Saturday, 30 November 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : Week 9

Week 9

30 Nov

TMA week

  • RepeatTMA 02

    The revision week has actually been a really good addition to the course study plan, especially with having the online tutorial mid-week.  It has provided a bit of time to actually stop and think about what we have be reading about rather than charge straight in to the TMA, usually behind schedule and out of time.

    Possibly as a result of this the TMA has is coming together fairly easily, 1300 words down already so a week to finish, tidy-up and edit.

    However, in order to answer the question there does seem to be a lot of repetition of stuff covered in the text book and tutorials, and the tutorial on Mind Maps which I wouldn't normally have looked at pretty much takes you through the essay plan blow by blow, so although I won't necessarily be sticking to it 100%, you'd be daft not to base most of the TMA on this plan.

    Maybe all first course essays are like this, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of latitude in the word count to discuss much more than we have been spoon-fed by the course. I'll keep writing till I hit 1700 words or so and then start trimming and seeing what I've missed or need to add.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : First online tutorial using Blackboard Collaborate

We had the first online tutorial last night which was done using the application 'Blackboard Collaborate'. The tutorial was much better than the ones we experienced on A222 using 'Elluminate', as that application didn't feel fully developed as it always seemed to be full of problems.

The 'Blackboard Collaborate' program takes a bit of downloading and sorting out, so you really need to do this and check it prior to the tutorial. I tested this last week and everything seemed fine, but signing in to the tutorial took much longer than on the test, so maybe the authentication slows down when many people are online, subsequently there were still people joining the group within the first 15 minutes, but other than the slow start it went very well. 

This was a cluster group so there were students there from other tutorial groups which made things more interesting. After going over specific questions that had been submitted by students, we were put into virtual rooms to discuss monetary and fiscal policy. This went reasonably well although as with these things the chat seemed to be dominated by a few, while others chose not to join in at all.

So I now feel a bit more confident about what is required in the TMA, and this was all achieved while sitting at home watching Manchester City v Viktoria Plzen, so a big thumbs up to online tutorials.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : iCMA41 submitted

I've had a bit of a marathon weekend of study, well I need to as things get a bit busy socially over the week couple of weeks, so in between the televised football matches (and sometimes during them) I have been cracking through the iCMA questions at the same time as going through the online tutorials.

There are some questions which are really straightforward, and some which take a bit more thought than others, then some questions which could possibly be worded a lot better. Anyway, I have worked through them, checked them and I'm pretty confident in all of them, bar maybe three.

So in order to put the iCMA to bed, and therefore allow me to concentrate fully on the TMA,  I have submitted it.

I was then hugely disappointed that it wasn't marked immediately, but I guess I should have known this. But it makes me ask the question why we are asked to submit the iCMA at all if there is no advantage to submitting early, i.e. you get your mark immediately, and there is absolutely no extensions to the cut off date, why doesn't the OU just take the answers you have saved to the website at the cut off deadline as your submission. Why the unnecessary charade of having to go through a submission process for data they already have?

Oh well, if I find out I have done something wrong it is too late now to do anything about it, but on the plus side one less distraction to writing the TMA.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : Week 8

Week 8

23 Nov
  • Website contentWeek 8: Revision week

    Finally caught up and am now with the suggested study schedule, which is a relief, but I wonder if it was worth the effort as we now have a weeks revision and then a week to write the TMA, there is also a fortnight off over Christmas, and the last couple of chapters could have been a lot shorter if it had simply stated the formula and explained the diagrams. 

    All in all the course feels a bit sparse.

    The iCMA can be done in conjunction with the tutorials and there should really be no reason not to get all the answers correct, so the main task for the next week is to get stuck in to the TMA, reading the question would be a good start.

    At least the course is interesting and seems relevant, I just wish there was more of it.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : Week 7, second tutorial and for the TMA go 'Graph-tastic' !

Week 7

16 Nov
  • Website contentWeek 7: Policy choices

    We had our second tutorial today, and it was better attended than all previous second tutorials I have been to, which could be an indication of the level of difficulty of this course.

    It also highlighted the real range of  people on the course, some have read well past where we should be and appear to be trying to finish the course in super-quick time, while others are even further behind that I am. 

    In these situations I think it is bad form to take up tutorial time with questions from the next section when there are obviously people with relevant questions about the section we are supposed to be studying, I managed to bite my tongue but if it happens next time 'words' could be  exchanged.

    It also became apparent that there are some people who seem to eat and sleep algebra and others who are simply terrified by the thought of doing any. I seem to be somewhere in the middle, where I can get through it with a lot of thought, so I have to say when I am wondering where on earth the book and tutorials have magic-up'd the answers from, those less happy with algebra must really be struggling.

    I think it would have been far more sensible to have given students pre-course algebra study material so that they had the opportunity over the summer to get the mechanics of the algebra and graphs squared away, and then they could simply concentrate on applying these ideas to economic theory at this stage.

    So, to the content of the tutorial. Well a lot of it was nothing that was not already in the books. Some interesting stuff on IS curves, but because I haven't read this chapter I didn't feel able to contribute much, although on the plus side it doesn't sound that complicated and it will be needed for the next TMA.  We were also told to go 'graph-tastic' in the TMA, if it can be explained with a graph, use a graph.

    Time is now flying by, so Monetary Policy here I come...... well after my curry which is bubbling away, a couple of bottles of IPA and my better half wants to watch 'Strickly', so looks like first thing tomorrow........ or maybe the afternoon.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : Activity 4.3 and online Tutorial 5a

Most of the Activities in the book and online give really good explanations, however there are a few that do not, and added to the confusion with errors in forumulae on p151 and miss labelled graph axis on other pages, it is possible to spent quite a lot of time chasing the proverbial wild geese.

One such activity is Activity 4.2, page 145. It provides you with the answer, but no explanation as to how this answer was arrived at.

My take on it is that you have to accept that the values 'a' and 'I' don't matter, which can be difficult to do and you have to have confidence in your algebra in order to do this, however.

AD = a + bY + I + G

AD = Y (at equilibrium)

Y = a +bY + I + G

Y – bY = a + I + G

Y(1 –b) = a + I + G

Y = a + I + G / (1-b)

Y = a + I + G / (1/2)

Y = 2 (a + I + G )

So, how much does Income increase with a Fiscal stimulus of £300M, is the question.

Without any stimulus, G = 0,

Y = 2(a + I)

With £300M stimulus

Y = 2(a + I + £300M)

Y = 2(a + I) + 2(£300M)

Y = 2(a + I) + £600M

So with,

G = 0,          Y = 2(a +I),
G = £300M, Y = 2(a + I) + £600M,

we can say that as the 2(a + I) amount is equal, the benefit of the £300M stimulus is an extra £600M income.

Which is the answer in the book.

The online tutorial also left you wondering what was going on at some points – even when given the answer.

 Week 5 Tutorial 1a Look at graph and fill in the blanks C = BLANK plus BLANK Y

C = a + bY

a = point at which the consumption function touches the vertical axis = 70 (this was quite difficult to see as the horizonatal line G is actually at value 90, and my eyesight isn’t what it used to be, so a = 70)

C = 70 + bY

So how to calculate b ?

Take any easily identifiable position on the line, say Y = 100 (on hozizontal axis) at this point C = 130 on the vertical..

Therefore 130 = 70 + b(100), so 130 – 70 = b(100), which means 60 = b(100), divide by 100 and

0.6 = b,

answer is C = 70 + 0.6Y

Check by picking another value of Y, say 200 (look on the graph as if C = about 190 – difficult to tell exactly)

C = 70 + 0.6 (200) = 190, so this is the correct answer.

So Week 5 finished, and quite a lot of reading to do before the Tutorial at the weekend if I am to be up to date with the study planner. I suspect this is a forlorn hope. Study fatigue may be setting in :-)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : iCMA41

I have ventured into the new, exciting, and potentially disastrous world of the iCMAs.

New obviously, because I have never done these before.

Exciting possibly, because (and I'll probably live to regret this) there is really no excuse for not getting 100%.

Potentially Disastrous because in the same way that I worry about standing close to unguarded edges of high structures, as this always provokes an insane desire to jump, a desire I have so far managed to control, with this iCMA there seems to be a real risk of accidentally submitting your iCMA answers before you really wanted to.

I worry about this because I usually have multiple browsers open and a click in the wrong place at the wrong time and I'll be saying goodbye to 7% of the continuous assessment score.

So, I have come up with a plan.

I have gone through the iCMA and grabbed screen shots of each question using 'Ctrl' and 'Print Screen', and pasted each screenshot, 'Ctrl' and 'v',  into a word document, so I can now complete the iCMA off-line as it were and the only time I will venture back into the iCMA will be to enter the answers that I am already happy with and then finally submit the answers there and then.

This also makes it easier to approach the iCMA in the round and also while reading the rest of the chapters I will have the questions easily to hand in order to easily identify the parts of the chapter relevant to the question.

So before the 10th December, I have three Chapters yet to read, the iCMA to complete and a 1600 word TMA, its gonna be a busy 4 weeks or so.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : TMA01 Marked and Returned

While this TMA has been returned within the 2 week time scale suggested by the Open University, it is at point when we have effectively lost 3 weekends to the next block, so any motivation that could have been harnessed from a good mark has dwindled and I now find I'm about a week behind and a bit fed up that this has taken so long to be returned.

On the plus side, this is the best first TMA I've had so far, just a shame it is only worth 7% towards the final result.

So best get on with last weeks Fiscal Policy, before tackling this weeks Monetary Policy, and there is the iCMA to be getting on with as well.

Friday, 8 November 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : Communication Vacuum

Hello ? ........... Anybody there ?  ....... Anybody ?

Practically the end of week 5 and the Tutor Group Forum may have to be pronounced clinically dead.

The signs of life that occasionally occur rarely have any relevance to the course material, and even the fairly major intervention by the tutor back in Week Two failed to kick-start any meaningful interaction with only two on-topic responses from about twenty students appearing.

So we appear to have gone through the "stand back.... charging ..... 2000 joules.... shocking now!" routine, and after limited heart beat we have again flat lined.....

To make matters worse, the results from the first TMA are conspicuous by their absence. Although this may be really unfair, as you don't know what else the tutor has going on in their life, you'd have though that there would be more interest in getting the first TMA back quickly. Especially as this was a short 800 word TMA with definitive answers and there must surely be a marking schedule and you just tick off whether a point has been covered or a calculation is correct. It doesn't bode particularly well for the longer and more complicated essays.

It is especially annoying when you hear of people getting results back within 48 hours of the deadline and even people who got extensions have had their mark back already.

So fingers crossed that the radio silence and the communication vacuum are broken soon.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : Very odd way to describe a 45 degree line.

This is beginning to feel like I'm just complaining now about the little things, but 'Economics' is difficult enough without reading explanations of things I know that I know, that then confuse me.

Modelling Planned saving (1) tutorial says the following....

"So let’s start with just the two scaled axes and imagine that each value of income emits a ray of light vertically. 

A mirror is held diagonally to reflect that ray on to the vertical axis. 

Click on each circle on the bar underneath the chart, working from left to right to watch this process build up step by step."

 I could not understand what this meant, or what it was supposed to achieve, or how this related to economics.

So you hold a mirror diagonally, but at what angle, obviously the angle of reflection is absolutely critical when reflecting the light, an angle of 30 degrees will reflect the light on to the vertical axis at a very different point to an angle of 60 degrees.

I was pretty confused as to where this was going, there didn't seem to be anything about this in the text book.

So I clicked and moved the circle as directed and the angle of the mirror (that was set by the application) was at 45 degrees (although it never mentions this), therefore a vertical light shone from horizontal value 10 would be reflected to vertical value 10, and horizontal 20 to vertical 20, and so a line of 45 degrees is drawn in front of you.

However to get to this explanation of how you come to draw a line of 45 degrees, you sort of have to understand the mirror is already at 45 degrees, but 'mirror imaged' so really 180 degrees away from your 45 degree line. This just appears to me to be a nonsense explanation, you have to understand the mirror is at 45 degrees in order to draw a line of 45 degrees, so the answer is part of the explanation - how does that work, its like the argument "god made the world so perfect so that proves god exists" - eh ? what ? no it doesn't.

So for me, this explanation just confuses things that are basic maths and nothing at all to do with economics.

On the plus side - the rest of the tutorial is really good ! Really, really, good !!

So, Week 4 complete, bring on Chapter 4 and Fiscal Policy. I guess there is going to be even more sums to be done, and I hope I may even begin to enjoy economics.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : Activity 3.4, Page 125 - a lack of explanation and my 'Propensity to Study' is badly affected.

Maybe I should not have been surprised after Activity 3.3 joyfully jumped in the 'explanation' from saying,

C = 6 + Y/2, so AD = 7 + Y/2

without actually 'explaining' that this is because AD = C + I, and 'I' happens to equal '1', so AD = 6 + Y/2 + 1, thus getting to the answer of AD = 7 + Y/2, that is what I call an explanation,

but Activity 3.4 is even worse.

Firstly : Figure 3.15 on page 125 has the Aggregate Demand value when Income (Y) = 0 annotated as 'a'.

As the formula AD = a + bY + I 

This must equal 'a + I' when Y = 0, so should this axis not be annotated correctly as 'a + I'. 
This may seem a small point but it has caused me some serious problems when trying to understand where the new equilibrium of 6 billion for a propensity to save of 1/2 came from.

But I think I can now see it now though.

AD = a + bY + I, a = 2, and I = 1 (these values from the previous example figure 3.14)

  • AD = 2 + bY + 1, 
  • AD = 3 + bY
 at equilibrium AD = Y, so
  • Y = 3 + bY,  therefore divide all values/items by Y
  • 1 = 3/Y + b, re-arrnage by subtracting b from both sides
  • 1 - b = 3/Y, 
therefore with propensity to Consume of 2/3, propensity to Save of 1/3, this means the equilibrium is,
  • 1 - 2/3 = 3/Y
  • 1/3 = 3/Y, multiply both sides by Y
  • Y/3 = 3, multiply both sides by 3 and we get,
  • Y = 9, for b=2/3, which we are told is correct.

Therefore for b = 1/2, propensity to Consume of 1/2, propensity to Save of 1/2, this means the equilibrium is,

  • 1 - b = 3/Y
  • 1 - 1/2 = 3/Y
  • 1/2 = 3/Y, multiply both sides by Y
  • Y/2 = 3, multiply both sides by 2 and we get,
  • Y = 6
This is where the 6 Billion came from - who would have guessed that at first glance ? Well obviously not me...........

So, with Y = 6, Consumption C = a  + bY, which is 2 + 1/2*6 = 2 + 3 = 5, Consumption = 5 Billion.

So if Income = 6, Consumption = 5, savings must equal 1 which also equals investment, and Figure 3.16 comes to life and makes sense.

So there we have the explanation of the Paradox of Thrift..... well sort of.

Just section' 6 Functions of Money' to go and I'll only be 1/2 a week behind.

I am blaming being 1/2 a week behind the study plan on the fact that my Propensity to Study has been badly affected by the fact that I still have not had my TMA back - I'll maybe work on a formula to calculate this later.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : Week 5

Week 5

2 Nov
  • Website contentWeek 5: Fiscal policy

    I haven't managed to get my study mojo into gear following the submission of the last TMA, and I'm not sure I will be able to fully concentrate on the course until I have confirmation that some things that I thought were instinctively correct, were indeed correct. 

    I have seen some discussion on related unofficial course forums in which others have a very different take on some of the basic aspects of the TMA, and if they are right (and I am wrong) then I really need to have a complete re-think before I plough any further into the course material.

    So, fingers crossed for a prompt marking of the TMA and I'll know then in which direction I'm heading.