Category: Essentials of Economics: 8e Ch 09, 7e Ch 08

Oil prices have seen a relentless rise in recent weeks with much speculation that they will go over $100 a barrel in the near future. The high oil price has seen the average price of petrol go over £1 per litre in the UK, shortages and rationing in Tehran and violence in Yemen. So what is causing oil prices to rise and what impact is this likely to have on the global economy?

Tempests, truckers and tribesmen – another week in the oil market Guardian (10/11/07)
Steep decline in oil production brings risk of war and unrest, says new study Guardian (22/10/07)
The high oil price may begin to take its toll Times Online (12/11/07)
What is driving oil prices so high? BBC News Online (6/11/07)
OPEC: the oil cartel in profile BBC News Online (18/10/07)
Oil price rises after OPEC summit BBC News Online (19/11/07)
Oil markets explained BBC News Online (18/10/07)
Oil prices BBC News Online – Evan Davis blog (10/11/07)
Super-spiked The Economist (1/11/07)

Video

The OPEC statement on oil prices BBC News Online – video link (19/11/07)

Questions

1. Using supply and demand analysis, show the reasons why oil prices are rising.
2. Using diagrams as appropriate, assess the likely impact of rising oil prices on the level of economic growth in the UK.
3. Discuss the extent to which OPEC has been the main cause of the rise in oil prices.

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.

Do you know what the current rate of economic growth is? Probably not. In the article below Larry Elliott argues that this may indicate that the link between economic growth and happiness has been broken and that alternative measures of GDP may be more helpful in analysing the performance of the economy.

Cameron should count on happiness Guardian (27/8/07)

Questions

1. Explain what is meant by the term ‘Index of sustainable economic welfare’.
2. Examine three factors that may raise economic welfare that are not included in a conventional measure of GDP.
3. Use the Friends of the Earth make your own ISEW site to analyse the factors that may contribute the most to economic welfare. Discuss the arguments for and against the introduction of an ISEW as an official government measure of economic welfare.

Adam Smith is the face on the new £20 note. This could be used as an argument that economics has moved into the mainstream, but many people may not be aware of the influence that he has had on modern classical economics. The articles below may help reveal his ongoing economic influence.

What you should know about Adam Smith BBC News Online (13/03/07)
Why Brown reveres the man on the new £20 note Guardian (19/03/06)

Questions

1. Assess the impact of Adam Smith on classical economic theory.
2. Summarise the main works and theories of Adam Smith. (You may find the information in the Biz/ed Virtual Economy on Adam Smith helpful. For a complete list of works of Adam Smith, many online, see website C18 in the hotlinks section of this site.)
3. Discuss the extent to which Gordon Brown has been influenced by Adam Smith in his policies.

The 300th anniversary of Scotland’s union with England was marked with renewed speculation (backed up by opinion polls) about the constitutional future of the union and a reinvigorated debate about whether Scotland should ‘go it alone’. However, could an economically independent Scotland survive? The article below considers the issues relating to an ‘economically independent’ Scotland.

Where there’s oil ……. Guardian (8/2/07)

Questions

1. Discuss the impact of North Sea Oil on the Scottish economy.
2. Assess the extent to which an independent Scotland would survive economically.
3. Discuss the changes that would take place in the fiscal position of Scotland if they were independent.