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Home > Wednesday Wisdoms: Newsletter > Economics Should Not Be Boring.Facts.

Welcome to the 18th edition of Wednesday Wisdoms by EdGenie!

Every Wednesday I send out actionable tips, tricks and real-world application insights from my 13-year experience coaching students to achieve As and A* in their Economics and Business A Levels.

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Economics Should Not Be Boring.Facts.

Hey Genies, 🧞‍♂️
Economics often gets unfairly tagged as 'boring'. 🥱
But let's debunk this myth and discover the exhilaration hidden in this subject. 🚀

Why Economics is Actually Exciting: ✨
  • 👀It's About Your World: Economics is everywhere – in your shopping habits, the news headlines, even in your favourite sports team's strategies. It's a live subject, constantly changing and evolving. 🌍
  • Future Forecasting: Imagine predicting the future impact of today's decisions. That's what economists do. It's like being a time-traveller in the world of finance and policy. 🔮
  • Tech and Economics: With digital currencies, online trading, and AI, the intersection of technology and economics is more thrilling than ever. 💻💸

Why It Might Feel Dull in Class:

Textbook-Heavy Teaching : Often, economics is taught through textbooks and basic PowerPoints, focusing more on theory than practical, real-world applications.
Outdated Examples : Many textbooks still use examples from decades ago, which may not resonate with the current economic landscape.
Lack of Interactive Learning : Economics, when taught just as lectures or notes, can miss the excitement of debates and real-world case studies.

Making Economics Fun: 🎉

  • Current Affairs Integration ✅: Relate your economic theories to what's happening in the world right now. This connection makes learning more relevant and engaging.
  • Interactive learning ✅: Get involved in discussions about every topic you learn. Challenge the status quo, look into why things go wrong in the economy and in business.
  • Collaborative Learning ✅: Encourage learning as part of a community or peer teaching (both extremely effective) to explore economic concepts, fostering teamwork and diverse viewpoints.

Economics isn't just about supply and demand curves; it's a vibrant field teeming with insights into how our world works. 🌐
When approached creatively, it can be one of the most fascinating subjects you'll ever explore.
🤓Keep the curiosity alive, and dive into the dynamic world of economics! 📈📚.


​Energy price cap: What is it and what will happen to bills in January?

Summary

💡 Energy Cap Drop: Energy prices fell in October due to a lowered cap by Ofgem, affecting 29 million households.

🔧 Ofgem's Quarterly Review: The energy price cap, set every three months, will have its next announcement for January to March 2024 on 23 November.

💰 Current and Predicted Costs: Typical energy bills between October and December are set at £1,923, down £151 from the previous cap, with analysts predicting a 5% rise to £1,931 in January.

🏠 Household Energy Use: A 'typical' household's energy use is calculated on a direct debit customer using 11,500 kWh of gas and 2,700 kWh of electricity annually.

🔋 Prepayment Meter Overhaul: Ofgem has revised rules for prepayment meters, ensuring more customer protection and promising to align charges with direct debit costs.

📉 Energy Bill Trends: While energy consultancy Cornwall Insight forecasts a price rise in January, they anticipate a decrease from the end of March and no return to pre-Covid levels before 2030.

🔁 Market Competition: Lower energy prices may encourage competition, with suppliers offering fixed deals, though consumer groups advise caution regarding standing charges and exit fees.

🛡️ Support for Energy Bills: UK residents receive cost-of-living payments and other benefits, but the universal £400 discount has ended.

🏢 Business Energy Support: A new discount scheme replaces the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, offering varied discounts for heavy energy-using sectors until March 2024.

📈 Gas Price Surge: Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, UK benchmark gas prices experienced a dramatic increase.

📉 Price Volatility: The chart shows significant volatility with sharp peaks and troughs in gas prices over time.

🛢️ Current Price: As of 25 August 2023, the gas price stands at 87 pence per therm, indicating a downward trend from previous spikes.

📊 Historical Context: The chart provides a historical context of gas prices over a timeline starting from July 2021 to August 2023.

🏠 Energy Use by Household Size: The annual energy cost varies by household size, with lower usage and costs for smaller homes.
  • Low Usage (1-2 people in a flat or one-bedroom house): Estimated annual cost is £1,346, with gas consumption at 8,000 kWh and electricity at 1,800 kWh.
  • Medium Usage (2-3 people in a three-bedroom house): Estimated annual cost is £1,923, with gas usage at 12,000 kWh and electricity at 2,900 kWh.
  • High Usage (4-5 people in a five-bedroom house): Estimated annual cost is £2,650, with gas consumption at 17,000 kWh and electricity at 4,300 kWh.

📊 Cost Estimates: The costs are based on the energy price cap rates set by Ofgem for the period from 1 October to 31 December 2023 for dual fuel customers paying by direct debit.

Non-Typical Households: It's noted that most households aren't typical, and actual bills are based on the exact amount of energy used, which varies according to the number of people, type of property, and energy efficiency.

A Level Economics Questions:

Q: Analyse the impact of Ofgem's energy price cap on household expenditure in the UK.
​A: Ofgem's energy price cap aims to limit the amount that energy suppliers can charge customers, thereby controlling the rise in household energy expenditure. The cap is adjusted every three months to reflect changes in the market. For example, typical annual costs for a medium-sized household (2-3 people in a three-bedroom house) are capped at £1,923 for energy. This regulatory measure helps to protect consumers from sudden spikes in energy prices, particularly in times of market volatility, such as after geopolitical events that disrupt supply.

Q: How does the concept of price elasticity of demand apply to household energy consumption in the UK?
A:
Price elasticity of demand for household energy consumption is generally considered inelastic, as energy is a necessity with few immediate substitutes for consumers. However, over time and with significant price changes due to the energy cap, consumers may respond by reducing usage or investing in energy-saving measures, making demand slightly more elastic. The given annual costs show that consumers may not significantly reduce their energy consumption in the short term despite higher prices, but persistent price increases could lead to more elastic demand as consumers seek alternatives or reduce usage.

Q: Discuss the potential impact of the energy price cap on energy suppliers and market competition in the UK.
A:
The energy price cap can impact energy suppliers by limiting the prices they can charge, potentially reducing their profit margins. This can discourage investment in the energy sector, lead to a consolidation of market players, and affect the long-term sustainability and innovation within the energy market. In terms of competition, the cap may reduce the differentiation between suppliers based on price, prompting them to compete more on service quality and energy efficiency initiatives.

Q: Analyse the role of government intervention in the energy market, particularly in relation to consumer welfare and market efficiency.
A:
Government intervention, such as Ofgem's energy price cap, is intended to protect consumer welfare by preventing excessively high prices. However, this intervention can create distortions in the market, potentially leading to inefficiencies. For instance, price caps might lead to underinvestment in energy infrastructure or discourage consumers from reducing consumption. The balance between protecting consumers and maintaining an efficient, competitive market is a critical issue for regulators.

Possible A Level Economics 25 Marker Question

Assess the impact of reducing the Energy Price Cap on Consumers and Firms. 

Infographic of the Week

High Turnover Trend: Tech Titans and UK Firms Grapple with Retention Rifts

In the quest for longevity in employment, factors such as workplace culture, compensation, and job stability are crucial. Yet, an analysis by Resume.io of LinkedIn data reveals that tech giants in the U.S. and hospitality leaders in the UK are failing to retain employees. In the U.S., the tech industry sees the most significant turnover, with a 13.2% rate and companies like Apple, Amazon, and Meta losing staff typically before two years. Despite previously high praise for workplace culture and benefits, these companies have faced criticism over return-to-office policies and job cuts, with Meta reducing its workforce by 13% last year. Across the pond, the UK’s challenge in employee retention is exacerbated by the cost of living crisis, leading companies such as InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, NatWest Group plc, and WPP to see median tenures as low as 1.6 years. With 21% of UK workers dissatisfied and nearly half struggling to save, financial pressures are at the forefront of the retention issue.

Chart of the Week

The Global Ripple Effect: Synchronizing Climate Policies for Green Innovation

The alignment of international climate policies significantly bolsters domestic green innovation, driven by the 'market size effect'—where innovators are incentivised by larger markets in countries with similar climate commitments. This, along with 'technology diffusion' from climate policies abroad, accelerates the domestic adoption of green technologies. Synchronised action also lends certainty to government commitments, encouraging the spread of low-carbon solutions even through nations not primarily known for innovation, via trade and foreign-direct investment. However, protectionist risks loom, with high tariffs and restrictive measures potentially stifling green advancement, especially in middle- and low-income countries. Economies of scale suggest that protectionism could dampen innovation incentives and lead to fragmented efforts. Adhering to international trade rules and facilitating technology transfer from advanced to emerging economies is pivotal, offering a 'double dividend'—cutting emissions and spurring economic growth.

Macroeconomic Data


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Chief Learning Officer at Edgenie