Microeconomics: IB Economics
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Microeconomics: IB Economics
A brief overview of relevant articles for IB, A-Level and Pre-U economists relating to microeconomic issues
Curated by Graham Watson
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Robotrucks and digital technology to wipe out jobs and halve costs in transport industry 

Robotrucks and digital technology to wipe out jobs and halve costs in transport industry  | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Self-driving lorries and digital technology will fundamentally reshape the logistics industry, slashing costs and boosting efficiency.
Graham Watson's insight:

PwC are of the view that self-driving lorries and digital technology have the capacity to revolutionise the sector. In the first place, it will reduce employment and, in doing so, it will also slash costs. 

 

However, job losses in this sector aren't necessarily a bad thing - if it makes goods and services cheaper, it will increase real incomes, and, provided that these workers have a degree of factor mobility, they are likely to get employment elsewhere.

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Qualcomm claims Apple shared tech with Intel

Qualcomm claims Apple shared tech with Intel | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Qualcomm's complaint is the latest clash between the two global technology giants.
Graham Watson's insight:

An interesting spat between Qualcomm and Apple has been heightened with the former complaining that Apple have conspired with rival chipmaker, Intel, to pass on some of Qualcomm's intellectual property and undermine their market position. 

 

However, Qualcomm themselves are no angels and have faced regulatory action in both South Korea and the US.

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UK grocers pledge to halve food waste from 'farm to fork' by 2030 | Environment | The Guardian

UK grocers pledge to halve food waste from 'farm to fork' by 2030 | Environment | The Guardian | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Roadmap outlines steps firms must take to reduce waste at every stage of supply chain
Graham Watson's insight:

The government's waste reduction body, Wrap, has come up with a roadmap to encourage UK grocers to reduce their food waste by half.

 

Consider the facts: the UN estimates global food waste causes about $940bn (£770bn) a year in economic losses. It says a third of the world’s food is wasted while one in nine people remain malnourished. That is a remarkable fact.

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John McDonnell is not offering workers real share ownership | Nils Pratley | Business | The Guardian

John McDonnell is not offering workers real share ownership | Nils Pratley | Business | The Guardian | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
The cause is excellent but the shadow chancellor’s model is just too complicated
Graham Watson's insight:

The first bit of Nils Pratley's business brief is an excellent deconstruction of John McDonnell's plan to offer workers greater representation in the form of a 10% shareholding in the companies that they work for. 

 

He suggests that the Shadow Chancellor has started from the right premise but that his solution is far to complicated to work in practice. 

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John McDonnell targets water bosses in renationalisation plan | Politics | The Guardian

John McDonnell targets water bosses in renationalisation plan | Politics | The Guardian | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Industry chiefs would see pay cut and have to reapply for jobs under plan outlined at conference
Graham Watson's insight:

Part of John McDonnell's address to the Labour Party conference touched upon the issue of renationalisation, with a pledge to renationalise the water industry, should Labour win the next election. 

 

It's interesting in that, as McDonnell pointed out, real water prices have increased by 40% since privatisation, whereas shareholders have received £18bn in dividends, and that's a headline grabbing comparison. However, does this necessarily imply inefficiency, and is renationalisation going to make the sector more or less efficient?

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Barrick and Randgold to create world's biggest miner

Barrick and Randgold to create world's biggest miner | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Barrick Gold's purchase of Randgold Resources will create a company worth about $18bn.
Graham Watson's insight:

Horizontal integration, par excellence. One gold miner buys another. But does it reflect a declining market?

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Opec predicts massive rise in oil production over next five years | Business | The Guardian

Opec predicts massive rise in oil production over next five years | Business | The Guardian | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Increasing demand from airlines will more than offset reductions from electric cars
Graham Watson's insight:

OPEC has suggested that oil production is set to rise in the next five years: whilst demand from cars will fall, because of increased take-up of electric cars, but increased demand from airlines, and other forms of road transport. will more than make up for this.

 

Not good news for the environment.

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Labour conference: John McDonnell unveils shares plan for workers

Labour conference: John McDonnell unveils shares plan for workers | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell says he would force all large firms to share ownership with staff.
Graham Watson's insight:

The Labour Party are proposing to increase worker representation by compelling firms to give workers shares. It's controversial - critics argue that it will drive investors away.

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The tea tycoon who was 'the world's best loser'

The tea tycoon who was 'the world's best loser' | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
The extraordinary life of Sir Thomas Lipton: rags-to-riches tycoon, self-publicist, philanthropist and sportsman.
Graham Watson's insight:

Just a lovely bit of economic history: Lipton's Market were arguably the first 'modern' retailer, and this article details the extraordinary life of Sir Thomas Lipton.

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Fragmented railways will never work, public or private | Simon Jenkins | Opinion | The Guardian

Fragmented railways will never work, public or private | Simon Jenkins | Opinion | The Guardian | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
As long as UK trains and infrastructure are separate, the chaos will continue, says Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins
Graham Watson's insight:

Simon Jenkins highlights the fact that the solution to the ongoing chaos on the railways has already been suggested many times - if not implemented. 

 

In his view, Network Rail needs breaking up and infrastructure and running trains needs to be integrated. It's not rocket science. Which is a good thing, given the record of the Transport Secretary.

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Is this the secret to High Street success?

Is this the secret to High Street success? | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Could we learn something from how one town has managed to improve its High Street?
Graham Watson's insight:

I put this here - it shows how dynamic markets operate and how by responding to changing consumer tastes, Altrincham has revived its market, and High Street. 

 

Quite why among the elderly of some parts of Cheshire it's known as 'Thrutchy', I'm not prepared to speculate.

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Private firefighters and five-star hotels: how the rich sit out wildfires | World news | The Guardian

Private firefighters and five-star hotels: how the rich sit out wildfires | World news | The Guardian | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Record-breaking US wildfires are fueling a cottage industry of boutique services – and many are happy to pay the price
Graham Watson's insight:

Whoever says that fire services are a public good, or even a quasi-public good? In the United States, record breaking wildfires are fuelling - no pun intended - the rise of private firefighters. They are funded by both homeowners and, increasingly, insurance companies wanting to reduce the size of their payouts.

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#EveryID has a Story: 1 Billion People Walk in these Shoes

More than 1 billion people don’t have an official proof of identity, which greatly limits their ability to access services and escape poverty. Thanks to digital innovation, countries now have the power to efficiently change that. The World Bank Group’s Identification for Development Program is helping countries create robust, inclusive identification systems that make everyone count.

Graham Watson's insight:

This World Bank clip looks at the most fundamental property right of all: to an identity. The Identification for Development Program is trying to give the 1 billion people without proof of identity their identity and thus greater ability to access public services among other things.

 

We take this for granted. We shouldn't. A sizeable minority lack this fundamental right.

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University: does a degree pay? | The Economist

The pressure for school-leavers to get a university degree is rising across the world. But does further education lead to better pay and opportunities
Graham Watson's insight:

A fundamental bit of economic anaylsis: cost-benefit analysis. 

 

This clip asks whether it is worth going to university, noting that in many developed nation, having a degree is no guarantee of employment, and given the tuition costs that many students now pay, there are questions as to whether this financial commitment is worth it, given the opportunity cost of going to university.

 

However, it is interesting to note that in a number of areas, there is increased demand for degrees: in nursing, for instance. the number of American nurses with degrees has significantly increased in the last 40 years. 

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'This behaviour must stop': California may soon require women on boards | Business | The Guardian

'This behaviour must stop': California may soon require women on boards | Business | The Guardian | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Bill’s sponsor says business culture must change in wake of Harvey Weinstein scandal
Graham Watson's insight:

The issue of gender inequality is a difficult one: in California, however, they are looking at tackling the issue by requiring companies to include women on boards.

 

That said, the move isn't really designed to tackle economic issues, more a consequence of the Harvey Weinstein affair.

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Labour wants green energy to power most UK homes by 2030 | Business | The Guardian

Labour wants green energy to power most UK homes by 2030 | Business | The Guardian | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Party committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by middle of the century
Graham Watson's insight:

Labour has committed to trying to significantly increase the amount of green energy being used to power UK homes. Is this good economics? Or political grandstanding?

 

 

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How would Labour plan to give workers 10% stake in big firms work? | Business | The Guardian

How would Labour plan to give workers 10% stake in big firms work? | Business | The Guardian | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Party pledges shake-up but businesses call employee ownership scheme ‘draconian’
Graham Watson's insight:

The Guardian summarises the implications of the Labour Party's proposals to give workers a 10% stake in the companies that employ them. 

 

It's not been well-received by big business.

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Oil price jumps as Opec keeps output steady

Oil price jumps as Opec keeps output steady | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Brent crude hits four-year highs after oil-producing countries fail to agree an increase in production.
Graham Watson's insight:

Oil. D&S. Simple.

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For Labour's economic policy to be radical, it has to be credible | Business | The Guardian

For Labour's economic policy to be radical, it has to be credible | Business | The Guardian | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Amid speculation about a snap election, the party should get prepared for pushback from City and business interests
Graham Watson's insight:

Larry Elliott's commentary on the news that the Labour Party are planning to increase worker representation by forcing companies to give shares to their workers.

 

He notes that this will take on significant vested interests, and wonders whether or not it will be credible enough to win voter favour.  

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Porsche stops making diesel cars after VW emissions scandal

Porsche stops making diesel cars after VW emissions scandal | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
The manufacturer eyes a "diesel-free" future after its parent company cheated emissions tests.
Graham Watson's insight:

A significant moment yesterday, Porsche announcing that they are halting the production of diesel cars in the wake of the VW emissions scandal.

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Hopes sink for tidal power project

Hopes sink for tidal power project | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Industrial heavyweights have turned their back on the Swansea Tidal Power project as the countdown begins on a one-year stay of execution for its embattled developer.
Graham Watson's insight:

It seems that the once-vaunted Swansea Bay tidal power project is dead. There have been board level changes and it seems that the passion for the project, and the investment funds have dried up.

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Bruce Fellowes's curator insight, September 23, 2:49 PM

A great shame. The College had high hopes for this project and what benefit Swansea would have had from this investment

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Co-op to replace plastic bags with compostable carriers

Co-op to replace plastic bags with compostable carriers | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
The supermarket chain says the new biodegradable bags will be brought in at 1,400 of its stores.
Graham Watson's insight:

Another supermarket pressing its green credentials: this time, the Co-op are phasing out carrier bags and replacing them with biodegradable alternatives. 

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Lidl to stop using black plastic fruit and vegetable packaging | Environment | The Guardian

Lidl to stop using black plastic fruit and vegetable packaging | Environment | The Guardian | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Black plastic, which cannot be recycled, to be phased out by end of month
Graham Watson's insight:

Another supermarket moves to enhance its environmentally-friendly credibility. This time Lidl is phasing out black plastic packaging which, apparently, cannot be recycled because the existing technology cannot detect it. 

 

Less black plastic, less waste. Fewer negative externalities.

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Minimum wage: Workers underpaid by record £15.6m

Minimum wage: Workers underpaid by record £15.6m | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Some 200,000 workers missed out on being paid at least the minimum wage rate in the past year.
Graham Watson's insight:

Although all workers in the UK should be entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), it appears that employers still try to avoid paying it. This article names and shames a couple of High Street restaurant chains, and rightly so. I'm sure they will pass it off as accounting error, but in reality it is enriching either their senior management or their shareholders at the expense of the ordinary worker.

 

It just goes to show that despite legislation, some people are still vulnerable to being exploited. 

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Like shopping 30 years ago: first Jack’s customers sample new store | Business | The Guardian

Like shopping 30 years ago: first Jack’s customers sample new store | Business | The Guardian | Microeconomics: IB Economics | Scoop.it
Tesco’s discount store sees feverish trade on opening day, but will the buzz keep shoppers away from Lidl and Aldi?
Graham Watson's insight:

The Guardian looks at the Jack's experience. It seems that reaction to the stores is mixed.

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