Category: Economics for Business: 8e Ch 29

GDP is quite a good measure of a nation’s production of goods and services, but it doesn’t include many other factors relating to the standard of living in an economy and for this reason, various other measures of living standards have been developed. However, there is also another issue with GDP and that relates to how best to measure a country’s economic performance. Should we use GDP per head or GDP growth? Population changes can significantly distort economic welfare and so do need to be taken into account. The article below from The Economist looks at these issues in depth and considers the best way to measure economic performance.

Grossly distorted picture The Economist (13/3/08)

Questions

1. Explain how GDP per head can fall while economic growth is rising.
2. Explain why the use of GDP per head as a measure of economic performance may lead to the definition of recession being flawed.
3. Assess the principal factors that result in economic growth and GDP per head rising together.

China’s rate of inflation has hit an 11-year high, partly due to the cold winter weather destroying crops and pushing up food prices. However, inflationary pressure has been growing for some time with rapid economic growth and the resultant pressure on resources. This is despite six increases in interest rates in the past thirteen months.

Families feel pinch as inflation threatens economic miracle Guardian (25/2/08)
Chinese inflation soars to an 11-year high Times Online (20/2/08)
Chinese inflation hits 11 year high Times Online (19/2/08)

Questions

1. Explain the principal factors that have led to the increase in inflation in China.
2. “Policymakers in China will likely try to tighten monetary policy further, with more reserve requirement ratio hikes, faster Chinese yuan appreciation, and more heavy handed controls over bank lending.” Discuss the likely effectiveness of these policy measures.
3. Assess the extent to which changes in food prices will affect the overall level of aggregate demand in the Chinese economy.

Concerns have been growing that the UK faces a downturn in economic growth during 2008. The articles below consider this possibility. With a credit crunch taking place and manufacturing output falling, the concerns for a recession may well not prove unfounded.

Is this the big one? Guardian (3/1/08)
Your survival plan if a recession strikes Times Online (5/1/08)
Top of the flops – 10 pointers to a downturn in 2008 Guardian (6/1/08)
Recession fears as manufacturing drops Times Online (11/1/08)
Crash that ‘won’t happen here’ looms large Guardian (3/12/07)

Questions

1. What are the key indicators of an impending recession?
2. Assess the likelihood of a recession in the UK in 2008.
3. What policies could the UK government adopt to avoid a recession during 2008. What would determine the success of such policies?

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.

Inflationary expectations can be an important determinant of the actual level of inflation and so the Bank of England monitor people’s perceptions of inflation closely. Expectations of inflation are currently at their highest level in eight years.

Questions

1. Explain the transmission mechanism by which higher inflationary expectations are translated into inflation.
2. What are the key determinants of inflationary expectations?
3. Discuss strategies that (a) the Bank of England and (b) the government can adopt to reduce inflationary expectations.