Category: Economics 10e: Ch 26

The euro has climbed during March to a record high against both the dollar and the pound. The reluctance of the ECB to cut interest rates has simply served to strengthen this trend and it looks set to continue for a while.

Euro hits record highs Times Online (6/3/08)
Euro hits new highs as ECB rejects early cut in rates Times Online (7/3/08)
Sterling hits new low against euro Guardian (5/3/08)
Dollar slides to fresh euro low BBC News Online (14/3/08)

Questions

1. Explain the principal factors that have led to the appreciation of the euro against the dollar.
2. Discuss the likely impact of this appreciation on firms in (a) the eurozone and (b) America.
3. Examine whether the appreciation of the euro strengthens or weakens the case for those in the UK wanting to join the euro.

China’s rate of inflation has hit an 11-year high, partly due to the cold winter weather destroying crops and pushing up food prices. However, inflationary pressure has been growing for some time with rapid economic growth and the resultant pressure on resources. This is despite six increases in interest rates in the past thirteen months.

Families feel pinch as inflation threatens economic miracle Guardian (25/2/08)
Chinese inflation soars to an 11-year high Times Online (20/2/08)
Chinese inflation hits 11 year high Times Online (19/2/08)

Questions

1. Explain the principal factors that have led to the increase in inflation in China.
2. “Policymakers in China will likely try to tighten monetary policy further, with more reserve requirement ratio hikes, faster Chinese yuan appreciation, and more heavy handed controls over bank lending.” Discuss the likely effectiveness of these policy measures.
3. Assess the extent to which changes in food prices will affect the overall level of aggregate demand in the Chinese economy.

Oil prices have seen a relentless rise in recent weeks with much speculation that they will go over $100 a barrel in the near future. The high oil price has seen the average price of petrol go over £1 per litre in the UK, shortages and rationing in Tehran and violence in Yemen. So what is causing oil prices to rise and what impact is this likely to have on the global economy?

Tempests, truckers and tribesmen – another week in the oil market Guardian (10/11/07)
Steep decline in oil production brings risk of war and unrest, says new study Guardian (22/10/07)
The high oil price may begin to take its toll Times Online (12/11/07)
What is driving oil prices so high? BBC News Online (6/11/07)
OPEC: the oil cartel in profile BBC News Online (18/10/07)
Oil price rises after OPEC summit BBC News Online (19/11/07)
Oil markets explained BBC News Online (18/10/07)
Oil prices BBC News Online – Evan Davis blog (10/11/07)
Super-spiked The Economist (1/11/07)

Video

The OPEC statement on oil prices BBC News Online – video link (19/11/07)

Questions

1. Using supply and demand analysis, show the reasons why oil prices are rising.
2. Using diagrams as appropriate, assess the likely impact of rising oil prices on the level of economic growth in the UK.
3. Discuss the extent to which OPEC has been the main cause of the rise in oil prices.

Transfer pricing is a technique used by multinational companies to avoid tax liabilities in countries they regard as having high levels of taxation. The articles below from the Guardian give the results of an investigation by Guardian journalists into the elaborate structures that have been created by multinational companies in the banana industry to funnel their profits through tax havens like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands. In some cases they have paid an effective tax rate as low as 8% when the tax rate in their home country is 35%.

Revealed: how multinational companies avoid the taxman Guardian (6/11/07)
Bananas to UK via the Channel islands? It pays for tax reasons Guardian (6/11/07)
‘I get up at 4am, work to 6-7pm – it doesn’t feel like a life’ Guardian (6/11/07)

Questions

1. Define the term ‘transfer pricing’.
2. Explain how multinational banana companies use transfer pricing to reduce their tax liabilities.
3. “The trend in the last 30 years has been to shift the burden of tax away from companies on to the consumer and labour. Capital is increasingly going untaxed.” Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this shift in the method of taxation.

The article linked to below from the Guardian by Larry Elliott argues that there are significant global imbalances in the world economy and that the IMF has to an extent ignored these imbalances. He argues that the sub-prime mortgage crisis, exchange rate movements and the rapid rise in oil prices are creating significant problems for the world economy.

Questions

1. Explain the main global imbalances identified by Larry Elliott in the article.
2. Analyse the likely impact of these imbalances on the global level of economic growth.
3. Explain the statement in the article: “Like many other countries in the region, the lesson China learned from the Asian financial crisis of 1997 was that it needed to build up a war chest of foreign exchange reserves that could be deployed in the event of a speculative attack.”