According to Sir Liam Donaldson, England’s Chief Medical Officer, swine flu is on its way back. However, vaccinations are now available to the most vulnerable people, including front-line medical staff, people with chronic health problems and pregnant women. But, what about every-day workers? Surely, these are people that need protecting too, as they are the ones who contribute to the economy. How do you prioritise?
A key question is how much swine flu has actually cost the UK economy. Here, we’re not just concerned with the cost of the vaccines, but also the opportunity cost of that money, the lost output from illness, the human suffering – both of the victims and of their relatives and friends – and, of course, the impact on business and the economy. Some of the countries worst hit by the outbreak of swine flu have faced particular problems, such as protectionist trade policies and a significant fall in business through tourism.
So, will the vaccine prove cost effective for the government, or is it more about the moral obligation to provide it? These articles look at some of the recent developments in the worst pandemic in years.
Mexico economy squeezed by swine flu BBC News (30/4/09)
Swine flu vaccine on its way to GPs Grimsby Telegraph (21/10/09)
Exclusive – WTO protectionism report to feature swine flu bans Reuters (12/6/09)
Flu bill ‘may hit fire plans’ Teletext (27/10/09)
Swine flu vaccination under way BBC News (21/10/09)
Swine flu costs have put dent in profits, Amerigroup says Pilot Online, Tom Shean (27/10/09)
Swine flu gives Pharmaceutical Companies a New Edge Top News, Tangaroa Snell (26/10/09)
Economic cost of swine flu could be around $3 trillion to $4.4 trillion Today’s Zaman (Turkey) (2/11/09)
Swine flu mass vaccination programme launched Guardian (21/10/09)
Full list of swine flu cases, country by country Guardian (updated daily)
Doctors plan mass swine flu jabs for under-18s Times Online (1/11/09)
- What is the opportunity cost of swine flu? How could you illustrate this on a diagram?
- Vaccines are going to those at risk first. Why is this particularly relevant in terms of the economic problem?
- What is protectionism and what are the main forms? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of protectionist policies in the context of swine flu.
- If the government had to decide whether or not a swine flu vaccine was worth producing, how could they have done this? Outline the process by which costs and benefits can be weighed up. Are there any drawbacks to this method?
- How have businesses been affected by swine flu? Think about those who have benefited as well as those that have lost.
Cadbury is arguably the producer of the best Easter eggs and also one of the best known adverts – who can forget the guerrilla playing the drums! If you think there is no substitute for Cadbury chocolate, then you’ll find this story especially interesting.
In early September, Kraft Foods made a £10.2 billion bid for the maker of Dairy Milk. This was duly rejected by Cadbury, whose Chairman said that the offer ‘fundamentally undervalued’ the business. This initial bid, although rejected, has sparked interest in the corporate world and Cadbury shareholders have seen their shares rise in value by almost 40%, closing at 775.5p on Friday 11th September.
Following this bid, other potential buyers have entered the picture, including Nestlé and Hershey’s. There is also the likelihood that Kraft Foods will make a higher bid, financed through a bridging loan. Despite this interest, Cadbury still wants to remain independent, hoping that its investors will be buoyed by the company’s rising profits in recent months.
Take a look at the following articles that consider these possible take-overs of Cadbury and how the corporate world has been, and will continue to be, affected.
Cadbury snubs £10.2bn Kraft move BBC News (7/0/09)
Hershey’s and Nestlé in running to buy Cadbury Telegraph (10/9/09)
Kraft races to prepare new Cadbury bid Guardian (9/9/09)
Return of the Deal? BBC News (7/9/09)
Hershey considers Cadbury counterbid Times Online (9/9/09)
Cadbury spurns ‘low growth’ Kraft BBC News (13/9/09)
Long Cadbury shares? Cash out! Khaleej Times Online (United Arab Emirates) (14/9/09)
Hedge fund Eton Park stakes £180m on Cadbury bid Telegraph (10/9/09)
Cadbury vision is to stay single Financial Times (11/9/09)
- In the 13th September BBC News article, an extract from a letter to the Kraft Chief Executive from the Chairman of Cadbury stated that under Kraft’s offer “Cadbury would be absorbed into Kraft’s low growth, conglomerate business model, an unappealing prospect.” What does he mean by a ‘conglomerate business model?’
- Eton Park has bought £180 million worth of shares. In what ways do you think this will affect the future of Cadbury? Is Cadbury more or less likely to sell now?
- How would you explain the rise in Cadbury’s share price when it looked as though the company might be taken over?
- Cadbury’s Chief Executive hopes that investors will continue to support the company given the positive profit margin growth. What does this actually mean?
- If the take-over were to go ahead, what do you think would be the impact on the (a) the Cadbury factory in Birmingham; (b) Cadbury’s workers; (c) Cadbury’s shareholders; and (d) the price of Cadbury chocolate?
Google is a classic example of the new ‘Internet economics’. The main service it provides – search – is completely free and yet it is an enornmously profitable company and growing fast. Much of what they provide in addition to their search service is also free: Google Docs, Google Maps and Google Scholar. So how do they do it? The first link below is an article considering this issue and the second link gives access to an archived version of In Business giving further detail. The programme is well worth listening to. A key part of the explanation for this new phenomenon relates to the low and falling costs of providing these internet services.
Buy none, get one free BBC News Online (8/1/09)
Free for all BBC News Online (8/1/09) In Business – programme archive
- Write a short paragraph explaining briefly the Google business model.
- Identify two fixed and two variable costs of running an internet search service.
- What are the marginal costs of Google providing additional internet searches?
- Discuss the relationship between costs, revenue and profit for a company like Google as demand for their servces grows.
Increasing numbers of firms are offering goods to consumers for free. Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired magazine, has developed a thesis called freeconomics which postulates that this trend will increase and that firms that don’t join in will go to the wall. “As much as we complain about how expensive things are getting, we’re surrounded by forces that are making them cheaper,” Anderson wrote in a recent article.
The big giveaway Guardian (6/5/08)
||Explain what is meant by the term ‘freeconomics’.
||How can firms afford to make goods and services available for free?
||“Anderson’s idea is that the internet, by reducing marginal costs, encourages businesses to make their money by offering free goods or services to an extent we have not witnessed before”. Discuss the extent to which doing business over the internet reduces marginal costs.