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JC History Tuition Online - What caused Japan's lost decade - Global Economy Notes

What caused Japan’s Lost Decade?

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 impacts of the ‘Lost Decade’ that led to the commercialisation of ‘closeness’ [Video by Polygon]

The geese ahead of the flock
Before the ‘Lost Decade‘, Japan’s economic progress have continued until it was the second largest in the world, after the United States. In fact, the ‘flying geese paradigm’ was used to refer to Japan as the frontrunner of economic development in Southeast Asia (contrast with the ‘Four Asian Tigers’).

The pattern was one in which first Japan, followed by its former colonies, achieved miracles of growth. They left such bastions of U.S. influence as the Philippines in the dust. South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, followed by Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia were all members of Japan’s flock. Even China took its turn.

An excerpt from “How Asia Got Rich: Japan, China and the Asian Miracle” by Edith Terry.

Speculative activities: A growing asset bubble
After the Plaza Agreement was signed, Japanese Yen was twice the value of US dollar between 1985 and 1987, spurring speculators to plough their funds in assets and stocks. Additionally, borrowers could obtain funds from banks in Japan easily, fueling more speculative activities. Over time, stock and land prices surged.

Between January 1985 and December 1989 the real value of the Nikkei 225 stock price index tripled. By the middle of 1992, the index in real terms was less than 20% above its January 1985 level. Land prices have behaved similarly. An index of land prices in Japan’s six largest cities almost tripled in real terms between 1985 and 1990.

An excerpt from “Japan’s Bubble, Deflation, and Long-term Stagnation” by Kōichi Hamada, A. K. Kashyap, David E. Weinstein.

The Bank of Japan viewed the growing bubble as a threat. As such, it raised interest rates from 2.5% to 6% to discourage speculation. Consequently, borrowers were alarmed by higher interest rates as they anticipated their inability to finance their loans. Panic selling took place, causing the value of shares to plunge drastically.

By August 1990, the discount rate reached 6%. meanwhile, starting in 1990, the Bank of Japan sharply reduced the growth in the supply of money. Although Japanese officials were trying to engineer a soft landing by gradually deflating the speculative bubble, it burst with surprising speed. By October 1990, the Nikkei had fallen to nearly 20,000 yen. The price of real estate began its descent in 1991… Non-performing loans piled up at banks. Economic growth virtually ground to a halt, as it averaged only 1% per year from 1990-2003.

An excerpt from “Japan’s ‘Lost Decade’: Causes, Legacies and Issues of Transformative Change” by Miles Fletcher III, Peter W. von Staden.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Japanese government was responsible for the ‘Lost Decade’?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the development of the global economy. We conduct H1 and H2 History Tuition Online classes, featuring thematic discussion and writing workshops.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC 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. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Online - What was the Plaza Accord - Global Economy Notes

What was the Plaza Accord?

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

Learn more about the economic challenges faced by the United States that prompted the Reagan administration to introduce the Plaza Accord of 1985 [Video by Danieljbmitchell]

New competitors; Trade deficits
Following the abandonment of the ‘gold standard’ in 1971, the United States (US) continued to experience severe trade deficits vis-à-vis Japan and West Germany. The Japanese Yen and German Deutsche Mark were relatively weaker than the US Dollar. This meant that these two advanced economies’ exports were cheaper than the American exports, fueling demand for the former group’s.

In the US, heavy manufacturers and automobile firms called for their politicians to embark trade protectionism. With American jobs at stake, the Reagan administration had to step in to manage this worrying trend.

At the beginning of the 1980s the American auto industry was reeling under pressure from foreign competition – deservedly so, as the quality of American-made autos from the Big Three was noticeably inferior to that of imports from Europe and Japan.

…Unable to meet this quality competition head-on, and having lost $4.2 billion in 1980, the Big Three American automakers pressed for the predictable solution: trade protectionism.

…After a heated debate at the White House, Reagan passively agreed to seek a “voluntary export restraint agreement” with Japan.

An excerpt from “The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution: 1980-1989” by Steven F. Hayward.

In addition to the voluntary export restraint (VER) with Japan that limited the number of imported automobiles, the US government oversaw the meeting with the G5 nations. The G5 comprised of industrialised nations, namely United Kingdom, Japan, West Germany, France and the US.

The Plaza Accord
On 22 September 1985, the G5 nations met at the Plaza Hotel in New York. At main outcome was the formulation of an agreement to depreciate the US dollar relative to the Japanese Yen and German Deutsche Mark.

The main purpose of the accord, however, was to address the United States-Japan trade imbalance by making American goods less expensive and Japanese goods more expensive, so that Japanese customers would buy inexpensive American goods and Japanese companies would have to raise their prices in dollar terms and therefore lose customers.

… The time from 1986 until the middle of 1990 in Japan is often referred to as the ‘bubble economy‘. This period saw massive expansion, primarily due to a rapid surge in domestic demand – a growth in capital investments and in personal spending. Stocks and real estate prices skyrocketed.

An excerpt from “Government, International Trade, and Laissez-Faire Capitalism: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand’s Relations with Japan” by Carin L. Holroyd.

Although the Accord did manage to reduce trade deficits, the repercussion on the Japanese economy was severe. As the Japanese Yen appreciated relative to the US dollar, individuals and firms purchased real estate and stocks, pushing up the prices artificially. Speculators used their newly-purchased real estate as collateral to buy more. Eventually, the expanding asset bubble burst, ushering the ‘Lost Decade’ in Japan.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the Plaza Accord of 1985 was key in explaining the decline of the Japanese economy in the 1990s.

Join our JC History Tuition to learn how to write essays effectively. Our online learning classes are suitable for JC students taking either H1 or H2 History. We conduct thematic discussions and written practices to improve your reading, thinking and writing techniques.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC 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. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition - Why did Nixon abandon the gold standard - Global Economy Notes

Why did Nixon abandon the gold standard in 1971?

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

Let’s take a look at the implications of the collapse of the ‘gold standard’ on the US economy and the rest of the world [Video by Ampleforth]

An unsustainable model
Ever since the Bretton Woods system was established in 1958, the convertibility of United States (US) dollars to gold was fixed at $35 an ounce. Initially, the US government held nearly 75 percent of the world’s official gold reserves, instilling confidence in the global monetary system.

However, demand for gold increased in the 1960s when exports from Western Europe and Japan became more competitive with the US. Additionally, the large Cold War expenditures contributed to excess supply of US dollars in circulation.

The economy falters
In the late 1960s, the US economy was hit by the increase in inflation (5.4%) and unemployment (6%) rates. An unexpected phenomenon has occurred – stagflation, which meant a combination of slow growth and high inflation.

In order to fight stagflation, US President Richard Nixon addressed the nation on 15 August 1971, declaring the end of the fixed exchange rate system that underpinned the Bretton Woods ‘gold standard’.

The Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates based on the free convertibility of the U.S. dollar into gold, which had been showing signs of strain for many years, came apart entirely on August 15, 1971. President Nixon’s announcement that the U.S. would no longer sell gold at $35 per ounce effectively set the dollar afloat. By December 1971, the dollar had fallen about 6% relative to a multilateral trade weighted average of currencies, as the world groped for a new international monetary system.

An excerpt from “Economic Policy and the Great Stagflation” by Alan S. Blinder.

Bold actions
During Nixon’s historic speech on 15 August, he raised three points to protect the US economy – lower unemployment rates, curb inflation and minimise international speculation.

For the third point, Nixon claimed that the ‘gold standard’ was not sustainable as currency speculators have been ‘waging an all-out war’ on the US dollar even though it functioned as a ‘pillar of monetary stability’ on the global scale.

I have directed Secretary Connally to suspend temporarily the convertibility of the American dollar except in amounts and conditions determined to be in the interest of monetary stability and in the best interests of the United States.

… If you want to buy a foreign car or take a trip abroad, market conditions may cause your dollar to buy slightly less. But if you are among the overwhelming majority of Americans who buy American-made products in America, your dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today.

The effect of this action, in other words, will be to stabilize the dollar.

An excerpt from a speech by Richard Nixon, 15 August 1971.

Nixon defended his position by asserting that the devaluation of the dollar was to ensure fair competition between the American workers and the rest of the world. Furthermore, he imposed a 10 percent tax on imported goods into the US as a temporary measure to protect domestic jobs.

Fragmentation of markets
In response, the European governments were taken aback by the policy shifts of the US government. On 10 September 1971, The New York Times reported that the imposition of tariff barriers may affect nearly 90 percent of the European exports to the US, amounting to $7 billion.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system was a turning point?

Join our JC History Tuition to comprehend the complexities of the global economy. Our online learning classes are suitable for students taking either H1 or H2 History. In preparation for the GCE A Level History examination, we provide thematic revision and writing practices.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC 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. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

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 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 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 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.

Additionally, you can consider other 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 find out more.

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.

JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - What caused the energy crisis of the 1970s - JC History Essays

What caused the energy crisis of the 1970s?

What was the oil shocks about?
Following a period of rapid economic modernization, also known as the ‘Golden Age of Capitalism‘, the world witnessed a sudden turn of events that resulted in the gradual decline in this fast-paced growth, ushering the ‘Crisis Decades‘. The twin oil shocks that took place in 1973 and 1979 were the result of geopolitical conflicts that involved the key driver of the global economy – USA – as well as the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) that dictated the output of oil. In general, the surge in oil prices dealt a significant blow to many economies, including USA, reflecting the significance of oil as an essential resource for households and firms.

Learn more about the causes and consequences of the energy crisis of the 1970s

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 next section, we will look at the background causes to understand what happened during the energy crisis of the 1970s.

1. [USA] 1973 Oil Crisis: Causes
There were two major factors that contributed to the start of the 1973 Oil Crisis – the dismantling of the ‘Gold Standard’ (US Dollars -Gold) fixed exchange rate system as well as the Yom Kippur War.

On 15 Aug 1971, US President Nixon announced that the United States would cease to maintain the Gold-USD standard fixed exchange rate system, which was based on the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement. Consequently, the loss of market confidence towards the USD resulted in its depreciation (fall in currency value). In contrast, many firms and investors valued gold, contributing to the surge in gold prices.

However, the depreciation of USD undermined the OPEC as their export revenue (earnings from the sale of oil) was in USD. Therefore, OPEC lost a significant proportion of its export earnings.

The second factor was the Yom Kippur War, which began on 6 Oct 1973. Following Israel’s victory during the Six-Day War in 1967, both Egypt and Syria deployed its military to attack Israel on a religious day for the Jewish population, known as the Yom Kippur. Several weeks later, Nixon sought Congress funding of $2.2 billion to provide military backing for Israel.

2. [OPEC] Oil Embargo of 1973: Consequences
In view of the American intervention in the Yom Kippur War, the OPEC members in the Middle East, such as Egypt and Syria, protested by engaging in an oil embargo. This embargo persisted even after the end of the Yom Kippur War, thus triggering a global energy crisis.

The price of crude oil surged from $3/barrel to $12/barrel in 1974. The oil crisis was arguably a major cause of the economic recession in the developed economies from 1973 to 1975.

In the US, the economy experienced stagflation, in which there was high inflation, high unemployment and slow economic growth rates. Unemployment rate peaked at 9% in 1975.

In the UK, it experienced a fall in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by 3.9% in the same time period. Also, the UK experienced double-digit inflation that went beyond 20%.

3. [USA & OPEC] 1979 Oil Crisis: Causes
The energy crisis resurfaced in the late 1970s. Primarily, the Iranian Revolution of 1979 was a major contributing factor that led to the spike in oil prices. After the departure of the Shah of Iran, the world supply of crude oil fell significantly.

4. 1979 Oil Shocks: Consequences
Similar to the 1973 energy crisis, the oil shortage was detrimental to the oil-dependent economies. The price of crude oil increased to nearly $40/barrel from 1979 to 1980.

In the US, many households were forced to undergo conservation, since petrol and fuel were needed for transport and other domestic purposes (like cooking). Also, the automobile companies, such as Detroit’s “Big Three” (General Motors, Chrysler and Ford) suffered from the oil spike.

In contrast, Japanese manufacturers adapted to the situation by producing fuel-efficient automobiles, which then captured a significant market share in the global industry.

On a separate but related note, the OPEC earned a significant sum from the sale of petroleum exports – known as ‘petrodollars’. OPEC members then placed their earnings in international banks, which were handed out to developing nations as loans. Later, this petrodollar recycling process was known to have contributed to the ‘Third World Debt Crisis‘ of the 1980s.

What can we learn from this case study?
Consider the following questions to understand this economic issue:
– How far do you agree that the energy crisis of the 1970s was more significant than the debt crises of the 1980s in causing the problems of the global economy? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have studied the key considerations, you can enhance your knowledge application skills through the answering of History Essay questions. Join our JC History Tuition and find out how we teach you to form clear and logical arguments to answer fundamental and complex questions effectively and efficiently.

Furthermore, we offer other complementary 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.