Category: Economics for Business: 8e Ch 29

The European Central Bank has its tenth anniversary this year and the year is shaping up to be one of the toughest of the last decade in terms of economic management. While the Eurozone has generally withstood the global credit crisis very well, there are some possible problems emerging and the ECB will have to manage interest rates carefully to cater for the conflicting demands from economies at different stages of the business cycle.

If the Eurozone is on fire, will the ECB get burnt? Observer (1/6/08)
More testing times ahead as the euro turns ten Times Online (26/5/08)
Euro growth better than expected BBC News Online (15/5/08)

Questions

1. Explain the role of the European Central Bank (ECB).
2. Assess the difficulties faced by the ECB in setting interest rates for the whole Eurozone.
3. Discuss the extent to which the economic performance of stronger countries in the Eurozone will be constrained by weaker-performing economies.

Russia has been growing rapidly. Average earnings have recently been growing at 20% a year and consumption growth has not been far behind this. Moscow apparently has more ‘6-series BMWs’ than any other city in the world. With Vladimir Putin now the prime minister he has promised to rein in inflation and boost social spending on housing and infrastructure. So what are the prospects for Russia in the next decade?

Russia: giant of a new economic world order Observer (25/05/08)
Vladimir Putin pledges to transform economy of Russia into a world leader Times Online (9/05/08)
Putin in 2020 pledge on economy BBC News Online (8/05/08)

Questions

1. Assess the recent economic performance of the Russian economy.
2. Examine the importance of oil to the Russian economy. What can the Russian government do to reduce the dependence on oil revenues?
3. Discuss the importance of infrastructure and spending on other social capital for the development of the Russian economy.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, recently talked about the end of the ‘nice’ decade. He was not using this in its normal sense, but was taking about a ‘non-inflationary, consistently expansionary’ decade of economic growth. Economists and journalists have been busy suggesting other acronyms for the situation that we face now including VILE (‘volatile inflation, less expansionary’) and the less generous CRAP (close to recession, absent a policy’). So are we facing a new more inflationary and less stable period of economic development? Is the ‘nice’ period really over?

Recession alert as Brown fights back Guardian (15/5/08)
‘It’s things outside the Bank’s control that are going up’ Guardian (14/5/08) (Podcast)
Nasty truth behind those nice headlines Times Online (19/5/08)
Inflation prospects will make a master letter writer out of Mervyn King Times Online (13/5/08)
Which way from the edge of the abyss? Guardian (25/4/08)

Questions

1. Explain the main factors that have led to the past decade being a ‘NICE’ one.
2. Assess the extent to which we are moving into a ‘VILE’ period .
3. Evaluate two policies that the government could adopt to try to avoid the UK economy moving into a VILE period.

The Phillips Machine may, in this era of super-computers modelling the economy, appear an outdated artefact. However, when it was first unveiled at the London School of Economics in 1949 it caused a sensation. The Phillips Machine is a model of the economy which uses water, pumps, valves and, in the case of the original, an electric motor scavenged from the windscreen wiper of a Lancaster bomber. For some photos of a Phillips Machine at the Science Museum, follow the links below:

Phillip’s Economic Computer (1949)
Enginuity article (Cambridge Engineering Department)

The computer model that once explained the British economy Guardian (8/5/08)
The computer model that once explained the British economy Guardian (8/5/08) (Cartoon)

Questions

1. Explain what is meant by the term ‘economic model’.
2. What were the limitations of the Phillips machine? Assess whether the Phillips machine could be of value to modern economists.
3. Discuss the value of economic models to policy makers when formulating economic policy.

The prospect of a severe recession in America has inevitably drawn parallels in the media with the Great Depression of 1929. The parallel may not be entirely appropriate in terms of scale and severity, but what lessons are there that can be learnt from the Great Depression?

Credit crunch: risk-taking
Times Online (23/3/08)
America gets depressed by thoughts of 1929 revisited Times Online (23/3/08)
Lessons learnt from Great Depression Times Online (25/3/08)

Questions

1. Explain the principal causes of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
2. Assess the parallels between the current economic situation in America and the situation preceding the Great Depression in 1929.
3. Discuss the extent to which the recent loosening of monetary and fiscal policy in America will help reduce the likelihood of recession.