Category: Economics 10e: Ch 15

The global financial crisis has led to a significant number of countries going into recession. Recession is defined by economists as two successive quarters of negative economic growth. Banking collapses and a collapse in consumer confidence, and therefore expenditure, have reduced aggregate demand. This situation has been exacerbated as each country’s exports fall due to the slowdown in other countries. The combination of these and other factors has led to negative economic growth resulting in recession. We have linked below to a range of news articles looking at different countries that have fallen into recession in recent months.

Germany
German economy now in recession BBC News Online (13/11/08)
Germany tumbles into recession as exports dive Times Online (13/11/08)
Germany slides into recession Guardian (13/11/08)

Eurozone
Threat of worst postwar slump grows as major economies enter recession Times Online (14/11/08)
Eurozone officially in recession BBC News Online (14/11/08)
Eurozone tumbles into first-ever recession Times Online (14/11/08)

Spain
Spain has that shrinking feeling as economy heads south Times Online (20/11/08)
Economic clouds gather as Spain faces recession Times Online (6/12/08)

Japan
Japanese economy now in recession BBC News Online (17/11/08)
Global slowdown and resurgent yen finally drag Japan into recession Times Online (18/11/08)
Japan in sharpest plunge to recession since war Times Online (28/11/08)
Japan slides into recession as global slowdown hits exports Guardian (17/11/08)

Singapore
Singapore officially in recession BBC News Online (21/11/08)

Hong Kong
Hong Kong slides into recession BBC News Online (14/11/08)

Questions

  1. Choose one of the countries above and analyse the principal reasons why it went into recession.
  2. Discuss whether a fiscal policy or a monetary policy stimulus will be more effective at boosting aggregate demand in a country that is in recession.
  3. Assess policies that the governments of the countries above could use to minimise the impact of recession on the level of employment in their country.

Whilst a recession has a devastating impact on many industries – not least construction and related sectors – there are some firms who will fare much better during a recession. Firms who have products whose demand is income inelastic, or which are even inferior, will feel the impact of the recession much less than those whose goods have a more income elastic demand. The two articles below consider jobs and businesses that are less likely to suffer in recessionary times.

Slump busters: jobs that beat the downturn BBC News Online (27/11/08)
Riding the recession: how some businesses are doing well in the downturn Times Online (23/11/08)

Questions

  1. Define the terms (i) “normal good” and (ii) “inferior good”.
  2. What will be the value of the income elasticity of demand for (i) a normal good and (ii) an inferior good?
  3. Discuss strategies that firms can adopt to minimise the impact of an economic downturn on (a) their total revenue and (b) their profitability.

The Chancellor’s pre-Budget report was a massive political and economic gamble. The government has clearly recognised the potential seriousness of the economic situation and, in an attempt to avoid a prolonged recession, has injected £21bn into the UK economy in the form of tax cuts and spending increases. The headline grabbing changes were a cut in VAT and an increase in the top rate of income tax to 45% for those earning over £150,000 per year, but there was a raft of other changes including £3bn of public-sector infrastructure projects being brought forward.

Will this fiscal kick be enough to prevent a deep recession? The Chancellor clearly thinks so. He has amended his forecasts for economic growth to acknowledge that GDP will fall by 1% in 2009, but he believes growth will bounce back to 1.75% in 2010. The links below are to a selection of articles relating to the pre-Budget report, but there are plenty of other sites offering discussion and analysis of the issues relating to this unprecendented Keynesian fiscal boost.

Pre-Budget Report: Alistair Darling’s £1 trillion debt gamble Times Online (25/11/08)

Pre-budget report 2008 Guardian (25/11/08)
Pre-Budget report 2008 BBC News Online (25/11/08)
Average earners lose out in PBR BBC News Online (25/11/08)
Pre-Budget Report – the documents BBC News Online (25/11/08) Links to all pre-budget report documents as pdf files
Robinson and Peston analysis of PBR BBC News Online (25/11/08) Video from the Daily Politics show
Darling needs to cure a nation hooked on debt Guardian (24/11/08)
Darling unveils borrowing gamble BBC News Online (24/11/08)
Analysis: is this the death of New Labour? Times Online (24/11/08)
Alistair Darling announces £20bn economic boost Times Online (24/11/08)
Alistair Darling’s £20bn tax giveaway Times Online (24/11/08)
The mother of all gambles Guardian (24/11/08)
Obama and Darling: compare and contrast Guardian (24/11/08) Video comparing the packages announced by Alistair Darling and Barack Obama
The £21bn tax gamble Guardian (25/11/08)
Call this a cure? Guardian (25/11/08)

Questions

  1. Write a short paragraph outlining the main policies set out in the pre-Budget report.
  2. Evaluate the likely success of the policies announced in the pre-Budget report in preventing a prolonged recession for the UK economy.
  3. Discuss the short-term and long-term impact on the UK money markets of the high levels of borrowing required to fund the tax and spending changes set out in the 2008 pre-Budget report.
  4. Assess the likely impact of the increase in the top tax rate of income tax to 45% on (i) consumer expenditure growth, (ii) tax revenues, and (iii) the incentive for higher rate tax payers to work harder.
  5. Discuss whether a fiscal solution, such as that set out in the pre-budget report, or a monetary policy solution will be more effective at preventing a prolonged recession in the UK..

The possibility of recession in the UK, the USA and Europe has attracted a great deal of media attention and in this podcast Andy Beharrell considers whether there is any real evidence of recession. The podcast considers the definition of recession, the causes of recession and the different approaches taken by governments to try to keep their economies out of recession. While the UK and Europe have adopted essentially rules-based policy approaches, the USA has taken a more interventionist and discretionary approach with a significant loosening of both monetary and fiscal policy.

A key introductory economic concept, brought to us from Adam Smith, is the invisible hand that manages the workings of the market economy. However, is the current financial crisis an indication that the invisible hand has failed us? Should we be looking more at the invisible heart of community when we try to build an economic system? The first article linked below look at whether we may be more successful at delivering economic happiness and welfare if we follow the invisible heart rather than the invisible hand.

This way happiness lies Guardian (19/10/08)
Why do we need economic growth? BBC Magazine (16/10/08)

Questions

1. Explain how the ‘invisible hand’ allocates economic resources in a market economy.
2. Assess whether the current financial crisis may indicate that the invisible hand has failed to allocate resources appropriately.
3. Discuss whether the pursuit of economic happiness may be more appropriate than the pursuit of economic growth.