The first in a new series of weekly blog posts where we look at the top Economics related stories of the week. Download a PDF version here
A huge thank you to all of the teachers who attended our EzyEconomics CPD workshops in Bolton, London, Southampton and Worcester! Additional thanks must go to both Bolton School and RGS Worcester who kindly hosted us for two of these events.
There was a dual focus to the workshops. They focused partly on exploring different perspectives of looking at two of the new content areas for the current specification: Behavioural Economics and Banking & Finance. The remainder of the workshops was spent discussing the power of digital platforms to support teaching and the various models used to achieve this.
If you didn't manage to make it along then take a look at some of the slides used in the presentations by clicking on the full blog post.
With the first set of linear exams looming large this summer, we wanted to provide our users with a way to jog their memory about some of the key topics they most likely will have encountered a year or more ago, in Year 12. The change to linear assessment means that whereas before, students would only have to recall subsection of content for any one exam, now students need to have it all available in the dark reaches of their cranium.
What the EzyEconomics team have come up with are super-interactive revision mindmaps. If we do say so ourselves, they are pretty nice! We have just published our Micro Mindmap which contains flashcards for 15 key topics; each associated with a snappy explanatory video.
Here at EzyEconomics, we recognise the challenges faced by the current cohort of 'guinea pig' students. Being the first year group to face the new, more demanding, A Level papers, is not an Ezy (pardon the pun! I'll stop now!) place to be! This has not been helped by way of the scant resources made available by the exam boards to provide practice opportunities answering new-format exam papers and the reduction in commentary given by mark schemes.
What are we providing?
To help teachers and their students, we have been busy compiling our first set of sample exam papers and associated answer guides. Today marks the launch of the first set of Micro Papers! There are papers available for each of the three main exam boards (AQA, EDEXCEL and OCR) with the papers tailored to the format students will face in June. More helpfully, we have spent a lot of time writing comprehensive answer guides to accompany each paper. These provide a commentary on how students can effectively structure their answers, alongside exemplar paragraphs for particular strands of the key assessment objectives: Knowledge, Application, Analysis and Evaluation.
Will my students have immediate access to the answer guides?
In order to make these sample exam papers as useful as possible to schools, we are restricting access to the answer guides to teachers only. This will allow teachers to use the question papers for homework or timed in-class essays before they themselves can distribute the answer guides to students to read.
When are the rest of the papers being released?
To complete this first of sample papers, the question papers and answer guides for Paper 2 (Macro) and Paper 3 (the synoptic paper) will be released on the 30th Jan and 6th Feb respectively. What's more, we will be releasing a second complete set of these resources on the 3rd of April!
How do I get my hands on them?
Good question! These resources are available for free to all schools subscribed to the full EzyEconomics service. To see what you are missing out on, schools who register will have free access to this initial launch of Micro Question Paper and Answer Guide. For schools not subscribed to the full EzyEconomics package - both sets of papers can be purchased for £125 + VAT (let us know and we will send you an invoice). This payment will be deducted in full if the school decides to purchase an EzyEconomics subscription anytime in 2017. As always, we offer all schools a free 30-day trial of the full service, so what are you waiting for - register your school now!
If you have any questions at all, please pop us a question using the live chat service found at the bottom right corner of the screen!
In this week’s edition of EzyEconomics News we use standard microeconomic theory to analyse the economics behind Christmas. Christmas is a period of significant economic activity as consumers rush to get their goods in time for the 25th of December. Because of this it is estimated that the UK retail sector will generate £76bn worth of sales during the festive period, exceeding that of any other European country.
But Christmas is also a period of enormous waste and many unwanted goods are received because of individuals failing to recognise and understand each other’s preferences. If aggregated across the economy, this amounts to a large deadweight loss to society, which threatens to undermine the joys of the festive season.
The video uses the concept of elasticity to help explain and justify the different pricing strategies that firms implement during the Christmas period to capture the higher profits available. It also goes on to explain the economics behind gift giving and why the process of gift giving during Christmas creates a deadweight loss to society.
This week’s EzyEconomics News concludes our mini-series on analysing and evaluating some of Donald Trump’s key economic policies. Because of low bond yields in the US, it has become cheaper for the US government to borrow to invest which provides the economic rationale for Donald Trumps’ government to increase infrastructure spending by $1tn.
The video uses the context of the US economy to analyse how the environment of low borrowing costs encourages a government to increase spending to improve the productive capacity of the economy. The video also provides students with an introduction to the bonds market and explores the link between bond prices and bond yields.
This week’s EzyEconomics News continues our mini-series on analysing and evaluating some of Donald Trump’s key economic proposals. During the election campaign Trump outlined his plans to overhaul the current tax system in place in the United States, which included making $4.4tn worth of tax cuts during his time in Office.
The video uses the context of the US economy to analysis the impact of a reduction in taxes on consumers and the overall economy via an AD/AS diagram. The video also focuses on the key evaluation points that can be made when analysing the short-run and long-run impact of such tax cuts, a key tool for exam technique.
Following Donald Trump's surprise US election victory, this week's EzyEconomics News puts to one side his more controversial rhetoric and instead focuses in on one of his key economic positions. During the election campaign Trump proclaimed that he would vastly increase expenditure on domestic infrastructure, often talking about spending $1 trillion over a 10-year period. These sorts of sums would make even the most ardent Keynesian economist pause for thought.
Jacob uses this policy as an opportunity to apply some key AD/AS analysis and walks through how to effectively construct the appropriate diagrams. He also focuses upon the key evaluative point of the potential supply-side impact of such expenditure. This is perfect for Year 13 students who are beginning to think about constructing exam-style answers and would benefit from a refresher on AD/AS analysis.
This week’s EzyEconomics News takes a further look at Brexit and the impact of currency depreciation. It uses this example to highlight how theoretical predictions based on a ceteris paribus assumption do not necessarily materialise in the real world.
The video aims to encourage students to develop the way they think so that they always start with a theoretical prediction formed using ceteris paribus and then evaluate this by identifying and explaining alternative outcomes.
Since the UK’s Brexit vote it seems like sterling has been in the news every day.
In this first in a series of two videos we explain why sterling has depreciated, analyse a graph charting the £/$ exchange rate, consider some of the basic economic impacts and discuss how ceteris paribus might mean that some of the impacts the media and politicians hint at might not materialise in the real world.
Sugar and the health problems associated with excessive consumption has been in the news. Public Health England have finally produced a report making a number of policy recommendations for the government to consider sparking considerable debate concerning the efficacy of initiatives such as a sugar tax.
As this is just the sort of example examiners like to use for data response questions, this week’s EzyEconomics News takes a deep dive into the UK’s sugar bowl. It defines, analyses and evaluates the market failure and possible solutions associated with sugar consumption.
Over the last 12 months the collapse in the price of oil has ensured that oil has been a permanent feature in financial news coverage.
However, just when you might have expected coverage to die down, continued price falls have ensured coverage has intensified. The prolonged nature of the price falls has also ensured the focus away from the consumer positives of lower petrol prices to the impact on the investment behaviour and sustainability of oil firms. This is a particular issue for the UK economy due to the importance of the North Sea oil industry .
This week EzyEconomics News uses demand and supply theory to analyse recent price falls and theory of the firm analysis to explain how firms involved in the supply of oil have been able to avoid going out of business.
Nobody seems to be able to make their mind up about interest rates. Although the Federal Reserve (US Central Bank) very recently raised the US bank rate and signalled a series of subsequent rate rises, a few weeks of financial market turmoil has changed everything.
Even the Bank of England’s final piece of forward guidance in 2015 “we will raise rates next year” has been reversed. The new guidance for 2016 has already evolved to encourage the expectation that rates are unlikely to rise.
Part of the reason for this is that interest rates and monetary policy in the major economies are in unprecedented territory. In this environment it is easy for the governors of central banks to appear unsure. As a result is it hardly surprising that A-level students become confused by the direction of monetary policy and the impact it might have on the real economies of the world.
In this week’s edition of EzyEconomics News Jack Matthews takes a look at some of these issues using AD/AS analysis. He also showcases how students might evaluate recent and prospective monetary policy in the UK. This should help students to understand why there is so much uncertainty in the direction of monetary policy in the US and UK and provide some invaluable "forward guidance" for answering exam questions on monetary policy.
Anyone tuning in to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement could be forgiven for not working out the overall direction of fiscal policy. The flood of numbers and projections were enough to confuse anyone and the intention was possibly to achieve exactly that!
Is Fiscal policy contractionary, expansionary, or is it becoming less expansionary? The simple answer to this question is that, even though austerity is a frequently used term, fiscal policy is actually expansionary and will remain so at least until 2019/20. It is hardly surprising that very few people have a firm grasp of the position. As Fiscal Policy lies at the heart of the A-level macro course we thought it was worth spending some time on this subject.
In this week’s EzyEconomics news Jack Matthews attempts to make sense of it all by using A-level style AS/AD analysis. He also looks ahead to consider just what the long-term economic impact of the £1.75 trillion of unpaid debt successive governments will have borrowed on our behalf by 2019-20 (the year when we might actually begin to start paying off this debt). Although this and similar numbers are often glossed over, it actually amounts to an almost unbelievable £27,000 per capita on top of the money consumers and firms borrow in their own right.
This means the reality is that economic growth in the future will be slower than it would be otherwise. Jack takes time to explain and evaluate the economic phenomena that will drive this long and prolonged slowdown.
In no time at all the UK will be voting on whether to remain in the EU. The opposing campaigns have already been launched and the debate is beginning to heat up.
What has become clear at this early stage is that although membership of the EU is clearly an economic issue there has been a complete absence of any of the theoretical analysis A-level economics students are taught to learn and apply in exams.
In many ways this makes the forthcoming debate quite dangerous for students if it unduly influences answers in exams. The danger is that essays descend into a simple list of advantages and disadvantages without any attempt to apply AD/AS analysis to support the points made.
In this week’s edition of EzyEconomics News, Jack Matthews considers the opposing views on what exit could mean for the UK economy. He showcases how to apply AD/AS analysis to make sure students don’t fall for the “sucker punch” of drafting an answer to an EU question heavily influenced by political and media rhetoric without bothering to include any theoretical analysis.
Hopefully students starting to think about exams next summer will already be focusing on extended writing skills. Knowledge is obviously a key foundation for exams but this will only take you so far unless is supported by good technique. Out of all the skills that you need many students find evaluation the most challenging.
This week Jack Matthews takes a look at a 5-step process you can use in extended essays to guide and prompt effective evaluation in just about any answer to a macro question. Apply this process and you will increase the likelihood that your answer will contain the multiple evaluations that support A and A* grades.
Using a process like this will help prevent the all to common situation arising from an unstructured approach. This normally means students don’t have an effective plan, start writing without too much thought and then suddenly remember to include some cursory evaluation towards the end of their answer.
This type of unstructured approach rarely produces satisfactory outcomes and should encourage students to make sure they work intensively to overcome any limitations in this area. If you are going to start working on this skill then now is the time to do that rather than in 6 months time when exams are rapidly approaching.