Flashcards in B (A-Z Economics) Deck (75):
When a commodity is valued more highly in a spot market (that is, when it is for delivery today) than in a futures market (for delivery at some point in the future). Normally, interest costs mean that futures prices are higher than spot prices, unless the markets expect the price of the commodity to fall over time, perhaps because there is a temporary bottleneck in supply. When spot prices are lower than futures prices it is known as contango.
Balance of Payments
The total of all the money coming into a country from abroad less all of the money going out of the country during the same period. This is usually broken down into the current account and the capital account.
Balance of Payments – The current account includes:
In Balance of Payments, define the current account: Visible Trades
visible trade (known as merchandise trade in the United States), which is the value of exports and imports of physical goods;
In Balance of Payments, define the current account: Invisible Trades
Invisible trade, which is receipts and payments for services, such as banking or advertising, and other intangible goods, such as copyrights, as well as cross-border dividend and interest payments;
In Balance of Payments, define the current account: Private Transfers
private transfers, such as money sent home by expatriate workers;
In Balance of Payments, define the current account: Official Transfers
Official transfers, such as international aid.
Balance of Payments – The capital account includes:
Long-term capital flows
Short-term capital flows
In Balance of Payments, define the capital account: Long-term capital flows
long-term capital flows, such as money invested in foreign firms, and profits made by selling those investments and bringing the money home;
In Balance of Payments, define the capital account: Short-term capital flows
short-term capital flows, such as money invested in foreign currencies by international speculators, and funds moved around the world for business purposes by multinational companies. These short-term flows can lead to sharp movements in exchange rates, which bear little relation to what currencies should be worth judging by fundamental measures of value such as purchasing power parity.
Optimistic view of “Balance of Payments Crisis”
"Balance of payments crisis" is a politically charged phrase. But a country can often sustain a current account deficit for many years without its economy suffering, because any deficit is likely to be tiny compared with the country's national income and wealth.
Indeed, if the deficit is due to firms importing technology and other capital goods from abroad, which will improve their productivity, the economy may benefit.
Pessimistic view of “Balance of Payments Crisis”
A deficit that has to be financed by the public sector may be more problematic, particularly if the public sector faces limits on how much it can raise taxes or borrow or has few financial reserves.
Give an example of Balance of Payments Crisis
For instance, when the Russian government failed to pay the interest on its foreign debt in August 1998 it found it impossible to borrow any more money in the international financial markets. Nor was it able to increase taxes in its collapsing economy or to find anybody within Russia willing to lend it money. That truly was a balance of payments crisis.
Give an example of Balance of Payments Crisis in the US
In the early years of the 21st century, economists started to worry that the United States would find itself in a balance of payments crisis. Its current account deficit grew to over 5% of its GDP, making its economy increasingly reliant on foreign credit.
When total public-sector spending equals total government income during the same period from taxes and charges for public services.
Give examples of politicians views on a balanced budget in the United States
Politicians in some countries, such as the United States, have argued that government should be required to run a balanced budget in order to have sound public finances.
Define the argument against having the balance the budget each year.
However, there is no economic reason why public borrowing need necessarily be bad. For instance, if the debt is used to invest in things that will increase the growth rate of the economy--infrastructure, say, or education--it may be justified. It may also make more economic sense to try to balance the budget on average over an entire economic cycle, with public-sector deficits boosting the economy during recession and surpluses stopping it overheating during booms, than to balance it every year
Define the evolution of the Bank.
Starting out as places that would guard your money, banks became the main source of credit creation. Increasingly, however, borrowers are turning to the financial markets and to non-savings institutions, such as credit-card companies and consumer-finance firms, when they need a loan.
What has banks done to adjust to the reduced profitability of traditional bank lending?
This is reducing the profitability of traditional bank lending and has led many banks to enter new areas of business, such as selling insurance policies and mutual funds. Increasingly, too, traditional banks are selling off parcels of their loans in the financial markets by a process called securitisation.
What is the debate between bank lending and other sorts of lending?
What the most efficient split is between bank lending and other sorts of lending is debatable. Economists argue endlessly about whether an economy such as the United States, in which firms rely more heavily on the equity and debt markets than on banks to fund their investment, is better than one such as, say, Germany, in which banks have traditionally been the main source of corporate finance.
How do the number of lending institutions in the United States compare with the UK and France?
In 2003 there were over four lending institutions per 100,000 people in the United States, compared with fewer than one per 100,000 in the UK and France.
How does America’s bankruptcy code compare to other countries?
America's bankruptcy code, in particular its Chapter 11 protection for firms from their creditors, is particularly friendly to troubled borrowers, allowing them to borrow more money and giving them time to work out their problems. Some other countries quickly close down a bankrupt firm, and try to repay its debts by selling off any assets it has.
Define Barriers to entry (or exit).
How firms keep out competition--an important source of incumbent advantage. There are four main sorts of barriers.
1) A firm may own a crucial resource, such as an oil well, or it may have an exclusive operating licence, for instance, to broadcast on a particular radio wavelength.
2) A big firm with economies of scale may have a significant competitive advantage because it can produce a large output at lower costs than can a smaller potential rival.
3) An incumbent firm may make it hard for a would-be entrant by incurring huge sunk costs, spending lots of money on things such as advertising, which any rival must match to compete effectively but which have no value if the attempt to compete should fail.
4) Powerful firms can discourage entry by raising exit costs, for example, by making it an industry norm to hire workers on long-term contracts, which make firing an expensive process.
Paying for goods or services with other goods or services, instead of with money. It is often popular when the quality of money is low or uncertain, perhaps because of high inflation or counterfeiting, or when people are asset-rich but cash-poor, or when taxation or extortion by criminals is high. Little wonder, then, that barter became popular in Russia during the late 1990s.
Basel 1 and 2
An attempt to reduce the number of bank failures by tying a bank's capital adequacy ratio to the riskiness of the loans it makes. For instance, there is less chance of a loan to a government going bad than a loan to, say, an internet business, so the bank should not have to hold as much capital in reserve against the first loan as against the second.
Basel 1 history
The first attempt to do this worldwide was by the Basel committee for international banking supervision in 1988. However, its system of judging the relative riskiness of different loans was crude. For instance, it penalised banks no more for making loans to a fly-by-night software company in Thailand than to Microsoft; no more for loans to South Korea, bailed out by the IMF in 1998, than to Switzerland.
Basel 2 history
In 1998, "Basel 2" was proposed, using much more sophisticated risk classifications. However, controversy over these new classifications, and the cost to banks of administering the new approach, led to the introduction of Basel 2 being delayed until (at least) 2005.
One one-hundredth of a percentage point. Small movements in the interest rate, the exchange rate and bond yields are often described in terms of basis points. If a bond yield moves from 5.25% to 5.45%, it has risen by 20 basis points.
An investor who thinks that the price of a particular security or class of securities (shares, say) is going to fall; the opposite of a bull.
A branch of economics that concentrates on explaining the economic decisions people make in practice, especially when these conflict with what conventional economic theory predicts they will do.
Behavioural Economics: Fear
According to psychologists, people are disproportionately influenced by a fear of feeling regret and will often forgo benefits even to avoid only a small risk of feeling they have failed.
Behavioural Economics: Cognitive Dissonance
They are also prone to cognitive dissonance, often holding on to a belief plainly at odds with new evidence, usually because the belief has been held and cherished for a long time.
Behavioural Economics: Anchoring
Then there is anchoring: people are often overly influenced by outside suggestion.
Behaviour Economics: Status quo bias
People apparently also suffer from status quo bias: they are willing to take bigger gambles to maintain the status quo than they would be to acquire it in the first place.
Behavioural Economics: Traditional Utility Theory
Traditional utility theory assumes that people make individual decisions in the context of the big picture. But psychologists have found that they generally compartmentalise, often on superficial grounds. They then make choices about things in one particular mental compartment without taking account of the implications for things in other compartments.
Behavioural Economics: Prospect Theory
There is lots of evidence that people are persistently and irrationally overconfident. They are also vulnerable to hindsight bias: once something happens they overestimate the extent to which they could have predicted it. Many of these traits are captured in prospect theory, which is at the heart of much of behavioural economics.
Part of an economic theory for valuing financial securities and calculating the cost of capital, known as the capital asset pricing model, beta measures the sensitivity of the price of a particular asset to changes in the market as a whole.
Give an example of Beta
If a company's shares have a beta of 0.8 it implies that on average the share price will change by 0.8% if there is a 1% change in the market.
Why do economists believe beta is ‘dead’?
There is a long-running debate about whether a beta calculated from a security's past relationship with the market actually predicts how that relationship will behave in future, leading some doubting economists to claim that beta is "dead".
Big Mac Index
The Big Mac index was devised by Pam Woodall of The Economist in 1986, as a light-hearted guide to whether currencies are at their "correct" level. It is based on one of the oldest concepts in international economics, purchasing power parity (PPP), the notion that a dollar, say, should buy the same amount in all countries.
What does PPP stand for?
Purchasing Power Parity
What do PPP fans argue?
In the long run, argue ppp fans, currencies should move towards the exchange rate, which equalises the prices of an identical basket of goods and services in each country.
PPP in relation to actual Big Macs.
In this case, the basket is a McDonalds' Big Mac, which is produced in more than 100 countries. The Big Mac PPP is the exchange rate that would leave hamburgers costing the same in the United States as elsewhere. Comparing actual exchange rates with PPP signals whether a currency is undervalued or overvalued. Some studies have found that the Big Mac index is often a better predictor of currency movements than more theoretically rigorous models.
If you pay your cleaner or builder in cash, or for some reason neglect to tell the taxman that you were paid for a service rendered, you participate in the black or underground economy. Such transactions do not normally show up in the figures for GDP, so the black economy may mean that a country is much richer than the official data suggest.
Black Economy in the US/UK, Italy, & Russia
In the United States and the UK, the black economy adds an estimated 5-10% to GDP; in Italy, it may add 30%. As for Russia, in the late 1990s estimates of the black economy ranged as high as 50% of GDP.
A formula for pricing financial options. Its invention allowed a previously undreamed of precision in the pricing of options (which had hitherto been done using crude rules of thumb), and probably made possible the explosive growth in the markets for options and other derivatives that took place after the formula became widely used in the early 1970s.
Black-Scholes and the Nobel Prize
Myron Scholes and Robert Merton were awarded the nobel prize for economics for their part in devising the formula; their co-inventor, Fischer Black (1938-95), was ineligible, having died.
Give a quote about bonds.
Gentlemen prefer bonds, punned Andrew Mellon, an American tycoon.
A theory of human decision making that assumes that people behave rationally, but only within the limits of the information available to them. Because their information may be inadequate (bounded) they make take decisions that appear to be irrational according to traditional theories about homo economicus (economic man)
Case against Brand
The stalking-horse for international capitalism. A focus for all the worries about environmental damage, human-rights abuses and sweated labour that opponents of globalisation like to put on their placards. A symbol of America's corporate power, since most of the world's best-known brands, from Coca Cola to Nike, are American. That is the case against.
Case for Brand
Many economists regard brands as a good thing, however. A brand provides a guarantee of reliability and quality. Consumer trust is the basis of all brand values. So companies that own the brands have an immense incentive to work to retain that trust. Brands have value only where consumers have choice.
How does the consumer gain from branding?
The arrival of foreign brands, and the emergence of domestic brands, in former communist and other poorer countries points to an increase in competition from which consumers gain. Because a strong brand often requires expensive advertising and good marketing, it can raise both price and barriers to entry. But not to insurperable levels: brands fade as tastes change; if quality is not maintained, neither is the brand.
A conference held at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in 1944, which designed the structure of the international monetary system after the second world war and set up the imf and the world bank.
What was agreed upon at Bretton Woods in regards to exchange rates?
It was agreed that the exchange rates of IMF members would be pegged to the dollar, with a maximum variation of 1% either side of the agreed rate. Rates could be adjusted more sharply only if a country's balance of payments was in fundamental disequilibrium.
How was confidence shattered in the fixed exchange rate system?
In August 1971 economic troubles and the cost of financing the Vietnam war led the American president, Richard Nixon, to devalue the dollar. This shattered confidence in the fixed exchange rate system and by 1973 all of the main currencies were floating freely, at rates set mostly by market forces rather than government fiat.
When the price of an asset rises far higher than can be explained by fundamentals, such as the income likely to derive from holding the asset.
Quote about Bubbles
The Chicago Tribune of April 13th 1890, writing about the then mania in real-estate prices, described "men who bought property at prices they knew perfectly well were fictitious, but who were prepared to pay such prices simply because they knew that some still greater fool could be depended on to take the property off their hands and leave them with a profit". Such behaviour is a feature of all bubbles.
Give a few famous bubbles
Famous bubbles include tulip mania in Holland during the 17th century, when the prices of tulip bulbs reached unheard of levels, and the South Sea Bubble in Britain a century later, although there have been many others since, including the dotcom bubble in internet company shares that burst in 2000.
What are economist’s argument for why bubbles occur?
Economists argue about whether bubbles are the result of irrational crowd behaviour (perhaps coupled with exploitation of the gullible masses by some savvy speculators) or, instead, are the result of rational decisions by people who have only limited information about the fundamental value of an asset and thus for whom it may be quite sensible to assume the market price is sound.
An annual procedure to decide how much public spending there should be in the year ahead and what mix of taxation, charging for services and borrowing should finance it.
What is the budgeting process in the United States?
In the United States, for example, the president proposes a budget in February for the fiscal year starting the following October, but this has to be approved by Congress. By the time a final decision has to be made, ideally, no later than September, there are often three competing versions: the president's latest proposal, one from the Senate and another from the House of Representatives. What finally emerges is the result of last-minute negotiations. Occasionally, delays in agreeing the budget have led to the temporary closure of some federal government offices.
What is the budgeting process in the UK?
Contrast this with the UK, where most of what the governmentproposes is usually approved by parliament, and some changes take effect as soon as they are announced (subject to subsequent parliamentary vote).
An investor who expects the price of a particular security to rise; the opposite of a bear.
How the people who run companies feel about their organisations' prospects. In many countries, surveys measure average business confidence. These can provide useful signs about the current condition of the economy, because companies often have informationabout consumer demand sooner than government statisticians do.
Boom and bust. The long-run pattern of economic growth and recession.
Business Cycle from 1854 - 1945
According to the Centre for International Business Cycle Research at Columbia University, between 1854 and 1945 the average expansion lasted 29 months and the average contraction 21 months.
Business Cycle after WWII
Since the second world war, however, expansions have lasted almost twice as long, an average of 50 months, and contractions have shortened to an average of only 11 months.
Business Cycle: A Kitchen Cycle
A Kitchin cycle supposedly lasted 39 months and was due to fluctuations in companies' inventories.
Business Cycle: The Juglar Cycle
The Juglar cycle would last 8-9 years as a result of changes in investment in plant and machinery.
Business Cycle: the 20-year Kuznets Cycle
20-year Kuznets cycle, allegedly driven by house-building
Business Cycle: 50-year Kondratieff Wave
It is stated that the period of a wave ranges from forty to sixty years, the cycles consist of alternating intervals between high sectoral growth and intervals of relatively slow growth.
How was the 50-year Kondratieff Wave named?
The Soviet economist Nikolai Kondratiev (also written Kondratieff) was the first to bring these observations to international attention in his book The Major Economic Cycles (1925) alongside other works written in the same decade. In 1939, Joseph Schumpetersuggested naming the cycles "Kondratieff waves" in his honor.
Business Cycles: Hayek and Keynes
hayek tangled with keynes over what caused the business cycle, and won the nobel prize for economics for his theory that variations in an economy's output depended on the sort of capital it had.
Give two examples of incorrect predictions of business cycles.
Taking a quite different tack, in the late 1960s Arthur Okun, an economic adviser to presidents Kennedy and Johnson, proclaimed that the business cycle was "obsolete". A year later, the American economy was in recession. Again, in the late 1990s, some economists claimed that technological innovation and globalisation meant that the business cycle was a thing of the past. Alas, they were soon proved wrong.