As part of its Target 2.0 competition for students, The Times published a series of briefings looking at the factors that cause inflation. The one linked below considers the role of labour markets in determining inflation.

Interplay of work and inflation rate Times Online (2/2/07)

Questions

1. Explain the key determinants of the equilibrium level of wages in the labour market.
2. Assess the role of equilibrium labour market wages in the determination of the level of inflation.
3. Discuss the extent to which the NAIRU is still a relevant theory when considering the determinants of inflation.

The world of ‘carbon offsetting’ has suddenly become trendy. With bands like Coldplay and the Rolling Stones making their tours ‘carbon neutral’ and government ministers offsetting all the environmental cost of their overseas travel, the industry has hit the limelight. Even Tony Blair, under pressure over his personal holidays has relented and agreed that he will offset all his personal travel. However, up to now the industry has been unregulated and standards have been uncertain. Defra has now set new standards for the industry to comply with and the articles below consider the impact of this regulation.

Questions

1. Using diagrams as appropriate, explain how carbon offsetting is intended to reduce the environmental impact of plane travel.
2. Discuss the effectiveness of carbon offsetting as an approach to reducing the impact of increasing plane travel.
3. Suggest one demand-side and one supply-side policy to reduce the carbon emissions resulting from air travel and assess their relative effectiveness.

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.