Economics Issues

The important bit!

The Economics Group meets monthly on the second Monday of each month at 2 30 pm.  We normally meet at Townsend House, Minehead, but while COVID restrictions are in place, meetings are currently suspended.  Please remember to check the Calendar in case of any late changes to schedule.

Our group is led by Ian Partington, and he may be contacted at 01643 841607, or by email at economics@minehead-district-u3a.org.uk

Current News

Due to COVID there are no meetings at Townsend House.  However, if members wish to start a topic Ian is happy to research the topic and prepare notes.  The notes will be sent out to members of the group by e-mail and any comments received from members will be circulated to those within the group.

About the Group

The Economics Group is definitely not focussed on studying economic theory.  Members of the group propose topics that have an economics component, and then the group votes on which topics to use.  The Convenor, Ian Partington, is an economist and he researches the topics, prepares notes for the group suitable for non-economists, which are sent out a week or so before the group meeting.  The group then meets and discusses the topics.  The meetings are serious but light-hearted; members of the group have a good sense of humour!

There is a £2 charge when the meetings are held at Townsend House (no refreshments are provided).

2021

January      Exchange Rates

The exchange rate is part of an equilibrating process that brings demand and supply of foreign currencies into balance.  The balance of payments accounts contain trade in goods, trade in services, and movements in money.

For example, if the UK buys more imports from the EU than the EU’s appetite for UK exports, the UK will run a trade deficit.  In this situation the price of pounds will fall (depreciation) and the price of Euros will rise (appreciation).

Flows of funds between one country and the rest of the world (RoW) are more complicated and also affect exchange rates; affected relatively by risk, uncertainty, rates of return (interest rates) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

2020

December          The ‘thin deal’?

Whilst a ‘no deal’ Brexit would have been a catastrophe, this ‘thin deal’ Brexit plus the government’s anti-Covid policies will lead to a serious, long-term social problem – job creation for some 2million young, low-skilled unemployed, and school-leavers who have already missed nearly a year’s lessons.

Some of our economy’s productive capacity has disappeared (high street retail) and others have frozen (up to 5million in hospitality, leisure, tourism).  New graduates are taking jobs that previously ‘A’ level students would have secured. 

Financial services has still to be negotiated with the EU, and several institutions have already opened branches on the Continent, as have importers and exporters to avoid the ‘thin deal’ Customs regulations.

Our overall balance of trade deficit with the EU is currently £80bn.  Most commentators expect a loss of trade to result.

November        Universal Basic Income

As of 2017, 20% of the UK population live in poverty, including 8 million working-age adults, 4 million children and 1.9 million pensioners.  We discussed definitions of ‘poverty’, its causes, comparisons with other countries, and possible solutions, including more housing, and ways to finance UBI, including a review of taxes.

October           Where is the economy going?

Because of Covid and Brexit, however ‘thin’ a deal, after a fall in GDP of up to 10%, any growth in 2021 will not be sufficient to prevent a rise in unemployment to c.7% (c.2.5mn) arising because of the changing pattern of demand and permanent loss of productive capacity.

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