Category: Essentials of Economics: Ch 13

Research has indicated that communications technology can be a significant driver of GDP growth. In Africa it is possible that mobile phones and networks can provide opportunities for economic development and members of the GSM Association are proposing to invest £25bn in sub-Saharan Africa in the next five years.

Questions

1. Explain how improved communication technology can help create a higher level of economic growth.
2. Assess the extent to which more extensive mobile networks will help to alleviate poverty.
3. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of foreign direct investment in mobile technology for sub-Saharan Africa.

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.

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.”

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.