Category: Economics 10e: Ch 18

In recent years Labour has taken what might be described as a light-touch on regulation of City firms and financial institutions. In the article below the economics editor of the Guardian, Larry Elliott, argues that this ‘pact with the devil’ might have come back to haunt Gordon Brown as the impact of the global credit crunch continues to dominate economic news.

Brown damned by his Faustian pact Guardian (12/5/08)

Questions

1. What form has regulation of the financial sector taken under the Labour government?
2. Assess the extent to which this regulatory approach could be considered a ‘Faustian bargain’.
3. Discuss the extent to which tighter regulation of financial markets might have helped the UK economy avoid the impact of the global credit crunch.

The recent credit crunch has resulted in a lot of criticism of the banks and other financial institutions. Many commentators have argued for reforms to the financial system with greater controls on lending and restrictions on banks’ ability to create credit. The articles below have a common theme – assessing the actions that politicians and policy makers need to consider as a result of the recent credit crunch.

After excess comes fear – and then socialism, at least for the bankers Guardian (23/3/08)
Capitalism’s too important to be left to capitalists Observer (23/3/08)
If the City won’t put its house in order, politicians must Observer (23/3/08)

Podcast

How to stop the market mayhem Guardian (19/3/08)

Questions

1. Explain what is meant by the ‘liberalisation of financial markets’.
2. “If the City won’t put its house in order, the politicians must”. Examine the validity of Will Hutton’s argument.
3. Discuss the extent to which the freedom of banks to lend has been the cause of the recent credit crunch.

Late March saw the auctioning by the Bank of England of £10.9bn to boost liquidity in financial markets. This was £5bn more than had been expected and so should help ease the liquidity position for cash-strapped banks and other financial institutions.

When the rivers run dry The Economist (6/3/08)
Bank of England answers pleas with £5bn injections Times Online (21/3/08)

Questions

1. Explain what is meant by liquidity.
2. Assess the main factors that have resulted in a shortage of liquidity in financial markets.
3. Discuss the extent to which this extra liquidity is likely to help reduce the likelihood of recession in the UK.

The Chancellor Alistair Darling announced in February that Northern Rock – the beleaguered bank – was to be temporarily nationalised. The government had been unable to agree terms with prospective buyers and so decided that temporary nationalisation was the best way to proceed. The move has met with sharp criticism from shareholders and many commentators, but was supported by the Liberal Democrats who had argued from the outset that this was the best solution to the crisis.

Northern Rock shareholders will argue that nationalisation is theft Times Online (20/2/08)
Reaction to Northern Rock nationalisation Guardian (18/2/08)
‘Our shares are worthless’ say the Rock’s furious investors Times Online(18/2/08)
Northern Rock reclassified as public company Guardian (7/2/08)
Northern Rock staff warned of job cuts Guardian (7/2/08)
Q&A: Nationalised Northern Rock – what next? BBC News Online (18/2/08)
Northern Rock crisis (Special Report) BBC News Online

Video


Northern Rock nationalisation BBC News Online (February 2008)

Questions

1. Explain what is meant by nationalisation.
2. Examine the advantages and disadvantages of privatisation. Why was privatisation introduced as a strategy in the 1980s?
3. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of temporarily nationalising Northern Rock.

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.