Category: Economics for Business: Ch 04

The start of 2008 saw oil prices hit $100 per barrel – a new record. This important psychological as well as economic milestone has, as a result, also seen petrol prices rising to over £1 per litre. The increase in prices may prove to be an important factor in determining whether the Bank of England is able to lower interest rates.

The heavy price of $100 per barrel Guardian (4/1/08)
Oil sets fresh record above $100 BBC News Online (3/1/08)
Oil price at record $100 a barrel BBC News Online (2/1/08)
What is driving oil prices so high? BBC News Online (2/1/08)
Global oil industry in figures BBC News Online (2/1/08)
Plenty of oil left in the global tank Times Online (16/12/07)
Oil at $100 threatens to choke economy Times Online (3/1/08)
Videos
Oil prices break $100 barrier BBC News Online

Questions

1. What are the main factors that have driven oil prices over $100 per barrel.
2. Using diagrams as appropriate, illustrate the changes that have taken place in the oil market.
3. Assess the likely impact of the increase in the oil price on the major UK economic targets.
4. Discuss the extent to which the Bank of England will need to take account of higher oil prices in its decisions on interest rates.

In real terms the price of alcohol has been gradually falling, but to what extent might this have been a factor in rising levels of binge drinking in the UK? The link below is to an extract from the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme and will require real player installed on your computer to listen to it.

The price of alcohol and binge drinking BBC Today Programme(January 2008)

Questions

  1. What are principal determinants of demand for alcohol?
  2. Assess the relative importance of price against the other determinants of demand for alcohol.
  3. What are the principal factors that determine the price elasticity of demand for alcohol? Assess the extent to which an increase in the price of alcohol will lead to a fall in spending on alcohol.
  4. How effective would a rise in the tax on alcohol be in raising revenue for the government?

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.

22nd November marks the day when Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day. However, the cost of this celebration has increased by 11% in the last year according to figures from the American Farm Bureau Federation. One of the main causes of this is the rise in turkey prices but other factors were important as well.

Thanksgiving dinner cost ‘up 11%’ BBC News Online (16/11/07)

Questions

1. Using supply and demand analysis, illustrate the price changes for turkeys identified in the article.
2. Consider possible factors that may have led to the price changes for turkeys identified in the article.
3. Discuss the likely change in the quantity of turkeys demanded as a result of the price rise.
4. What is the likely approximate value of the cross elasticity of demand for cranberry sauce with respect to the price of turkeys?

Bolivia may have the second largest gas reserves in Latin America but it also has an acute shortage of diesel. People have blamed a variety of causes: smugglers, the government and nationalisation. In truth, the cause may be a combination of all these factors, but whatever the cause, the diesel shortage is acting as a significant constraint on further economic development and is an ongoing headache for the President Evo Morales.

Fuelling Bolivia’s crisis BBC News Online (8/11/07)

Questions

1. Use supply and demand analysis to illustrate the reasons for the shortages in diesel in Bolivia.
2. Explain the impact that fuel subsidies may have had in causing the shortages of diesel. Use supply and demand analysis to illustrate your answer where appropriate.
3. Discuss the underlying factors that may be leading to the shortages in diesel.