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Shifting Terms of Trade for Latin America

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

According to The Economist, the great commodity boom caused by the industrialisation of China and India provided an unprecedented boost to the terms of trade (defined as the ratio of the price of its exports to that of its imports). Yet now the commodities boom may be running out of steam, these countries face a challenge.

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Two sides to the Philippine economy

The Philippines has enjoyed a period of rapid economic growth in recent years and attracted increasing attention as one of the fast-growing economies of South East Asia. Can this growth be sustained? What are the risks, challenges and the constraints facing the country? And how can the benefits of growth contribution to a transformation of economic and human development? This blog provides links to some useful resources:

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tutor2u Exam Coaching & Revision Workshops - The Movie!

Introducing tutor2u's hugely popular intensive one-day exam coaching & revision workshops. Over 20,000 students attend these highly effective exam preparations days every year. In 2014/15 our programme of workshops is extended to include A Level Psychology in addition to Economics and Business Studies.

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Dropbox and the failures behind it

According to some sources, Dropbox was the 37th online storage solution to be developed for the web - but despite early failures and late entry it has emerged as the cloud storage product of choice for over 300 million people. The firm is now estimated to be worth about £5.9bn.

This BBC article looks at the background to the story. Article can be found here:

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UCAS Guide for Economics (Summer 2014 Edition)

Here is the download link for the latest version of my advice guide for students wanting to apply for an economics related degree at UK and overseas universities.

Download tutor2u UCAS Guide for Economics (Summer 2014 Edition)

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BRIC countries - key data compared

Sunday, July 13, 2014

In this blog we compare the key macro data for the BRIC countries - China, India, Russia and Brazil drawing on data published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in their regular World Economic Outlook

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RES Competition Shortlisted and Commended Essays

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Here is the losing of shortlisted and highly commended essays following the work of the teacher judging panel for the 2014 Royal Economic Society competition. Congratulations to all of the students  mentioned below and to their teachers. Details of the final prize-winners will be posted as soon as we have them!

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Falling iron ore prices hit Australian miners

A 30 per cent drop in the iron ore price is causing concern among Australia's miners who have invested heavily in greater production facilities on the expectation of continued rising demand from China. China accounts for around 60 per cent of global demand for iron ore, used to create steel for industries like manufacturing and construction.

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Lesson Activity: The World’s Biggest (Tri-dominoes)

Friday, July 11, 2014

We're all familiar with the concept of economies of scale, and many firms seek global market leadership to generate the kind of scale economies that might sustain a competitive advantage. But, who are these businesses?

  • Which business is the world's biggest manufacturer of heavy machinery?
  • Can you name the retailer that sells more laundry detergent than any other world wide?
  • Who makes the most cement?

This version of Tri-dominoes (our popular learning activity) is all about the "world's biggest!". Simply print out this A3-sized pdf file and cut out the triangles. Just add students, a little time (10-15 minutes) and off you go.

Download Lesson Activity: The World's Biggest (Tri-dominoes)

Economists are not impressed by Piketty’s views on inequality

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The financial crisis has undoubtedly created a demand in popular culture for works which portray capitalism in a bad light, such as the recent best seller by Thomas Piketty. Piketty’s writing has gathered increasing attention from economists, and his arguments do not really bear scrutiny.

The focus of Piketty’s work is the long-run evolution of the ratio of capital to income. He claims that this is now high by historical standards, and will rise even further as the 21st century unfolds. Wealth will become more concentrated and inequality will rise inexorably even more.

The message that capitalism inevitably leads to greater inequality is one that many people want to hear. Unfortunately for them, it is wrong. Piketty assembles an impressively large amount of empirical evidence. This shows clearly that from around 1910 to 1970, inequality actually declined sharply across the West.  

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Teaching / Mentoring Opportunity at Morpeth School London

Morpeth School has been one of the drivers of the rapid improvement in education in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in recent years. Rated by OFSTED as outstanding last year, a major focus over the next 3 years is improving its 6th form. Economics was introduced for the first time at the school in 2013 and Business Studies has also been re-established at A-level. 

The school is looking to appoint a well qualified honours graduates to become an academic mentors. You will support and challenge our sixth form students, helping them to become excellent independent learners at AS and A2, joining the rapidly growing department.

If you're interested, please do drop the Head of Economics, Stuart Block, an email with your CV at


​Supermarket inflation since 1988

This Yahoo Finance story shows the historical extent of inflation in our supermarkets since 1988. A pensioner in England found an old Sainsbury’s shopping receipt from 1988 that shows all but one item, cat food, has increased in price over the last 26 years. The total bill of £17.16 would today cost more than twice as much at £42.67, a 148.6% increase.

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Export Complexity - Hidalgo and Hausmann

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Data on export patterns for goods from countries around the world provide a fascinating window on the degrees of complexity that nations have achieved. There is growing interest in the significance of knowledge capital or know-how in lifting productivity, competitiveness and improving trade performance for economies at different stages of development. Below is my selection of countries.

There then follows links to videos from Cesar Hidalgo and Riccardo Hausman on their theory of productive knowledge - and in particular how it is acquired at the level of the individual, the level of organizations, and cities, regions, countries and societies.

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Numeracy and Quantitative methods in the new Economics specifications

You will probably be aware that assessment in the new AS and A level in Economics (starting in September 2015) will have a much greater emphasis on numeracy and quantitative methods. 20% of marks will be awarded to answers based upon number work and interpretation of graphs, charts and tables.

Whatever your view on the merits of this change, there is no doubt that it brings one of the biggest challenges to teachers of economics since the year 2000. Tutor2u have put together a team of experienced teachers with different awarding body knowledge to create resources and give advice through a series of CPD events during the 2014-2015 academic year.

If you look through any of the specimen papers from the three main awarding bodies you won’t be surprised to see a huge emphasis on calculation of percentages, use of index numbers and the need to understanding fractions and ratios. You can already imagine the increased use of elasticity calculations and having to work out costs and revenues.

Did you know however (depending on your exam board choice) that your students may have to calculate opportunity cost ratios for comparative advantage, dependency ratios, quantity theory of money, terms of trade index, national income multiplier and marginal propensity to consume? Imagine a marginal social cost/benefit diagram with figures included! Have you ever asked students to convert money in real terms? How do you think they will cope with medians and quartiles?

Our team are working on resources and advice to hand out to teachers for our ‘New to A level Economics – Quantitative Methods’ CPD days. Details about times, dates and locations to follow soon.

RES Public Lecture 2014

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The 2014 RES Public lecture will be given on 25 November 2014 at the Royal Institution, London by Stephanie Flanders, former BBC Economics Editor and now J.P. Morgan Asset Management's chief market strategist for the UK and Europe. We will publish more details on this blog entry once they become available including the links for ticket applications from schools and colleges.

Contestable Markets - A New Retail Landscape

Monday, July 07, 2014

Here is a short FT background video on the challenges facing established food retailers in the UK. The supermarket is under pressure. They face competition from both hard discounters and upmarket retailers. The FT's Andrea Felsted visits Romford, on the outskirts of London, to examine how supermarkets are adapting to their new retail landscape. The Guardian's articles in changing competition in the food retail sector provide some excellent background pieces - click here to access:

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The Psychology of Scarcity

Sendhil Mullainathan (Harvard) summarises his keynote lecture at the RES conference 2014

Harvard Professor Sendhil Mullainathan, one of the leading economists in the field of behavioral economics, has recently released a new book with Princeton cognitive psychologist Professor Eldar Shafir entitled Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.

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University Economics: Changing how we teach Economics

There has been huge debate in recent months about possible reforms to the university core curriculum in economics. I myself spoke at a conference about this organised by Diane Coyle and held at the Bank of England in the spring of 2012. The book arising from that conference is available here from London Publishing Partnership:

In this new video from the Royal Economic Society, Professor Wendy Carlin from UCL London describes Institute of New Economic Thinking CORE project (Curriculum in Open-access Resources in Economics) project, which aims to make the study of economics in universities more relevant to modern day economic issues. The video also features Tim Harford, the best-selling Undercover Economist!

You can explore more about the reformed curriculum by clicking this link:

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Financial Fair Play in Football

Stefan Szymanski (University of Michigan) discusses the economics of financial fair plan in football at the RES conference 2014. Stefan Szymanski is Stephen J. Galetti professor of sport management at the University of Michigan. He has written five books, including the bestseller Soccernomics (with Simon Kuper). Check out his articles for the Guardian here: He is also tweeting here:

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Antidote to Macro Pessimism - Gerard Lyons on Consolations of Economics

Friday, July 04, 2014

In these short interviews with the Financial Times, economist Gerard Lyons highlights some of the key drivers of the global economy and he paints a fairly positive picture of the prospects for developed countries in an ever-changing world economy. In the second interview, Gerard Lyons, 'The Consolations of Economics' author, discusses with John Authers whether the system is safely retuned, and whether it can boldly go into a universe of greater growth opportunities.

Observer review (3 August 2014):

Independent review (July 2014):

Evening Standard:

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Transport: competition in the cross channel market

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

When the Channel Tunnel opened in May 1994 bosses of many ferry companies were glum. But it was the backers of the channel tunnel who lost a fortune: according to The Economist (the source of the graph above), the train through the tunnel was meant to carry 28m passengers a year by 2010. Ferries were expected to lose foot passengers, cars and lorries. Like many predictions in business, this soon came to seem wrong; now it seems wrong only in the timing. Now it looks like competition in the market may be about to collapse, with ferries coming under increasing pressure.

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World Cup version of the Happiness Index

Monday, June 30, 2014

Now that England have made their rationally-predicted (but irrationally-disappointing) exit from the World Cup, who else are we to support? As economists, we need a rational basis on which to make that choice, from a rapidly declining set of options. Help is at hand, in the form of a new index supplied by an economist at Yale University. In a paper published last week in the New York Times, Dean Karlan suggests that we should root for the outcome that will produce the largest aggregate increase in happiness.

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Development Economics: Rwanda’s Journey to Prosperity

Saturday, June 28, 2014

With World Bank Group support, millions of Rwandans are on their way to integrating to regional power and transport networks, boosting their agricultural productivity, and delivering results for their families. This is a short info graphic video from the World Bank together with some related links to useful resources on the Rwandan economy.

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Psychology of financial markets: A mini-lecture on emotional finance

Professor David Tuckett (UCL Psychology and Language Sciences) provides a brief insight into the role emotions play in finance and the decisions taken in particular by money market operators.

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Understanding Dark Pools

Over forty per cent of US equities are now traded off exchange in so called dark pools. This 60 second FT video looks at the emergence of dark pools of liquidity in the US equities market. Dark pools offer a means by which traders can remain anonymous until they have completed their stock market trades. They were brought into fresh prominence earlier this year by the publication of Flash Boys by Michael Lewis.

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Economics: Challenges for the Next Generation

Nobel Laureates in Economic Sciences and young economists were asked: "What are the challenges for the next generation?". Some of their answers have been compiled for this film produced by Econ Films

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The output gap: how much economic potential has been lost?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

An interesting piece in the Economist about the current state of the output gap – the difference between an economy’s actual output and its potential output.

Paul Ormerod argues that this value is almost impossible to estimate, so it is a pretty useless concept. Others think trying to estimate the size of the gap is valid, and knowing how much spare capacity the economy has could be a crucial guide to economic policy makers.

What are the thoughts of economists who have been looking at recent OECD data?

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Heuristics, Networks and Trust - New Directions in Economics

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Here is the presentation that I gave to students at the RGS Guildford event yesterday

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OECD Regional Well Being Index

Power to the regions - with this interactive OECD site that allows you to look at all sorts of aspects of quality of life -  income, air quality, crime rates, broadband access, voter turnout, impenetrable nature of regional dialect - so, OK I made that last one up - but the rest of these physical quality of life indicators are covered by this survey.

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Is Wayne Rooney an expert in rational economic theory?

So, farewell then England! Yet another failure by our boys at the highest levels of the game. Despite their stupendous salaries, they seem once again to be unable to exhibit the necessary skills, a point which seems to exercise many fans of the game. Tens of thousands, if not millions, of words have been written about the purely footballing aspect already. But one topic which is hiding away under this torrent is the question of incentives.

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RES Essay Competition 2014: Form for submitting your essay

Here is the link to use when submitting your essay for the RES competition. All essays must be submitted online and the final deadline is midnight on Monday 30th June.

The ‘Good Country Index’ adds to the economic progress debate

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I am often writing blogs on the debate over the limitations of GDP as a measure of economic and social progress, most recently with coverage of the Social Progress Index. Here’s another approach, the Good Country Index. It's a deceptively simple concept, yet quite powerful.

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What Gangnam Style represents in opportunity cost terms

Here’s a light-hearted one! What could we have had instead of 2 billion views of Gangnam Style?The Economist ponders that question.

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Behavioural Economics: Paul Craven: The Magic of Behavioural Economics

Paul Craven provides some witty insights into the effectiveness of different behavioural nudges!

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What makes a good economist?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Nobel Laureates in Economic Sciences and young economists were asked: "What makes a good economist?". Some of their answers have been compiled for this excellent short film produced by Econ Films

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LSE: The Amartya Sen Lecture 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Christine Lagarde is Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. She was appointed in July 2011. This blog links to the 2014 Amartya Sen lecture given at the LSE in the summer of 2014 on the topic of empowerment and in particular how women can build capacity and capabilities in countries seeking durable development - see also this blog from Mrs Lagarde in September 2013:

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Development Economics: Building Roads, An Economic Gain in Senegal

This new short video from the World bank looks at the economic benefits that flow from investment in an improved road network in Senegal

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Behavioural economics: Designing with people in behaviour change

Dr Dan Lockton looks at ways in which behaviour responds to cultural or contextual nudges

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Meet the Economist: Ha-Joon Chang

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ha Joon Chang is a South Korean economist whose writing has propelled him into a prominent position among contrarian economists working in our subject today. This blog will provide links to some of his work, articles, interviews and talks

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Development Economics: Indonesia Has Developed, But Not Everyone Feels It

Although Indonesia has experienced significant growth and development, not everyone has benefitted. This short video from the World Bank offers a personal story. Followed by up a July 2014 blog from BBC Global Business on the rise of the wealth elite in Indonesia.

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Undergraduate Taster Day at University of Leicester

Thursday, June 19, 2014

University of Leicester Economics Undergraduate Taster Day 

The University of Leicester are holding an Economics Undergraduate Taster Day on the 2nd July, with lectures including the Financial Crisis and Development Economics, as well as an international trading game and also includes general advice on applying for university plus a free BBQ!

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Paul Ormerod: Innovation, Job Losses and Living Standards

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Here is your starter for ten. What do the Uber app and David Ricardo have in common? Ricardo, I hear you ask. Scarcely known outside academic economics, he ranks equal with Adam Smith and Keynes as the greatest ever British economist. His classic Principles of Political Economy was published in 1816. He made millions of pounds on the stock market, at a time when a million was a vast amount of money.

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Inequality: a great induction topic for A2 economics

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The varied nature of Economics means there are so many (sometimes it can seem too many) themes to explore. And priorities change. Sometimes the main issue is production (making more stuff – and how the value of that is measured). Sometimes it’s exchange (looking at how markets work). Yet distribution (often overlooked, especially when economies are booming) seems the hottest topic at the moment. Inequality tops the bestseller lists.

Here are a few tips and links for using the topic as an intro to A2 economics, great for macro, with scope for analysis and evaluation of UK government policy and approaches to development economics.

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Development Data for Cambodia

Monday, June 16, 2014

Here is a selection of development data for Cambodia put into context with a selection of other Asian countries, drawing on published data from the Asian Development Bank. This blog will be added to shortly with summary notes on the economy and links to other useful resources

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EconoFun at the ETNC!

Come and meet Serena Patel who will be displaying her new economics board game EconoFun at the Economics Teacher National Conference on Monday 23rd June. 

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RES Essay: Does immigrant labour benefit or impoverish the United Kingdom?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Question six for the RES competition in 2014 is bound to produce a large number of answers. Labour migration is an important economic, social and political issue and many students will have clear views on the issue. So what will make an essay stand out from the crowd?

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ETNC - Monday 23rd June at the RBS London

We are just a week away from the annual Economics Teacher National Conference to be held this year at the stunning RBS Conference Auditorium in the heart of the City of London. For a place please contact Janet Cahill on 44 800 0085 or email her

Our keynote speakers are:

  • Ha-Joon Chang (Economics, a User’s Guide)
  • Gerard Lyons (The Consolations of Economics)
  • Richard Barwell (The European Union Economy)
  • Paul Craven (The Mind, Markets and Magic)

On the day we will have book and resources displays from a number of organisations including the IEA, London Publishing Partnership, Econ Films and Serena Patel who will be showcasing her superb new board game EconoFun. The delegate pack for the event will be packed full of teaching goodies including some resources from our WOW events.

Conference rates for delegates are great value and there are special deals including a fantastic rate for NQTs and PCGE students.

You can book provisional places for the Economics Teacher National Conference 2014 here.

You can also order places directly from our online store...

2014 World Cup Finalists - Human and Economic Development Indicators

Drawing on data from the 2013 Human Development Report, here are the 24 countries in the 2014 World Cup ranked according to the Human Development Scores

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RES Essay: Are the advanced economies in for a long period of economic stagnation?

Friday, June 13, 2014

This question gives students a superb opportunity to explore the debate surrounding economic growth in in the leading advanced nations of the global economy. It ties in well with research into the effects of globalisation and the legacy from the financial crisis. I have put together some reading and short video clips that might be relevant to the discussion:

Secular stagnation: (or .... growth pessimism!)

"Secular stagnation refers to the idea that the normal, self-restorative properties of the economy might not be sufficient to allow sustained full employment along with financial stability without extraordinary expansionary policies. The idea was put forth first by Alvin Hansen in the late 1930s." (Source:

One common interpretation is that - if we are in an age of secular stagnation - and this is an idea that might just be wrong! Maintaining demand often requires extensive periods of ultra loose monetary policy which in turn can create fresh bubbles in property and equity markets.

Is the secular stagnation argument too pessimistic? Can advanced economies rev up the engine of growth once more perhaps by using structural reforms to boost their competitiveness and drive new investment?

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Transport Economics: pollution costs from different modes

Thursday, June 12, 2014

If you’re starting out in transport economics, a good place to begin is by evaluating different modes of transport. One area you’re sure to look at is pollution. Here’s a statement I sometimes use to start the conversation:

Rolls-Royce says the four engines on the A380 are as clean and efficient as any jet engine, and produce “as much power as 3,500 family cars”. A simple calculation shows that the equivalent of more than six cars is needed to fly each passenger.

Take the calculation further: flying a fully laden A380 is, in terms of energy, like a nine-mile queue of traffic on the road below. And that is just one aircraft. In 20 years, Airbus reckons, 1,500 such planes will be in the air. By then, the total number of airliners is expected to have doubled, to 22,000. And whereas cars are used roughly for about an hour or so a day, long-haul jet airliners are on the move for at least 10 hours a day.

I’ve started putting together some more links below:

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