The following collection of resource links is taken directly from the teachers’ guide for Economics for Canadians. To better support the revised edition printed in the fall of 2021, I intend to update the list by the fall of 2022.
I am placing it on the website to assist teachers (and students) who may wish to access the clips and articles directly while using the computer (without having to tediously type in URLs).
The resources are organized by lesson, in ascending order. Question sheets to accompany some of the videos are to be found at the bottom of this page.
If you find any dead links, please write to me and let me know so that I can revive them. One general resource I would like to recommend is this list of resources to help students visualize economics courtesy of the California Council on Economic Education:
Lesson 3 Different Economic Systems
It might be interesting to go into the example of North Korea in more detail as an example of a command economy. A short video (“State of Mind” from the BBC, 2009) can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSrcLC6Zz54
A longer documentary made just as the Soviet Union was about to collapse entitled “The Engineer’s Plot” (part of the “Pandora’s Box” series by Adam Curtis) can be found here (in parts):
This article from “Slate” is interesting in that it looks directly at the question of why North Korea has had a succession of famines:
Similarly, it might be interesting to look at a clip about a traditional economy, such as this one which looks at how lower caste people in India are condemned to work in the sewers:
Lesson 4 The Evolution of Economic Thought
An amusing rap that explores the differences between J.M. Keynes and F.A. Hayek can be found at:
Lesson 5 Economics as a Social Science
The idea that starting out with faulty assumptions will result in a seriously flawed model can be examined more closely using the documentary series “The Trap” by Adam Curtis, in particular the episode that looks at the genesis of game theory and how John Nash took the assumptions of game theory (which was designed to understand games between opponents) and perhaps erroneously applied them to economics. The relevant episode can be found here, and the bit on Nash starts at around the 11 minute mark.
Recent financial crises can also be ascribed at least in part to faulty modelling. First, here is an article about the Black-Scholes formula (which led to an explosion in derivatives trading)…
…and another about “The Formula That Killed Wall Street” (which led traders to misprice risk):
Lesson 7 The Benefits of Knowing Economics
An excellent article that was recently written by the economist Kenneth Rogoff and published in the Financial Times (London) entitled “Our ignorance will yield more crises in capitalism” further supports the case that economic education is of great importance. The article (which I think would be a great catalyst for class discussion) can be found here:
Lesson 16 Elasticity and the Price Elasticity of Demand
Recent articles about gasoline consumption in the US and Canada falling as a result of higher prices also might help to make this topic more ‘real’. A recent one can be found at:
Lesson 18 Other Elasticities of Demand
Different restaurant chains are an interesting way to see the influence of YED. In North America, recessions usually lead to upscale chains like Chilis and TGI Fridays losing sales while McDonald’s gains customers. The two articles below may be of interest:
Lesson 21 Price Controls
There are a lot of real-life examples of price controls that may be good to look into with students. Looking at price floors, the supply management system that is used by dairy and poultry farmers in Canada might be worth looking into, as in with this article:
Maple syrup producers in Quebec, meanwhile, operate a buffer stock scheme which is alluded to in this article:
When it comes to price ceilings, the most common example that makes the news is rent controls.
Lesson 23 Externalities as a Source of Market Failure
Externalities are a fascinating topic that is often in the news, albeit most often without being named. The article below looks at externalities to do with the two recent pipeline proposals to get unconventional oil from the Alberta tar sands to market.
Lesson 24 Policy Responses to Externality Problems
It might be fun here to introduce “Pigovian taxes”, named after the French economist Arthur Pigou. An explanation of them may be found here:
Almost all excise or ‘sin’ taxes can be framed as attempts to compensate for negative externalities. The example of Britain imposing minimum prices on alcohol sold in supermarkets is often framed as an attempt to curb the spill-over effects of binge drinking, especially among young people.
Lesson 26 Other Sources of Market Failure: Monopoly Power and Asymmetric Information
For monopoly power, the solution has often been for governments to regulate prices for monopolies, and in particular utility companies. This has been an issue in Alberta recently, as shown by the article below:
Lesson 27 The Tragedy of the Commons (and other environmental applications of market failure)
Climate change and the policies designed to arrest climate change are ‘hot’ (forgive the pun) topics that may warrant further investigation. I would highly recommend the work on climate change published by the Copenhagen Consensus group led by Bjorn Lomborg, which can be found here:
As well, the Munk debate on the issue is also quite good:
Lastly, the following articles looks at the pollution permit schemes that have been in place for a number of years in the US and the EU:
Lesson 29 Further Relationships between Revenues, Costs and Profits
The idea of companies staying in business even when they are making losses, as to shut down would be even more expensive, can be illustrated well with the following article:
The article may also be useful when studying lesson 31 on natural monopolies.
Lesson 31 Market Structure 2 – Monopoly
There are some interesting monopolies in Canada, mainly in the agricultural sector. Recently, a lot of attention has been paid to the elimination of the Canadian Wheat Board, which enjoyed a monopoly on the sale and export of Canadian wheat from prairie farmers. As well, the failed takeover bid by BHP Billiton for Potash Corp. drew attention to that near-monopoly. A good article about the potash industry is here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/potash/canpotex-and-potash-the-monopoly-behind-the-mineral/article1778912/
Lesson 32 Price Discrimination
Sadly, price discrimination is something we are all familiar with. The article below by Tim Harford, the author of “The Undercover Economist”, looks at price discrimination in the retail coffee trade:
Lesson 34 Market Structure 4 – Oligopoly
For more about John Nash and the birth of game theory, please look at the following clip from “A Beautiful Mind:”
From “The Godfather”, the scene where the heads of the families meet to arrange a truce (and discuss whether or not to peddle narcotics) is a classic:
For more about “The Prisoner’s Dilemma” the documentary “The Trap” has a nice explanation of it as well as the evolution of game theory from military to economic to societal applications:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAE-xqFr0iQ (the relevant bit is after the 8 minute mark)
Lesson 35 Corporate Concentration in Canada
The move by the current government to eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly on the sale and export of Canadian wheat has caused a lot of debate and a few court challenges. One interesting opinion about the issue is here:
A more general article about how monopolies are destroying open markets appeared in the February 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine. The article has an excellent bit about how chicken processors engage in very opaque and anti-competitive practices at the expense of poultry farmers in the U.S.
The relative safety of the Canadian banking system is highlighted in this short article:
Lesson 36 Different Forms of Productive Enterprise
Again, the documentary “The Corporation” may be worth looking at to reinforce what it is about a corporation that makes it different from other forms of business organization.
Another interesting documentary is “The Take” which looks at employee cooperatives founded in Argentina after the economic collapse there in 2001.
A good explanation as to why corporations have become the dominant form of productive enterprise can be found in Joseph Heath’s book, “Filthy Lucre.”
Lesson 37 The Labour Market
The minimum wage debate is a perennial one. A good article about minimum wages in Canada can be found here:
For more information on federal programs designed to enhance labour market participation, in particular by disadvantaged minority groups, look here:
Lesson 38 Labour in Canada
A wonderful documentary about the labour movement in Canada is called “12000 Men” (http://www.onf-nfb.gc.ca/eng/collection/film/?id=12936). It is quite old but the history it tells of the mine and steel workers in Nova Scotia and their struggles gives a good perspective on the need that unions filled in the late 19th and early 20th century.
A decent article about the recent Canada Post strike (and the move by management to impose a two-tier wage structure on employees) can be found here:
And a general article on the state of organized labour in Canada can be found here:
Lesson 39 Capital Markets
The best article I have ever run across that looks at the liquidity cycle and the role of financial and capital markets in the business cycle can be found here:
A wonderful book about financial booms and busts is “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” which was written by the Scotsman Charles Mackay in 1841. It looks at the bubble created by John Law’s Mississippi Company in France and the South Sea bubble in England in the 1700s, which are not so very different than contemporary asset price manias (dotcom stocks in the 1990s etc.).
Lesson 40 The Problem of the Great Depression and the Birth of Macroeconomics
Throughout this entire section, I recommend that you view the documentary series “The Commanding Heights” and in particular, the episode entitled “The Battle of Ideas”. It can be viewed here:
In the wake of the global financial crisis, Keynes’ ideas have come back into vogue (not that they ever really left). An excellent article on this by Keynes’ biographer, Robert Skidelsky, can be found here:
Lesson 41 Measuring the Size of the Macro-economy
The article below looks at the underground economy in legal goods and services (ie not counting drugs and prostitution), which is estimated to account for around 3% of Canada’s GDP:
Lesson 42 The Business Cycle
The business cycle is a very interesting sub-topic of economics. I would recommend the following articles explaining the Austrian school’s understanding of the business cycle, Kondratieff “long wave” business cycles, and the difference between standard recessions and deleveraging events such as is taking place now.
Lesson 43 Modelling the Macro-economy – Aggregate Demand and Aggregate Supply
Below please find an interesting article I ran across this year explaining the perils and difficulties that attend the teaching of aggregate supply shocks:
Lesson 44 More about Keynes and Keynesian Demand Management
Again, the documentary “The Commanding Heights” program one “The Battle of Ideas” does an excellent job of looking at Keynes and the historical context of the ‘high water mark’ of Keynesianism in the postwar era from the 1940s to the 1970s.
An interesting modern Keynesian is Ben Bernanke, current chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in the U.S. His somewhat pejorative nickname, “Helicopter Ben” refers to the idea that, to correct a recession, it is only necessary to overcome the perception that money is scarce and to be hoarded. This can be done by increasing the money supply and encouraging inflation. This can be most easily envisioned as a person dropping $100 bills out of a helicopter. Somewhat ironically, though, the ‘dropping money from a helicopter’ image was first conjured by Milton Friedman, the chief proponent of monetarist economics, in the 1970s.
Lesson 46 The Problem of Unemployment
The problem of unemployment is a serious one. The bit in “The Commanding Heights” that looks at the consequences of the near-elimination of the coal mining industry in Britain on old coal mining towns and districts is very good. The problem of discouraged workers is a serious one in countries such as the US which have had high unemployment for a number of years. A good article looking at the negative consequences of long-term cyclical unemployment can be found here:
The fear is that if people are out of work for too long, they suffer a permanent drop in productivity and potential income, which has a negative impact on long-run aggregate supply. On the other hand, people pursuing education and training in response to higher unemployment may increase productivity in the long run, as explained in this article, which also has a good explanation of why some professions (engineering, law) have very cyclical employment patterns (the ‘cobweb model’ of market equilibrium):
Lesson 47 Policy Responses to Unemployment
There are several articles by Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and others advocating for more government action to reduce both cyclical and structural unemployment in the US. In general, governments in the US, Canada and around the world employed stimulus spending to address what was at first thought to be a cyclical slowdown. However, as the slowdown has persisted and is now more widely understood to be a longer-term phenomenon (debt deleveraging) more comprehensive solutions to the problem of unemployment are being discussed. A good article discussing the policy options facing governments in developed countries can be found here:
Lesson 48 Money and Banking
Niall Ferguson’s series “The Ascent of Money” is quite a good introduction to money and banking. Episode 1 in particular is worthwhile as it looks at the birth of modern banking in Italy.
Lesson 49 The Problem of Unstable Prices (Inflation and Deflation)
We have totally gotten used to inflation but sustained inflation such as we take for granted is an entirely post-war (dare I say Keynesian?) phenomenon. The article(originally printed in “The Economist”) below has some great graphs that show long run price stability from the 1600s to the 1930s in the UK followed by accelerating price inflation:
After the collapse of a spectacular property and stock market bubble in around 1990, Japan has experienced a sustained period of price deflation. A good article looking at how Japanese households and firms have adapted to this can be found here:
Again, “The Commanding Heights” has some good bits on inflation in 1920s Germany and in the 1970s in the US and the UK.
Lesson 50 Measuring Inflation and Associated Problems
There is a very vigorous debate about the methodology being used to calculate inflation now as compared to in the past. John Williams at Shadow Government Statistics (http://www.shadowstats.com/) tracks inflation and other government statistics using older methods and has found that, were older reporting and calculating methodologies to be used, current inflation (and unemployment) figures would be higher. The advantages to governments of misreporting inflation data to the downside would be considerable – less pressure to raise interest rates from investors, and so lower interest payments on government bonds, as well as a steady decline (or arrested increase) in real wages which would enhance international competitiveness (as often pay increases for unionized and other workers are tied to inflation).
On the other hand, other thinkers wonder if official inflation statistics consistently over-state inflation due to some of the issues mentioned in the lesson. For instance, people do respond to price changes, so if a certain good or service increases in price, people do shift to cheaper substitutes. Thus, if both the entire price increase and the original weighting of the good or service is used when calculating the consumer price index, the result would likely consistently overstate inflation. A recent article about a recent move by Statistics Canada to correct a potential bias in their statistics can be found here:
The thing is, doing a good job with statistics is important. If a government tries to massage and fudge statistics too often or too blatantly, they become irrelevant, as the following article about Argentina’s inflation statistics explores:
Lesson 51 The Phillips Curve and Goodhart’s Law
A detailed explanation of the historical context of the Phillips Machine can be found here:
The hubris of policymakers enthralled with the idea of the economy as a machine to be tinkered with is wonderfully captured in the documentary “The League of Gentlemen” from the “Pandora’s Box” series by Adam Curtis. At the end of this documentary there is also a great interview where Charles Goodhart talks about how, the best an economist can do is to not mess things up too much.
Lesson 52 The Goal of Equity (Fairness)
It might be useful to have students look at a real income tax package to see the progressive brackets. A good article about GINI coefficients and equity in Singapore can be found here:
A good article about the probably impact of government austerity measures on Canadian equity is here:
A listing of the arguments of prominent economists against inequality can be found here:
Lesson 53 The Goal of Growth
An interesting debate has taken place since the 1970s concerning the centrality of growth in economic policy making. Traditionally, growth was looked at as a panacea. The “Pandora’s Box” episode “The League of Gentlemen” referred to in lesson 51 illustrates this very clearly. Both Labour and Conservative platforms promised growth, as growth was (and still is) seen as bringing with it employment, rising incomes, stable prices and better-financed public services.
However, since the Club of Rome report entitled “The Limits to Growth” was published in 1972, the concept of sustainable economic growth has begun to influence policy as well. A good debate entitled “Beyond GDP – how can we measure progress?” can be found here:
Lesson 54 The Goal of Efficiency and International Competitiveness
Articles about Canada’s perpetual productivity challenges can be found in many places, but one that stands out is this one:
Lesson 55 Fiscal Policy (a closer look)
The big fiscal policy debate in Canada used to revolve around deficits and debts, but the efforts of the Liberals under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin to restore Canada’s federal government to fiscal health has moved that debate to the background. A good article comparing their efforts in the 1990s to the steps the US may have to take in the near future can be found here:
Now the big debate has to do with the taxing powers and spending responsibilities of the three levels of government. Cities in particular are feeling that they need more taxing power in order to address the challenges of ageing infrastructure while the provincial governments feel they need more money to adequately fund health care and education. A good discussion of this issue can be found here:
Lesson 56 Monetary Policy (a closer look)
An article looking at the challenges of conducting monetary policy in a zero-rate environment is here:
Lesson 57 The Policy Balance (a historical view)
Again, the documentary “The Battle of Ideas” from the series “The Commanding Heights” gives a wonderful overview of the global economy in the post-war era.
Two articles that give a good overview of the strengths and limitations of fiscal and monetary policy can be found here:
As well, the documentary “The League of Gentlemen” ends with a wonderful bit about how, while Britain was fiddling with fiscal and monetary policy, other European nations were improving education and infrastructure and encouraging investment, and so were able to overtake the UK economically.
Lesson 58 Canada and the Global Economy
The figures for Canada’s trading partners and major exports and imports were taken from “The Economist” magazine’s “Pocket World in Figures” which can be ordered here:
Similar figures are also available from Statistics Canada at this website:
There is increasing concern that Canada’s exports are increasingly composed of raw materials and commodities, in particular petroleum and metals. A good article looking at this, and the growing impact of oil wealth on the national government, can be found here:
While efforts to diversify trade away from the US and towards Asia are looked at in this article:
Lesson 59 International Trade Theory – Absolute and Comparative Advantage
A wonderful article explaining absolute and comparative advantage can be found here:
Lesson 60 Arguments for Free Trade and Protectionism
Some examples of recent trade disputes involving some of the arguments given in the lesson are below. The first article is about a US tariff imposed on imports of Chinese-made tires in response to alleged dumping.
The second article is about the protracted legal fight between Airbus and Boeing over the subsidies each gets from their respective governments.
Lesson 63 Arguments against Free Trade and Protectionism
A very good article questioning free trade can be found here:
While an equally good article propounding the benefits of free trade (aka questioning protectionism) can be found here:
Evidence of ‘tit for tat’ trade restrictions are never hard to find, but an article about French election year posturing in favour of a ‘buy European’ policy can be found here:
Lesson 65 Exchange Rates 1 – Freely Floating Exchange Rates
The debate about whether growing demand for Canadian resource exports is leading to de-industrialization is explored in this article:
Lesson 67 Exchange Rates 2 – Fixed and Managed Exchange Rates
The Euro, as a common currency, is an extreme example of a fixed-exchange rate regime. Background into why the Euro is currently experiencing difficulties can be found here:
Currently very few countries have fixed exchange rates, notably Hong Kong, Vietnam and most of the states in the Persian Gulf. All of these countries fix their currencies to the US dollar. An interesting article about a recent devaluation of the Vietnamese dong can be found here:
A great clip showing the failure of the Bank of England to defend the value of the pound at the value set by the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in 1993 against currency traders led by George Soros can be found in episode 4 of the documentary series “The Mayfair Set” in the following clip:
Lesson 68 Current Account Deficits and Surpluses
An important and interesting example of a managed exchange rate regime comes from the People’s Republic of China. This managed exchange rate has led to a persistent current account surplus for many years, and repeated calls by the governments of its major trading partners (notably the US and the EU) to allow its currency, the yuan or renminbi, to appreciate. An article looking into American attempts to have China labelled a ‘currency manipulator’ in order to justify trade restrictions can be found here:
Regarding the perpetual US current account deficit, while most articles decry it and hold that it needs to come down, the article below offers the interesting thesis that as the US dollar is the global reserve currency, persistent US current account deficits are necessary in order to increase the global money supply in order to support growing international trade.
The Euro-zone crisis can be seen as one of current account deficits and surpluses as well. The perpetual deficits of countries like Greece are mirrored by the surpluses of countries like Germany. The use of a common currency will tend to make internationally competitive German goods attractive to others and uncompetitive Greek goods unattractive. In Canada, the analogy would be the existence of ‘have’ and ‘have-not’ provinces, the difference being, of course, that our provinces are not nations but are subject to one set of federal regulatory and fiscal policies as well as a common monetary policy.
Lesson 69 Global Imbalances and the Global Financial Crisis
This article is a good one that looks at the rise of the Chinese renminbi as a global currency:
Lesson 70 Economic Integration 1 – Globalization and the World Trade Organization
Globalization is a wonderfully rich topic. A great documentary on globalization is “The Commanding Heights – The New Rules of the Game” which can be seen here:
Some excellent articles on various aspects of globalization can be found here:
The forces driving globalization
Technology (specifically, container ships)
Finance (specifically excess liquidity)
The challenges of globalization and the myths surrounding globalization
The ways in which globalization makes life easier for nimble international terrorists and criminals
The challenges facing the WTO (especially in an environment marked by recession and consequent pressures to engage in protectionism to preserve domestic jobs) are looked at well here:
Lesson 71 Economic Integration 2- Regionalization and Trading Blocs
The world is increasingly defined by three major trading blocs – NAFTA, the EU and East Asia. A good article looking at these three blocs can be found here:
An article critical of bilateral deals in favour of multilateral trade negotiations can be found here:
A good website that looks critically at regional and bilateral trade negotiations and agreements is:
Lesson 72 The Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2011 – Part One – Essentials and Prologue
There are some very good articles and video clips available to bring this lesson to life. First, it might be good to understand the Bretton Woods plan to set fixed currency exchange rates relative to the USD:
A good book review of “Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System” by Barry Eichengreen, which looks at the role of the dollar as a reserve currency and questions whether it will retain this role going into the future is here:
The following clip shows Nixon’s press conference in which he suspends the right of foreign governments to convert US dollars into gold, as set out in the original Bretton Woods system that made the US dollar the global reserve currency.
Lastly, “The Commanding Heights” episode “The Battle of Ideas” does a good job of explaining Bretton Woods as well as the decision to raise interest rates to over 20% in order to combat inflation in the late 1970s:
The book “The Lords of Finance” by Liaquat Ahamed about the central bankers of the USA, Great Britain, France and Germany in the period after World War I is a good read as well with quite a lot of applicability to the current global situation. The situation facing the world economy after WWI was an excess of debt which the US, the dominant creditor nation, was unwilling to forgive to the degree necessary to accommodate European economic recovery. So as not to draw savings away from Europe, the US found it necessary to keep interest rates low throughout the 1920s. This had the unintended consequence of stimulating a speculative boom in the US stock market which, when it turned to bust, eliminated a great deal of wealth on both sides of the Atlantic. Subsequent bank failures in both Europe and American continued to destroy liquidity and led to the general deflation of the Great Depression. The review of the book from “The Economist” can be found here:
Probably the most important thinker to go to in order to understand the financial crisis is Hyman Minsky. His basic thesis is that stability itself is destabilizing.
A clear explanation of Minsky’s basic thesis can be seen here:
If you would prefer to read a short treatment of Minsky’s thesis, this piece from the New Yorker, presciently published before even the collapse of Bear Stearns, is quite good:
Lesson 73 The Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2011 – Part Two – The Years of Confidence
The episode “The New Rules of the Game” from the documentary series “The Commanding Heights” does a good job explaining the various international financial crises of the 1990s (the Peso crisis of 1994 and the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997) and the problem of moral hazard that those bailouts presented to officials in the US government and the IMF.
A review of a book the thesis of which is that the lessons of the Savings and Loans scandal of the late 1980s and early 1990s were not learned, leading to the current financial crisis, can be found here:
This last article, written at the height of the recent financial crisis in 2008, offers a good look at the problem of moral hazard:
Lesson 74 The Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2011 – Part Three – Enter Fraud
There are a number of good documentaries looking at the financial frauds perpetrated over the past 20 years. Two that stand out are “The Smartest Guys in the Room” which looks at the Enron story and “Inside Job” about corruption in the financial industry leading up to the 2008 crisis and beyond. While “Inside Job” is not readily available online, “The Smartest Guys in the Room” can be found here:
A very good little video outlining the securitization process that led to the sub-prime mortgage collapse can be found here (However, as it does employ the ‘F’ word a couple of times, use with discretion):
Matt Taibbi’s most-quoted article about Goldman Sachs (the “Vampire Squid” article) can be found at:
…while a blog post about the MF Global collapse can be found at:
…while a wonderful recent article looking at the true size and nature of the 2008 bank bailouts can be found here:
A more detailed article about the MF Global scandal written by a commodities broker can be found at:
Lesson 75 The Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2011 – Part Four – Going Forward
Probably the best article I have seen concerning the capture of the US government by the financial industry and drawing parallels to the crony capitalism he worked to correct in countries like Indonesia during his tenure with the IMF is “The Quiet Coup” by Simon Johnson. It can be found here:
A wonderful little video clip from the time of the Great Depression outlining the benefits of inflation in the aftermath of a financial crash can be found here:
Overall, the best article I have seen outlining the great deleveraging to come was written by Ray Dalio, a hedge fund manager. The article “An In-Depth Look at Deleveragings” can be found here:
while an article on his thinking in “The Economist” along with an interview can be found here:
Parallels with Japan’s experience since 1990 usually make for sombre reading. A good article looking at the problem of zombie banks can be found here:
Lesson 76 Introduction to Economic Growth and Development
Calculating and using purchasing power exchange rates will be clearer if students have a look at the grand-daddy of PPP rate indexes, the “Big Mac Index” from “The Economist” magazine. The Big Mac Index from July 201 can be found here:
The episode “The Agony of Reform” from “The Commanding Heights” series has a nice bit near the beginning that looks at the share of Soviet GDP accounted for by military spending.
Lesson 77 The Development Cycle
There are a few great articles about the role of institutions and governance in economic development that are, to me, essential reading for students:
“Roots of Development” – a look at how geography has influenced institutions which have in turn influenced prospects for economic development
“Why Poor Countries Are Poor” by Tim Harford of “The Undercover Economist” fame – a look at how poor institutions lead to waste and corruption
“The Mystery of Development” by Robert Cooper – an analysis of why economic development is impossible without political development leading to political legitimacy
Lesson 78 Different Theories of Development
The Staples Thesis of Harold Innis is well explained here:
Japan’s economic development, financed through land taxes, is explained in the book below as well as in some Wikipedia articles:
The Harrod-Domar model is explored in this very interesting development simulation exercise:
Lastly, the ideas of Hernando De Soto and Lim Chong Yah can be found on these websites:
Lesson 79 The Role of Domestic Factors
Many of the articles mentioned in the notes for lesson 77 are relevant to this lesson as well. For an explanation of microcredit schemes, please have a look at the following video clip promoting a movie on the founder of the first microfinance bank (Grameen Bank), Mohammed Yunus:
A good video that looks at the changes in Cuban agriculture after they no longer had access to cheap oil and fertilizer is here:
Lesson 80 Trade as a Development Strategy
A great article that looks at how developing nations are shut out of potentially lucrative export markets by subsidies granted to sugar farmers in the US and the EU is here:
However, many development activists and thinkers discourage nations from exploring the gains that can be had by liberalizing trade, as outlined in this article:
For details on Canada’s own import substitution policy in the 1800s (Sir John A. MacDonald’s National Policy), have a look at this article which regards the policy favorably:
Lesson 81 The Role of Foreign Direct Investment
A great video that looks at the perils of foreign direct investment in countries that have poor institutions is “Black Power” from the “Pandora’s Box” series by Adam Curtis. It looks at the Akosombo dam project on the Volta River in Ghana, and how the Keiser Aluminum Company managed to become the dam’s primary beneficiary.
Strong arguments looking at the benefits of attracting MNCs and their FDI can be found in the book “How the East Was Won” by Charles Paul Lewis. An article summarizing the arguments in the book and applying the lessons to Africa can be found here:
Lastly, the article below looks at how Singapore goes out of its way to attract MNCs:
Lesson 82 The Aid Debate
The book “Dead Aid” by Dambisa Moyo is a powerful argument against aid that is taken quite for granted in many developing countries in Africa. A great interview conducted by Guernica magazine is referenced here:
Her performance in the Munk Debate on foreign aid is also well worth watching. Helping her is Hernando De Soto, while Paul Collier and Stephen Lewis debate the case that foreign aid is helpful:
The idea that an ‘aid lobby’ or ‘aid industry’ exists (again, an opinion that is not controversial in developing countries in the least) is explored in this article:
A great 2-part documentary that looks at the pressures brought to bear on the government of Uganda by the IMF and the World Bank is entitled “The Bank, the President, and the Pearl of Africa” can be sourced here but is sadly not available online:
Lastly, this article looks at the scandal of tied aid:
Lesson 83 The Problem of Indebtedness
The documentary “The Commanding Heights” Episode 3, “The New Rules of the Game” looks at the IMF and its structural adjustment programs when looking at the Asian financial crisis of 1997:
An interview with John Perkins on Al Jazeera can be found here:
Debt forgiveness for developing nations is being explored by several rich-country governments as well as the IMF and the World Bank. A very good overview of the causes of the debt crisis and the logic of debt forgiveness can be found here:
The Canadian government has set aside money for debt forgiveness, as shown in this news release:
Lesson 84 The Balance between Markets and Government in promoting Economic Development
Episode 2 of “The Commanding Heights” (“The Agony of Reform”) does a good job explaining the problems of the Indian economy under central planning (and import substitution – lesson 80):
The short documentary “Singapore – a success story” looks at the elements (both private and governmental) that contributed to its rapid economic development:
(it is also a good documentary to illustrate the strengths of export promotion from lesson 80)
The website devoted to Paul Romer’s charter city idea can be found here:
A great article that looks at how development gains now are now possible with much lower increases in GDP per capita due to advances in science and technology can be found here:
While another article looking at the Brazilian city of Curitiba looks at how frugal municipal governments can do a lot to improve the lives of their people with very little if they use intelligence and imagination:
Lesson 85 The Challenge of Economic Development for Aboriginal Canadians
This lesson should ideally be supported by a wide variety of resources, preferably looking at nearby aboriginal communities.
A good general article looking at the challenges facing aboriginal Canadians and at some communities that are successfully overcoming such challenges can be found here:
A good documentary video by the National Film Board about the impact of the development of the Voisey Bay nickel deposit in Labrador entitled “Eye of the Storm” can be ordered here:
A good article looking at the success of Osoyoos band under the leadership of Chief Clarence Louie can be found here:
An article explaining the basis of the band’s economic success in terms of property rights (through the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management) and responsible government can be found here:
Lastly, an article looking at how some bands and businesses are establishing healthy long-term relationships in the pursuit of sustainable economic development can be found here:
Documentary Question Sheets:
Below please find some additional exercises, organized in order from microeconomics to macroeconomics to international economics. Over time, more exercises will be added.
Below please find some quizzes and tests. Other quizzes and tests may be found on the “Additional Exercises” page.
Economics for Canadians by Bryce McBride is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.