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Unit 2 Macro: London House Prices continue to Surge

Friday, March 28, 2014

There seems little that is stopping the surge in London house prices at the moment but do you think the rapid acceleration of prices is good for either London or the wider UK economy? 

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

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


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

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Unit 2 Macro: Growth is Not Enough

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In this new RSA Short, Kate Raworth makes a powerful argument to look beyond economic growth alone for a true measure of prosperity and progress. Read more about Kate Raworth's work and her idea of doughnut economics by clicking this link http://www.kateraworth.com and follow her on twitter @KateRaworth 

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Unit 2 Macro: Regional Multiplier Effects with Siemens Investment

Here is a good example of an inward investment project likely to create a strong multiplier effect for the economy of East Yorkshire. 

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Unit 3 Micro: Royal Mail - Industry Extracts

Here is a selection of short extracts on the Royal Mail and the changing structure of the industry. I have been using them when teaching Unit 3 business economics - it strikes me as an excellent case study for revising lots of parts of the course. I have added some links below to recent media coverage of Royal Mail stories.

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UCAS and Oxbridge - Delving into Management

A number of students have been asking me about suggested reading for and introductions to the study of management as they look ahead to a UCAS application in the autumn. Here are some thoughts.

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F585 Pre-Release Resources (and F583, F582 & F581 too)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I thought it worthwhile sharing my resources which I have been collecting for students (and teachers alike). I have been promoting them on Twitter (@Economics_KSF) through scoop.it but for those of you not on there, the link for the scoop.it boards are here:

http://www.scoop.it/u/economics-kcsf

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Unit 2 Macro: CPI Basket is Updated (2014)

The basket of goods and services that makes up the products used when calculating changes in the cost of living is periodically updated to reflect shifting patterns of spending by UK households. 

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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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Unit 2 Macro: Structural Decline in the UK Steel Industry

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

If you are looking for a solid example of a manufacturing industry that experienced deep long term structural contraction then the UK steel sector is a good one to use.

Global steel output has more than doubled in the last four years but what remains of the UK steel industry is battling against rising costs and the challenge of meeting stringent climate change policies. The Financial Times visits Celsa's plant in Cardiff to find out if UK steelmakers still have a viable future. Can British producers take advantage of a rebound in steel output and profits if the European Union economy shows signs of a more durable and stronger recovery?

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Unit 2 Macro: Hurdle Rates and New Housebuilding

The government wants more new homes to be built, so too do hard-pressed home-buyers facing a continued problem of low property affordability. But cautious construction companies are reluctant to press ahead favouring share buy-backs (returning money to their shareholders) and only a limited expansion of new building.

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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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Unit 2 Macro: Has 5 Years of Low Interest Rates helped the UK Economy?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Year 12 economist Tim Rawlinson considers some of the macroeconomic effects of five years of ultra low policy interest rates set by the Bank of England.

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Budget 2014 - A 15 Question Quiz

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The 2014 Budget will take place on Wednesday 19 March. Here is a general knowledge quiz on the Budget and the current state of the UK economy that you might want to take to test your understanding! Good luck! We will be covering the budget speech and the economic background to it extensively here on the Tutor2u blog.

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Unit 2 Macro: Ageing Infrastructure and Economic Growth

Here is a revealing quote from a special study published in March 2014

"Simply put, too much of the city’s essential infrastructure remains stuck in the 20th Century—a problem for a city positioning itself to compete with other global cities in today’s 21st Century economy."

Which city do you think this report was referring to?

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Unit 3 Micro: Pop Up Shops on the Underground

In recent times, pop up shops (retail outlets available on very short term leases) have grown in popularity. In part this has been because of the increase in vacant retail space during and in the aftermath of the last recession. But increasingly other organisation are thinking about using their locations as opportunities to attract small retailers and/or retail start-ups. 

Transport for London is one such example. TfL owns more than 1,000 retail properties and this week TFL has signed a deal with Appear Here, an ‘online property agency’, to allow pop-up shops and restaurants in its tube stations. Consider the business potential for this kind of retail investment. Old Street is earmarked for this experiment - it is just a short walk from Silicon Roundabout in Shoreditch - the home of hundreds of emerging tech start up businesses.

Unit 2 Macro: UK R&D Spending Remains Low

Thursday, March 13, 2014

For years the government has tried to lift research and development spending as a share of national income - but seemingly to no avail. The latest data finds that the UK is spending less on R&D than any other EU country. What might this mean for the supply-side competitiveness of the economy? 

The data finds that

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Paul Ormerod: Luddites are alive and well in the Ukraine

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On 31 January 1990, a great event took place in Pushkin Square, Moscow. A branch of MacDonald’s was opened. The same excitement was generated in Kiev on 24 May 1997, when the MacDonald’s franchise was extended to the Ukraine. The American author Thomas Friedman wrote in 1999 that no two countries with such a franchise had ever gone to war with each other. It is a striking and imaginative image, which rapidly spread to become part of the received wisdom of the chattering classes. If economic prosperity could become spread more widely across the world, liberalism and tolerance would follow.

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Quick Quiz on Developments in the UK Economy

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Test your UK economy awareness and general knowledge with this fifteen question quiz! Good luck! 

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Unit 3 Micro: Merger of Chiquita and Fyffes

A mega merger is creating the world’s largest banana company - it has been announced that Chiquita of the USA and Dublin-based Fyffes will be merging to form a giant banana distribution company.

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30 Years since the Start of the Miners’ Strike

Monday, March 10, 2014

It was an industrial dispute that reshaped not just the British coal industry but also many other sectors. In 1984 a national strike broke out pitting Arthur Scargill against Margaret Thatcher. Channel 4 news looks back at the 30th anniversary of the start of a year-long bitter battle whose scars are still apparent.

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Unit 1 Micro: Information Failure and Coca Cola

In this memorable Newsnight interview, Jeremy Paxman quizzes / interrogates a senior Coca Cola executive about the amount of sugar in Coca Cola drinks. Coca Cola wants to "make sure that the information is available" but if they did would students, cinema goers and millions of other consumers change their preferences?

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Unit 2 Macro: Singapore listed as world’s most expensive city

Singapore is ranked as the most expensive city in the world to live in, according to new research on living costs published by the Economist Intelligence Unit. It is simply a coincidence that the Tutor2u team have been out in Singapore this week delivering their TBBLE, WOW Economics and Engaged Learner CPD events!

One of the main reasons for Singapore climbing to the summit is the staggering cost of owning a licence to use a vehicle. Purchasing a “Certificate of Entitlement” for a standard 1.6-litre engine can exceed 80,000 Singapore dollars ($63,300)! The strong currency is also an important factor together with prices for utilities.

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Unit 2 Macro: 5 Years of Low Interest Rates

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

I am setting my AS macro students an essay this week evaluating the economic effects of five years of ultra-low monetary policy interest rates. Tom White blogged about this a day or so ago (click here) linking to an excellent article in the Guardian. It is a great way for students to deepen and broaden their understanding and awareness of recent developments in the UK economy.

Teaching colleagues covering monetary policy might want to use the data charts on interest rates contained in the PowerPoint file shown below.

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Price Regulation in Industries

Regulation of prices through price capping has been a feature of regulation of the utilities in the UK for many years – although this is now being phased out as most utility markets have become more competitive.

Price capping systems

  • Price capping is an alternative to rate-of-return regulation, in which utility businesses are allowed to achieve a given rate of return (or rate of profit) on capital.
  • In the UK, price capping has been known as "RPI-X". This takes the rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index and subtracts expected efficiency savings X. So for example, if inflation is 5% and X is 3% then an industry can raise their prices on average by only 2% per year
  • In the water industry, the formula is "RPI - X + K", where K is based on capital investment requirements designed to improve water quality and meet EU water quality standards. This has meant increases in the real cost of water bills for millions of households in the UK.

Advantages

Capping is an appropriate way to curtail the monopoly power of “natural monopolies” – preventing them from making excessive profits at the expense of consumers

Cuts in the real price levels are good for household and industrial consumers (leading to an increase in consumer surplus and higher real living standards in the long run).

Price capping helps to stimulate improvements in productive efficiency because lower costs are needed to increase a producer’s profits.

  • The price capping system is a tool for controlling consumer price inflation in the UK.

Disadvantages

Price caps have led to large numbers of job losses in the utility industries

Setting different price capping regimes for each industry distorts the price mechanism

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UK Economy: Mind the Gap: London v the Rest

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Mind the Gap! Evan Davis has produced two superb programmes on the regional imbalances in the UK economy. In the first he focuses on the agglomeration / network economies of scale that help to explain the skew in business investment towards the capital. In the second he looks at which cities elsewhere in the UK might be drivers of renewed growth of incomes, investment and growth! Here are the links:

Mind The Gap Episode 1 - click here

Mind The Gap Episode 2 - click here

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Unit 4 Macro: Low Investment Stifles the World Economy

Six reasons for low business investment are advanced in this article - private sector capital spending is a key driver of growth - why have companies been reluctant to authorize investment projects despite an environment of low interest rates?

Unit 1 Competitive Markets Revision Q&A - Student Licence for Just £5

Monday, March 03, 2014

Incomplete notes? Unsure of exactly what you need to know? Only a few weeks left before the exam?. Don't worry - you've come to the right place. Tutor2u's Q&A format is the rapid revision route to success. 

Tutor2u Q&A's focus on the essentials of each subject covered. A comprehensive glossary summaries key terms and concepts. Test your understanding against 100's of questions designed to cover all aspects of the syllabus. 

You can cover the syllabus in rapid time, knowing that you are focusing your effort on the essentials for success. No wonder, tutor2u's Q&As are the best-selling online rapid revision guides available for AS and A2 economics.

Details can be found here

EdExcel Unit 1 Economics

AQA Unit 1 Economics

OCR F581 Unit 1 Economics

AS Macro Quick Revision Guide (Spring 2014 Edition)

Our new 44-page, full-colour printed revision guide is designed to support students preparing for their AS Economics exams on macroeconomics. The guide provides comprehensive coverage of the core macroeconomic topics for AS Economics, grouping them into the following areas:

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Some Topical Issues in Trade and Development

I was delighted to give a talk to A2 economists at Wilson's School in Surrey today covering some aspects of trade and development economics. In particular we looked at the work of Hidalgo and Hausmann and their newly published Index of Economic Complexity. The slides from my talk are streamed below.

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Quiz on the Index of Economic Complexity

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Atlas of Economic Complexity is a new book (perfect for the coffee table) from Richard Hausmann and Cesar Hidalgo. It maps out the degree of complexity of individual economies around the world and provides a hugely visual and interesting insight into the importance of knowledge in shaping the future prosperity of countries in the global economy. I have put together a 10 question quiz on some of their key results - a useful activity I hope for students interested in the commodity composition of trade of developed and developing countries. Have a go!

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Unit 2 Macro: Economic Growth

Here is a revision presentation for an AS Macro topic - economic growth

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Unit 2 Macro: Multiplier and Accelerator Effects

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Here is a revision presentation for an AS Macro topic - the multiplier effect, the accelerator effect and Keynesian economics

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Unit 2 Macro: The Economic Cycle

Friday, February 28, 2014

Here is a revision presentation for an AS Macro topic - the economic cycle

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Unit 2 Macro: Macroeconomic Equilibrium

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Here is a revision presentation for an AS Macro topic - macroeconomic equilibrium

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Paul Ormerod: Forward guidance needed for companies, not consumers!

Most of the commentary on the UK’s economic recovery focuses on consumers. Are they taking on too much debt again to finance their spending? Is there a bubble in house prices, as people get excited about bricks and mortar again? Certainly, in terms of its sheer size, spending by consumers is by far the biggest component of GDP, making up around 60 per cent of total domestic expenditure.

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Michael Metcalfe: We need money for aid. So let’s print it

During the financial crisis, the central banks of the United States, United Kingdom and Japan created $3.7 trillion in order to buy assets and encourage investors to do the same. Michael Metcalfe from State Street argues that these same central banks print money to ensure they stay on track with their goals for global aid? Without risking inflation? A Print-Aid matching scheme could boost aid payments by up to 40% or $200 billion.

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Unit 2 Macro: Aggregate Supply

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Here is a revision presentation for an AS Macro topic - aggregate supply

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Growth and Development Challenges and Opportunities for Mexico

In this independent research assignment, Year 12 Economist Doug Feagin considers some of the factors influencing the macroeconomic performance of Mexico - a fascinating country and one of the MINT cluster of countries discussed by Jim O'Neill in his recent programmes for the BBC. 

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New evidence of persistent gender bias at the UK’’s top companies

The UK’s biggest companies remain biased when appointing women to their boards, according to new research by Dr Ian Gregory-Smith and colleagues, published in the February 2014 issue of the Economic Journal

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Executive Pay: Shareholders have failed to curb excesses

Despite public calls for shareholders to get tough on executive pay, a new study of the UK’s highest paid company directors reveals that shareholders are overwhelmingly inclined to approve the pay packets of top directors, just as they were before the crisis

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Manufacturing in Africa

Monday, February 24, 2014

Economics coverage of Africa can be a bit bleak (though perhaps it shouldn't be, with incomes rising rapidly in parts of Africa). There are often bad news stories, particularly in terms of human development indicators. News of economic progress often centres on the exploitation of primary commodities, with all the risks and issues that presents.

If you hope Africa will experience development, you’re likely to want to see sustained and robust economic growth. That, in turn, will require industrialization.

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Unit 2 Macro: Aggregate Demand

Here is a revision presentation for an AS Macro topic - aggregate demand

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