Category: Essentials of Economics 8e

January 2007 saw unseasonably cold weather in California and the big freeze that occurred may have destroyed up to 70% of the Californian orange crop. Prices as a result of oranges are likely to treble in US shops. The impact on prices elsewhere in the world may be less, but is still likely to be significant as California is an important area in global terms. Oddly the price of orange juice is unlikely to be affected as very few of the Californian oranges go for turning into juice. The majority of oranges for juice are grown in Florida.

Big freeze sours US orange crops BBC News Online (17/1/07)

Questions

1. Using supply and demand diagrams as appropriate, explain the impact of the freezing weather in California on the world price of oranges.
2. Using supply and demand diagrams as appropriate, compare and contrast (a) the change in the price of oranges and orange juice and (b) the change in the price of oranges in the USA and the rest of the world..
3. Examine the likely impact of the cold weather in California on prices of other foods.

In developing countries the growth of urbanisation is causing some worrying social, environmental and health problems. As the introduction to the article below puts it:

“UN figures for urbanisation, published this week in the State of the World 2007 report, show that more than 60 million people – roughly the population of the UK – are added to the planet’s cities and suburbs each year, mostly in low-income urban settlements in developing countries. Unplanned urbanisation is taking a huge toll on human health and the quality of the environment, contributing to social, ecological, and economic instability in many countries.”

Streets ahead Guardian (17/1/07)

Questions

1. Assess the impact of the growth of urbanisation on the rate of development in developing countries.
2. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of growing urbanisation to a developing country.
3. Assess the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in helping to minimise the negative consequences of urbanisation.

In a new book, Will Hutton, the editor of the Observer and well-known economic commentator, has argued that we have overstated the economic threat from China. He argues that their economic model is flawed and that extensive corruption in the system is distorting economic growth in the country. The article below from the Guardian is an edited extract from his new book that considers many of these issues.

Power, corruption and lies Guardian (8/1/07)

Questions

1. “….. the transition from communism remains fundamentally problematic”. Discuss the extent to which these problems are likely to affect the pace of development in China.
2. Explain what Will Hutton means by ‘Leninist corporatism’. Why does he believe this to be a problem for China?
3. Assess the likely impact of corruption in China on long-term development and the rate of economic growth.

In the Guardian article linked to below, Ashley Seager argues that the only way to reduce the extent of social exclusion is to tax the main asset of a large proportion of the population; their house. He argues that the massive increases in land values that have taken place with rising house prices have increased divisions in society and that a land tax is required to address this. It may be interesting to consider this issue along with News Item 4 about global wealth distribution.

A land tax is 200 years overdue Guardian (8/1/07)

Questions

1. Explain what is meant by a land tax and suggest different ways that this could be levied.
2. Discuss the likely impact of a land tax, as proposed by Ashley Seager, on the major economic targets.
3. Analyse possible alternative policies to reduce the levels of exclusion in UK society.

January 1st 2007 saw further enlargement of the EU with Romania and Bulgaria joining. This brings the total number of members to 27. So what will be the impact of this expansion on the EU and the new member countries? The links below offer a range of views and information on the enlargement.

Q&A: EU enlargement BBC News Online (1/1/07)
Romania and Bulgaria join the EU BBC News Online (1/1/07)
New EU citizens ‘will benefit the UK’ BBC News Online (1/1/07)
EU hardens tone on enlargement BBC News Online (15/12/06)
Bulgaria: Key facts and figures BBC News Online (21/12/06)
Romania: Key facts and figures BBC News Online (30/12/06)
Today’s European Union is 27 states in search of a story Guardian (4/1/07)
Clubbing together Guardian Blog (1/1/07)

Questions

1. What are the likely benefits to Bulgaria and Romania of membership of the EU?
2. What are the likely costs to existing EU members of Bulgaria and Romania joining the EU?
3. Assess the likely impact on the EU budget of Bulgaria and Romania joining the EU.