Macroeconomics also studies relationships and connections between one country and another for example, how a slowdown in the Chinese economy can affect businesses in the UK. Or how a change in the exchange rate affects British firm trying to export to countries around the world
The scope of macroeconomics includes looking at the success or failure of government policies – for example does the government have effective policies in reducing unemployment? Or has the Coalition government succeeded in creating the conditions for a strong economic recovery?
Macroeconomics involves looking at some big numbers! GDP is a good example, or figures for a country’s balance of payments. We will be studying inflation, economic growth, human development, international trade and globalisation. These are BIG topics and BIG issues – welcome to macro!
10 Introductory Background Notes on the United Kingdom Economy
The UK has the 2nd largest economy in the European Union behind Germany
The UK is the 7th largest world economy and is a member of the G7, a group which brings together the Finance Ministers of the seven largest developed economies in the world – UK, US, Japan, Italy, Germany, France and Canada - to discuss economic policy
In 2011 the UK contributed 3 per cent to global output and 4% of global trade in goods and services
In macroeconomics we look at things ‘in the whole’ and, in doing so, we use these terms:
Households: receive income through wages and salaries from their jobs and from their investments and then buy the output of firms (this is known as consumer spending and is labelled as C)
Firms: Businesses hire land, labour and capital inputs when making products for which they pay wages and rent (income). Firms receive payment from consumers and profitable businesses may invest (I) a percentage of profits in new producer goods such as equipment and technology
Government: collect taxes (T) to fund spending on public services such as education, healthcare and defence. Government spending is given the label (G)
International sector: The UK buys imports from other countries, (M) and overseas businesses and consumers buy UK products – known as exports (X). International trade is important for the UK. Millions of jobs depend directly or indirectly on the UK remaining competitive in overseas market.
How do we measure the economic performance of developed and developing countries?
Macroeconomic performance refers to how well a country is doing in reaching a number of objectives or targets of government policy.
The main aim is an improvement in the average real standard of living
The term ‘real’ means that we have taken into account the effects of rising prices so that we get a better picture of how many products we can afford to buy and consume.
The main aims are macroeconomic policies are to improve outcomes in these indicators:
Jobs – how high is unemployment? Is the economy creating enough new jobs for people entering the labour market each year? Are there sufficient opportunities for people looking for work?
Prices –are price rises under control? Can the economy avoid a period of price deflation? Price stability refers to low, stable, positive inflation of between 1-3% per year.
Trade – is the economy performing well in trading goods and services with other countries? How competitive are British businesses in the global economy?
Growth – how successful has the country been in achieving growth and in laying foundations for future expansion and development
Development - the expansion of people’s freedom to live long, healthy and creative lives
Efficiency - is the economy improving productivity so that more goods and services can be supplied at lower cost? Are we cutting the amount of energy we use per unit of output?
Public services – have the benefits of growth flowed through into better provision of state services such as education, law and order, the National Health Service and transport?
The environment – many economists now focus on whether an expanding economy is sustainable in terms of its environmental impact.
Inequality of income and wealth - leaving aside changes in average living standards, has the economy made progress in achieving an acceptable distribution of income and wealth? Or has the gap between lower and higher-income families become wider leading to higher relative poverty?
Macroeconomic performance covers a wide range of indicators – summarised as:
Economic growth (short term and long term)
Jobs (unemployment and employment)
Average standard of living
The distribution of income and wealth
Quality of and financing of public services
The macroeconomic performance of any one nation is affected by events, policies and shocks in other countries. No economy is immune to what is happening in the global financial and economic system.