Effect of Government Subsidies


Readers Question: What happens when the government subsidizes a product?  A subsidy means the government pays part of the cost. For example, the government may give farmers a subsidy of £10 for every kilo of potatoes. The effect is to shift the supply curve to the right, leading to lower price and higher quantity demanded Diagram …

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Efficiency vs Equity

A big issue in economics is the tradeoff between efficiency and equity. Efficiency is concerned with the optimal production and allocation of resources given existing factors of production. For example, producing at the lowest cost. See: Different types of efficiency Equity is concerned with how resources are distributed throughout society. Vertical equity is concerned with …

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When did the recovery from the 2009 recession occur?


Readers Question: At the time of the Economic collapse 2007/ 2008 or near the end of that period in 2010 the Labour administration had actually started to pull out of recession – True or False? The recovery began towards the end of 2009 (Q4). Q2 growth in 2010 was quite high at 1% (annualised 4%) …

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The problem with printing money


Readers Comment. Why doesn’t the Bank of England just print the money instead of borrowing the money? Printing more money doesn’t increase economic output –  it only increases the amount of cash circulating in the economy. If more money is printed, consumers are able to demand more goods, but if firms have still the same …

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Factors that affect foreign direct investment (FDI)


Readers Question: why some countries are more successful in attracting Foreign Direct Investment than others? Foreign direct investment (FDI) means companies purchase capital and invest in a foreign country. For example, if a US multinational, such as Nike built a factory for making trainers in Pakistan; this would count as foreign direct investment. In summary, …

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Pros and cons of raising the minimum wage

In both the UK and US, politicians are proposing significant, above-inflation increases in the minimum wage. The US is proposing an increase from $7.50 to $15 by 2024. The arguments for raising the minimum wages include – reduced in-work poverty, a reduction in inequality, an incentive to increase labour productivity and higher wages leading to …

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Problems of Capitalism


Capitalism is an economic system based on free markets and limited government intervention. Proponents argue that capitalism is the most efficient economic system, enabling improved living standards. However, despite its ubiquity, many economists criticise aspects of capitalism and point out is many flaws and problems. In short, capitalism can cause – inequality, market failure, damage to the environment, short-termism, excess materialism and boom and bust economic cycles.


Problems of Capitalism

1. Inequality

The benefits of capitalism are rarely equitably distributed. Wealth tends to accrue to a small % of the population. This means that demand for luxury goods is often limited to a small % of the workforce. The nature of capitalism can cause this inequality to keep increasing. This occurs for a few reasons

  • Inherited wealth. Capitalists can pass on their assets to their children. Therefore, capitalism doesn’t cause equality of opportunity, but those born in privilege are much more likely to do well because of better education, upbringing and inherited wealth.
  • Interest from assets. If capitalists are able to purchase assets – bonds, house prices, shares, they gain interest, rent and dividends. They can use these proceeds to buy more assets and wealth – creating a wealth multiplier effect. Those without wealth get left behind and may see house prices rise faster than inflation.
  • The economist Thomas Piketty wrote an influential book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which emphasised this element of capitalism to increase inequality. As a general rule, Picketty argues wealth grows faster than economic output. He uses expression r > g (where r is the rate of return to wealth and g is the economic growth rate.)

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Would a Labour government lead to an increase in interest rates?

The Labour Party manifesto commitment has numerous spending commitments. These are financed by a mixture of government borrowing and tax increases. Would the increase in spending and borrowing lead to higher interest rates? In summary – the most likely effect would be a short-term fiscal expansion, which could lead to higher growth, a rise in …

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