JC A Level & IB Economics Real World Examples

Real World / Real Life Examples in Economics will provide a deeper appreciation and understanding of the many concepts and policies taught. They help make Economics come alive and make the learning a lot more exciting and enjoyable. This is true regardless of whether you are studying JC A Level Economics or IB Economics. Imagine seeing your economic theories come alive during the season of US-China trade wars waged between Trump and Xi or witnessing how supply chain disruptions and loose monetary and fiscal policies are resulting in a problem of Inflation in the midst of Covid pandemic!

Students in Mr Hong's Economics tuition for IB & JC A Level (H2/H1) can instantly make connections between global affairs and economic theories studied, enabling them to predict outcomes of certain events or policies enacted. Mr Hong has even shown how he could PREDICT that  Vietnam would benefit from the US-China trade war. This is extremely powerful knowledge and understanding, that can be relevant. for example, to the lucrative field of forex trading!


As Calista Tan from ACS Indep noted:

“It is quite amazing to see these theories come into play and it can also help you gather real life examples for your essay writing.”

Many students find that learning real life examples helps solidify their understanding of theoretical concepts. Instead of studying Economics in a silo, it’s important to keep up-to-date with the happenings in markets and economies. This is also why the examinations require that.

For the Singapore-Cambridge A Levels, knowledge of the Singapore economy and the government policies (both Micro and Macro) are the most essential. That is why we even have a dedicated A Level Economics Model Essays on Singapore book.

However, it is also important to know other examples especially involving the US, Europe and China. They can be very useful for the Essays examinations.

For the IB Diploma programme, it is essential to memorise real world examples. You must use them in Paper 1 Essays - the penalty for not including at least one per essay part (part a or b) is high; you are given a maximum of Band 2 out of 4 if you do not substantiate your arguments with real world examples. They can also be useful for Paper 2 Data Response Questions as in the event that you had previously chanced upon the topic tested in your general knowledge readings; you have additional contextual knowledge for answering the questions! If you are preparing for your IB Economics Internal Assessment, then the examples will also be useful in your search for a suitable article upon which your commentary is based.

Below is a sample of economics real world examples that Mr Hong’s students will have access to. Our complete database contains examples for every sub-topic and is only accessible to existing economics tuition students. They are constantly updated and refreshed to bring about the latest and most useful examples for students. With this database in hand, one of the most arduous tasks - the compilation of real world examples for exams, which many students have to attempt single-handedly - is already done for you!

Reasons for Merger/Acquisition

Kraft & Cadbury Merger
Revenue Advantage through Complementary Strengths: Kraft has a strong presence in countries like Brazil, China and Russia, countries in which Cadbury’s presence has lagged behind. Conversely, Cadbury would give Kraft an instant foothold in India, where it has been almost absent. Therefore the markets for both Kraft and Cadbury products can increase, increasing total revenues beyond just the sum of their revenues before the merger.

Cost Savings: This merger would allow the combined company to reap significant internal economies of scale through the streamlining of production processes, reduced advertisement costs and reduced expenditure on administrative services. Such cost and revenue advantages are key factors motivating Kraft’s decision to acquire Cadbury.


Policy to tackle under-consumption of Merit Goods (Education) due to High Income Inequality

Financial Assistance for low-income families
Low-income Families with Gross Household Income (GHI) not exceeding $2,500 per month are eligible to sign their children up for the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS). Under the FAS, students get to enjoy subsidised school and transportation fees, free textbooks and school attire. This increases the affordability of education in Singapore, effectively tackling the underconsumption of pre-tertiary education in Singapore that is caused by high income inequality.

moe ministry of education singapore

Successful Liberalisation in Singapore

Retail Electricity Market
The Energy Market Authority (EMA) has progressively opened the retail electricity market to competition. Since 2001, steadily more consumers have been handed the freedom to switch from buying electricity at the regulated tariff from SP Services to buying from an electricity retailer which offers packages with different price plans.

As a result, the number of electricity retailers has surged, from 7 in 2013 to the 25 in 2017- a number that continues to grow.

Increasingly, consumers are introduced to a wider variety of options. Incumbent firms are also opting to produce green electricity, which incurs lower production costs in the long run. Rates for consumption during off-peak hours have also been reduced, allowing consumers to enjoy cheaper prices. These firms are now more incentivised to innovate as well, given the rising level of competition.

markets flow of power and money

Market-Oriented Supply-Side Policies

In February 2012, Greece implemented a 22%-cut in the minimum wage. This move lowered labour costs, helping to increase the Short-Run Aggregate Supply of the Greece economy.

travel to Greece

Benefits of joining Monetary Union

In Jan 2023, Croatia will be the 20th member of the Eurozone. The Euro currency is seen to be stronger and more stable than Croatian currency and will allow it to better withstand imported inflation and by being integrated with the Euro-bloc, it is expected to allow it to better withstand looming economic uncertainties. It can also boost trade especially since its main trading partners are Eurozone economies anyway. Currency conversion costs can now be eliminated.

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Tariffs & Import Quotas

To protect domestic sugarcane and sugar-beet farmers, the United States imports sugar under a system of tariff-rate quotas (TRQ). A TRQ is a two-tiered tariff for which the tariff rate charged depends on the volume of imports. A low-tier (in-quota) tariff is charged on imports within the quota volume. A high-tier (over-quota) tariff is charged on imports exceeding the quota volume. Almost all raw cane sugar, refined sugars and sugar syrups, and sugar-containing products are imported under TRQs for those products.

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Political Hindrances to Fiscal Policy

Unlike the implementation of Monetary Policy, Fiscal Policy requires Governmental support in passing Bills on Government Spending and Taxes. Sometimes politics may get in the way of implementing effective fiscal policies. For example, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was stonewalled by the Republicans. After negotiations, Democratic congressional leaders ultimately agreed to cut back the bill's spending in order to attract a handful of Republican votes. However, most economists think that size of the Government spending was much smaller than needed. Only after 8 years did levels of unemployment recover to pre-Great Recession levels.

republicans vs democrats political polarization

Policy to tackle Negative Externality of Traffic Congestion arising from use of Cars - Free Public Transport

At the beginning of 2013, the capital of Estonia, Tallinn, introduced free public transport for the city to curb its problems of growing traffic congestion. To enjoy these free public transport services, one has to be registered as a resident, which entails yearly payment of income taxes to the state, part of which is used to fund these public transport services. Consequently, Tallinn residents are encouraged to switch from the consumption of private cars to the consumption of public transport services.

estonia tallinn bus fpt

Adverse Effects of Persuasive Advertising & Policies to Address it

Formula milk manufacturers have been engaging in persuasive advertising by building up "premium" images to entrench consumer loyalty. They continuously introduce new ingredients that purport to - among other things - boost mental development and vision. Much of these claims, however, are not scientifically backed up.

As a result, Singapore has seen soaring formula milk prices. In response, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore will pass a legislation to prohibit labels on formula milk from making nutritional health claims, and ban idealised images. The Health Promotion Board (HPB) will also launch a public education campaign to clarify the nutritional needs of children, lowering the susceptibility of consumers to misinformation.

formula milk file 1

Policy to tackle Moral Hazard and related problems

Health Insurance schemes in Singapore may be inducing overconsumption. Firstly, it removes the incentive for consumers to limit consumption levels to only what is necessary. This is related to the moral hazard problem which occurs when the costs of one's actions are borne by another party. Secondly, as consumers have little financial incentive to question the care they receive when it is covered by their health insurance, physician-induced demand -- where doctors take advantage of patients’ lack of medical knowledge to provide them with more care than necessary, or to charge a higher fee -- is being facilitated.

To address this issue, the government has introduced a co-payment system for healthcare insurance, where new Integrated Shield plan riders have to bear a minimum of 5% co-payment. This creates a disincentive for overconsumption, as insured consumers will now have to bear a proportion of the cost of healthcare consumption.

understanding your health insurance min

Difficulties in Implementing Labour Market Reforms

In light of the French Government's aims to boost efficiency, cut debt and reduce unemployment rate, President Emmanuel Macron has implemented labour market reforms (part of market-oriented SS-side policies). The government wants to end rail workers' jobs-for-life, automatic annual pay rises and early retirement rights. Macron said his ambition is to cut what he considers to be a bloated public sector and reform France's relatively generous labor market. The Unions were unhappy with the use of executive orders to force through changes and the removal of the benefits they have been enjoying since the 1930s. Thus, they went on a strike in March 2018. This has led to major disruption faced by France’s railway network.

french protests labour reforms

Price Controls vs Price Mechanism

India’s government recently enacted price ceiling on Uber fares to prevent the prices from surging.

This is bad for both the riders, drivers, society, and leads to a deadweight welfare loss to society because of the misallocation of time, money, human capital and human potential.

Surge pricing has actually helped to eliminate the shortages during peak hours. The higher price will signal that demand is high, and thus the number of drivers will increase to meet the high demand.

In a nutshell, the price mechanism will work better, eventually allowing the market to clear, and the time consumers spend on waiting for a taxi would be shorter during peak hours. This will result in less amount of time wasted, which could be divert into productive hours and time spend on building human capital.

surge pricing

Min Price to correct Over-Consumption of Alcohol

The Scottish government will implement a minimum price on alcohol in hope of reducing overconsumption. It will help tackle a particularly Scottish problem of chronic alcohol abuse. This is obviously a problem of imperfect information on the part of the drinkers on top of generating external costs on 3rd parties.

Scottish ministers claim the policy will save approximately 400 lives over the next five years, as a result of a fall in alcohol consumption. It will also lead to fewer alcohol-related hospital admissions. The Scottish government has recommended that the minimum price for a unit of alcohol should be set at 50p. Minimum unit pricing will impact most on heavy drinkers. Those who drink within the lower risk guidelines will only be marginally affected simply because they only consume a small amount of alcohol and also because they do not tend to buy as much of the cheaper alcohol that would be most affected by a minimum unit price.

As a result of minimum pricing, the country will enjoy a healthier community, and thus enjoy a more productive economy. Additionally, it will also improve non-material standard of living as the country enjoy a happier, safer families and communities.

123836 store shelves of alcohol bottles including buckfast and smirnoff quality image

Sg's innovative Progressive Wage Model to tackle Income Inequality

Instead of a national minimum wage, the Sg Government implemented a Progressive Wage Model (PWM).

The PWM sets the minimum wage that workers in a particular occupation should be paid, pegged against a certain skill certification. Thus, this ensures that the higher wage earned corresponds to a certain level of productivity, helping to ensure that Singapore remains cost-competitive.

In addition, there is a wage progression pathway that helps to increase wages beyond the minimum amount according to attainment of skills certifications and years of experience.

However, this is currently only in place for 3 sectors - landscaping, cleaning and security. Thus, low wage workers, for example in F&B sector are still unable to benefit. Moreover, companies may pass on the cost of increased wages to consumers, in the form of price increases. This would raise the cost of living and thus hurt the low income households.

Nevertheless, since the implementation of the PWM, real wage growth of low-wage workers has exceeded resident median income growth, and this can be seen from a 4.2% rise in real gross monthly income in the former group, compared to a 3.4% rise in the latter group.


Direct & Indirect Impacts of Trade Wars

US imposed tariffs on US$34 billion of imports from China. In response, China retaliated with tariffs. Both countries will experience a fall in RGDP growth. However, the effect on US will be less, due to the trade imbalance: China imported US$130 billion of US goods last year, while the US purchased US$506 billion from China.

China and US could also be affected indirectly. Two-thirds of US imports from China come from companies with foreign capital, and thus US tariffs will have an impact on these firms, some of which are American. Additionally, consumer and business confidence may be adversely affected, thus leading to a fall in domestic demand and slower RGDP growth.

Other countries may also become victim of this SINO-US trade war. For instance; South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore are most at risks due to their trade openness. Two third of the goods traded are linked to global supply chains. Through global supply chains, the trade war could also result in a rise of Global Inflation.

us china trade promo Getty

Non-Inclusive Economic Growth in NZ

Despite robust economic growth in NZ, the bottom income earners are still facing a sluggish wage growth. Bulk of the economic growth are enjoyed by K and Land owners.

This could be due to a number of factors. Firstly, technological change and deregulation of labour and product markets have pushed up the incomes of the skilled people (who are usually the high-Y earners) and pushed down the incomes of the unskilled.

Secondly, it is worsened as tax has become less distributive in NZ. Both Y-tax on the higher-Y earners and welfare benefits for the poor have been lowered. Additionally, the rich usually have more power to escape the high taxes they are supposed to be paying. An Inland Revenue research said that “only about half were paying the highest marginal tax rate on their income”, suggests that there is an issue of tax dodging in New Zealand.

Furthermore, rising house prices results in landlords becoming richer while the tenants becoming poorer as they now are subjected to an increased rental fee. This can be see in how the bottom 40% households only account for 3% of the total wealth.


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Profit Push Inflation

In light of rising cost of living, the new Malaysian government has begun casting its eye on Malaysia's monopolies, as it tries to reduce prices of basic goods and services.

The government terminated the monopoly on the distribution of rice in Malaysia, which was held by a company called Bernas. They are also looking into the supply of medicines for public healthcare, and compulsory vehicle inspections currently controlled by Puspakom.

Due to their monopoly power, they are able to limit output and charge high prices, which have resulted in the increase in the general price level of goods & services. This is known as profit-push inflation.
profit push inflation min

Consequences of Trade Deficits

Trade deficit in Philippines has widened as demand for imports surged, mainly due to an increase in purchases of iron, steel, fuel and other raw materials. However, all these are in light of a push for long term growth as President Duterte seeks to build more infrastructure in the country.

As a result, Philippines’ dollar reserves are being depleted, the peso is also weakening. Hence imports are now relatively more expensive which will further worsen trade deficits as demand for those raw materials are price inelastic.

This will also lead to imported cost-push inflation, which can be seen from its record high inflation now.

Trade deficits also often signal a poor outlook for investment and this will cause a capital outflows further worsening the KFA and BOP. This is exacerbated by the recent increase in US i/r, where investors now move their assets out into US so as to seek a higher rate of return.

Nevertheless, as Philippines is expanding its productive capacity through the massive imports of capital good and raw materials, the negative effects could be reversed if infrastructure works stimulate long-term economic growth.

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Destabilising K Flows

Weaknesses in the economy of several developing countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and India lead to a poor confidence among investors resulting in capital outflows as investors seek for higher returns elsewhere.

Furthermore, as economies like Indonesia depreciates its currency to boost exports and shrink trade deficits, it becomes more difficult for the government and firms to service foreign loans, and prompts investors to pull out their money, leading to a further capital outflow.

To counter that, governments could raise i/r, but this makes it difficult for homebuyers and firms to service their mortgage and business loans. Hence, the economy slows down, which leads to more capital outflows and the cycle repeats.

To make matter worse, US is raising their i/r as they undergoes quantitative tightening. As such, investors are now returning to US for a higher rate of return.

Such K outflows further dampens economic growth and can lead to currency and BOP crises. As such, Indonesia is raising tariffs to 10% on over 1000 goods in a move to reduce the import bill.

flying min

Legislation to tackle Negative Externality

Indiscriminate parking of shared bikes has been a tremendous problem in many cities around the world. This represents a negative externally in consumption as well as in production, as it leads to congestion on streets, terrible eye-sores and posing of danger to other pedestrians and riders.

Singapore has chosen to implment various rules and regulations such as licensing bike sharing operators who are subjected to a quota on the number of bikes they can operate as well as amount of time operators have to remove illegally parked bicycles.

These policies appear to be very effective as sights of bikes being indiscriminately parked is rare these days.

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Debt fuelled EG is not sustainable

Thailand is among the biggest borrower in Asia with debt amounting to 12.7 trillion Baht. With household debt rising up to 8% from 2017, which now amounts to ¾ of Thailand’s GDP, it has been increasingly difficult for Thai households to keep up with payment.

In addition, Thailand central bank has increased its I/R, resulting in increased difficulties to repay the debt. This is likely to reduce C resulting in an economic slowdown especially since C plays a crucial role in driving Thailand’s economy, accounting for half of its GDP. In turn, rising bad debts will also lower investor confidence, leading to a fall in I and further reducing EG.

In conclusion, although debt-fueled consumer spending is typically associated with higher economic growth and lower unemployment in the short term, it is unsustainable in the long run.

Debt min

Reversal of K Flows & what Central Bank can do

Due to the increase in the US i/r, investors moved their assets out of Indonesia into the US as they seek higher returns. This led to outflow of short-term capital and a fall in the value of rupiah.

Indonesia central bank has raised its interest four times and engaged in direct market intervention this year. However, these measures have failed and thus the central bank was forced to come up with more innovative measures to increase the value of their currency.

hotmoney min

Agriculture Price Support

India’s government will be introducing a fixed Minimum Support Price (MSP) at 50% over cost. The government promised that farmers will reap the benefits of higher MSP, either via direct procurement of crops or by paying them the difference between MSP and market prices. MSP can immediately increase farmers’ income unlike other longer-term measures for example, through technological advancement.

However, there are implementation difficulties such as coordinated efforts and cost-sharing required between the states and central government. Currently, only about 2-3 of the 23 crops listed for MSP are implemented.

Additionally, given the low scale of production, the margin over cost in the prevailing system of MSP does not generate reasonable income for the farmers. In addition, the breakdown of the cost in agriculture is complex. The imputed cost of farmers’ own family labour, interest on fixed capital and rental value of own rent are difficult to account for when introducing MSP.

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Product Differentiation by Shopping Malls

Consumers are now inclined towards online shopping over the bricks-and-mortar stores. As such, mall owners are differentiating themselves so as to draw in the crowds and increase the sales in their malls.

One of the non-price methods is to create a theme for the mall that the shops can revolve around. Katong Point is one example. Rows of old-school mom-and-pop shops selling textiles, shoes, clothes and provisions, art galleries, bustling co-working spaces and boutique cinemas allow customers to also engage in hands-on activities through workshops.

shopping mall min

Factors Regulators Consider on Whether to Approve a Merger

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) has approved NTUC Enterprise’s proposed acquisition for food centre operator Kopitiam. NTUC Enterprise also owns food centre operator, NTUC Foodfare.

Firstly, the acquisition would not result in a substantial reduction of competition since there will still be at least 5 strong rival operators such as Koufu. The combined market shares of Kopitiam and NTUC Foodfare in most areas range between 30-40%.

Secondly, it was assessed that barriers to entry for the food centre operator industry should remain low and collusions are unlikely to happen. In addition, it was also assessed that food vendors would still have bargaining power.

Lastly, the proposed acquisition would allow NTUC Enterprise to create a more efficient business through reaping more economies of scale. Cost savings could then be passed on to consumers to ensure that food remains affordable, consistent with their mission.

foodfare kopitiam

Dd & SS Effects on Price

Bad weather in Indonesian waters and Malaysia’s export ban has resulted in a fall in Supply of fish in Singapore.

Coupled with an increase in Demand during the festive CNY season, this has resulted in a severe shortage, leading to a spike in fish prices.

For example, the price of a pomfret has risen 67% from $30 to $5o per kg.

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Effects of Pop Growth on SOL

Studies show that population growth in Australia led to a fall in the SOL. Infrastructure built to cater for population growth has inflated the GDP growth but in reality, per capita GDP fell, suggesting a fall in material standard of living (SOL) as population increases.

The increase in traffic congestion, longer traveling time and more pollution in turn resulted in a fall in non-material SOL.

Population 3 min

Effects of Min Wage in Germany

Germany implemented a Min Wage of €8.50 per hour in 2015.

Incomes of low-wage workers did not seem to increase as many seemed to have worked fewer hours. It is not clear if this is due to choice or firms cutting down their hours. There was no significant change in employment but perhaps the fewer hours worked suggest under-employment may have occurred.

There was also no significant change in productivity and no significant effect on inflation. However, there was Significant "black market" as there appeared to be millions of workers still earning below the Min wage. Longer term effects of how firms may switch to automation leading to displacement of workers cannot yet be assessed.

On the whole, it does not seem helpful though outcomes have not been that detrimental either.


Good Deflation in Switzerland

Despite deflation, Switzerland had low unemployment rate and expected economic growth of 1-1.5%. Wages fells but the fall in prices mean that purchasing power can increase.

This is possibly a case of a good deflation where aggregate supply increased (due to advancement in tech, increased productivity).


Structural Unemployment in Germany

Domestically produced coal lost its price competitiveness when cheaper coal imports from other countries began to outcompete German production. In addition, the transition towards renewable energy would cost another several thousand jobs in the Ruhr Valley. Unemployment rates exceed 10% in some cities. Many of these workers lack the skills to shift to other sectors.

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Stagflation in Argentina

Argentina’s economy faced a period of stagflation in 2016. Annual inflation hovered at around 40%, coupled with recession, has eroded household purchasing power of 12%.

All these were caused by mismanagement of macroeconomic policies (such as the increase in money SS to finance fiscal deficit which has worsened inflation) and serious accusations of corruptions (which led to fall in consumers' confidence).


FTAs help attract FDI

With the signing of the EU Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) in October 2018, an influx of FDI into Singapore is expected.

Firms, such as UK's Dyson and Japan’s big shipping lines are relocating their head offices here in Singapore.

The FTA opens up new market opportunities for these firms, and in turn these FDIs will benefit the Singapore economy.

FTA min

Economic Growth May Not Mean Economic Development

The United States’ performance, ranking 23rd on the Inclusive Development Index, is rather uneven. Indicators relating to Growth and Development are driving the country’s performance in the Index. The country performs relatively better on measures of GDP per capita, labor productivity and employment. However, average healthy life expectancy is among the lowest in advanced economies and is lagging behind most other advanced economies in economic inclusion (28th). Poverty rates in the country have been falling but remain among the highest in advanced economies at 16.3%, surpassed only by Israel (19.3%).

FTA min

Carbon Price Incentivising Sustainable Production

A British Carbon Tax imposed since 2013 has led to 90+% drop in coal-fired electricity as power generators switch to less-emitting inputs like natural gas.

This shows how policies that create a carbon price can incentivise sustainable production and reduce the Marginal External Costs (MEC) generated.


Developing Economies Pushback on Climate Goals

Indonesia and Malaysia threatening to stop palm oil supplies to EU after EU passed legislation against deforestation practices (which Malaysia and Indonesia had actually already pledged to stop).

So tough to solve climate change issues! Pushback from other countries as expected when their interests are hurt. Really need a mechanism for developed countries to help developing countries achieve more economic growth and development if they can commit to measures like zero deforestation. It is a bit like in economics where subsidies can help internalise the positive externalities.

These are samples of what Mr Kelvin Hong provides to his students. School teachers who would like to use them can submit a request to Mr Kelvin Hong via our Contact page.