JC H2 History Tuition - What is the Mexican debt crisis - JC History Essay Notes

What is the Mexican debt crisis?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Problems of economic liberalisation

Examine the former Mexican finance minister’s reflections on the Mexican Debt Crisis of 1982 [Video by CNN Business]

The Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s
The 1970s and 1980s were characterised by a series of devastating problems that hampered the growth of the global economy. Apart from the twin oil shocks in 1973 and 1979, a serious debt crisis affected developing nations, particularly in the Latin American region. This financial crisis was known as “The Lost Decade” (La Década Perdida) in Mexico and Guatemala.

An unsustainable growth: A sticky situation
Before the Crisis Decades, most developed nations took loans from the World Bank to finance their infrastructural development. In view of the first oil crisis of 1973, commercial banks received a large inflow of funds from oil-exporting nations, particularly petrostates that belonged to the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). In short, petrodollar recycling was carried out.

However, the loans did not translate into profitable investment activities. Some of these loans were mismanaged. For instance, President Mobutu Sese Seko stored $5 billion in personal Swiss bank accounts, which amounted to Zaire’s total foreign debt.

Additionally, in response to the oil shocks, the USA raised interest rates in 1979. This proved disastrous to the debtor nations as their loans originated from Western commercial banks in the USA and Europe.

When Paul Volcker, head of the Federal Reserve, raised U.S. interest rates in 1979 to fight inflation in the United States, he did not intend to create a global debt crisis. But rising U.S. interest rates, and the rising London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), which set interest rates for Eurodollar lending, greatly increased the cost of southern loans, most of them now tied to floating rates set by the United States or LIBOR.

Rising interest rates had two important consequences. First, they increased interest payments on accumulated debt. “Mexico’s interest bill tripled from $2.3 billion in 1979 to $6.1 billion in 1982… for the region as a whole, interest payments more than doubled, from $14.4 billion in 1979 to $36.1 billion in 1982.” …

A second problem was that high U.S. interest rates acted like a magnet, attracting money from around the world… Massive capital flight created several problems for Latin American countries: it deprived them of money they might have used to invest in their own countries, pay for imports, repay debt, and it eroded their country’s tax base…

An excerpt from “Understanding Globalization: The Social Consequences of Political, Economic, and Environmental Change” by Robert K. Schaeffer.

The Trigger
In August 1982, the Mexican Finance Minister Jesús Silva Herzog announced that Mexico can no longer service its debt that amounted to $80 billion. Subsequently, other Latin American nations like Brazil, Chile and Argentina followed suit. Eventually, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) allowed sixteen Latin American countries to conduct debt rescheduling.

The threat of default by Mexico sent the first world bankers into panic. Many had lent more than 100 per cent of their shareholder capital to governments in Latin America and elsewhere. They knew that if the default was to be repeated across the developing world, it would lead to the collapse of the global financial system

IMF conditionality varied from country to country but generally contained a mix of the following policy ingredients: a cut in public spending, promotion of exports, the elimination of government subsidies, currency devaluation, privatization of state-owned enterprises, and the liberalization of foreign trade and investment…

This approach became known as structural adjustment and, over the course of the 1980s and early 1990s, most Latin American countries fell subject to IMF conditionality. The support for such policies from the US government and powerful institutions based in Washington, DC meant that the policy package became known as the Washington Consensus.

An Excerpt from “Latin American Development” by Julie Cupples.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s was a devastating problem that affected the global economy.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn how to write JC History Essays for topics like the Global Economy. Join our online learning classes and receive study notes for A Level History.

Besides, we have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC H2 History Tuition - What is World Trade Organization and its function - JC History Essay Notes

What is World Trade Organization and its function?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapters 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy & Problems of economic liberalisation

Re-look at the contributions of the World Trade Organization ever since its inception in 1995 [Video by the World Trade Organization]

What is the World Trade Organization (WTO)?
The WTO is an inter-governmental organization that formalized international trade. Under the Marrakesh Agreement, the organization was formed on 1 January 1995, replacing the multilateral framework known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

A Prelude to WTO: Trade Rounds under GATT
Before the WTO was established, GATT provided the essential guidelines on international trade from 1948 to 1994. During the Bretton Woods Conference, an International Trade Organization (ITO) was supposed to be formed alongside two other pillars (World Bank and the International Monetary Fund). Yet, the US Congress refused to ratify the Havana Charter. As such, the concept of an ITO was not realized.

Even so, GATT had played its part in promoting multilateral discussions. In the post-war years, GATT contributed to tariff reductions of nearly 8 percent on average till the 1960s.

1. Kennedy Round (1964-1967)
During the Kennedy Round, an Anti-Dumping Agreement was passed. ‘Dumping’ refers to an unfair trade practice in which a firm sell its exports at a price below the price set in the domestic market. The Act was recognized as a success, especially for developing nations.

Recognizing that anti-dumping practices should not constitute an unjustifiable impediment to international trade and that anti-dumping duties may be applied against dumping only if such dumping causes or threatens material injury to an established industry or materially retards the establishment of an industry;

Considering that it is desirable to provide for equitable and open procedures as the basis for a full examination of dumping cases;

An excerpt from the Kennedy Round.

2. Tokyo Round (1973-1979)
In the 1970s, the Tokyo Round was held with the intention to manage the imposition of non-tariff barriers (NTBs). Although participating countries managed to agree on the reduction of tariffs on industrial goods, they were unable to accept the use of plurilateral agreements (they are trade agreements between more than two countries).

The Tokyo Round also led to the adoption of a range of specific new disciplines. These included the legalization of preferential tariff and nontariff treatment in favour of developing countries and among developing countries.

Codes were negotiated on subsidies and countervailing measures, technical barriers to trade (product standards), government procurement, customs valuation, import licensing, antidumping (a revision of a Kennedy Round code), bovine meat, dairy products and civil aircraft…

By negotiating a code, like-minded countries were able to agree to new, legally binding commitments, without having all GATT contracting parties on board.

An excerpt from “The Political Economy of the World Trading System” by Bernard M. Hoekman, Michel M. Kostecki

3. Uruguay Round (1986-1994)
The eighth and final round lasted nearly seven and a half years. In the wake of the twin oil shocks of the 1970s, the Uruguay Round was held as the largest multilateral trade negotiation. The main purpose of the round was to reduce agricultural subsidies, introduce the protection of intellectual property and liberalise trade services in the banking sector. It was a tricky issue due to the sensitivity of the agricultural and textile sectors that affected many developing countries. Furthermore, the round dragged on due to the lack of consensus between the USA and European Union (EU) [also known as the “European Community”, EC] over the reforms to agricultural trade.

For much of the Round the USA and the EC held their own mini-round and their mutual intransigence, especially over agriculture and specifically a long-running dispute over oil seeds, stalled the Uruguay Round for some time. Completion of the Round was in the end facilitated by the so-called Blair House (Washington) accords…

Negotiations on agriculture were among the most contentious of the Round, the final Agreement on Agriculture seeking reforms for a ‘fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system’, but with special consideration for poorer countries and for non-trade concerns such as food security, environmental protection or schemes for diversification from narcotic crops and the like.

An excerpt from “The Free Trade Adventure: The WTO, the Uruguay Round and Globalism–a Critique” by Graham Dunkley.

The WTO
As the Uruguay Round concluded in December 1993, the Marrakesh Agreement was signed on 15 April 1994 by 123 participating nations. Officially, the WTO was formed eight months later, ushering a new era for international trade. The WTO replaced GATT as the institutional framework for trade.

1. The WTO shall facilitate the implementation, administration and operation, and further the objectives, of this Agreement and of the Multilateral Trade Agreements, and shall also provide the framework for the implementation, administration and operation of the Plurilateral Trade Agreements.

2. The WTO shall provide the forum for negotiations among its Members concerning their multilateral trade relations in matters dealt with under the agreements in the Annexes to this Agreement. The WTO may also provide a forum for further negotiations among its Members concerning their multilateral trade relations, and a framework for the implementation of the results of such negotiations, as may be decided by the Ministerial Conference.

An excerpt from the Marrakesh Agreement – Article 3 “Functions of the WTO”, 15 April 1994.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that trade liberalization was beneficial to the global economy from 1945 to 2000?

Join our JC History Tuition and find out more about the Bretton Woods System and other areas relating to the global economy. We provide summary notes for H2 History and H1 History as well as practices for essay writing and source based case studies. Attend our online learning classes to develop an analytical mind.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition - What is GATT and its purpose - Global Economy Notes

What is GATT and its purpose?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapters 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy & Problems of economic liberalisation

Examine the history of the multilateral trading system, namely the GATT and the WTO [Video by the World Trade Organization]

Origins of a multilateral trading institution: ITO
Before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established on 1 January 1955, leaders from over 50 countries gathered during the “Bretton Woods” Conference and contemplated on the creation of an International Trade Organisation (ITO). Ideally, it was to be the third pillar of the Bretton Woods, together with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The proposed ITO was meant to promote world trade, cross-border investments and commodity agreements. Following the end of World War Two, more countries supported trade liberalisation. They sought to reverse the adverse protectionist stance since the early 1930s.

A by-product of failed negotiations: GATT
Amidst negotiations, 23 “contracting parties” signed the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) on 30 October 1947. GATT was created as a framework for international trade, taking effect on 1 January 1984.

The signatories were: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Ceylon, Chile, China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, France, India, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Southern Rhodesia, Syria, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States.

There were three provisions:

  • Conferment of “Most Favoured Nations” status to other members
  • Prohibition of trade restrictions (except for emerging industries)
  • Elimination of import tariffs (by developed countries to support the admission of developing countries)

However, the path to institutionalise world trade proved difficult. Although the USA was one of the key advocates of free trade, the US Congress opposed the decision. During the fifth Session of the Contracting Parties, USA announced that the ITO Charter (Havana Charter) would not be re-submitted to the US Congress. From then on, the ITO did not take shape. Instead, GATT became the multilateral framework from 1948 to 1995.

Periodic Bargaining: Trade Rounds
From 1949 to 1973, the trade rounds were focused on reduction of tariffs. In 1964, the “Kennedy” Round took place and a noteworthy act was signed. The Final Act was signed by 50 participating countries that accounted for three-quarters of world trade. Concessions were estimated at $40 billion of trade value.

Following the admission of newly-independent countries (Recall: the Third World decolonisation in Asia and Africa led to the admission of new developing member countries into the UN), the GATT included its third provision to support developing countries. The Committee on Trade and Development was established to ensure that developed countries gave priority to the reduction of trade barriers to exports of developing countries.

Setbacks: The advent of “New Protectionism”
Although trade rounds were still being conducted from 1973 to 1993, the start of the Crisis Decades made it difficult for member nations to fully adhere to the provisions of trade liberalisation. Although economic integration enabled freer access of goods and services between countries, it also meant the intensification of trade competition from developed and developing countries.

For example, USA experienced severe and persistent trade deficits vis-à-vis West Germany and Japan. In response, USA introduced protectionist policies, particularly non-tariff barriers to shield its economy from the adverse effects of trade competition. For example, the “Voluntary Export Restraint” (VER) agreement restricted the quantity of Japanese automobile exports to USA in 1981.

The next phase of international trade: WTO
Trade negotiations during the Uruguay Round finally made progress. On 15 April 1994, the Marrakesh Agreement was signed, which led to the formation of the WTO that succeeded the GATT.

Developing nations demanded that VERs should be outlawed. Notably, this led to the creation of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement that accelerated the liberalisation of trade in the agricultural sector.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that GATT was the main driving force that caused the liberalisation of world trade [to be discussed in class]?

Sign up for our JC History Tuition and learn how to answer A Level History essay and source based case study questions effectively. We also incorporate online learning features to diversify your study methods such that learning the historical developments is enjoyable and productive at the same time.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition - What is the difference between World Bank and the IMF - Global Economy Notes

What is the difference between the World Bank and the IMF?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapters 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy & Problems of economic liberalisation

Learn more about the differing functions of the World Bank and the IMF [Video by CNBC International]

A confusing perspective: The World Bank and IMF
It has become a common issue for people to ask what are the defining roles of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In fact, during the inaugural meeting of the IMF, the British economist John Maynard Keynes was confused by the names. He added the the IMF should have been described as a ‘bank’, whereas the World Bank should be recognised as a ‘fund’.

Let’s recap on the roles of the IMF and the World Bank separately.

#1. The IMF
From 1945 to 1971, the IMF was established for two key purposes:

  • Currency stabilisation through a fixed exchange rate system
  • Provision of short-term loans to finance balance of payment deficits

Currency stabilisation was achieved through the US Dollar (USD) that was pegged to the gold. From 1958 to 1971, the USD was fixed in value to gold at $35 per ounce. Then, all other foreign currencies were pegged to the USD. In other words, USD became the international reserve currency. As such, stable currency values ascertain prices, thus encouraging greater trading and investment activities.

As for the second purpose, the IMF held a pool of funds that nations could borrow from to finance their debts. This pool of funds was to be contributed by member states, including the USA. The correction of balance of payment deficits is critical in maintaining exchange rate stability as well. These conditional loans were given to countries that agreed to correct their trade deficits through policy adjustments like austerity measures.

#2. The World Bank
As for the World Bank, its immediate role after World War Two was to provide long-term financing for devastated nations to rebuild their economies. Formerly known as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the institution was initially backed by the USA. For instance, the Marshall Aid was given to Europe for post-war reconstruction.

By the 1960s, the World Bank was more involved in financing the infrastructure projects in developing countries to realise their economic potential. Following the decolonisation of the Third World nations in Asia and Africa, many developing countries were in dire need of these loans.

Changes in the functions of the IMF and the World Bank: 1970s
After the US experienced the twin deficits in the 1960s and realised that a fixed exchange rate system was unsustainable, US President Nixon announced the abandonment of the fixed exchange rates regime on 15 August 1971. From 1973 onward, the IMF focused its efforts in providing short-terms to correct the balance of payment deficits of member nations.

Also, it was involved in managing the Third World Debt Crisis of the 1980s. In 1982, the Latin American nations negotiated with both banks and the IMF for debt repayments. As a result, the ‘bail-out loans’ were introduced. Should the debtor nation agree to accept the IMF loan, the government must agree to conduct policies to achieve macroeconomic stabilisation, such as reduction in government subsidies (part of the austerity measures).

However, the IMF bail-outs had disastrous impacts on the debtor nations. Without government subsidies, many households were unable to cope with the high cost of living. In Bolivia, the price of bread rose four times. Living standards deteriorated significantly. On separate but related note, the ‘IMF bail-out loans’ were introduced to Thailand and Indonesia during the Asian Financial Crisis.

As for the World Bank, it expanded its lending role to include “structural- and sector-adjustment loans” in the 1980s. These loans were meant to facilitate economic reforms to support the heavily indebted nations in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the significance of the IMF and World Bank in contributing to the growth of the global economy [to be discussed in class].

Sign up for our JC History Tuition and review your comprehension of the Global Economy as well as other topics like the United Nations to be ready for the GCE A Level History examinations. We also conduct classes for students taking H1 History, which covers contrasting topics such as Superpower Relations with China and the Cold War in Southeast Asia.

Besides, we have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition - What is OPEC - Oil Shocks - Global Economy Notes

What is OPEC?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Problems of economic liberalisation

Find out more about the role of the OPEC to understand how its output decisions influence global oil prices.

History of the OPEC
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was formed in September 1960. Its five founding members comprised of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq and Venezuela. The OPEC was established with a central aim of price stabilization for oil producers through discussions.

Before OPEC, seven multinational corporations dominated the petroleum industry since the mid-1940s. They were commonly known as the “Seven Sisters”, which consisted of

  • Anglo-Persian Oil Company [British Petroleum]
  • Gulf Oil
  • Standard Oil for California [Chevron]
  • Texaco
  • Royal Dutch Shell
  • Standard Oil Company for New Jersey [Exxon]
  • Standard Oil Company for New York [Mobil]

Ever since its establishment, the OPEC membership continued to grow (such as Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador and Gabon). As of 2019, the OPEC has 14 members.

The “Black Gold”: Energy Crisis of the 1970s
In 1973, the OPEC members reduced oil output and caused a spike in the oil prices. Its consequences were devastating to many oil-dependent economies since it is an essential resource for industrialization. In 1979, the oil price surged extensively in the wake of the Iranian Revolution. By 1980, global oil price had peaked over US$35 per barrel.

Examine the trends to understand the volatility of oil prices, especially the 1970s and 1980s
[Chart taken from the World Economic Forum]

Even the economic giant, USA, was not spared from this unilateral action by the OPEC. The unprecedented impacts included stagflation (high inflation rates and economic stagnation) that forced households to conserve oil consumption for the first time in U.S. history.

Petrodollar Recycling
OPEC members benefited tremendously from this oil spike. With the increased in earning from oil exports (also known as ‘petrodollars’), these oil exporters engaged in petrodollar recycling, in which their money was loaned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Then, the IMF used these loans to finance the balance of payment deficits by oil-importing countries.

However, these non-oil exporting countries were disadvantaged, especially for the Latin American nations in the 1970s. Over time, these borrowing nations had growing debts that later gave rise to the Third World Debt Crisis in the 1980s.

The Oil Glut of 1986
By mid-1980s, some countries had reduced their dependence on oil to sustain economic development. For instance, advanced economies like USA and France explored alternative energy. Likewise, Japanese auto firms engaged in innovation to produce fuel-efficient automobiles. These developments led to the falling demand for oil in the global petroleum industry.

On the other hand, there were emerging oil producers that did not belong to the OPEC that engaged in oil extraction. In 1980, the Canadian Government introduced the National Energy Program to promote self-sufficiency for oil. As such, the increase in supply from these alternative sources had diminished the share of the OPEC members.

OPEC went for a last-ditch attempt to maintain high oil prices by decreasing oil production from 1980 to 1986. However, these efforts were unsuccessful. In 1986, oil price plunged from $27 to nearly above $10 per barrel.

Recent Developments
In view of the COVID-2019, the decreased economic activities (such as airline flights) led to the fall in demand for oil. OPEC has held online meetings to contemplate on the decrease in oil production. However, some countries are hesitant to follow through as Saudi Arabia takes the lead.

On 20 April 2020, the US crude oil (West Texas intermediate crude, WTI) plunged from US$17.85 a barrel to negative US$37.63 a barrel. This is a typical scenario in which oil glut combined with falling demand results in falling oil prices, such that there is negative crude oil price.

Negative oil prices for US WTI on 20 April 2020
[Published on BBC; Source: Bloomberg]

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the economic impacts of volatile oil prices in affecting the development of the global economy from 1945 to 2000 [to be discussed in class].

Join our JC History Tuition and learn how to organise your learning materials to do well for the essay writing component at the A Level examination. Our online lessons feature content discussion and class practices to review knowledge application.

Additionally, we conducted other related JC tuition programmes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What were the twin deficits of USA - Global Economy Notes

What were the twin deficits of USA?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Problems of economic liberalisation

Find out what it means for USA to experience a trade deficit to understand this contributing factor that led to the decline of the US economic dominance in the 1970s – Video by Peterson Institute for International Economics

Why was the “Golden Age of Capitalism” unsustainable?
In the first two decades of the post-WWII period were characterised by the miraculous economic recovery and expansion of many countries, such as Japan and Western Europe.

USA, as the major advocate of trade liberalisation, also benefited from this sustained period of economic progress, as observed by its wide-reaching influences through the deployment of American multi-national corporations (MNCs). Host countries gained from influx of foreign investment as well as job creation.

However, this economic exuberance did not last by the 1960s. USA experienced a severe economic problem known as the “twin deficits”. Furthermore, the energy crises (oil shocks) of the 1970s further exacerbated the problem as it gave rise to stagflation in the USA.

What are the “twin deficits”?
The “twin deficits” refer to the onset of fiscal deficit and current account deficit.

1. Fiscal Deficit: Overspending
By definition, fiscal deficit occurs when the government expenditure exceeds its revenues. This is more commonly known as a ‘budget deficit’. In the case of the post-war years, countries encounter a fiscal deficit when the government spend large sums of money to rebuild their infrastructure. Similarly, this form of deficit can also be seen when governments are trying to recover from a recession.

Fiscal Deficit - Problems of Economic Liberalisation
Understand the fiscal deficit of the USA to recognise its impacts on the economy.

The causes of fiscal deficit in USA were largely linked to two notable areas: US President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” programme and the Vietnam War.

In 1964, Johnson introduced the welfare programme to eliminate poverty (War on Poverty) and improve the socioeconomic conditions of the American people.

However, as the American troops were increasingly deployed in Vietnam to fight the Cold War proxy conflict, the US President had to divert his funds from the above-mentioned welfare programme to sustain the war effort.

According to The New York Times, the American government spent approximately $141 billion in Vietnam over the course of 14 years. It was reported that the Vietnam War cost the USA nearly $2 billion per month.

Therefore, the US government directed the Federal Reserve to increase money supply by printing more US dollars (USD). Later, this created an oversupply issue that caused the collapse of the Gold-Dollar fixed exchange rate system in 1971.

2. Current Account Deficit: Trade Imbalances
The second type of deficit is more closely related to the condition whereby the import expenditure exceeds the export revenue. This is a problematic condition as the government has to finance the trade deficit.

US Trade Deficit - Problems of Economic Liberalisation
Examine the trends of the US trade deficit to understand how it hampered the economy.

This trade deficit can be explained by the increased trade competition with Western Europe and Japan. In the post-war years, USA tolerated the protectionist measures of these two growing economies so that they can become new markets for trade.

However, after these economies achieved pre-war industrial levels of production, many firms competed with American counterparts. In particular, West Germany and Japan became the key competitors that outpaced USA in the global markets.

For example, Japanese automobiles were highly sought-after due to its fuel efficiency and affordability. In fact, some of the top ten automobiles originated from Japan, such as Nissan and Toyota.

As a result of the loss of export competitiveness, USA experienced severe trade imbalances vis-à-vis West Germany and Japan. By 1980, US trade deficit rose to $40 billion. In response, USA reversed its trade liberalisation policy and engaged in protectionism, as seen by its imposition of the Voluntary Export Restraint (VER) towards Japan autos in May 1981 to mitigate the adverse effects of trade imbalances.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the twin deficits of USA were the most important cause for the decline of American economic dominance in the 1970s [to be discussed in class]?

Join our JC History Tuition and discover the essentials of essay writing for the topic of the Global Economy. We also offer H1 History Tuition for students who are in need of guidance. We provide summary notes, essay outlines and source based case study practice questions to raise the productivity of your revision.

Besides, we have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What caused Japan's Economic Miracle - Global Economy Notes

What caused Japan’s economic miracle?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy

Find out what happened the Japan after World War Two to understand its rapid economic transformation – Video by Economics Explained

Historical Context: What is the “Japanese Economic Miracle”?
It refers to the period from 1945 to 1991 where Japan experienced rapid economic growth. Following the end of World War Two (WWII), Japan’s infrastructure was severely devastated by the bombing campaigns. Millions were unemployed. There was high inflation. However, USA chose to oversee the post-war recovery of Japan.

Under the auspices of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP), General Douglas MacArthur, Japan received substantial financial aid and assistance to rebuild its economy. This was carried out after the signing of the Treaty of Peace with Japan (also known as the Treaty of San Francisco) on 8 September 1951 that marked the end of Japan’s imperialism and the start of a US-Japan allied relationship.

1. Role of the USA: Dodge Line, foreign aid and the rise of Keiretsu
The president of Detroit Bank Joseph Dodge introduced economic stabilisation plans to lower inflation rates in Japan. This was known as the “Dodge Line” stabilisation in 1949. One of the key points in the policy was to fix the exchange rate to 1 USD to 360 Yen. With stable exchange rates, Japanese export prices could be kept low and competitive.

Following the start of the Korean War on 25 June 1950, USA launched the “direct procurement” program that enabled the US forces to purchase wartime supplies from Japan directly. For instance, the US army bought processed food, disinfectants and medical syringes from Japan. Industrialised firms like Toyota also gained from this favourable climate as it exported trucks to support the American military efforts in Korea.

Another US-guided reform was the breakup of the Zaibatsu, which were big businesses (Sumitomo, Mitsubishi and Mitsui) that supported Japanese militarism during WWII. Instead, these companies became a new form of firms, known as the keiretsu. It refers to a group of companies that have interlocking business relationships. In the subsequent years, these companies became the key pillar of the Japanese economic miracle.

2. Role of the Japanese Government: MITI and EOI
In addition to the support provided by USA, the Japanese government established the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) in May 1949. Its purpose was oversee the conduct of industrial policies through cross-agency coordination.

The MITI identified sectors that yield large economic potential and channel state resources to nurture the relevant industries. The government then implemented protectionism (use of artificial trade barriers to limit the inflow of foreign goods) to accelerate the growth of domestic firms. Over time, the government facilitated the dominance of the keiretsu.

Under the leadership of Japanese Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda, the early 1960s marked the start of the export-oriented industrialisation (EOI). By 1970, Japan was one of the world’s largest producers of ships and cars.

3. Significance of Culture: Industriousness and Frugality
Similar to South Korea, the Japanese were known for their high level of self-discipline. Due to their willingness to work and support their employers, many firms benefited from the increased labour productivity. This hard work ethic can be traced to the shared hardship experienced by the citizens during wartime. Therefore, the Japanese firms maintained strong employer-employee relations.

Additionally, many households in Japan had large domestic savings. This meant that banks had greater sources of financing to support the business activities of firms. The government capitalised in this frugal nature of the citizens by offering lower interest rates so that firms were incentivised to take loans and support the growth of the economy.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the importance of the government in causing the Japanese economic miracle [to be discussed in class].

Sign up for our JC History Tuition and learn how to consolidate your knowledge for effective essay writing. Our online learning programme also features essay discussion and class practices. Through a step-by-step learning approach, you will be more aware of the critical steps to take in analysing and answering questions for GCE A Level History examinations.

Also, we offer other JC tuition programmes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What happened at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944 - Global Economy Notes

What happened at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy

A quick recap on what the “Bretton Woods” system – loosely described as a “three-legged stool” that features the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now called the World Trade Organisation)
[Video by Center for Strategic & International Studies]

Historical Context
Amidst the ongoing World War Two, world leaders from 44 nations, including USA and Soviet Union, attended a conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in July 1944.

As the Great Powers envisioned a world that is free from Nazi and Japanese occupation, there were calls for a global financial order. Two institutions were established following the Bretton Woods Conference: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) [later known as the World Bank].

1. The International Monetary Fund
Before the Conference, Harry Dexter White (Special Assistant to the US Secretary of the Treasury) and John Maynard Keynes (advisory to the British Treasury) carried out plans in 1942.

Their drafts include the creation of organisations that provide financial assistance to countries that are experiencing balance of payment deficits. Eventually, there was common consensus to pursue fixed exchange rates at the global level.

On 21 April 1944, leaders of the Allied Powers released a joint statement that officially declared the creation of the IMF. The IMF was responsible for the maintenance of a system of fixed exchange rates.

In particular, it was based on a Gold-US Dollar exchange rate system. Till 1971, the USD was pegged to gold at $35 per ounce. Other foreign currencies were fixed to the USD. By doing so, USD became the anchor for stable currencies and facilitated international trade and investments.

Additionally, the IMF was also charged with the responsibility to provide short-term financial assistance to countries that experience temporary deficits in their balance of payments.

2. The World Bank
The second product of the Bretton Woods Conference was the IBRD. Both White and Keynes observed that many developing nations were lacking funds to develop their infrastructure.

Furthermore, the devastation caused by World War Two left these countries in dire need of post-war recovery, which incurred large expenditures. Therefore, the IBRD was set up to provide financial assistance to Europe, Japan and developing nations for reconstruction.

At the early stages, USA provided a major source of financing for post-war recovery, as evidenced by the Marshall Plan. Nevertheless, the IBRD played its part, as seen by its first issuance of loan to France.

Later, the organisation was renamed as World Bank. It expanded into multiple sub-entities, such as the International Development Association in 1960 (IDA) that lends to low-income countries and the International Finance Corporation in 1956 (IFC) that supports private investments in countries.

3. General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
The third feature was formed much later in April 1947. During the Bretton Woods Conference, proposals were made to establish an International Trade Organisation. However, USA did not ratify the treaty, thus an alternative arrangement was carried out, known as the GATT.

The GATT was introduced to encourage free trade between countries. This is done through regular meetings that facilitate periodic bargaining, in which member countries agree to reduce tariffs for various products.

In 1995, GATT was replaced by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It was a milestone achievement as more countries agreed to liberalise their markets and reduce tariffs.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Bretton Woods system was the main reason for the growth of the global economy from 1945 to 1973 [to be discussed in class]?

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JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Singapore - How did trade protectionism affect economies in the 1970s - JC History Essays - Global Economy Notes

How did trade protectionism affect economies in the 1970s?

Why did countries engage in trade protectionism?
In view of the Golden Age of Capitalism that took place from 1945 to 1973, the Bretton Woods System was established, in which the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) facilitated the liberalization of world trade. Over time, free trade seemingly proved beneficial to trading partners, as evidenced by benefits like access to larger markets and cheaper raw materials.

However, international trade also meant that firms were open to more intense forms of competition. Clearly, developing nations were disadvantaged due to obstacles like inadequate infrastructural support and financing. In contrast, developing nations possessed the capacity to support their multinational corporations (MNCs) in maintaining international competitiveness. Therefore, some member nations gradually imposed trade protectionism, thus reversing the liberalization effects caused by GATT.

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 2: Reasons for problems of the global economy 

In the subsequent sections, we will study the limitations of free trade and the methods of protectionism that eventually caused the slowdown in the growth of the global economy in the 1970s and 1980s. Students should pay attention to the significance of trade protectionism with respect to other contributing factors that affect the Crisis Decades, such as the Third World Debt Crisis and the Oil Shocks.

1. Limitations of Free Trade
Although free trade is arguably beneficial to most economies, critics of economic liberalization remained hesitant to embrace this policy approach.

One reason is that free trade leaves many economies vulnerable to the volatile international markets. Trade-oriented growth can be disastrous as the fluctuating business cycles determine the growth and decline of economies.

Furthermore, should firms remain incapable of coping with international competition, their closure results in the rise of unemployment, thereby jeopardizing the social and political stability of nations.

2. [Developed Nations] Trade Protectionism: Rise of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs)
As such, governments in the industrial world introduced protectionism. In general, these measures can be grouped under a common type, known as ‘non-tariff barriers’ (NTBs).

NTBs comprised of different versions, like the provision of subsidies to local goods, strict standards and voluntary export restraints (VERs). For example, the US introduced the VERs in the 1980s, which affected the Japanese automakers. The US government perceived the increasingly popular Japanese automobile exports to be a significant threat to its trade position. In 1981, US introduced a VER in which Japan was pressured to reduce its export volume of cars. This created an artificial shortage of Japanese exports, thus raising their prices. As such, American automakers could profit from this effect.

Consequently, the share of imports restricted by NTBs increased extensively in the developed world, such as USA and Japan, thus causing a fall in the world output.

3. Consequences: A slowdown in the global economy
As a result of trade protectionism, the world economy experienced a major slowdown, which was further exacerbated by other problems like the Oil Shocks and the Third World Debt Crisis.

For example, the imposition of trade protectionism meant that MNCs were less mobile. Therefore, the the surge in market pessimism caused the decline in trading and investment activities. Given that these economies activities are vital for growth, the use of protectionist measures resulted in the economic slowdown in many developed nations.

What can we learn from this case study?
Consider the following questions to understand this economic issue:
– How far do you agree that the Crisis Decades was primarily caused by the rise of trade protectionism in the 1970s? [to be discussed in class]

In view of the trade protectionism problem that undermined the development of the global economy, we advise students to apply this knowledge to JC History essay questions. This is to ensure that what you know can be understood and applied effectively. Join our JC History Tuition and learn to synergize your knowledge of various factors to form persuasive and logical arguments. We teach students to do factor analysis and comparison through numerous class practices and discussions.

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JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - What caused the Third World Debt Crisis - JC History Essays - Global Economy Notes

What caused the 1980s Third World Debt Crisis?

What happened during the Third World Debt Crisis of the 1980s?
In the 1970s, developing nations were in need of financial support to carry out their economic development. As such, the governments took loans from international banks and developed nations. However, poor resource management resulted in the accumulation of debts, which was worsened by external factors like petrodollar recycling. By 1985, the total external debt rose to $1,017 billion, causing severe disruption to the international banking system.

Examine the origins of the Third World Debt Crisis: How oil production affected debtor nations?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 2: Reasons for problems of the global economy 

In the following sections, we will look at the contributing factors of the Third World Debt Crisis and its consequences on the global economy. This case study is crucial as students are expected to be weigh the significance of the Debt Crisis, with respect to other factors like the Oil Crisis of the 1970s and trade protectionism.

1. [OPEC] Cause #1: Petrodollar Recycling
One of the major contributing factors of the Third World Debt Crisis was related to twin oil shocks in 1973 and 1979. The OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) profited tremendously from the artificial oil shortage, thus accumulating ‘petrodollars’. With these excess profits, the OPEC members invested in international banks. Subsequently, these banks lent money to developing countries.

However, as these developing nations accepted loans to purchase raw materials and oil to facilitate economic development, the external shocks in the global market led to the expansion of foreign debts.

2. [USA] Cause #2: Volcker Shock
The second contributing factor relates to the US government’s response to the high inflation rates that plagued their economy. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, proposed the increase in interest rates to combat the double-digital inflation caused by the 1979 oil shock.

The Federal Reserve hiked its interest rates from 10.25% to 20% by March 1980. Consequently, higher interest rates led to higher costs of loan repayments for borrowers. For example, the total interest payment for Latin American countries increased by 360% from 1978 to 1983.

3. [Third World Nations] Cause #3: Mismanagement of Loans
Internally, it can be argued that some of these debtor nations were ineffective in managing their loans. In particular, the money was used for other purposes, besides economic development. For instance, inept leaders diverted the loans to the purchase of military equipment.

Besides, a large proportion of the loans were used to purchase oil and inflated prices. As a result of the interest rate hike (as discussed earlier), loans were also used to finance interest payments. Hence, it is clear that some of these nations were unable to repay their loans.

4. [Third World Nations] Consequence #1: Economic slowdown
In view of the debt accumulation, one significant impact is the slowdown in economic growth for debtor nations. Governments were unable to focus on economic development as they lacked the finances to function. Furthermore, Third World nations experienced a decline in living standards as many citizens suffered from extreme poverty.

Latin American countries, such as Mexico and Brazil, defaulted on loans, which caused severe disruption to the international financial system. For example, Mexico declared its inability to finance the loans in Aug 1982, which caused a cascading effect on other neighbouring countries.

5. [IMF] Consequence #2: Washington Consensus and SAPs
As such, these countries turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for solutions, such as debt re-scheduling or even cancellation. the IMF proposed a ‘bailout’ strategy, which was known as the ‘Structural Adjustment Programmes’ (SAPs).

To ensure these debtor nations are committed to the repayment of loans, the IMF imposed a set of strict conditions before loans were handed to them (i.e. Neo-Liberalism). In short, countries must adopt a policy of macroeconomic stabilization, trade liberalization and privatization.

Contrary to IMF’s expectations, the bailout was more of a hindrance than help to the indebted countries. For example, governments were forced to cut spending (i.e. austerity measures) to reduce debt. Yet, this meant that less subsidies were given to keep the price of necessities low, thereby resulting in higher cost of living. Eventually, the aim of debt reduction was not achieved.

Note to students: In fact, this IMF ‘bail-out package’ was accepted by some of the Southeast Asian governments during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis (Paper 2 Theme II topic), which also created problems for their economies.

What can we learn from this case study?
Consider the following questions to understand this economic issue:
– How far do you agree the debt crisis of the 1980s was more severe than the oil shocks of the 1970s? [to be discussed in class]

Following the thorough analysis of the Third World Debt Crisis, it is imperative to apply your newfound knowledge to practice questions. Sign up for our JC History Tuition and learn to form cohesive and persuasive arguments that answer a wide range of A Level History essay questions effectively.

Besides, you can consider other related JC tuition classes, such as GP Tuition, Economics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition classes, we offer Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.