Category: Essential Economics for Business: Ch 11

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.

Bolivia may have the second largest gas reserves in Latin America but it also has an acute shortage of diesel. People have blamed a variety of causes: smugglers, the government and nationalisation. In truth, the cause may be a combination of all these factors, but whatever the cause, the diesel shortage is acting as a significant constraint on further economic development and is an ongoing headache for the President Evo Morales.

Fuelling Bolivia’s crisis BBC News Online (8/11/07)

Questions

1. Use supply and demand analysis to illustrate the reasons for the shortages in diesel in Bolivia.
2. Explain the impact that fuel subsidies may have had in causing the shortages of diesel. Use supply and demand analysis to illustrate your answer where appropriate.
3. Discuss the underlying factors that may be leading to the shortages in diesel.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has built up the pace of turning Venezuela into a socialist state with sweeping reforms, including extensive nationalisation. This has always been a controversial policy (not least with the private companies which will be taken into state ownership) and threatens to create further social tension in Venezuela.

Nationalisation sweeps Venezuela BBC News Online (15/5/07)


Questions
1. What are the economic implications of the creation of a ‘socialist state’?
2. Many of the poorest in Venezuela do not have full access to key services such as telecoms. Assess the extent to which nationalisation will help extend the reach of these services to all groups in society.
3. Discuss the arguments for and against bringing key industries into state ownership.

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.