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The business cycle


Lead-in: What causes the business cycle? Key words and phrases 1. trade cycle Ц торговий цикл 2. gross domestic product (GDP)Цваловий внутришний продукт 3. boom and recession Цбум та спад 4. demand for goods and services Цпопит на товари та послуги 5. output Цпродукц≥€, випуск продукц≥њ 6. peak and trough Цвершина та найглибша точка пад≥нн€ 7. downturn (upturn) Цеконом≥чний спад (економiчний р≥ст) 8. contraction and expansion Цзниженн€ та зростанн€, розвиток 9. to pay mortgage or rent Цвиплачувати заставну чи ренту, оренду 10. borrow or save Цпозичати або економити, заощаджувати 11. internal and external theories Цвнутр≥шн≥ та зовн≥шн≥ теор≥њ 12. austerity programme Цпрограма сувороњ економ≥њ 13. tax cuts Цзниженн€ податку

The business cycle or trade cycle is the fluctuation in the general level of economic activity, measured by the rate of unemployment and changes in GDP; it is a permanent feature of market economies: gross domestic product fluctuates as booms and recessions succeed each other. During a boom an economy expands to the point where it is working at full capacity, so that production, employment, prices, profits, investment and interest rates all tend to rise.

During a recession, the demand for goods and services declines and the economy begins to work at below its potential. Investment, output, employment, profits, commodity and share prices, and interest rates generally fall.

A serious, long-lasting recession is called a depression or a slump.

The highest point of the business cycle is called a peak, which is followed by a downturn or downswing or a period of contraction. The lowest point of the business cycle is called a trough, which is followed by a recovery or an upturn or upswing or a period of expansion.

Economists sometimes describe contraction as Сnegative growthТ.

There are various theories as to the cause of the business cycle. Internal theories consider it to be self-generating, regular and repeating. A peak is reached when people begin to consume less. In the mid-nineteenth century, it was suggested that the business cycle results from people infecting one another with optimistic or pessimistic expectations. When economic times are good or when people feel good about the future, they spend, and run-up debts. If interest rates rise too high, a lot of people find themselves paying more than they anticipated on their mortgage or rent, and so have to consume less. If people are worried about the possibility of losing their job in the near future they tend to save more. A countryТs output, investment, unemployment, balance of payments depend on millions of decisions by consumers and industrialists on whether to spend, borrow or save.

Investment is closely linked to consumption, and takes place when demand and output are growing. As soon as the demand stops growing at the same rate, investment will drop, leading to a downturn.

Another theory is that sooner or later during every period of economic growth Ц when the demand is strong, profits are increasing Ц employees will begin to demand higher wages or salaries. As a result, employers will either reduce investment, or start to lay-off workers, and downsizing will begin.

External theories, on the contrary, look for causes outside economic activity: scientific advances, natural disasters, elections or political shocks, demographic changes, and so on. There is a theory that, where there is no independent central bank, the business cycle is caused by governments beginning their periods of office with a couple of years of austerity programmes followed by tax cuts and monetary expansion in the two years before the next election.

Ø Comprehension:

1. Give the definition of the business cycle.

2. What is the economy like during a boom?

3. How does the economy work during a recession?

4. What is a peak and what is a trough?

5. What do internal theories of the business cycle consider?

6. What are, according to external theories, the reasons for fluctuations in the economic activity?


Ø Summarizing:

Complete the following sentences to summarize the text above:

1. The business cycle is Е.

2. During a boom an economy Е.

3. In the period of recessions the demand for goods and services Е.

4. There are Е theories as to the cause of the business cycle.

5. Internal theories suppose that Е.

6. External theories, on the contrary, consider that Е.

7. There is also a theory that Е.


Ø Viewpoint:

Which of the theories mentioned in the text do you find the most convincing?

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