Individual Report: Contemporary Economic Issue or Policy Debate

You are to find a news article describing some recent economically-significant issue or policy debate. You are then to analyse the issues discussed in the article using your newly acquired economics skills. Exactly how you approach the problem is up to you. The way to attain the highest marks is to demonstrate that you understand the issues discussed      in the article, competently frame and analyse them using economics techniques, then provide some reflection about how useful your approach is for the real world.

You should begin by briefly describing the economics issues the article presents using relevant language, principles and concepts from this course. Graphs and figures will be most welcome if they support your analysis. You might source these from the original article, from the course textbook, or you can construct them yourself. After you sum- marise the issues you wish to address, you are to critically evaluate the article’s analysis. You might, for example, consider whether the article obscured or failed to address one or more significant issues. You should present your own analysis and explain why it is more appropriate and insightful than the level of analysis in the article. You should summarise the results of your analysis in a single paragraph in your report’s Conclusion. Finally, you should briefly criticise your own analysis, emphasising its strengths and weaknesses. Provide a properly formatted References section (not a Bibliography) for all references cited in your report.

Your report must be saved as a pdf document and submitted via the Turnitin assign-

 

1.1 Guidelines

  • The article you analyse must first have been published no earlier than July 2018.

 

  • The original article must be in English and be freely accessible on the internet. You must cite the article in the Introduction of your report by referring to its access details in your report’s References section.

 

  • Use proper referencing style, including in your citations. Guidelines for correct referencing techniques can be found in the publication Guide for Assignment Presentation, which can be accessed on the website:

https://web.library.uq.edu.au/research-tools-techniques/referencing-style-guides.

  • Your report’s word count must be within plus or minus 10% of 1,000 words. Penal- ties apply otherwise. Your word count excludes material included in tables, figures, graphs and your report’s References section.
  • You will benefit by using diagrams similar to those presented in the course. These should be fully and correctly labelled. Appropriate use of diagrams is essential for receiving high marks.
  • The assignment is due before 22:00pm on the 18th of October 2020. Late submission will be penalised at a rate of 10% of the value of the assessment item per day. Assignments submitted after three days from the due date will receive no marks.
  • Try to upload your assignment a few hours before the deadline since Blackboard and Turnitin system overloads can occur close to the deadline time.

 

1.2 Topics

The original article and your report should be related to one of the topics covered in our course. These include:

  • supply and demand,

 

  • elasticities,

 

  • government policies,

 

  • price ceilings, price floors,

 

  • consumer and producer surpluses,

 

  • deadweight losses,

 

  • market inefficiencies,

 

  • externalities,

 

  • public goods,

 

  • opportunity costs,

 

  • firm costs,

 

  • firm behaviour,

 

  • taxes, subsidies,
  • production possibility frontiers,

 

  • open economy, trade, exports, imports, tariffs , etc.

 

 

1.3 An Example

An article on gold markets was accessed from “The Economist” website: https://www.

economist.com/finance-and-economics/2015/05/02/buried. The article examined the price of gold and discussed several drivers causing it to change.

 

1.3.1 What would be a good plan of attack?

After finding an article you should then make a list of problems or questions you might address in your report. Doing this should help you develop an outline for your analysis. For example, the following problems would be good to answer with the Economist Gold article.

  1. How has the gold price moved over the past few years?

 

  1. Why do people invest in gold and in what times is gold more desirable as a store of value?
  2. What has caused it to fall to the current rate?

 

  1. What does the author mean by the phrase “lower interest rates cut the opportunity cost of owning gold”?
  2. In what countries is gold in higher demand than others? Why?

 

Diagrams accompanying all of the important points you make are good ideas. Other examples of articles include:

  1. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-38137125 (Can OPEC agree to raise the oil price?),

 

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/apr/17/australias-housing-market-andthe-great-intergenerational-tax-rort(Australia’s housing market and the great intergenerational tax rort),

 

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/15/australias-household-powerprices-rose-63-in-past-decade-says-watchdog (Australia’s household power prices rose 63% in past decade).

1.4 Marking Guidelines

The assignment will be graded on your performance in these areas:

 

  • Content: relevance to the question, sound interpretation and understanding of economic theory.
  • Clarity and robustness of argument: logical thinking, clarity, conciseness and coherence.
  • Fit of the theoretical model and analysis to the reported situation.

 

  • Use of clear, well-labelled, relevant diagrams that support your arguments.

 

  • Evidence of reading outside of the article and textbook.

 

  • Use of references: correct and consistent citation format in the body of your report; correct and consistent referencing format in the References section at the end of your report. You should support your arguments with at least three (3) references in addition to material from your textbook and chosen article. Note that the References section is just that. It is not a Bibliography (enter “references section vs bibliography” into your favourite internet search engine to see the difference).

The following problems will attract penalties:

 

  • Writing style: incorrect grammar or spelling; long or disconnected sentences; incoherence; over-use of quoted material.
  • Failing to grasp or address the core concepts or ideas.

 

  • Poorly or ineffectively structured report.

 

  • Unclear or illogical flow of ideas.

 

  • Ineffective, badly composed or unclear

 

  • Weak or missing Introduction section.

 

  • Weak or missing Conclusion section.

 

  • Weak or missing critique of your analysis in your Conclusion section.

 

  • Improper or missing citations and references.

 

  • Including a Bibliography rather than a References section.

 

  • Any amount of plagiarism.

 

  • Late submission.

1.5 Check-List and Hints

I recommend that you check your report against the following bullet points.

  • The main goal of your report is not to reproduce a textbook analysis, but rather to apply your knowledge of (theoretical) economic models in one specific, real-world case. Accordingly, you should determine whether your analysis of the chosen news article is the centerpiece of your report.
  • Have you explicitly described the selected issue and the news article’s analysis of it in your report’s Introduction section?
  • Is your writing focused (free of unnecessary information) and have you explained your arguments well? Imagine that you have produced your report for your CEO. Say you write about Widget Empire Australia, an Australian subsidiary of Widget Empire Inc., a world-leader in the production of widgets operating in dozens of countries. You are analysing the effects of an import tariff on widgets passed into law by the Australian Federal Government last year.

It is crucial that you underpin your claims with factual information and logical analysis. For example, your CEO may be frustrated if you simply write:

The demand for widgets is relatively inelastic.

You have provided no basis for your CEO to evaluate that claim. She would much prefer that you explain and justify your claim. For example,

The demand for widgets is relatively inelastic in Australia. This is because widgets are an essential tool for anybody living close to a beach (like the majority of the Australian population), and because there are no good substitutes for widgets.

Walter Widget estimates the elasticity of the demand for widgets to be 0.13 in absolute terms (Widget, 2013, p. 17).

Later, in your References section, you can provide the exact reference:

Widget, Walter (2013), Widgets for Everybody, New York: Widget International Press, 2nd edition.

  • It is crucial to avoid claiming things unless they are supported by facts or conclusions from reputable sources. You will need to cite every claim you make.
  • Your CEO is a very busy person. She needs to grasp the consequences of the import tariff on widgets in the shortest possible time. Hence, it is important that your report remains as focused as possible. For example, a brief description of the nature and characteristics of Widget Empire Australia is useful background information that helps establish the context of your main analysis. It may be useful for justifying why you based your analysis on the economic model of a monopoly. However, a history of Widget

Empire US, the U.S. subsidiary of Widget Empire, may not be necessary to understand y analysis in the Australian widget market context. Your CEO would prefer that you skip a description of Widget Empire U.S.A., as she does not need to understand Widget Empire U.S.A. for the issue at hand.

  • Does the economics model you chose for your analysis fit your news article issue well? Have you justified your modelling choice?
  • Is your report well-structured? A clear structure makes your report flow smoothly, thereby making it easy to read. Ideally, you should split your report into appropriate, well defined and well titled sections.
  • Have you cited sources for all data and economics models that you present? It is poor form to write:

Widget Empire Australia’s sales increased by 50% in 2014.

 

Rather, you should include a properly cited source for each claim, e.g.,

 

Widget Empire Australia’s sales increased by 50% in 2014 (Widget, 2013, p. 6).

then include a reference to Walter Widget (2013) in your References section.

 

  • Have you fully and properly labelled all figures and diagrams?

 

  • Have you explained all figures and diagrams in your report? It is not enough to simply add diagrams to your work. You must also explain to the reader what each one means and the conclusions you draw from it.
  • Are all words spelt correctly? Are all sentences grammatically correct? In general, it is good practice to use plain English rather than complicated expressions and complex sentence structures.
  • Please be very careful to avoid plagiarising any material in any part of your report. Copying from others, from textbooks and internet sources is unacceptable unless properly cited. Plagiarism can attract serious consequences.