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The “Business/Economy” section of the CNNMoney Web site provides current information on a number of economic indicators. Go to http://money.cnn.com/news/economy/index.html to link to this site and find answers to parts 1 and 2 of this cases and problems exercise.
You read in the chapter that an important goal of all economies is to make jobs available to everyone who wants one. Review the CNNMoney discussion on job growth and then answer the following questions:
A number of leading economic indicators are used to forecast future economic trends. Answer the following questions after reviewing the CNNMoney discussions of leading economic indicators and consumer confidence:
Is a Career in Economics for You?
Are you wondering what a career in economics would be like? Go to the U.S. Department of Labor Web site (http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos055.htm) and review the occupational outlook for economists. Look for answers to the following questions:
How Much Is That CD in the Window?
The early 1990s were a good time to buy CDs, mainly because discounters like Wal-Mart and Best Buy were accumulating customers by dropping prices from $15 to $10. They were losing money, but they figured that the policy still made good business sense. Why? They reasoned that while customers were in the store to shop for CDs, they’d find other, more profitable products.
The policy was a windfall for CD buyers, but a real problem for traditional music retailers like Musicland Stores and Tower Records. With discounters slashing prices, CD buyers were no longer willing to pay the prices asked by traditional music retailers. Sales plummeted and companies went out of business.
Ultimately, the discounters’ strategy worked: stores like Wal-Mart and Best Buy gained customers who once bought CDs at stores like Musicland Stores and Tower Records.
Let’s pause at this point to answer the following questions:
Let’s continue and find out how traditional music retailers responded to this situation.
They weren’t happy, and neither were the record companies. Both parties worried that traditional retailers would put pressure on them to reduce the price that they charged for CDs so that retailers could lower their prices and compete with discounters. The record companies didn’t want to lower prices. They just wanted things to return to “normal”—to the world in which CDs sold for $15 each.
Most of the big record companies and several traditional music retailers got together and made a deal affecting every store that sold CDs. The record companies agreed with retail chains and other CD outlets to charge a minimum advertised price for CDs. Any retailer who broke ranks by advertising below-price CDs would incur substantial financial penalties. Naturally, CD prices went up.
Now, think about the following:
Get together in groups of four selected by your instructor and pick any three items from the following list:
Outside of class, each member of the team should check the prices of the three items, using his or her own sources. At the next class meeting, get together and compare the prices found by team members. Based on your findings, answer the following questions as a group:
Life Is Good in France (if You Have Le Job)
A strong economy requires that people have money to spend on goods and services. Because most people earn their money by working, an important goal of all economies is making jobs available to everyone who wants one. A country has “full employment” when 95 percent of those wanting work are employed. Unfortunately, not all countries achieve this goal of full employment. France, for example, has a 10 percent unemployment rate overall and a 20 percent unemployment rate among young people.
Does this mean that France isn’t trying as hard as the United States to achieve full employment? A lot of people in France would say yes.
Let’s take a quick trip to France to see what’s going on economically. The day is March 19, 2006, and more than a million people are marching through the streets to protest a proposed new employment law that would make it easier for companies to lay off workers under the age of twenty-six during their first two years of employment. Granted, the plan doesn’t sound terribly youth-friendly, but, as usual, economic issues are never as clear-cut as they seem (or as we’d like them to be).
To gain some further insight into what’s going on in France, go to a BusinessWeek Web site (http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/mar2006/gb20060321_896473.htm) and read the article “Job Security Ignites Debate in France.” Then, answer the following questions: