Tag: substitutes

Changes in the price of oil have effects throughout the economy. And it’s not just on the obvious things, such as petrol prices, energy bills and rail, bus and air fares. Most companies are significantly affected by the price of oil, as oil is a key input into their production, whether for transporting their inputs or the goods they produce, or as plastics or other petrochemicals. This is why the price of oil receives so much attention: we’re all affected by it. You will have seen the price of petrol changing dramatically over the past year or so and this is largely due to changing oil prices. The price of oil peaked at $147 a barrel in July 2008 and fell as low as $32 a barrel in December 2008.

So what is it that causes these changes in oil prices and what does it mean for the world’s economies? Read the following articles, which discuss these issues, and look at recent developments in the oil industry.

First fall in oil use since 1993 BBC News (10/6/09)
Trump’s world view Fox News, Interview between Greta van Susteren and Donald Trump (30/6/09) Oil settles above $71; China to boost reserves The Associated Press, Dirk Lammers (29/6/09)
Nigeria worries push up oil price BBC News (29/6/09)
Oil up to near $72 on dollar fall, Nigeria attack Town Hall, Pablo Gorondi (30/6/09)
Chinese demand forecast to boost oil price The Star Phoenix, Joanne Paulson (30/6/09)
Lower oil price hits Total profit BBC News (6/5/09)
Oil price hovers at $70 amid pipeline attacks Financial Times, Miles Johnson, Javier Blas, London (27/6/09)
What is going on in the oil market? BBC News (27/10/08)
Rising oil prices poses threat to recovery, Alistair Darling warns Telegraph (12/6/09)
Fears of oil crunch recede as recession knocks down global demand The Independent, Sarah Arnott (30/6/09)

Questions

  1. How is the price of oil determined? Give 2 examples of factors that could cause (a) the price of oil to increase and (b) the price of oil to decrease.
  2. How are company profits affected by the changing price of oil?
  3. OPEC is an oil cartel. What are the factors that make collusion more likely to succeed? Do they apply to OPEC?
  4. When prices of oil increase, why do we still use similar amounts of energy; still buy petrol? What’s so special about this commodity? Think about elasticity.
  5. How is the price and consumption of oil affected by the macroeconomic situation?

The recession of the past few months has taken its toll on organic farmers. Until recently, the industry was booming as consumers switched to products perceived as greener, healthier and more ethically produced. Now, as many consumers are feeling the pinch, they are switching to cheaper foodstuffs. The resulting decline in demand for organic food has turned profit into loss for many organic farmers. According to the first of the linked articles below, at least two organic farmers are leaving the movement each week.

But what will happen as the economy recovers and people start turning back to organic products? Given that it takes some two years to convert to organic standards, there could be supply shortages next year.

As UK shoppers tighten their belts, organic farmers feel the squeeze Guardian (11/4/09)
United Kingdom-Organic slowdown Farming UK (12/4/09)
Can the organics survive the current economy? Limerick Post (10/4/09)

Questions

  1. How close to perfect competition is the market for organic foods?
  2. What determines whether an organic farmer should continue in the market even though a loss is being made?
  3. What can you conclude about the income and price elasticities of demand for organic produce and the cross-price elasticity of demand for organic food with eating out?
  4. What is likely to happen to the market for organic food over the next two years?

The combination of high global demand for milk and variable weather has led to a rapid rise in the price of milk. Cheese is made from milk (sorry to state the obvious!) and so cheese prices have risen to a new high in excess of £2000 per tonne and further price hikes are expected. One conclusion that could be drawn from this is that it is better to have a takeaway pizza now rather that in a month’s time, but what other effects is this price increase for milk likely to have?

Cheddar hits £2,000 a tonne as global milk demand soars Guardian (15/7/07)

Questions

1. Identify the key determinants of demand for cheese.
2. Using diagrams as appropriate, illustrate and explain the changes that have taken place in the market for cheese.
3. Assess the extent to which the price increase for milk can be passed on to consumers of associated products like yoghurt and cheese.