Category: Essential Economics for Business 5e

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.

Try having a browse around the web for the price of an 8GB iPod Nano. How much variation can you find in price? It is almost certainly the case that you will find very little variation in price. So, why is this? Is it that Apple have such dominance over the market that they can force retailers to charge the price they want? Well no, they can’t. However, they do have some interesting marketing strategies that help them maintain the price at the level they want. The article below looks at these and the implications for retailers and the market price of these strategies.

Gadgets for sale… or not MSN Slate (22/12/06)

Questions

1. Explain what is meant by the term ‘price dispersion’.
2. Explain how Apple manage to keep the price of iPods from falling below a certain level.
3. Discuss the impact on competition of using minimum advertised price and marketing subsidies as tools to maintain the desired market price.

News articles can give us the impression that the world is both more warlike (with fighting in various countries) but also more peaceful and prosperous. To try to explain this confusion, an American economist with the Teal consultancy group, Richard Aboulafia, has developed a unique index; the Guns-to-Caviar Index. By mapping how much the world spends on fighter jets (guns) against how much the world spends on executive private jets (caviar) for the last 17 years, Aboulafia has given us an interesting view of the state of the world.

Obscure Economic Indicator: The Guns-to-Caviar Index MSN Slate(14/12/06)

Questions

1. What is meant by a production possibility frontier.
2. Draw a production possibility frontier to illustrate the underlying theory behind the Guns-to-Caviar index. Use the diagram to illustrate the changes that have taken place in the index during the 1990s and the early part of this century.
3. Critically assess whether the Guns-to-Caviar index can really help explain changes in the current geopolitical/economic climate.

A United Nations report on wealth distribution has found that the world’s richest 1% own 40% of the world’s wealth. Europe, the US and some Asia Pacific countries account for most of the world’s wealthiest with 30% of them living in the US. So is this a problem and should we, or indeed can we, do anything about this. The article below from the Guardian looks at these issues in more detail.

World’s richest 1% own 40% of all wealth, UN report discovers Guardian (6/12/06)

Questions

1. Examine whether the fact that the richest 10% in the world own 85% of all world assets is likely to cause problems for developing countries.
2. Suggest two policies that a developed country could use to narrow wealth distribution and evaluate the likely impact of these policies on the level of economic growth.
3. “”In some ways, wealth is more important to people in poorer countries than in richer countries.” Discuss the extent to which this assertion from the article is likely to be true.

The issue of road pricing has been simmering in the background of the environmental debate for many years and has, this month, gained greater prominence with the publication of a draft version of the Road Transport Bill that will allow local authorities to run pay-as-you-drive trials in their local areas. A number of local authorities will be interested, though all will be wary of the policy given the recent petition on the Downing Street website against road pricing that got nearly two million signatures! London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has meanwhile extended the reach of the London congestion charge with his plans to create a low emission zone (LEZ) in the capital and charge more for older, and therefore dirtier, vehicles to enter the zone.

Draft bill starts Britain down the road to pay as you drive Guardian (21/5/06)
Livingstone to charge older, dirtier lorries £200 per day Guardian (8/5/06)


Questions
1. What are the external costs and benefits resulting from increased use of the roads?
2. Discuss the extent to which the policy of charging more for older, dirtier vehicles is likely to reduce the external costs of driving.
3. Using diagrams as appropriate, show the likely impact of pay-as-you-drive schemes on the social equilibrium in the transport market.