Category: Essentials of Economics: Ch 12

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has built up the pace of turning Venezuela into a socialist state with sweeping reforms, including extensive nationalisation. This has always been a controversial policy (not least with the private companies which will be taken into state ownership) and threatens to create further social tension in Venezuela.

Nationalisation sweeps Venezuela BBC News Online (15/5/07)

1. What are the economic implications of the creation of a ‘socialist state’?
2. Many of the poorest in Venezuela do not have full access to key services such as telecoms. Assess the extent to which nationalisation will help extend the reach of these services to all groups in society.
3. Discuss the arguments for and against bringing key industries into state ownership.

Now that Tony Blair has announced that he is to step down as Prime Minister, the media has started to consider his legacy. The two articles focus on the economic legacy. While the BBC one is quite factual in its approach, the article by Larry Elliott from the Guardian is less complementary about his legacy.

The business of Tony Blair’s decade BBC News Online (10/05/07)
Blair’s legacy: a fantasy island trying to live beyond its means at every level Guardian (14/05/07)
Blair’s economic record (video) BBC News Online (10/05/07)

1. Explain why Larry Elliott considers that we are living on a ‘fantasy island’.
2. Explain the main economic changes that have been implemented during Tony Blair’s time in office.
3. Discuss the extent to which the economic situation has improved under Tony Blair for (a) firms and (b) consumers.

As Nicolas Sarkozy takes over as President of France, he faces a difficult economic situation. Poor economic growth, worsening international competitiveness and a worrying level of unemployment and social unrest mean that he has much to do. His approach will inevitably be controversial and the extent to which he is able to implement his promised reforms may depend on how well he can carry the main stakeholders with him.

Les misérables: France’s unhappy position BBC News Online (7/5/07)

1. Explain the principal economic policies that Sarkozy has promised to implement.
2. Discuss the economic problems faced by France.
3. Analyse the economic constraints faced by Nicolas Sarkozy as he tries to implement his policies.
4. Assess the likely success of the economic policies promised by Sarkozy.

In the early days of monetary policy, money supply targeting was a core element of anti-inflation policy. This approach was slowly dropped during the 1990s, but the underlying growth of the money supply has remained an important issue for policy makers and recent growth in the money supply has led to concern from some commentators that higher inflationary pressures may yet emerge.

King sees money growth as danger sign Times Online (3/5/07)
Bank’s inflation controllers leave the NICE decade to enter the not-so-nice Guardian (3/5/07)
Should letter-writing be a thing of the past? Times Online (30/4/07)

1. Explain the relationship between money supply growth and inflation.
2. What were the main factors that led to money supply targeting being dropped as a core element of monetary policy?
3. Assess the extent to which the MPC should pay more attention to the level of money supply growth.
4. Should letter-writing be a thing of the past?

Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe is no longer news. Indeed the news below that inflation has risen to 2,200% may not even surprise us any more. However, inflation of this level should also mean similar changes in the exchange rate if purchasing power parity is to be maintained. The official exchange rate in Zimbabwe, however, hasn’t changed by anywhere near this amount and there are reports (See Scotsman article below) that the Governor of the Central Bank has even tried to portray a recent devaluation as not really a devaluation at all!

Our mutual friend The Economist (subscription) (12/4/07)
Zimbabwe inflation reaches 2,200% BBC News Online (26/4/07)
Zimbabwe’s inflation rate surges to 231,000,000% Guardian (9/10/08)
A month ago, the hospitals were overflowing. Now they lie empty Guardian (6/12/08)
Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe Wikipedia
How Zimbabwe lost control of inflation (11/12/09)


1. Explain, using diagrams as appropriate, how hyperinflation will affect the exchange rate in Zimbabwe.
2. Discuss the likely economic impact of not devaluing the official exchange rate in line with the level of inflation in Zimbabwe.
3. Assess possible exchange rate policies that would help reduce the level of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe.