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Interview with Economist, Tim Harford.

November 28th, 2016 by Samantha-Jayne Millington

Tim Harford is the author of The Undercover Economist. tim-harford-photo He is a columnist for the Financial Times and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s More or Less. In this interview with Ashley Lait, he talks about the way he sees economics and reveals something about his approach to the subject.

AL Where did you first study economics?

TH Brasenose College, Oxford. I studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics and later returned to do Oxford’s 2-year Master’s degree in economics, the MPhil.                                                                 

AL What attracted you to the subject?

TH I was sceptical about the subject at first — philosophy seemed much more interesting — but I was drawn in by game theory. I suppose I loved the odd combination of strategic thinking, mathematics and psychology. At undergraduate level, game theory felt like half storytelling and half puzzle solving. I loved it.

 

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Heathrow expansion: What about the local economy?

November 14th, 2016 by Samantha-Jayne Millington

While the news of Heathrow airport’s expansion came to sore ears for green activists who have campaigned against it since as early as 2006, the aviation industry appears to finally have a victory. Indeed, globalisation and technological innovation are driving an increase in cross-border flows of goods, services and people (gov.uk) and to stay on top of this, increased connectivity is needed. Those supporting the expansion argue that a third runway will Image result for heathrow third runway roadenhance the UK’s economic growth by connecting the UK with growing world markets which will enable UK businesses to have better access to traders. While a boost for UK business, the third runway will also benefit passengers by offering more destinations and greater a choice of airlines. As a result, competition will be boosted which could perhaps lower air fares. Indeed, the Airports Commission has stated that “The position of the UK within the global aviation market is critical to its economy: it is central to ensuring increased productivity, growth and employment opportunities”. Nonetheless, while most analysis has been so heavily focused on the UK’s boost in terms of business openness and connectivity, many economists forget to mention the multiplier effect this will have on the local area and the UK as a whole.

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Interview with Professor Karen Mumford

October 5th, 2016 by Samantha-Jayne Millington
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Karen Mumford is a professor of economics at the University of York. She received her doctorate in economics from the Australian National University (ANU) in 1991. She has taught at the ANU, the University of Warwick and the University of York. Karen is the chair of the Royal Economic Society Women’s Committee and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). In this interview with Caroline Elliott, she discusses her views on economics, her most admired economists and the changing profile of women in the discipline.

CE: Where did you first study economics?

I didn’t really know about economics as a subject when I was a secondary school student in Australia. As with many students without much clue, my school advised me to keep my options open by taking maths and science for my higher school certificate (equivalent to A levels). I really liked chemistry, didn’t mind maths, and found physics quite dull so I decided to try something different at Uni. I enrolled in an Arts degree at Monash University planning to major in Social Work. By the end of the first year I realised that whilst I was loving university, I wasn’t going to make much of a social worker. I transferred into the Economics faculty and have felt right-at-home ever since.

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More bang for your buck: Apple iPhone 7’s increased value

September 21st, 2016 by Samantha-Jayne Millington

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When you go to buy a new phone, manufacture costs do not often cross your mind. Well, if you’re planning to buy the new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, you might want to take these into account as, in comparison to its predecessor, the iPhone 6s, you’re gaining more value for your purchase. Why? It’s all about manufacturing costs.

The components that Apple uses for the iPhone 7 have resulted in an increase in manufacture price compared to the previous iPhone due to new features, including a bigger battery and larger storage capacity. It is also thought that the iPhone 7 Plus will be more expensive to produce as a result of its larger 5.5 inch LCD screen and the complex dual-camera system.

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Plastic bank notes: from novelty to counterfeit solution

September 21st, 2016 by Samantha-Jayne Millington

Have you ever experienced the moment of panic when you start the washing machine, to realise that you have left a paper note in your pocket? Well, fear no more. While 1,801 notes were reported to have been washed last year, the Bank of England has begun circulating a polymer ‘plastic’ £5 note as of September 13th and plan to expand this to the £10 and £20 notes by 2020. Phew. Although as thrilling as I found this, given its solution to my washing machine anxiety, the real reason lay behind the effectiveness of polymer bank notes in their resilience to their counterfeited ‘evil cousins’.

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The move by the Bank of England follows the news that during the first half of 2016 around 152,000 Bank of England counterfeit banknotes were taken out of circulation with a face value of £3.3mn (Bank of England). Over time, new methods of faking bank notes have been created and the process can be undertaken quickly using skilled printers. Laser and inkjet image printing techniques have also allowed for digitally printed fakes to be produced and there is fear that those groups undertaking such methods are becoming increasingly more integrated thus creating increasingly more linked networks. The vast majority of counterfeited notes are discovered early on by the banking system when they are separated from genuine notes via a sorting process for re-circulation but of course, some do ‘slip through the net’. It is advised that if you believe you are being handed a counterfeited bank note, do not accept it as to distribute such material is a crime. However, the notional value of counterfeit bank notes has been steadily falling since 2012 and this new step by the Bank of England is believed to continue this fall.

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Can Nigeria escape recession by diversifying its economy?

September 21st, 2016 by Samantha-Jayne Millington

It was announced that on August 31st, following two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, Nigeria, one of Africa’s most prominent economies and the continent’s most populous nation, had fallen into recession. Given that in April 2014 Nigeria was boasting that it was Africa’s biggest economy, thus overtaking South Africa, one must not ignore the potential impact this downturn will have on the country; in fact, IMF data projects a -1.8 percent change in real GDP for 2016. Whilst the effects might be relatively clear in the minds of those at the African Union, I want to discuss how Nigeria should recover by escaping the curse of the Dutch Disease and diversifying its oil-dependent economy.

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In looking at data from 2015, Nigeria’s total value of exports stood at $45,365 million. Within that figure, a whopping $41,818 million came from petroleum export (OPEC, Annual Statistical Bulletin 2016). Looking at that in terms of Nigeria’s total balance of payments, petroleum export revenue represents over 90 per cent of total export revenue. What can be deduced from this is just how vital the oil industry is to the Nigerian economy, and how volatile its economic position remains as a result of oil price fluctuations and continual oil price crises. It isn’t difficult to recognise that there is a lack of economic diversity, and if the government are to avoid further economic downturn in Nigeria, changes must be made; the country must now turn to other industries. Related issues have also been mirrored in similarly oil-dependent Saudi Arabia and both countries are having to now make fiscal adjustments following a series of oil price crises. Nigeria cannot continue spending its oil revenues without saving and cannot spend on consumption without building the future economy.

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