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The Poverty of Statistics: Military Power, Defence Expenditure and Strategic Balance
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Jan Ludvík, World Economics, March 2015
Military expenditure and the number of service personnel are the two features most commonly used to compare national military power. The question remains, however, to what extent these reflect the real-world situation. This study aims to provide an answer by using economic and military data about conflicts between great powers over the last 160 years. Correlations of War data are employed to show that the relationship between pre-war military expenditure and army size on the one hand and outcomes of war on the other, is blurry to say the least. States with higher military expenditure prevailed in only six of the nine conflicts between great powers examined in this research. Only four of the nine were won by the state with the larger peacetime army. Using the case of the Franco-Prussian War, this work illustrates that even the superiority of both mentioned variables cannot ward off a crushing defeat, let alone ensure victory. A nation’s military power stems from its ability to adapt effectively to the realities of modern warfare. This is what neither high military expenditure nor sheer soldier numbers can guarantee.
Currency Valuation and Purchasing Power Parity
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Jamal Ibrahim Haidar, World Economics, September 2011
This paper aims to highlight key limitations of The Economist magazine’s Big Mac Index (BMI). The Economist markets the BMI as a tool to determine valuation of currencies. This paper shows that the BMI is a misleading measure of currency valuation for economies whose markets are structurally different from the benchmark currency countries.
The Power of Price Indexes
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Raymond Cheung and Mike Waterson
World Economics, March 2011
Price indexes are the most important of all economic indicators simply because they are the tool used to calculate the real size, speed and direction of all forms of economic activity. Price indexes are compiled almost everywhere, but with major differences in method and sampling procedures. Some methods and procedures have led to significant errors. Even in the case of a country as advanced as Japan, critics have calculated that imperfections in method have led to a rate of price inflation around 1.8% per year above the level a true cost of living index would have shown. Further research undertaken by World Economics has attempted to make estimates for changes in discounting and promotional practices at the retail level. The conclusion is that, in reality, the overestimation of price changes by the Japanese CPI in recent years may well have been in excess of 2% per annum, and could have been significantly more. Different CPI assumptions change economic growth estimates dramatically. Using World Economics estimates, adding in a minimum figure for marketing and retail changes seen in recent years suggests, contrary to official data, that Japanese consumption growth exceeded that of the US.

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