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State of the UK Economy - Threats to Recovery

Thursday, April 10, 2014

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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Teaching Vacancy - Economics at Greenhead College

An exciting opportunity has arisen to join the superb team at Greenhead College, Huddersfield. The requirement is for a permanent 0.5 Economics teaching position starting in September 2014. Full details can be found here http://www.tes.co.uk/job/teacher-of-a-as-level-economics-221483/ and on the college website www.greenhead.ac.uk with the closing date for applications noon on 28 April 2014.

You would find a warm and friendly supportive team to share resources and work with, many of whom work with tutor2u in delivering their successful courses. This is a grade 1 department who intend to be the best in the UK for many years to come.

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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Proposed GCE AS and A Level Subject Content for Economics

Here are the details - Board specifications to appear in the summer I suppose!

Click: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploa...

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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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A lighthearted look at corruption

After looking at the scourge of corruption as a factor hindering economic development in LEDCs and as part of #econ4, here's a rather amusing look at one of the ways in which graft can be exemplified (though taking advantage of one's position for illicit gains is not a trait unique to developing countries alone, as recently demonstrated by our very own politicians seemingly inability to keep their paws out the honey pot!)

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.

One student’s take on the Dubai Revision Workshops

AS Economist Kripa Venkatesh 's thoughts post-Dubai Revision Workshops extravaganza:

With our hearts filled with hope that we would automatically gain the knowledge necessary to ace our exams within 2 days, we headed to Tutor2u's Economics Revision Workshops on the 5th and 6th of April. Dubai College played host to many other schools from around the Gulf region and they got to experience what a DC fire drill entails. Apparently our evaluation points were so hot, they set the fire alarm off! #classicgeoff

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Unit 1 Micro: Revision on Elasticity of Demand and Supply

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Our normal laws of demand suggest that as prices increase demand decreases whilst firms attempt to supply more (with the opposite happening as prices decrease). The concept of elasticity extends this understanding by asking the question ‘by how much does demand and supply change?’

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Unit 1 Micro: Introductory Concepts in Micro

Revision notes from our workshop session 1 covering introductory concepts in Economics. Test yourself with some zondle quizzes embedded below!

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Our Economics Workshop in Dubai!

I am just back home from a five day trip to the modern city state of Dubai for the first of what we truly hope will be a regular and flourishing revision workshop for AS and A2 economics students in the middle east. Mo Tanweer and I flew to Dubai last week and we have been bowled over by the warm and generous welcome and also the energy, diligence and focus of over 150 students from 3 different countries. 

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Unit 2 Macro: Supply Side Policies and Competitiveness

A revision presentation used at the workshop in Dubai on aspects of supply-side competitiveness in the UK economy

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Unit 1 Micro: Smoking Bans and Obesity

Anti-smoking measures, such as taxes and bans, eventually lead people to eat better and lose weight. That is the central conclusion of research by Luca Savorelli, Francesco Manaresi and Davide Dragone, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2014 annual conference. The three economists overturn the conventional wisdom that kicking the smoking habit is healthy but results in weight gain.

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Labour Market: UK Minimum Wage does not Cost Jobs

The introduction of a national minimum wage does not lead to job losses. That is the central finding of research by Peter Dolton and
Michael Stops, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2014 conference.

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

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 2 Macro: Fiscal Policy to improve Net Trade

Here is a good applied example of how fiscal policy can be used to help improve the UK's net trade position. Export finance is often a problem especially for small and medium sized businesses looking to expand beyond the domestic economy to new export markets. Improving the trade position is a key aspect of re-balancing the economy and make the recovery more sustainable.

Read: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-exp...

Unit 1 Micro: Toyota Plans to Replace Robots with Craftsmen

Here is an example of reverse capital-labour substitution! A hat tip to Dave Sowden for spotting this one! Read through the article and consider the motivations, opportunities and challenges facing Toyota with this change of approach.

Read: How Toyota plans to build a better car company by replacing robots with humans

Economics CPD in June - New to Teaching AS & A2 Economics

Sunday, April 06, 2014

We're delighted that Ruth Tarrant and Paul Bridges are once again running two resource-packed CPD days that always prove popular with the growing number of teaching colleagues who are new to teaching Economics!

We are running two separate training days in London - one each for AS Economics (10 June 2014)  and A2 Economics (17 June 2014).

You can book places directly via our online store or by downloading this printable booking form.  Alternatively, contact Janet Cahill in the tutor2u office with your requirements.

By attending one or both of these courses, colleagues will:

  • Develop a deep understanding of the Assessment Objectives for AS / A2
  • Build confidence in knowing ahead of time what the common student pitfalls and errors tend to be
  • Obtain teaching & learning resources that will help them to get started on their delivery of the course
  • Develop knowledge of the key micro and macro topic areas for each of AS/A2
  • Join a support network of "people in the same boat"

Each of the two courses is ideal for:

  • Newly-qualified teachers about to start teaching economics
  • Experienced teachers of other subjects who will be teaching economics for the first time
  • Relatively new i.e. less than a year, teachers of economics
  • Teachers who maybe haven't taught economics for a long time!

Normative statements - using E-Cigarette newspaper reports to look at normative statements

Friday, April 04, 2014

I'm sure that introducing the concept of normative statements is something that most Economics' teachers introduce early in the curriculum to show the dangers of expressing opinions without evidence.  It's a tricky balancing act that we have to play - as students start to write longer, evaluative pieces we are keen for them to make reasoned arguments that don't sit on the fence but warn them of the dangers of starting to rant.

I thought that the two reports included on the document here might prove an interesting activity.  The file contains two reports into a possible plan from the Welsh Assembly to introduce a ban on the smoking of E-cigarettes in public places (akin to the current ban on smoking of 'traditional' cigarettes) in Wales.  The articles are interesting in their own right in explaining the reasons behind such a plan and as an example of Government intervention to solve a possible market failure (although one of the articles clearly identifies E Cigarettes as a solution to a market failure itself).

You could also ask students to read through the two articles and answer the following questions:

  1. Which of the two articles appears to offer more opinion-based evidence than the other?
  2. Highlight any words or phrases that indicate a value judgement rather than evidence-based reporting.
  3. Based upon your own reading and picking up on journalistic styles, have a guess which newspaper each article was published in.

The answer to this final question is in the 'read more...' section of this blog.

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Lancashire and London have dominated the Premier League.  Can it last?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Premier League season draws to an exciting close. It is by no means clear who will be champions, or who will gain the coveted top five European qualifying spots. There could even be a surprise. If Liverpool win, for the first time since 1995 a team from outside Manchester and North London will be crowned. Even then it was Blackburn. In the previous 21 seasons of the Premier League, all the winners have come from either the North West or London. So a Scouse victory would not alter this.

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Economics News Quiz 4 April 2014

Have you been keeping up to speed with the news? Here are ten more current affairs / and light-hearted knowledge questions to test you! Good luck!

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Unit 4 Macro: Fixed Currencies and Crisis Recovery

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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Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School Student Magazine

Warm congratulations to Roger Bottomley and his team of passionate and enquiring students at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School Faversham in the glorious county of Kent. They have recently published the first edition of a new Social Science Magazine and the entire publication has been 100% the work of 6th Form students studying in the new Social Science Faculty. We love showcasing independent work of this kind. Please do let us know of others on the horizon or in print! Download a copy of their magazine here! Social_Sciences_Magazine.pdf 

The Social Progress Index

Here's an interesting addition to the GDP debate, which has heated up a good deal over the last couple of years. Is GDP a reliable indicator of economic progress?  The Social Progress Index is another attempt at capturing more measures of development, so as to be a better guide to policy making.  It's what economist Diane Coyle calls a 'dashboard' approach to measurement.

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UK carbon taxes in a mess

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Climate change is back in the news, and continues to stir up heat, but not much light. It’s proving fantastically difficult to come up with consistent and efficient policies to reduce CO2 emissions.

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Carpet, bed and sofa retailers promise ‘genuine prices’ after OFT investigation

According to the Guardian, Carpetright and four other flooring and furniture retailers have promised to clean up their pricing after reaching a settlement with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). It looks like a good example of the potential for market failure arising out of asymmetric information.

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Minsky’s economic insights

American economist Hyman Minsky was an interesting character who pops up around the edges of many of the things I read. The BBC posted an article about him that I recommend, with the provocative title Did Hyman Minsky find the secret behind financial crashes?

I’ve just summarised what the article describes as 5 key ideas that he presented in his work.

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Financing the current account deficit

More on the implications of the UK’s massive current account deficit. Geoff has put together almost everything you need on the topic here, and he points out that the main implication is a net leakage from the circular flow of income, reducing AD and weakening multiplier effects.

A current account deficit is not necessarily a disaster; after all, imports are good too, sustaining our standard of living and is partly a reflection of the demand for intermediate goods our economy needs to stay efficient.

I’m going to pick up on the the statement that there is nothing wrong with a trade deficit. It simply means that a country must rely on foreign direct investment or borrowed money to make up the difference.

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Together They Fall, Divided they Stand

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Today, the world's largest mining company, BHP-Billiton, has signalled that it is considering demerger and slimming the business, as a way of improving productivity and performance. However, is there more to this than meets the eye?  

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Economics News Quiz - 2 April 2014

Here are ten questions on the economics and business news from the last week - good luck!

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Using Zondle for your Economics Revision

I am a big fan of Zondle - the games for learning platform that is free for teachers and students to use as part of their courses. This blog provides a quick overview of Zondle and below I have linked to some of the quizzes available on the site. There is an Zondle app available for download from the iTunes Store and also a free Tutor2u app which gives your students direct access to the Tutor2u economics quizzes that we upload onto our public folders.

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OCR Extract 4 F585 - NEER and REER

Many of my students have found the internal devaluation in Latvia verses currency depreciation in Iceland a struggle to get their heads around. They especially struggled with some of the material within Extract 4. This shows some statistics about the changing values of the NEER and the REER. This clip (especially the first few minutes) can help them to get their heads around the meaning of these terms, how it impacts on international competiveness and also how keeping the NEER relatively constant (Latvia) was in keeping with monetary convergence as in accordance with the Maastrict Criteria.

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Unit 2 Macro: Falling Inflation in the UK Economy

Monday, March 31, 2014

The UK’s official inflation benchmark, the Consumer Prices Index, slid to 1.7 per cent in February – the lowest for more than four years. What are some of the main factors causing inflation to fall below target?

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Unit 2 Macro: Network Rail plans £38bn Investment Programme

A significant 5 year rail infrastructure investment plan adds weight to the belief that capital spending will be a major driver of the next phase of the UK economic recovery. Network Rail is state owned, a not-for-profit business whose commercial returns are reinvested into the rail network.

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Unit 1 Micro: Options for Funding the BBC

How should a public service broadcaster be funded? This excellent article from the BBC looks at the financing of state broadcasters across a range of countries. The BBC is largely funded by the licence fee but as the article makes clear, there are many other options. The funding links back to the nature of broadcasting and the public good characteristics of much of the BBC's output.

Have a read of the article and then test your understanding of public and private goods using our Zondle quiz!

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Unit 2 Macro: The UK Current Account Deficit

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Britain’s current account deficit for 2013 as a whole (4.4% of GDP) was greater than in any other developed economy and the widening current account gap is raising fresh concerns about whether the UK's economic recovery is balanced and sustainable.

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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 3 Micro: Energy firms face competition inquiry

Friday, March 28, 2014

The big six energy firms in the UK - who account for more than ninety per cent of suppliers to UK household, commercial and industrial consumers - will be subject to another investigation by the competition authorities.  

A report by regulator Ofgem has called for an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which could take nearly two years to complete - effectively pushing the issue into the long grass well beyond the date of the next election. 

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Unit 1 Micro: Smoking Bans Improve Health

In 2007 a ban on smoking in enclosed public places was introduced in England - Scotland had introduced a similar measure a year earlier. Fresh evidence published in the medical journal The Lancet finds that enforced bans on smoking are now having a discernible effect on measures of public health.

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Unit 2 Macro: London House Prices continue to Surge

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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Economic History: The Rising Height of the Average Man

Smaller families, improved knowledge about nutrition and hygiene, and a cleaner environment with better housing, less overcrowding and a reduction in toxic heavy industry – all of these things have contributed to the spectacular increase in the height of the average young man in Britain over the past one hundred years.

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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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It’s not the economy, stupid, it’s the narrative!

The improvement in the economy has seen a narrowing of the gap in the opinion polls between the Conservatives and Labour. In the key marginal seat of Bury North, a Tory gain in 2010 by just 2,200 votes, they recently took a council seat from Labour. Bill Clinton famously said about elections “It’s the economy, stupid!” 

So, if the consensus economic forecasts are to be believed, is David Cameron home and dry in 2015?

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AS Economics - Getting into Revision Mode!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

This is a crucial time of the year for AS economists! Courses are reaching a conclusion and minds are turning to the hard yards of intensive revision with the exams looming on the horizon. This blog provides links to some of the resources that you can find to help you in and around the Tutor2u site.

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Unit 4 Macro: Infographic on the EU Single Market

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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