Category: Economics for Business: 8e Ch 27, 7e Ch 27

In the 1990s UK living standards were estimated to be 4% below those of the USA, 33% less than in Germany and 26% lower than those in France. However, faster economic growth in the past two decades has, according to Oxford Economics, led to average incomes overtaking those in the USA and rising some 8% more than those of France and Germany.

UK living standards outstrip US Times Online (6/1/08)
…but at least we’ve got one up on the Yanks Guardian (6/1/08)

Questions

1. Explain the difference that the value of sterling makes to the measure of the standard of living.
2. “With an adjustment made for this “purchasing power parity”, the average American has more spending power than his UK counterpart and pays lower taxes”. Define what is meant by purchasing power parity (PPP). Why does the standard of living need to be measured at PPS rates?
3. Discuss the principal factors that have led to the increase in the standard of living in the UK.

The fall in the dollar has continued with the value of sterling rising above $2.10 for the first time in 26 years. The articles below look at a range of issues related to the strong pound and there are also case studies of the impact on a guitar strings company and the manufacturer JCB.

Questions

1. Identify the main factors that have caused the fall in the value of the dollar. Use supply and demand to illustrate your answer as appropriate.
2. Assess the impact of the strong pound on UK exporters and importers.
3. Discuss whether intervention in the foreign exchange market may be appropriate to help UK exporters to remain more competitive in world markets.

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.

In March 2007, the pound reached a record high against the dollar. This made it an excellent time for UK tourists to visit the USA with prices appearing relatively low thanks to the exchange rate. These exchange rate values also affected the balance of payments of both the USA and the UK and the article below looks at the economic impact of the high exchange rate against the dollar.

Why everything’s almost free in America (and why it won’t last) Guardian
(23/4/07)

Questions

1. Explain the principal reasons for the change that has taken place in the exchange rate in recent years.
2. “On a PPP basis, a pound should buy $1.60”. Explain what is meant by this statement.
3. “My bet is that within a year the rate will be closer to $1.60 than $2. Maybe a lot closer.” Assess the impact of this possible outcome on economic growth and inflation in the UK.
4. Examine the likely impact of the high exchange rate on the balance of payments situation of (a) the USA and (b) the UK.

It was over 25 years ago that £1 was worth more than $2 on the foreign exchange markets, but that important psychological barrier was broken again this month as the value of sterling crept above $2 on foreign exchange markets. The continuing weakness of the dollar is making life difficult for UK exporters and also for firms in the Eurozone as the weakness in the dollar also affects the Euro and other major currencies.

Pound reaches 26-year dollar high BBC News Online (18/4/07)
UK pound goes through $2 barrier BBC News Online (17/4/07)
Yen hits record low against euro BBC News Online (16/4/07)
Pound hits 25-year dollar high Guardian (18/4/07)
British pound breaks through $2 International Herald Tribune (17/4/07)

Questions

1. Explain the impact of the weak value of the dollar on international markets on the price of UK imports and exports.
2. Assess the likely impact of the high value of sterling on the major UK economic targets.
3. Assess policies that the government could use to try to reduce the value of sterling against the dollar if they chose to.