Some­thing fishy about eco­nomics

Nottingham Post - - OPINION -

WHAT a chal­lenge it must be to study eco­nomics these days. Par­tic­u­larly if also wish­ing to make sense of the word. Yet eco­nomics re­mains up there with busi­ness stud­ies in pop­u­lar­ity.

A “switch­able” ca­reer path awaits the ea­ger young econ­o­mist. Ev­ery­thing is sub­ject to eco­nomics in one way or other. Where it all gets a bit con­fus­ing is when eco­nomics be­gins the in­evitable co-habi­ta­tion with the pol­i­tics of the day. What are ob­vi­ously ap­ples on Mon­day, be­come pears by the week­end, even when us­ing the same data.

If the fish­ing in­dus­try is any­thing to go by, eco­nomics goes deep sea. Three-quar­ters of the fish we catch in UK waters is ex­ported to the Euro­pean Union, whilst the vast ma­jor­ity of the fish we eat in the UK is im­ported. In eco­nomics, the con­sumer choice fac­tor is par­tic­u­larly odd.

Arms be­gan wav­ing at the very sug­ges­tion of we Brits hav­ing less choice in what we eat in fu­ture, par­tic­u­larly any­thing to do with fish.

Less choice is, in the­ory, an eco­nomic pos­i­tive, de­spite the chuck­le­some ar­rays lin­ing the su­per­mar­ket shelves con­vinc­ing us oth­er­wise.

How ex­actly the eco­nomics stu­dent will rec­on­cile the choice of 40 dif­fer­ent styles of bread, the dilemma of choos­ing one of 37 dif­fer­ent type of teabag, and brows­ing enough tooth­paste brands than there are hu­man teeth, with fair­ness in the sup­ply chain, and the wonky play­ing fields of com­pe­ti­tion, is any­one’s guess.

Equally trou­ble­some is the prospect of en­coun­ter­ing a “dou­ble whammy” of im­port/ ex­port tar­iffs.

We have the ab­surd ex­am­ple of a pizza com­pany im­port­ing flour and toma­toes from Italy (with a po­ten­tial im­port tar­iff) only to then ex­port their in­dus­trial-scale frozen piz­zas back to Europe (with an ex­port tar­iff to add to the flavour).

The UK has some of the finest spe­cial­ist flour pro­duc­ers in the world, and we can even grow toma­toes if we try hard enough.

One might even ques­tion the eco­nomics of im­port­ing Euro­pean pizza boxes to add to the tar­iff whammy. Is it the eco­nomics or the pol­i­tics mess­ing things up?

Well, it de­pends how you fancy both an im­port and an ex­port tar­iff un­til you start tak­ing eco­nomics se­ri­ously.

On Box­ing Day, 23 mil­lion peo­ple in the UK will go shop­ping. But not un­til we have thrown the equiv­a­lent of 108 mil­lion rolls of wrap­ping pa­per (enough to wrap an area the size of Not­ting­ham twice over) into a hun­dred mil­lion black bin lin­ers within a 24-hour pe­riod.

Hardly room for the five mil­lion plas­tic Christ­mas trees that get dumped within a week of pur­chase. The eco­nomics of choice. Prob­a­bly eas­ier to sort out than the fish prob­lem.

David Briggs The Green Kingston on Soar

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