Reading and Understanding Economics

Financial Times
Kevin Boakes  
Total pages
November 2008
Related Titles

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Reading and Understanding Economics
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In such turbulent economics times, Reading and Understanding Economics enables you to get to grips with all the issues in today’s economy discussed at length everywhere you look in the media leaving you armed with a new vocabulary of key economic terms ready to conduct your own analysis next time you read a newspaper or listen to the news for business or pleasure

The book demonstrates how the principles of economic theory can provide a useful framework for understanding many key aspects of everyday life, from topical issues such as the housing market and the rise in fuel prices, to more fundamental issues of life as education, employment and healthcare. 

The book works by analysing a selection of articles from the Financial Times, Economist magazine, Guardian and the Times newspapers. The selected articles all relate to some of the most important issues in economics. An engaging analysis of each article is provided, explaining how the subject matter reflects a key topic which will form an important part of any economics course. Key terms are explained clearly using practical analogies to aid understanding.

Book Blog - Visit the book’s website at  to access the author’s regularly updated blog for his take on current business news as it unfolds, download podcasts with further article analysis and check your understanding with suggested hints to in text questions

Table of Contents

About the author


A message to the readers

A message to the teachers

The book's website

The podcasts



Part A:  Microeconomics


Topic 1) Introducing Economics: Scarcity and Choice


Article 1) Britain cuts back – but still goes on holiday.

The Guardian, 27 May 2008


Topic 2)           The economics of demand and supply


Article 2) Supply-side squeeze explains oil’s relentless rise into record territory.

The Financial Times, 16 April 2008.


Article 3) Is it worth it? As the cost of private schools soars, we look at what parents get for their money.

The Economist, 28 February 2008.


Topic 3) Costs: In the short and the long run.  


Article 4) Inside the Googleplex.

The Economist, 30 August 2007.


Topic 4) Competition policy in action


Article 5)  BAA monopoly on airports under fire

Financial Times, 11 March 2008.


Article 6)  Lack of wholesale competition blamed

The Financial Times, 9 April 2008.


Topic 5) Market failure and government intervention.


Article 7)  Petrol price rises and penalties for gas-guzzlers as Chancellor Alistair Darling goes green.

The Times, 10 March 2008.


Article 8) Crude Measures: Not everybody is paying higher oil prices.

The Economist, 29th May 2008.


Topic 6)           The role of government in the economy


Article 9)  Privatisation: One step forward

The Financial Times, 17 December 2007.


Article 10)  Sweden privatisation scheme faces delay

The Financial Times, 11 March 2008.


Topic 7)           Business organisations (from large to small companies).


Article 11)  Investor fury at M&S role for Rose

The Financial Times, 10 March 2008.


Article 12 ) M&S to placate investors over Rose

The Financial Times, 2 April 2008.


Article 13)  Small companies face cash squeeze

The Financial Times, 28 March 2008.


Topic 8)           The economics of the labour market


Article 14)  Minimum wage increases by 3.8%

 The Financial Times, 5 March 2008.


Article 15)  German minimum wage ruled illegal

The Financial Times, 7 March 2008.


Part B:  Macroeconomics


Topic 9)           Macroeconomic policy: unemployment, inflation and growth


Article 16)  Inflation jumps to 9-month high on data move.

The Financial Times, 19 March 2008


Article 17)  Overview: Recession fears rise after US employment fall.

The Financial Times, 7 March 2008


Article 18)  Are rising prices in China driven by the supply of meat or money?

The Economist, 13 March 2008


Topic 10)         Money and interest rates


Article 19)  Concern grows for Iceland as rates hit 15%

The Financial Times, 26 March 2008


Topic 11) Fiscal Policy


Article 20)  Brown’s golden rule threatened by red ink

The Guardian 20 October 2006.


Topic 12)         International Economics – balance of payments and exchange rates.


Article 21)  Why the US current account deficit is a cause for concern.

The Financial Times, 26 August 2004


Article 22)  How far can the dollar fall before Japan feels the need to intervene?

The Economist, 19 March 2008


Topic 13)         The international business environment


Article 23)  Tata’s bid promise to keep UK car plant open won over unions

 The Financial Times, 27 March 2008


Part C:  Financial Markets and Institutions


Topic 14)         Financial markets


Article 24)  Time to go shopping?

The Economist 23 March 2008.


Article 25)  A monoline meltdown?

The Economist 26 June 2007.


Topic 15)         Financial institutions


Article 26)  Fed leads Bear Stearns rescue

The Financial Times 15/16 March 2008


Article 27)  JPMorgan lifts Bear offer fivefold

The Financial Times, 24 March 2008.


Article 28)  Bear and the moral hazard

The Financial Times, 24 March 2008.


Article 29)  Eurozone set to receive more liquidity

The Financial Times, 29/30 March 2008.







Back Cover


Helping you move from reading economics textbooks to understanding the debates over economics and markets in the real world.


  • How do consumers react to uncertain economic times?
  • Are you paying too much for electricity and gas?
  • What is the best time to buy shares?
  • Should you send your children to a private school? Add in extra one space allowing?


Do you want to know the answers to these questions? Then this is the book for you.

Reading and Understanding Economics analyses a selection of articles from a range of publications, all with recurrent themes relating to key economics issues in the news today. The book demonstrates how a good understanding of the key principles of economic theory can provide a solid framework for understanding many aspects of everyday life. International issues such as the demise of financial institutions, a monopoly on airports, inflation and the soaring cost of oil are analysed alongside more domestic concerns such as education, the minimum wage and using the tax system to reduce carbon emissions.

Articles are analysed in depth making it suitable for use by students studying on an introductory economics course, or indeed for anyone with an interest in current affairs. The book leaves you armed with a new vocabulary of key economics terms ready to conduct your own analysis next time you read or listen to the news for business or pleasure.

Kevin’s Book blog:

Visit the book’s website at to access the author’s regularly updated blog for his take on the day’s business news as it unfolds, download pod casts with further article analysis and check your understanding with suggested hints to in-text questions. 

Also available:

Readingand Understanding the Financial Times ISBN 9780173715597

Also written by Kevin Boakes, this book helps you read and understand the Financial Times with confidence analysing articles with recurrent themes relating to some of the most important issues in the world of corporate finance.  

Quotes for back cover:

“This book will help you understand how economies and financial markets work, and how investors think. It helps you move from reading economics textbooks to understand the debates over economics and markets in the real world. I recommend it to anyone looking to work in financial markets or interested in the topic".

Michael Saunders, Economist Citigroup

“Reading and Understanding Economics integrates theory with real world applications in a unique way. Using nearly 30 recent articles as a starting point, Kevin Boakes manages to demonstrate just how effective simple micro-and macroeconomic tools can be in understanding a wide variety of topical issues from private schools to financial crises
The author does not shy away from using theory but always does so in such a way that the relevance is clear to the reader. The result is a book that will appeal to undergraduate and MBA students as well as anyone who wants to be able to understand what is really going on behind the headlines"

Professor David Paton, Professor of Industrial Economics,

NottinghamUniversity Business School

Quotes for inside front cover:

“The strength is the use of easily readable and interesting articles to explain and illustrate dry economic theory, especially useful to non-specialist economics students.   

DennisMcGrath University of Westminster

 “It is a very readable guide to economic issues that occur in the news. It shows students not only how interesting such news articles can be but also how they can be used to investigate economics and make the bridge between theory and current affairs. The analysis of the issues is concise and very clear, and via the questions and podcasts readers will be able to build on the material provided in the text.”

Ian Sharpe Sheffield Hallam University.

The main strength of the book is the provision of severaltechnology related features such as web-based activities and podcasts.

Muncinga Simatele, University of Hertfordshire

“The book is a very good addition to texts in introductory and intermediate economics modules as well as for modules in applied economics. It could also serve well as a textbook on its own for courses for non-economists. It is especially important as students often stress a need for real life examples to illustrate the topics they learn.”

PiotrJaworski Napier University


After graduating with a degree in Economics, and an MSc from the London School of Economics, Kevin Boakes started his working life on the bond trading desk at Greenwell Montagu Gilt-edged, which is now part of HSBC Investment Bank. As their Chief UK Economist he was responsible for giving on the spot advice to bond traders as soon as economic stories hit the news screens. He regularly contributed articles to newspapers including the Times, Observer and Guardian and appeared on the BBC’s Money Programme and the Financial World Tonight. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Accounting and Finance at Kingston university. In addition to his academic work he has run a number of economics and financial market training courses for various Investment Banks. In early 2008 his first book “Reading and Understanding the Financial Times”, a practical analysis of financial articles from the FT, was published.

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