Category: Essentials of Economics 7e

Did you buy red roses for Valentine’s Day? If so – where did they come from? Africa or Europe? You may have taken a conscious environmental decision to buy from European sources as the flowers do not have to travel so far and therefore involve fewer air miles, but according to International Development Secretary, Hilary Benn, this may be mistaken and it may be ‘greener’ to buy red from Africa.

Buy African flowers – UK Minister BBC News Online (13/2/07)
Buy African flowers for Valentine’s Day, minister says Guardian (13/2/07)

Questions

1. Compare and contrast the social costs and social benefits (including both private and external costs) of buying red roses produced in Europe and those produced in Africa.
2. Assess which are the most environmentally beneficial presents to give on Valentine’s Day. Give reasons to justify your answer.
3. Evaluate two policy options available to the government to reduce the environmental impact of Valentine’s Day.

Since the 1970s and 1980s we have moved away from an active exchange rate policy as part of an overall demand management strategy. Indeed, by the mid 2000s, even the role of fiscal policy in demand management had diminished. The article below looks at these changes and considers whether this new approach to demand management is proving effective.

It’s a fashionable club but can the MPC keep us out of the rough? Guardian (11/2/07)

Questions

1. Explain how the approach to management of the economy has changed over the last three decades.
2. Assess the problems that might arise from trying to manage the economy using just one policy instrument (i.e. interest rates)..
3. Explain what is meant by an exchange rate policy. Discuss whether the reintroduction of an exchange rate policy would help with the management of the economy.

The 300th anniversary of Scotland’s union with England was marked with renewed speculation (backed up by opinion polls) about the constitutional future of the union and a reinvigorated debate about whether Scotland should ‘go it alone’. However, could an economically independent Scotland survive? The article below considers the issues relating to an ‘economically independent’ Scotland.

Where there’s oil ……. Guardian (8/2/07)

Questions

1. Discuss the impact of North Sea Oil on the Scottish economy.
2. Assess the extent to which an independent Scotland would survive economically.
3. Discuss the changes that would take place in the fiscal position of Scotland if they were independent.

As part of its Target 2.0 competition for students, The Times published a series of briefings looking at the factors that cause inflation. The one linked below considers the role of labour markets in determining inflation.

Interplay of work and inflation rate Times Online (2/2/07)

Questions

1. Explain the key determinants of the equilibrium level of wages in the labour market.
2. Assess the role of equilibrium labour market wages in the determination of the level of inflation.
3. Discuss the extent to which the NAIRU is still a relevant theory when considering the determinants of inflation.

The world of ‘carbon offsetting’ has suddenly become trendy. With bands like Coldplay and the Rolling Stones making their tours ‘carbon neutral’ and government ministers offsetting all the environmental cost of their overseas travel, the industry has hit the limelight. Even Tony Blair, under pressure over his personal holidays has relented and agreed that he will offset all his personal travel. However, up to now the industry has been unregulated and standards have been uncertain. Defra has now set new standards for the industry to comply with and the articles below consider the impact of this regulation.

Questions

1. Using diagrams as appropriate, explain how carbon offsetting is intended to reduce the environmental impact of plane travel.
2. Discuss the effectiveness of carbon offsetting as an approach to reducing the impact of increasing plane travel.
3. Suggest one demand-side and one supply-side policy to reduce the carbon emissions resulting from air travel and assess their relative effectiveness.