a '.pps' file which means that it will open up automatically without having to open Powerpoint first (and you don't need Powerpoint on your PC). You can pass the file to your students using your preferred method (e.g. email) and they can see if they can crack the code in their own time.
PS. An editable version of this resource will soon be available from this website.
The credit crunch is widely regarded to have started during 2007 and is certainly not over yet! Indeed the period of severe constraints on credit availability and rising borrowing costs most notably for smaller businesses has now lasted longer than the Second World War. It represents a major barrier to sustained and hopefully more robust economic recovery. This short streamed presentation looks at the importance of the credit squeeze on the UK economy.
A number of new government policy initiatives have been introduced but doubts persist about their effectiveness. Underneath the surface new forms of business finance are taking shape including peer to peer lending and the rise of retail bonds issued by a number of businesses.read more...»
This blog entry links to some of the significant UK infrastructure projects that are current or planned - all of which cover many aspects of economics including cost benefit analysis, public and private funding, the macro effects of major capital projects and regional / industry implications.read more...»
Brought together in one blog resource - click below for details
The distinguished American academic economists, Carmen Reinhardt and Ken Rogoff, have been very much in the news. Their 2009 book, This Time is Different, was a comprehensive examination of financial crises over the past 800 years. The work received many plaudits and awards. They suggested that when the ratio of public debt to GDP in a country rose above the 90-100 per cent range, the chances of a financial crisis increased sharply. And the consequence was that economic growth in the country would be adversely affected.
Here is one of the most blatant examples of fraudulent miss-selling one might ever come across. A UK businessman has been convicted of three counts of fraud over the sale of bogus bomb detectors - their use in Iraq may have cost many lives - read this articleread more...»
Drawing on comments from examination reports and contributions from some OCR teacher examiners, here is a summary of some approaches to score high marks on the OCR AS micro and AS macro papers:read more...»
I'm always sightly dubious about statistics and information represented by campaign organisations - I'm left with the reservation that information can presented in any way that you want to prove whatever point that you are trying to make (wasn't it an economist who came up with the phrase 'lies, damned lies and statistics'?). So this fascinating report from an organisation called 'Vision of Humanity' needs to be looked at with an open mind.
However, if you take it at face value, it offers some really interesting information.read more...»
This revision quiz focuses on public and merit goods.
This revision quiz provides more MCQs to test understanding of markets in action.
This revision quiz has ten multiple-choice questions on imperfect markets:
[updated 22 April 2013]
Our Economics team have been busy over the last few weeks authoring a comprehensive new collection of multiple-choice revision questions designed to support AS, A2 and IB Economics students.
Over the next couple of weeks, we'll be uploading these quizzes to the tutor2u website and also creating Zondle versions to enable them to played using the tutor2u mobile and tablet App.
Please bookmark and share the link to this blog entry and visit regularly to check on our progress as we add new revision quizzes.read more...»
Link here to a revision note on aspects of growth and development in India (revised April 2013)read more...»