Category Archives: Teaching visuals

A2 Worksheets – Perfect and Imperfect Labour Market

Currently covering Labour Markets with my A2 level classes and put together an exercise which tests them on calculating MCL, MRPL etc and also showing why MCL = MRPL is the number of workers a firm should employ. There is an exercise for both Perfect and Imperfect Labour markets – see ‘Word’ document. The excel document is a model answer showing the data in a table and a graphical format. Hope it is of use.

Imperfect Competition in the Labour Market
ACL MCL of Labour

Great economics revision videos from Tutor2u

Here is a great set of revision videos by Geoff Riley of Tutor2u. They cover a range of macro and micro topics for AS and A2 Level economics. Most of them are around 8 minutes long and he uses the powerpoint slides very effectively so you get his oral contribution plus the key points on the presentation slides. Well worth a look and you are bound to find them very useful as exams approach. Below is the video on the Circular Flow.




Inflation – Hungary 1941 – House and Jelly Bean

Here is a very useful video on Inflation from The School of Life. It discusses the causes of inflation and why it is seen as big problem in countries. They use the example of Hungary in 1941 and explain how inflation erodes the purchasing power of the income of citizens – a good example of a house and a jelly bean. Mention of Keynesian and Monetarist schools of thought – useful for IGCSE courses and above

HT: Grant McKibbin

Skyscraper completion = Economic Downturn

Barclays Capital have produced an interesting indicator in that its Skyscraper Index shows the relationship between construction of the next world’s tallest building and an imminent financial crisis.

Over the past 140 years it is interesting to see the economic environment post skyscraper completion. The Great Depression was matched by 3 record breaking New York skyscrapers. With the completion of the World Trade Center skyscrappers in 1973/4 saw the looming spectre of stagflation (high unemployment and high inflation) in both the US and UK economies. This condition was further compounded by the breakdown of the Bretton Woods Agreement.

The Petronas building in KL was followed by the Asian currency crisis and the Taipei 101 coincided with the early 2000’s recession and the end of the technology bubble. The Burj Khalifa was completed in 2010 which was amidst the current financial crisis. Its increase in height over the previous highest skyscraper is indicative of the extent of the current economic crisis.

Source: Barclays Bank – Equity Research

Here is an image from the Barclays Capital publication which might be useful for the classroom environment. Just click on the image.

WE THE ECONOMY – 20 short movies on economics

WE THE ECONOMY website provides a series of short films that explain economic concepts or key features of the modern economy. Each of the 20 movies focuses on some aspect of the U.S. economy or on some economic concept. The films are grouped into five ‘chapters’ covering the basics of the economy:

What is the Economy?
What is Money?
What is the Role of our Government in the Economy?
What is Globalization?
What Causes Inequality?

Every 5-8 minute video is well worth watching and useful for the classroom. Below is the trailer – very professionally done and excellent reinforcement when teaching certain topics.

Fox News Graphic vs US Labour Department Graphic

A hat tip to David Parr for this piece from the Visual Communication Guy on how umemployment data was presented by the media. The graph below shows US unemployment as presented by Fox News. Although it may seem quite genuine at first glance if you look closely you will see that the spacing of the dates on the horizontal axis are not consistent but manipulated in such a way to give the impression of accelerating unemployment. Furthermore as it is presented on TV you are unlikely to have the chance to pick the axis as your eyes are fixated with the rising line.

Fox Unemp data












While there certainly was an increase in unemployment from the end of 2007 to June 2009, the chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells a very different story than Fox News’ graphic. Although there is a steep increase in unemployment during the first 6 months of President Obama’s presidency, there was a plateauing and reason to suggest that the stimulus packages were starting to work.

Official Unemp data

Whether or not you like Fox News or whether you agreed with President Obama’s stimulus packages is beyond the scope of this article. What matters is that we recognize how information is being presented to us and how easy it is for media gurus to tweak information to tell completely different stories with the same data.

We might ask ourselves: in a country where we strongly believe in freedom of speech, where do we draw the boundaries, if any, on the visual representation of data in the mass media? Where does the communication start to become unethical, and, at what point should unethical turn into illegal?

Opportunity Cost of watching Gangnam Style video

The Economist produced an interesting Daily Chart looking at the Opportunity Cost of watching the Gangnam Style video. Earlier this year the music video surpassed two billion views on YouTube making it the most watched clip of all time. At 4:12 minutes, that equates to more than 140m hours, or more than 16,000 years.

What is the opportunity cost of watching this video i.e. the other achievements that were foregone.

* 3 “supercarriers” like the USS Gerald Ford built last year
* 4 Great Pyramids of Giza,
* 1 more Wikipedia,
* 6 Burj Khalifas in Dubai (the world’s tallest building).

The song’s nearest rival is Justin Bieber’s “Baby” – one billion views. The opportunity cost of watching PSY’s frivolity is huge, but humanity has at least been entertained.

Gangnam style

AS & A2 Revision – How PED varies along a demand curve

Been doing some more revision courses on CIE AS economics and went through how the elasticity of demand varies along a demand curve. Notice in Case A that the fall in price from Pa to Pb causes the the total revenue to increase therefore it is elastic – the blue area (-) is less than the orange area (+). In Case B the opposite applies – as the price decreases from Pa to Pb the total revenue decreases therefore it is inelastic – the blue area (-) is greater than the orange area (+). In Case C the drop in price causes the same proportionate change in quantity demanded, therefore there is no change in total revenue – it is unitary elasticity. Remember where MR = 0 – PED = 1 on the demand curve (AR curve).