Category: Economics 10e: Ch 24

The market for rice has been in turmoil recently with shortages and rapid price rises. This crisis has led to Japan and the USA negotiating a deal to release the surplus rice held by Japan in silos. It is estimated that this deal would lead to around 1.5 million tonnes of rice being made available and this could help reduce the price of rice on global markets.

Japan’s silos key to relieving rice shortage Times Online (17/5/08)
Tokyo stockpiles rice while others go short Times Online (17/5/08)
Thai cartel idea outrages consumers Times Online (3/5/08)
Controlling crops goes against the grain Times Online (3/5/08)

Questions

1. Explain why Japan is holding surplus rice in silos.
2. Assess the impact of this ‘distortion’ on the global rice market.
3. With reference to the last two articles linked above, assess the likely impact of the cartel proposed by the Thai prime minister on the global market for rice.

A significant illegal trade in ‘e-waste’ has developed with thousands of discarded computers arriving every day in the ports of West Africa. Once there, children are often used to dismantle them and extract metals . However, this has resulted in huge toxic dumps and serious health problems for resident in the surrounding area.

Breeding toxins from dead PCs Guardian (6/5/08)

Questions

1. Identify the principal external costs resulting from this illegal trade in e-waste.
2. Using diagrams as appropriate, show the impact of this market failure on the market for new computers.
3. Evaluate two policies that the international community could adopt to reduce this illegal trade in e-waste.

Given the interdependence of the global economy, the economic slowdown in the West is likely to have worldwide knock-on effects. How serious will these effects be for the emerging economies of South East Asia? The following articles consider this question.

The decoupling debate The Economist (6/3/08)
Can Asia escape the effects of the downturn in the West? Times Online (17/3/08)
Just enough power to save themselves Times Online (25/3/08)

Questions

1. Explain the term emerging economy.
2. Discuss the extent to which the economic performance of the emerging economies will help reduce the likelihood of recession in the UK.
3. Discuss the extent to which the economic performance of the emerging economies is likely to be affected by recession in the USA.

Large areas of land in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are lying uncultivated due to export barriers and tariffs. Given the recent rapid rise in food prices, this fallow land (estimated to be around 23 million hectares) could help to reduce upward pressure on food prices.

Bread basket that is left to grow weeds Times Online (12/3/08)

Questions

1. Identify three different forms of protectionism.
2. Explain why the land identified in the article has remained uncultivated.
3. Discuss the arguments for and against these countries reducing tariffs on food.

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.