Category: Economics 10e: Ch 22

The article below by William Keegan is a discussion of a recent seminar he attended on ‘Black Wednesday and the rebirth of the British economy’. The seminar led him to consider whether policy makers should be guided mainly by rules or discretion in the development of policy. Many would argue that we have moved away from discretion and moved more towards fiscal and monetary rules for the implementation of policy, but the article discusses the extent to which this may be true.

When the going gets rough, can our rulers rely on the rule book? Observer (18/11/07)

Questions

1. Explain, using examples as appropriate, the difference between policies based on fiscal and monetary rules and discretion.
2. Explain how the MPC “largely ignores the cumulative dangers of a high exchange rate” in its determination of interest rates for the UK economy.
3. Discuss how effective the adoption of an inflation target has been in management of the British economy in the past decade.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, has signalled that the next year may be the toughest for 15 years with lower economic growth than previously forecast. So, is the UK economy going off the rails?

Questions

1. Explain the main reasons why the Governor of the Bank of England expects a worse than forecast level of economic growth in 2008.
2. Discuss the extent to which a cut in interest rates will help prevent an economic slowdown. What adverse effects could follow from such a policy.
3. Discuss one other policy that the government could adopt to try to reduce the extent of the forecast slowdown in economic growth.

The Northern Rock crisis has caused significant repercussions in the UK financial system. It may continue to do so as the various groups bidding to take over the beleaguered bank try to persuade the government to write off the interest owed on the money borrowed in the run-up to the crisis. In the Guardian article below the build-up to the crisis is considered in detail, while in the other article Anatole Kaletsky argues that central banks need to stand firm against pressure from financiers.

Questions

1. Explain what is meant by the term ‘moral hazard’.
2. Examine the main factors that led up to the Northern Rock crisis.
3. Summarise the main reasons why Anatole Kaletsky argues that central banks need to stand firm when pressurised by City financiers.
4. Assess the likely impact of the Northern Rock crisis on the performance of the UK economy over the next year.

Now that Tony Blair has announced that he is to step down as Prime Minister, the media has started to consider his legacy. The two articles focus on the economic legacy. While the BBC one is quite factual in its approach, the article by Larry Elliott from the Guardian is less complementary about his legacy.

The business of Tony Blair’s decade BBC News Online (10/05/07)
Blair’s legacy: a fantasy island trying to live beyond its means at every level Guardian (14/05/07)
Blair’s economic record (video) BBC News Online (10/05/07)


Questions
1. Explain why Larry Elliott considers that we are living on a ‘fantasy island’.
2. Explain the main economic changes that have been implemented during Tony Blair’s time in office.
3. Discuss the extent to which the economic situation has improved under Tony Blair for (a) firms and (b) consumers.

As Nicolas Sarkozy takes over as President of France, he faces a difficult economic situation. Poor economic growth, worsening international competitiveness and a worrying level of unemployment and social unrest mean that he has much to do. His approach will inevitably be controversial and the extent to which he is able to implement his promised reforms may depend on how well he can carry the main stakeholders with him.

Les mis√©rables: France’s unhappy position BBC News Online (7/5/07)


Questions
1. Explain the principal economic policies that Sarkozy has promised to implement.
2. Discuss the economic problems faced by France.
3. Analyse the economic constraints faced by Nicolas Sarkozy as he tries to implement his policies.
4. Assess the likely success of the economic policies promised by Sarkozy.