Wednesday, 31 December 2014

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Happy Hogmanay

There is no point in being anything other than honest about this, Part B has been a real struggle.

I don't really think that the course modules have prepared us for the rigour of the questions in the TMA. I have spent a disproportionate amount if time on this part of the TMA and I am still unsure of having answered everything correctly, but I am drawing a line under this now and Part B is now complete......

So, a coupe of days to re-read up and around Part C and get it written, this should be more straight forward.

Anyway, time to put the books away and get ready to welcome in the New Year.

Happy Hogmanay and best wishes for 2015, 
hope it's a good year for everyone.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Xmas Break Week 2

It's been a very enjoyable but very busy Xmas, and now the next challenge is to drive 6 hrs North, but with today's weather warnings goodness knows how long that will take.......

TMA2 is the longest running TMA I can ever remember, it seems to have been on the todo list for months. I haven't made any great strides in finishing it over the last week, Part A is finished, Part B is 50% there and Part C not really started. I can see this going right to the deadline.

The difficult part of Part B is how you handle the Log values when talking about the answers, but I have identified what I need to understand to answer this, I just need to read it and understand it. It would be temping just to quote huge chunks off of the online tutorial, but I should really write in my own words.

I doubt this TMA will hit the heights of the last one.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Econometrics, maybe not the nightmare expected.

Spent part of today watching the football while also going through the Week 10 econometrics tutorial, and while I would not consider myself an expert by any matter of means, I can see some light at the end of the tunnel, at least for econometrics - the Arsenal defense is another matter entirely :-(

I think it is a matter of  repeating the tutorial and applying the same procedures to the TMA data at the same time, and we should pretty much be where we need to be. Arsenal need to stay alert, compete for the ball more, stay with their man and - for crying out loud - keep somebody on the front post.

So, need to set some time aside to crack this, and then I can start worrying about Part C.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Xmas Break Week 1

Reading finally up to date, but that was a bit of a mammoth session and I'm through it, even if it didn't all sink in. 

I'm pretty sure I know the bits I'll need to re-read for the TMA. The online tutorials have still to be done, and I'll try them later, maybe the econometrics one at the same time as doing the econometrics part of the TMA.

At least tackling the TMA has been helped by the fact that we did game theory in DD209 and it hasn't been expanded on that much. A bit here and a bit there, but but all in all Part A of the TMA came together OK.

Part B is at present a complete mystery to me. I have found the information for Questions 1 and 2 by using the 'Find' function to get to the right instructions in the Help pdf, after that I am completely stuck - don't even know what the information I have found means. This is going to take a couple of days of real dedication to econometrics to get close to getting a grip on this. The only thing in my favour is I am reasonably comfortable with graphs and equations, so I am probably approaching this with more background knowledge than others. Without some previous maths experience this would be a pretty daunting section to get right. My tutor has made it pretty clear they are not contactable over the Xmas period, so I am pretty much going to have to sort this out for myself.

Part C I am fairly confident about. It is a matter of reading the material and matching it up against models and examples in the text book and drawing outcomes from that. It would also be useful to find other real world examples that are similar and chuck in some quotes from other books, my tutor seemed to like that in the last TMA. It is just about finding the time across a busy Xmas period when we are all up to our eyes looking after parents and children while being driver, cook, barman and cleaner.

But that is why the TMA should be finished by now....... Doh!!!
My excuse is have been somewhat distracted by having to travel for work purposes while also deciding, possibly for the first time, to apply for a job in a very different industry to what I am used to. So with no real interview experience (at least not as an applicant) in about 20 years I have also arranged interview training, which will be both novel and expensive, but I would probably regret it if I didn't do it.

So the time table is, sort this TMA out by the 6th Jan without having to take extra holiday from work to do it and without neglecting loved ones. Study for interview training for the 9th and then immerse myself in the goals, strategy and plans for my prospective new employer in order to dazzle them at the interview the next week. TMA 2 should hen be marked and I can start section 3 of the course my customary 2 weeks late on account of the TMA just being returned.

It's always good to have a plan.
So as our cousins from across the pond would say "Happy Holidays", and I may as well pass on an oft quoted piece of random advice "remember to defrost the bird and cook it until the juices run clear."

Friday, 19 December 2014

Has the world gone mad......

In the 10 days or so that I have been away I haven't written much as the Internet connection was so poor due to the 3rd World rural nature of where we were staying. You can therefore only imagine my frustration to arrive home to find the BT Hub's broadband light glowing Amber instead of the re-assuring Blue it normally is. My wife confirmed it had gone off the evening before and she was waiting till I got home to tell me. An hour and a half of my own, then Hub Managers, then the BT call centre's diagnostics has resolved nothing. I am therefore having to take at least half a day of for the 'Engineer' to come between 0800 and 1300 to resolve this. So I am currently hot-spotting my iPad off of my iPhone to get much the same connectivity I had in rural Africa - but it is good to be home.

So in the last 10 days Russia has hiked its interst rate to 17% which has failed to stop the plummeting Rouble. After what happened to investors chasing unusually high interest rates in Iceland, and to a lesser extent Cyprus, who would have any confidence in putting their money in a Russian bank, especially when most rich Russians are responsible for the Capital Flight that is happening. A explanation of negative interest rates is here

At the same time the Swiss bring in negative interest rates which is pretty unheard off and for very different reasons to the Swedish adopting a zero % interest rate. I think both are pretty much untested and un-modeled economic strategies, so interesting times ahead.

Cyprus is also heading for a show down and further problems with the EU bailout as report that "Well, the island nation may be in trouble again. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is refusing to give Cyprus an €86m tranche of rescue money after the Cypriot parliament voted to suspend an insolvency law - due to take effect at the end of the month - that would have made it easier for banks to start to collect on bad loans."

The Cypriots already feel very badly treated by the EU and their government and I suspect that more problems ahead will only strengthen the support for those who wish to leave the EU, and re-establish their own currency.

UK inflation is now at a 12 year low even with pre-Xmas spending the November inflation rate is 1%. Optimists may blame this on cheap fuel, but I would have thought that this would have meant more spent on the high street. Wait until we have seen the results of the Jan and Feb figures, deflation is looming and if you want see see how deflation effects investment just compare it to  buying fuel for your car now. Why fill the car at today's prices when it will be cheaper next week before your tank is empty.

It will be an interesting year ahead.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Week 11

TMA 02

The assignment

Cut-off date: 6 January 2015

I am dreadfully behind, but at least I have until 6th Jan to catch up and write this TMA.

Work has gotten in the way a bit, but I can now tell you that despite what the video says below, there are no tigers in Kenya.

Also, the various Bands Aids have be wrong when the sing "there won't be snow in Africa this Xmas" as I am working in the shadow of Mount Kenya what has a permanent snow cap.

It is also very tiring working on the equator, and that could do with the increased rate of speed of rotation, at least that's my theory.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Week 10

Week 10 – Bringing economic theory into data analysis: regression analysis and ordinary least squares

Still playing catch up....... So nowhere near doing this.

10.1 [Optional] Tutorial 13 DD202 CD-ROM tutorials (revision material)
10.2 Online tutorial – econometricsComplete online tutorials Econometrics II and Practice exercises II

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Keynesian economics to the rescue........

In the last week the government has pledged.....

£2.3bn on flood defences
£15bn on roads          
£2bn for the NHS      
..... and they are already committed to spending god knows what on HS2, guestimates are £50bn plus.

This looks an awful lot like Keynesian economics to me.

But where is the money coming from ? In a week where it is announced that a third care home for vulnerable/disabled adults is to close in Cornwall the week before Xmas, and that those currently housed in this supported living environment are to be made homeless with local social services both clueless and seemingly uninterested I find myself asking is this money being spent in the right places.

"We're all in it together" Mr Cameron says....... my arse!

With any luck by the time any social or economic benefits come from these plans the present shower of pointless politicos will have been voted out and there will be a mixed coalition based around social justice in power.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - TMA 1 Marked and Returned

If the TMA mark hadn't arrived by this evening there would have been an email to my tutor tomorrow asking where it was. There must be some sort of name for this, but not having my TMA marked quickly really adversely effects my ability to study.

The TMA mark was however really motivating, highest first TMA mark I've every had, and as it stands for 20% of the overall OCAS score a really positive start to trying to get over the illusive 85% OCAS needed for a distinction. Although I think getting 85% on the TMAs is one thing, matching that on the dissertation will be the really difficult challenge.

I'll start Part 2 tomorrow, two and a half weeks behind schedule, so thank goodness for the Xmas break.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Could cheap oil save us all.......

There has been an incredible fall in petrol prices over the last 2 to 3 months due in part they say to the OPEC nations continuing to produce while USA brings shale oil on line. 

This has created an oil surplus not helped by Eurozone countries cutting back on production ( Hooray for cheap oil ) while it has its own economic problems with inflation teetering on deflation ( Eutozone Inflation ).

If you saw the scenes on the Black Friday, the artificially created retail scrum, you'd be wondering what was going on. Either people have plenty of money in their pockets to be able to spend like that..... or they can't afford these items unless they are in such a sale, hence the scrum. Either way, most of these purchases will be on cheap credit and any economic good news in November and December needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, as the real picture of what is going on I doubt will become apparent until March 2015.

By March 2015, the good will and feel good factor generated by festive season will have worn off like an unwelcome hangover, and the bills will be stacking up on the door mat. The country will also be looking at a very unusual election, and possibly the end of 3 party politics, although to be fair the Lib Dems atrocious showing has probably ended three party politics anyway. So, I think 4 party politics is far nearer the mark with the big two scrabbling to build coalitions with whoever will be the King-maker.  

Let's see where we are with inflation then.