Category: Essentials of Economics: 8e Ch 10

Russia has been growing rapidly. Average earnings have recently been growing at 20% a year and consumption growth has not been far behind this. Moscow apparently has more ‘6-series BMWs’ than any other city in the world. With Vladimir Putin now the prime minister he has promised to rein in inflation and boost social spending on housing and infrastructure. So what are the prospects for Russia in the next decade?

Russia: giant of a new economic world order Observer (25/05/08)
Vladimir Putin pledges to transform economy of Russia into a world leader Times Online (9/05/08)
Putin in 2020 pledge on economy BBC News Online (8/05/08)

Questions

1. Assess the recent economic performance of the Russian economy.
2. Examine the importance of oil to the Russian economy. What can the Russian government do to reduce the dependence on oil revenues?
3. Discuss the importance of infrastructure and spending on other social capital for the development of the Russian economy.

The Phillips Machine may, in this era of super-computers modelling the economy, appear an outdated artefact. However, when it was first unveiled at the London School of Economics in 1949 it caused a sensation. The Phillips Machine is a model of the economy which uses water, pumps, valves and, in the case of the original, an electric motor scavenged from the windscreen wiper of a Lancaster bomber. For some photos of a Phillips Machine at the Science Museum, follow the links below:

Phillip’s Economic Computer (1949)
Enginuity article (Cambridge Engineering Department)

The computer model that once explained the British economy Guardian (8/5/08)
The computer model that once explained the British economy Guardian (8/5/08) (Cartoon)

Questions

1. Explain what is meant by the term ‘economic model’.
2. What were the limitations of the Phillips machine? Assess whether the Phillips machine could be of value to modern economists.
3. Discuss the value of economic models to policy makers when formulating economic policy.

The prospect of a severe recession in America has inevitably drawn parallels in the media with the Great Depression of 1929. The parallel may not be entirely appropriate in terms of scale and severity, but what lessons are there that can be learnt from the Great Depression?

Credit crunch: risk-taking
Times Online (23/3/08)
America gets depressed by thoughts of 1929 revisited Times Online (23/3/08)
Lessons learnt from Great Depression Times Online (25/3/08)

Questions

1. Explain the principal causes of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
2. Assess the parallels between the current economic situation in America and the situation preceding the Great Depression in 1929.
3. Discuss the extent to which the recent loosening of monetary and fiscal policy in America will help reduce the likelihood of recession.

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?

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.