you will be asked to prepare a brief report on a contemporary economic issue, based
on an article of your choice drawn from the news media.
You work as an adviser to a Member of Parliament who has been appointed to the
Standing Committee on Economics for a forthcoming Inquiry into a particular issue.
Despite his appointment to the Standing Committee, this Member of Parliament has
never taken a course in economics. Because he knows that you have taken it
he has asked that you provide him with a 1000-page report on:
(1) the basic economic
concepts underlying this real-world issue, and
(2) the alternative perspectives that other
members of the Standing Committee might present.
You do not need to support either side of a debate when writing your report.
You simply need to explain the issue to a non-expert, addressing the major questions they
might find relevant. (The ‘Case Studies’ throughout the course textbook of( principels of microeconomics 6th edition )are a helpful)
You should demonstrate your ability to explain the economic concepts relevant
to the issue in the news article and also to suggest why a ‘textbook’ argument might be
challenged by other members of the Committee.
3 Defining the Issue
The issue facing the Standing Committee will come from
a news article from any
published over the past decade or so. Obviously, arti-
cles from the past few years are likely to be more interesting, and easier to find.
Be wary about using articles which already explain much of the economic content
at a level similar to that of the textbook. You should not spend your 1000 words just rewriting the news article. Instead it might be easier to find an issue from the general press (daily newspapers, news websites) and elaborate on the economic content in
them, Publications you might consider using
Australian news: The Australian, ABC News, The Australian Financial Review,
The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian
World news: The FT, The Economist, BBC News, The Wall Street Journal, The
New York Times, Reuters
Others: The Economics subreddit, or any reputable economics blogs from which
lessons involving the foundations of microeconomics might be drawn.
4 An Example
Due to pressure applied by gold mining interests in your country, suppose that the
Standing Committee on Economics was asked to investigate the behaviour of the gold
price in recent years. The following article from The Economist summarises miners’
In preparing a briefing based on this article, you might start by making a list of
questions that you think your boss, the Member of Parliament, would want answers
to. You do not need to state what questions you are attempting to answer; rather, they
should serve as an outline for you in writing your paper.
In analysing this particular article, the following questions might be relevant:
1. How has the gold price moved over the past few years?
2. Why do people invest in gold and in what times is gold more desirable as a store
3. What factors have caused the gold price to fall to its current level?
4. What does the author mean by the phrase ‘lower interest rates cut the opportunity
cost of owning gold’?
5. In what countries is gold in higher demand than others? Why?
6. What are the long-term prospects for gold miners? If gold prices remained low,
who would win and lose? What are the ‘textbook’ implications for welfare of
protecting the losers from a low gold price, and what assumptions are we mak-
ing/breaking if we follow/abandon the textbook prescriptions?
Diagrams accompanying the important points you make would strongly support