Category: Economics 10e: Ch 23

With the news this month of the death of Boris Yeltsin, it has been an opportunity to look back at the economic legacy of the first democratically-elected President of Russia. Boris Yeltsin took over at a time when all goods were scarce and the industrial infrastructure was crumbling. He adopted policies of extensive privatisation and abandoned price controls. To what extent has this created the Russia of today and what is the legacy he has left behind?

Yeltsin’s moment The Economist (subscription) (26/4/07)
Yeltsin’s economic legacy BBC News Online (24/4/07)

Questions

1. Explain the reasoning behind the policies that were adopted by Boris Yeltsin in his early years in office.
2. Discuss the extent to which those policies enabled the development of the Russian economy.
3. Assess the current state of the Russian economy.

The kibbutzes in Israel have always been renowned as a system where everything is evenly shared. However, with the news that Israel’s oldest Kibbutz has agreed to essentially privatise itself and start paying people according to ability, it seems that the reach of capitalism and the market system is now almost total. What alternative systems are left to organise and allocate resources? With most forms of socialist organisation more or less discredited as an efficient way of allocating resources, it seems that globalised capitalism is all that is left. However, in the article from the Guardian below Timothy Garton Ash argues that capitalism may, by its very nature destroy itself.

Global capitalism now has no serious rivals. But it could destroy itself Guardian (22/2/07)
Israel’s oldest Kibbutz votes for privatisation Guardian (20/2/07)

Questions

1. Describe the changes that have taken place in the system used to allocate resources in the Degania kibbutz.
2. Assess the reasons why the Degania kibbutz has decided to pay members according to ability.
3. Discuss the validity of Timothy Garton Ash’s argument that global capitalism is in danger of destroying itself.

The 300th anniversary of Scotland’s union with England was marked with renewed speculation (backed up by opinion polls) about the constitutional future of the union and a reinvigorated debate about whether Scotland should ‘go it alone’. However, could an economically independent Scotland survive? The article below considers the issues relating to an ‘economically independent’ Scotland.

Where there’s oil ……. Guardian (8/2/07)

Questions

1. Discuss the impact of North Sea Oil on the Scottish economy.
2. Assess the extent to which an independent Scotland would survive economically.
3. Discuss the changes that would take place in the fiscal position of Scotland if they were independent.

As part of its Target 2.0 competition for students, The Times published a series of briefings looking at the factors that cause inflation. The one linked below considers the role of labour markets in determining inflation.

Interplay of work and inflation rate Times Online (2/2/07)

Questions

1. Explain the key determinants of the equilibrium level of wages in the labour market.
2. Assess the role of equilibrium labour market wages in the determination of the level of inflation.
3. Discuss the extent to which the NAIRU is still a relevant theory when considering the determinants of inflation.

The red top newspapers and others have recently been leading a campaign for the scrapping of inheritance tax. They argue that the growth in house prices means that increasing numbers are becoming subject to inheritance tax and that it is inherently unjustified as a tax. The article below by David Lipsey looks at these arguments and argues that this is a myth.

The ‘death trap’ menacing middle Britain is a myth Guardian (12/1/06)

Questions

1. Explain how inheritance tax is levied and the rates it is charged at. You can always use the HM Treasury budget site to find out more detail on the tax.
2. Assess the advantages and disadvantages of the scrapping of inheritance tax. What impact is the ending of a tax of this nature likely to have on the macroeconomic performance of the UK?
3. Discuss the assertion in the article that “substantial inheritance is the enemy of equality of opportunity”?