Advice for giving an economics presentation on austerity

Readers Question: I have to visit the college I went to and give 5-10 min talk to A2 Economics students about anything economics related, preferably macro-economics.. something going on in the economy. Suggestions?

Giving a presentation on economics can be a daunting thing. I often ask students (at this time of the year) to come and give their own presentation on economics. Let them be the teacher for 5 minutes. But, it’s hard work and they don’t usually enjoy it.

Firstly, know your audience. A college of A2 students is good in that you know the level of economics to target. You can keep it fairly simple, and try and use A2 terminology – for example, bringing in AD and AS.

  • What I would suggest is choose a topic, that you like and is fairly topical. For example, you choose the issue of austerity. Alternative topics that spring to mind include – The Euro, traffic congestion, monetary policy, exchange rates.
  • Start off, with simple explanations – never assume that the audience knows everything. In fact try to keep the language as simple as possible.

Once, you’ve chosen a topic, divide it into subtopics, and keep a short list. This will give your presentation some focus and direction. If you’re worried about running out of things, you can always have some back up sub-topics. If you run over time, it is easy to leave out some of the sub-topics.

Make sure your first topic is your strongest and most interesting. It is always important to get off to a good start.

If it was me, I would think of these sub-topics for austerity.

  • What is austerity? – explaining what austerity is – preferably in the language of A2 economics. i.e. government attempts to reduce budget deficits through spending cuts and tax increases.
  •  Why austerity? – a short background on global credit crisis and  EU crisis. Euro countries were facing high bond yields and felt the need to reduce government debt. In the UK, government claimed UK debt too high. Though arguably also interest in reducing government spending in the long term.
  • Pros and cons of austerity. – At least in the beginning of the presentation, it is good to offer a balanced view, and both sides of the argument. Later you can offer a stronger conclusion whether you think it has been good or bad. But, avoid being one sided as A2 students need to learn evaluation and examining both sides. e.g. Pros – debt is lower. Cons, aggravated recession, leading to high unemployment. Debt reduc
  • Is Austerity  self defeating? – After a while, it’s good to pick a controversial sub-topic; this may regain interest. Start off by asking a question. Trying to keep the audience thinking is a way of engaging them and avoiding a one way dialogue.
  • Timing of austerity – Why did we pursue austerity in recession, when monetary policy was also tight in Europe.
  •  What is the impact of austerity? – impact on main macro-objectives of growth, inflation, unemployment e.t.c.
  •  What was the alternative? – Could we have kept borrowing more? The Bank of England created money electronically to partly finance deficit. Growth is the best way to increase tax revenues, not austerity.
  •  How did austerity impact Europe? – Talk about other countries, such as Greece and Spain will give a wider perspective on the issue. e.g. the political and economic cost

Just in case you run out of things, perhaps bring up issues like

Ask questions

If you feel confident, you can also leave time for questions, which can be a productive use of time, as long as questions are reasonably relevant.

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