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Unit 2 Macro: Fiscal Policy to improve Net Trade

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

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.


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.

read more...»

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.

read more...»

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.

read more...»

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.

read more...»

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?  

read more...»

Economics News Quiz - 2 April 2014

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

read more...»

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.

read more...»

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.

read more...»

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!

read more...»

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.

read more...»

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.

read more...»

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. 

read more...»

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.

read more...»

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.

read more...»

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.

read more...»

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.

read more...»

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?

read more...»

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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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.

Why are rich countries democracies?

You may be asking why what sounds like a politics question finds a place on the economics blog. The answer of course is that the issue of governance crops up a lot in economics. Governments have to address the challenges thrown up by market failure, and offer a fiscal framework that helps tackle macroeconomic problems. Regulators intervene in uncompetitive markets. Those of you looking at development economics don’t get far before asking if poor quality government holds back the weakest economies.

Hence the question (above). All rich, developed, mature economies are democracies. Ricardo Hausmann offers and insight into why this might be so on the pages of Project Syndicate.

read more...»

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 and follow her on twitter @KateRaworth 

read more...»

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.

read more...»

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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International competitiveness - the UK steel industry

Monday, March 24, 2014

I found this great little video from the FT on the Business blog, where Jim posted it last week. It looks at the decline of the UK steel industry, which supplied 67% of the world's steel in the industrial revolution, and now contributes less than 1%.  

It makes a great starter for looking at issues around competitiveness - the data included in it shows not only the decline in output and employment of the industry, but can be used to trace the increase in labour productivity over the last twenty years, resulting from significant investment; the potential impact of fiscal policy (which can also be linked to announcements around carbon trading and energy taxation in last week's budget); and also to make some reference to the importance of inward investment in the capital account of the Balance of Payments, as all three of the remaining biggest steel producers in the UK belong to overseas owners.

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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 but for those of you not on there, the link for the boards are here:

read more...»

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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Geographical mobility of labour in the UK

Saturday, March 22, 2014

One type of market failure that contributes to inequality and unemployment is the geographical immobility of labour

If the labour market really ‘cleared’ effectively, wages would equalise across the economy. Workers would drift away from regions with low wages and/or high unemployment towards areas where wages were higher and labour was scarce. 

Instead, we see wide disparities in earnings and pockets of regional unemployment - at the same time as skills shortages and wage inflation elsewhere.

Why are people finding it hard to move across the UK in search of work?

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Teaching Vacancy - Economics & Business Studies at Wallington County Grammar School (Surrey)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Many thanks to the team at Wallington County Grammar School for alerting us to an Economics & Business teaching opportunity which I'm sure will be of interest to many of our blog readers. All the details below - please mention that you saw the vacancy on tutor2u!

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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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Crimea - That big a deal?

This fascinating video lays bare the fluidity of Europe's borders, carved up into smaller and smaller chunks, then merged and broken again over 1,000 years. The video has gone viral after Crimea's annexation to Russia seems now inevitable after 97% voted to leave Ukraine to join Russia. Though controversial, the changing of borders in Europe has rarely been more peaceful. The time-lapse video of Europe's maps shows the rise and fall of powers on the continent that no longer exist, from the Holy Roman Empire, to the Ottoman Empire, Bohemia, the Nazi occupation and the Soviet Union. read more...»

The Budget 2014 - Your Thursday morning teaching activity looking at the Budget announcement

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Looking for something to use as a talking point for today's (19 March 2014) Budget Announcement from George Osborne?  Click the link below to download a free resource from Tutor2u.

Using an updated version of our popular 'The Angry Economist' Powerpoint game, the resource lists 12 of the budget policies made and asks students to analyse and evaluate them by applying the policy to a randomly selected macro-economic objective (either low inflation, low unemployment, positive economic growth or a Current Account surplus).

Click on this link   to download the activity.  The link takes your to a Google Drive document - just download the file to your computer.  

Note:  The resource is editable - you can change the policies or details as you wish.

Unemployment Statistics - what do they really show?

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.

TEDx talk on solving Youth Unemployment:

Latest UK Labour Market update from ONS:

read more...»

How Coal Shortages Might Impact Indian Growth

The development of India, or its non-development relative to China, is an interesting topic, and one that Bob Hindle has already been blogged about in relation to its tax system.

However, there are other aspects of the Indian economy that will also impede its ability to grow, notably its lack (or should that be 'lakh'?) of coal.

read more...»

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