Final call

Well, you have a few days left and then you will be sitting in rows of other economists, clock ticking, stern invigilator pitter-pattering about...and you have a few hours during which to prove your worth as an economist. How lucky I was to have a school system, Swedish, with no external exams! I could never have done what we now ask of you - and I have often pointed out to my students what a terrible student I myself was. ...

Did I miss a memo? Let’s keep the ‘F-word’.

FAIL (intransitive verb); to fall short, to be unsuccessful Most of the people who know me have long since realised I don't do transitional material. I'm also not great at light conversation. I've been told of my tendency to go of on a (ranting) tangent on whatever subject has prodded me with a stick. So, I hope you're ready for a little random venting of spleen here, for there is a recent societal undercurrent that is increasingly sticking in my craw, ...

Read your textbook first

It has escaped none of my students that our subject is a 'composite' subject - including (but in no ways limited to!) mathematics, history, political science, statistics and...well, stories. I always try to get across that the ability to become a good economist rests on two foundations; 1. good solid understanding of basic concepts and terms, and; 2. skills such as underpinning arguments, finding flaws with economic reasoning and simply being clear in putting forward economic scenarios both verbally and ...

Is Economics a Science?

Robert J. Shiller is a Nobel Laureate in Economics and an Economics professor at Yale University, in an online article published in 2013 he addresses the vexed question as to whether Economics is a Science. Whilst acknowledging the limitations of his subject as a science readily enough he cannot bring himself to altogether abandon that label. Moreover, he almost seems more interested in highlighting the failures of other disciplines as sciences (chemistry, physics, politics, astronomy…) than to provide evidential support for ...

Being Human

This week I did something which I have rarely done in my many years of teaching; I asked students to spend a whole lesson watching a video. Each student was given a laptop and they were asked to put on their earphones (they always seem to have the latter available at the drop of a hat). They were told to go to Youtube and look for the film “Human” by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, and watch at least any five of the ...

Last minute…

I'm having an interesting day. One of the Picts (look this up) I customarily hang out with for after-school grap juice (fermented) apparently decided to yank me back to reality after a three-day weekend by way of a perky good morning note: Shades of Adam Smith Then it turns out (no, I don't read memos) that the IB2 crowd are off (and with any luck, home studying - god knows some of them need it) and the IB1 crowd is apparently spending ...

Extended essay start-up

At every school I've worked at, the English and business/economics departments have accounted for at least one third of all extended essay (EE) titles. It makes sense; these two disciplines lend themselves easily to the study of a very broad cross-section of society - not that I personally could say anything insightful about Moby Dick or Eric Blair. OK Leo, you may write in the subject of your choice.  This is always something of a problem for the business/economics departments, for two ...

Price discrimination online

Most of you students are pretty 'switched on' in terms of what we old people still marvel at; the Internet. You have never lived in a world without internet - which is pretty much what my dad said (he was born in 1928) to me about TV. No, relax, this is not going to be some sort of rant about taking things for granted or any sentence starting with "...young people today..." I am a big fan of technology and ...

New rule – old problem; rent ceiling

Around about this time during IB1, students should be well into the various forms of government intervention that are included in the IB syllabus. For micro economics, these include (indirect) taxes, subsidies, maximum prices and minimum prices. You may rest assured that at least one of these will be the subject of an exam question for you! During the summer, Berlin became the first German city to implement rent controls, e.g. a maximum rent on inner-city housing in Berlin. The basic ...

Ever more kinked…

I have just revised oligopolies in theory of the firm (ToF) for HL students in IB2. I introduced the kinked demand curve a bit differently this time: I outlined the premises carefully, drew the market equilibrium point in a diagram and then asked the students to carefully obey the PED conditions of '...if I lower my price and the other firms follow...' in drawing the demand curve. This gave an entirely different outcome than most textbooks! I also played a game ...