Category: Economics 10e: Ch 24

Rapidly rising food prices have led to instability in many countries and have fuelled inflation in less developed economies where food spending is a greater proportion of overall consumer spending. A number of factors have contributed to this rapid rise in prices, but one important contributory factor is the move towards growing crops that can be used as bio-fuels in the developing world and this shift in production is having a knock-on effect in world food markets.

Big food companies accused of risking climate catastrophe Guardian (8/11/07)
An agricultural crime against humanity Monbiot.com (6/11/07)
Global food crisis looms as climate change and fuel shortages bite Guardian (3/11/07)

Questions

1. Identify the main factors that have led to rising world food prices.
2. Assess the extent to which the move towards bio-fuels has contributed to the rise in world food prices.
3. Explain how the impact of rising food prices differs in the developed and developing world.
4. Discuss policies that governments could adopt to ameliorate the impact of rising food prices on the level of economic growth.

In the article below, Irwin Stelzer argues that Congress has adopted a more protectionist stance towards trade policy. Not all would, however, agree. Why not have a look at the comments after the article to see some of the discussion that has taken place about the article?

The end of free trade as we know it Times Online (20/5/07)


Questions
1. Assess the extent to which the new trade agreements under discussion are likely to improve the position of workers globally.
2. Analyse two policies that the US administration could put in place to reduce the level or protectionism.
3. Discuss the extent to which the new trade agreements referred to in the article will represent a more protectionist approach to trade.

The article linked to below is an extract (printed in the Guardian) from a new book by Dan Atkinson and Larry Elliott (economics editor for the Guardian). The introduction to the article summarises its theme quite effectively:
“We don’t manufacture anything any more. Most of the world won’t buy our records or watch our films. Only our gift of the gab is keeping Britain’s economy ticking over. But how long can the hot air last, ask Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson “

Talk is cheap Guardian (18/5/07)


Questions
1. Explain the underlying trade performance of the UK in recent years for (a) trade in goods and (b) trade in services.
2. “Labour believes Britain is at the cutting edge of the knowledge economy and that Britain’s well-educated (sic), highly skilled (sic) and entrepreneurial (sic) workers are ready to kick German, American, Japanese and Chinese butt all round the global village.” Discuss the extent to which this is true.
3. Assess the extent to which the theory of comparative advantage can help explain the differences in trade performance outlined in the article.

January 1st 2007 saw further enlargement of the EU with Romania and Bulgaria joining. This brings the total number of members to 27. So what will be the impact of this expansion on the EU and the new member countries? The links below offer a range of views and information on the enlargement.

Q&A: EU enlargement BBC News Online (1/1/07)
Romania and Bulgaria join the EU BBC News Online (1/1/07)
New EU citizens ‘will benefit the UK’ BBC News Online (1/1/07)
EU hardens tone on enlargement BBC News Online (15/12/06)
Bulgaria: Key facts and figures BBC News Online (21/12/06)
Romania: Key facts and figures BBC News Online (30/12/06)
Today’s European Union is 27 states in search of a story Guardian (4/1/07)
Clubbing together Guardian Blog (1/1/07)

Questions

1. What are the likely benefits to Bulgaria and Romania of membership of the EU?
2. What are the likely costs to existing EU members of Bulgaria and Romania joining the EU?
3. Assess the likely impact on the EU budget of Bulgaria and Romania joining the EU.