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Potential Research Topics: ECONOMICS

This guide will help with settling on a research topic for class.


ECONOMICS: Stock Market Fluctuations
In February 2018 the Dow Jones Industrial Average stock market index plunged over
3200 points and then rose back up over 2000 points. What conditions created the sharp drop and
rise, and how can these types of fluctuations be anticipated in the future? What are some
conditions that have driven similar dramatic but brief stock fluctuations in the past?
SEARCH TERMS: stock market AND Dow AND record drop

ECONOMICS: Steel and Aluminum Tariffs
President Trump has announced a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum being imported into the U.S. What is the administration’s goal in imposing these new tariffs? What has been the reaction from foreign and domestic political leaders? What has been the reaction from top economists and from stock markets? What is a trade war and how could these tariffs ignite one? What are the benefits and liabilities of trade wars? What countries would be most impacted and why?
SEARCH TERMS: steel AND aluminum AND (tariff OR tariffs)

ECONOMICS: Wealth Report
The charity Oxfam released a report that claimed that the world’s richest 1% made 80% of
the gains in wealth in 2017. One reason why is stock markets around the world performed very
well, and the poorest people on earth do not have money to invest in the stock market. Was there
any good news for the poor in this report? What number of individuals have the combined wealth
that equals that of the poorest 50% of the world’s population and how has that figure changed over
time? Why is Oxfam focusing on the increase in the amount of wealth going to the richest citizens
of the world? What suggestions do they make to help create a more equitable distribution of
wealth system in the world?
SEARCH TERMS: Oxfam AND wealth

The United States oil production has risen recently in part due to shale drilling. What is
shale drilling and how has it increased U.S. oil production? What was the strategy of Saudi Arabia
to undercut U.S. shale drilling and why did it fail?
SEARCH TERMS: U.S. AND oil AND shale AND Saudi AND production

ECONOMICS: Jerome Powell
Jerome Powell has been confirmed as the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve. What
is his economic policy for running the Federal Reserve and how might it differ from how Janet
Yellen has run it? What is his professional history and what do his decisions in these roles reveal
about his economic beliefs?
SEARCH TERMS: Federal Reserve AND Jerome Powell

ECONOMICS: Australian Wage Theft and Exploitation
TOPIC: International students and backpackers who entered the Australian work force, either as
food service workers or agricultural workers, were routinely paid less than the minimum wage or
suffered other forms of wage theft. Some had to pay kickbacks to their employers. How did this
problem come to light? Which industries offered the worst working conditions? What has been the
response to this problem?
SEARCH TERMS: Australia AND wage theft

ECONOMICS: Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report
The Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report states that the richest 1% of people now own 50%
of the world’s wealth. This has risen from 42.5% about a decade ago. The richest 10% own over
87% of the wealth. What percent do the poorest half of the people of the world own? What are
some of the reasons for this increase in inequality?
SEARCH TERMS: wealth AND Credit Suisse AND richest one percent

ECONOMICS: Tax Avoidance Schemes
A massive leak of documents from Appleby, an international law firm that specialized in
helping clients move money offshore to avoid taxes, has been discovered. Although this practice is
not illegal some well-known politicians, members of royalty, and other wealthy people were found
to have used their services. Who are many of those named and what services did they avail
themselves of? What were some of the investment vehicles used by the firm?
SEARCH TERMS: Paradise papers

ECONOMICS: Jerome Powell
Jerome Powell is President Trump’s nominee to replace Janet Yellen as Chairman of the
Federal Reserve Board. What is his current role at the Federal Reserve and what has he
accomplished in that role? What is known about his economic ideology and how could it differ from
the way the Federal Reserve has been run under Yellen?
SEARCH TERMS: Jerome Powell AND Federal Reserve

ECONOMICS: Revising the Labor Code
French president Emmanuel Macron has begun to change French labor laws by
presidential decree. He is seeking to lessen the power of the labor unions and increase the ease of
hiring and firing of workers in an effort to bring down unemployment. What has he proposed as
changes? Will they work in practice?
SEARCH TERMS: France AND labor laws

ECONOMICS: President Trump’s Business Panels
Two of President Trump’s business panels, the Manufacturing Council and the Strategy
and Policy Forum panel have been dissolved. What caused some major business leaders to
resign from these panels? What new approach is the president taking to address his economic
agenda in regard to the areas these panels were addressing? What other business groups formed
by the president remain and what is their status?
SEARCH TERMS: Manufacturing Council AND Trump AND Policy Forum AND panels

ECONOMICS: String of Dow Jones Stock Market Records
The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record high for 9 consecutive days, ending on
August 7th. What are some of the factors that have driven the recent bull market? What risk
factors are being discussed by economists during these current market highs?                                                                          SEARCH TERMS: Dow Jones AND record

ECONOMICS: Recession in Africa
TOPIC:  South Africa has fallen into a recession after two straight quarters of negative growth, the final quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. Nigeria is also in recession. These are the two largest economies in Africa. What are some of the reasons why these countries are in recession? What is a way for countries to get out of recession? Will these countries’ recessions impact the rest of the continent?
SEARCH TERMS: South Africa OR Nigeria AND recession

ECONOMICS: Fed Raises Rates  
TOPIC:  For the third time in 6 months the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) is raising a key interest rate. What kind of rate was raised, by how much and how is this expected to impact the economy? What analysis is done for the Fed to make a decision like this? What does the Fed plan to do with its bond holdings and why?  
SEARCH TERMS: (Federal Reserve OR Fed) AND interest rate*

ECONOMICS: Fed Raises Rates  
TOPIC:  For the third time in 6 months the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) is raising a key interest rate. What kind of rate was raised, by how much and how is this expected to impact the economy? What analysis is done for the Fed to make a decision like this? What does the Fed plan to do with its bond holdings and why?  
SEARCH TERMS: (Federal Reserve OR Fed) AND interest rate*

ECONOMICS: Recession in Africa
TOPIC:  South Africa has fallen into a recession after two straight quarters of negative growth, the final quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. Nigeria is also in recession. These are the two largest economies in Africa. What are some of the reasons why these countries are in recession? What is a way for countries to get out of recession? Will these countries’ recessions impact the rest of the continent?
SEARCH TERMS: South Africa OR Nigeria AND recession

ECONOMICS: Trade Issues
Chinese officials have reacted to President Trump’s rhetoric on trade by stressing the jobs
that trade with China creates in the U.S. Meanwhile, Premier Li Keqiang has stated that a trade war
would hurt both sides. What is President Trump saying about trade with China? What have other
Chinese officials said in response? Which sides’ argument seems to make the most sense?

ECONOMICS: Core Principles of Regulation
President Trump has signed an executive order establishing his administration’s core principles of economic regulation. What are the specifics of this order and how does it change existing regulations? How does this order impact the Dodd-Frank Act? What is the Dodd-Frank Act and how did it come into enactment?
SEARCH TERMS: Trump AND economy* AND regulation AND executive order

ECONOMICS: Trans-Pacific Partnership
President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. What reasons did he give for this, and what has been the reaction of the other nations in this partnership? Why did the United States originally join this partnership and what are the most compelling arguments for our membership and for our withdrawal?
SEARCH TERMS: (Trans-Pacific Partnership OR TPP) AND Trump

ECONOMICS: Oxfam Addresses Wealth Inequality
Oxfam International has declared that eight men, six of them Americans, have as much wealth as half the world’s population. Just a year ago, Oxfam claimed that 67 people held that wealth. What prompted them to reduce the list? What are some of the ways they propose to lessen this inequality? Who are the eight men and how did they gain their wealth?
SEARCH TERMS: Oxfam AND inequality

ECONOMICS: Market Ride
The Dow Jones and NASDAQ stock exchanges broke records as 2017 started but have significantly dropped since then. What drove these exchanges to record highs early in January? What are some concerns within the markets that made them drop? How do stock exchanges work, and historically what are the most common factors that drive stocks up and down?

ECONOMICS: Bailing Out the Bank
: Italy has bailed out its struggling third largest bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena after it was
unable to borrow on its own. The bank was the worst performer in last summer’s stress tests. What
is Italy promising the banks creditors and customers? How in the rest of the banking sector in Italy
SEARCH TERMS: Italy AND Monte dei Paschi di Siena

ECONOMICS: National Trade Council
President-elect Donald Trump had announced he is forming a White House National Trade
Council with economics professor Peter Navarro as director. What are Navarro’s economic beliefs
and what have been his primary accomplishments? What is the purpose of the White House
National Trade Council and how is it going to function?
SEARCH TERMS: Donald Trump AND Navarro AND National Trade Council

ECONOMICS: Malls and Online Shopping
Shopping malls are feeling the pinch of increased online shopping harder this year. What
malls and what kinds of stores are being impacted the most by this and why? What stores are
being impacted the least and why? How has this trend been increasing in the past decade and
why is it increasing more lately?
SEARCH TERMS: (malls OR stores) AND (e-commerce OR online shopping) AND (economic OR

ECONOMICS: Free Trade Agreement Stalled
TOPIC: A trade agreement between Canada and the European Union has been held up, if not actually killed, by Wallonia, a small region of Belgium. What allows this small region to stall a continent-wide agreement? Why are others in Europe not happy with the agreement, which is called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement? How do Canadians feel about it?
SEARCH TERMS: Canada AND European Union AND CETA

ECONOMICS: Economic Consequences of Climate Change
TOPIC: A new World Bank report states that climate change could lead millions into poverty, as agricultural patterns change and disasters increase. What was the methodology of this report? What are some of the other drivers of poverty increase? What are the report’s recommendations to stop this from happening?
SEARCH TERMS: World Bank AND climate change AND poverty

ECONOMICS: Saudi Arabia and Oil
TOPIC: Saudi Arabia announced a deficit of $98 billion, caused in part by the decline in the price of crude oil. It has raised domestic oil prices, though they are still far lower than in most other countries in hopes of raising more revenues. Why did the Saudis choose to maintain their production of oil rather than raise prices and curtail production? What has happened to their hard currency foreign reserves during this time?
SEARCH TERMS: Saudi Arabia AND oil prices AND budget

ECONOMICS: Fed Raises Interest Rates
TOPIC: The U.S. Federal Reserve has raised interest rates for the first times since 2006. What was the percentage of increase, why was that percentage used and how was it decided? What are the economic concerns and the economic benefits of raising the rate at this time? What is the overall significance of the Fed manipulating the interest rates on the overall economy?
SEARCH TERMS: (Fed OR Federal Reserve) AND interest rates

ECONOMICS: Goals of the United Nations  
TOPIC: The United Nations conference on Development has come up with 17 broad goals to be met by 2030. One major one is the elimination of poverty. What are some of the others? Where is the money for acting on these going to come from? How achievable are these goals?  
SEARCH TERMS: (U.N. OR United Nations) AND development AND goals

ECONOMICS: African and Indian Ties  
TOPIC:  Forty African leaders joined the prime minister of India in an economic summit meeting. India is seeking to enlarge its influence in Africa by direct investment and grants. It has been asked for security advice by countries threatened by Boko Haram. What does India need from Africa? How selfless are Indian goals for this conference? What role does India’s rival China play in Africa?
SEARCH TERMS: India Africa Forum Summit

ECONOMICS: Debt Limit Raised    
TOPIC:  The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to increase the debt limit and prevent default.  What would be the impact on the U.S. economy if the U.S. federal government defaulted on repaying its loans?  What political coalition of U.S. representatives came together to get this legislation passed through the House?
SEARCH TERMS: (debt limit OR debt ceiling) AND House of Representatives AND default

ECONOMICS: Minimum Wage     
TOPIC:  Voters in Portland Maine and Tacoma Washington have rejected a municipal minimum wage of
$15/hr. What are the most compelling cases for and against raising the municipal minimum wage in each of these cities?  How do the specific circumstances in each city differ in regard to this issue and how do they differ from the issues involved in raising the national minimum wage?
SEARCH TERMS: minimum wage AND (Portland OR Tacoma)

ECONOMICS: Negative Rates
TOPIC:  Japan's central bank hopes to encourage banks to loan more money by charging a negative interest rate on new commercial deposits in the Bank of Japan. This fee will be 0.1 percent. The BOJ is seeking to get to a 2% inflation rate.  How are they dealing with existing deposits? Is this likely to succeed in its goals?
SEARCH TERMS: Bank of Japan AND interest rates

ECONOMICS: New Tax Deal     
TOPIC:  President Obama and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have worked out a tax cut agreement.  What are the details of this agreement and how will it impact the federal deficit according to the Congressional Budget Office?  What were the compromises made to come to this agreement and what spurred the agreement?
SEARCH TERMS: Obama AND Ryan AND (tax or taxes) AND (cut OR deal)

ECONOMICS: Federal Reserve Interest Rate    
TOPIC:  The U.S. Federal Reserve has decided to keep the interest rate near zero in spite of an improving labor market.  What kind of analysis went into this decision?  What is the economic impact of this decision?  In general, how does the U.S. Federal Reserve impact the economy by adjusting interest rates?
SEARCH TERMS: (Federal Reserve OR Fed) AND Yellen AND interest rate?

ECONOMICS: Lagarde to Continue as IMF's Managing Director
TOPIC:  Christine Lagarde will continue her role as the International Monetary Funds Managing Director. Why did the IMF's executive board re-appoint her to the post? What leadership qualities does she have that make her well-suited for this position? What is the primary roles of the IMF within the global economy?

ECONOMICS: Tough Year Ahead for South Africa
TOPIC:  The World Bank has warned South Africa that they may be in for a tough economic year ahead. What are some of the factors that have led the World Bank to make such a warning? Aside from economic stability issues, what are some of the other aspects of South Africa's culture that have an impact on the economy?
SEARCH TERMS: South African AND World Bank

ECONOMICS: U.S. Economic Report     
TOPIC:  President Obama has sent the U.S. Congress his annual economic report.  What is the history and purpose of this report?  What is its relationship to the president’s annual budget proposal?  What are the key points in this year’s economic report?
SEARCH TERMS: Obama AND annual economic report

ECONOMICS: Economic Recovery
TOPIC: The economic recovery since the recession ending in 2009 is mixed. In terms of job growth, some states have seen double-digit growth in jobs while others are still at the recession levels of opportunities. What are the factors at play in those areas which have enjoyed growth and prosperity? What are the issues that are affecting those areas that have shown very little growth?
SEARCH TERMS: job* AND recovery

ECONOMICS: Debt Struggle Ends
TOPIC: Argentina’s senate has agreed to pay its debt to the hedge funds that sued it in New York City after it defaulted in 2001 on $132 billion in loans. These funds bought the loans up cheaply and are set to gain a huge return on their investments. The agreement is one result of the change in leadership in Argentina. What was Argentina’s defense during its trial? What part of the ruling especially favored these funds? Is this result good for the holders of sovereign debt?
SEARCH TERMS: Argentina AND sovereign debt AND vulture funds

ECONOMICS: World Economic Conditions
TOPIC:  The UN has issued a report on world economic conditions as of mid-2016 and predicts slowing growth for the rest of the year. Among the reasons it cites are declining commodities prices, especially oil, and weak demand from the developed world. What does it think growth will be and how does it differ from its last forecast? How does it think the world’s poorest countries will do and the world’s richest countries? What has it foreseen for the world’s regions?
SEARCH TERMS: UN AND World Economic Situation and Prospects

 ECONOMICS: Payday Loans   
TOPIC:  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency created after the financial crash in 2008, has announced new regulations on payday loans.  What are payday loans and why are being regulated?  How common are these kinds of loans?
SEARCH TERMS: payday loans AND regulation?

ECONOMICS: Overtime Law
TOPIC:  President Obama has signed a presidential memorandum that creates a new law that salaried employees making under $47,500 per year have to be paid overtime rates for time in excess of 40 hours per week. What have been the most convincing arguments for and against this new rule?  What was the existing law and why?   
SEARCH TERMS: overtime AND Obama 

ECONOMICS: Puerto Rico Debt Crisis
TOPIC: The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is unable to make its bond payment deadline, creating a default that will escalate the severity of its debt crisis. What created Puerto Rico’s debt problems and how is it trying to resolve them? What will be some likely impacts of their default on bond payments? What are some other impacts of their debt crisis?
SEARCH TERMS: Puerto Rico AND debt AND (bond OR bonds)

ECONOMICS: Diversification Plans
TOPIC: The Saudi Arabian government unveiled ambitious plans to diminish the Kingdom’s reliance on its oil and to diversify its economy. It will sell part of the state-owned oil company Aramco and set up a fund for the development of its cities. It also hopes to deal with unemployment. What are some of the specifics of this plan? Who will be in charge of it? What do outside analysts think about its chance of success?
SEARCH TERMS: Saudi Arabia AND reform AND economy

ECONOMICS: Federal Reserve Rates
TOPIC: The U.S. economy has slowed down in the first quarter and likewise the Federal Reserve is planning to keep interest rates low. What are some of the factors that contributed to this? How do interest rates impact the economy?
SEARCH TERMS: Federal Reserve AND rates AND quarter

ECONOMICS: Stalled Economy
TOPIC: Low demand for mined commodities combined with the effects of drought on agricultural
production has stalled South Africa’s economy. It may enter a period of recession. How important
are the extractive and agricultural sectors to the SA economy? What happens to other parts of the
economy when these two slow down?
SEARCH TERMS: South Africa AND recession

ECONOMICS: Brexit and Interest Rates
TOPIC: Chairman of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen had delayed raising interest rates due to
low job grown reports for April and May, but the British exit (Brexit) from the European Union (EU)
has likely cancelled any plans for a rate hike in the foreseeable future. How does Brexit impact the
U.S. economy and how do low interest rates help with those challenges? In more stable times,
how can raising interest rates help the economy? What are some other plans in the United States
to help protect our economy from negative impacts of Brexit?
SEARCH TERMS: Brexit AND (U.S. OR United States) AND interest rates

ECONOMICS: U.S. Banks Pass Stress Test
TOPIC: As the Brexit vote was taking place, all of the 33 U.S. banks were passing the Federal
Reserve’s stress test that measures how well they can maintain capital requirements under severe
economic conditions. How are these tests conducted, and what is measured? How do the results
of these tests show durability of the banks against economic stresses that can result from the
recent Brexit vote?
SEARCH TERMS: banks AND stress AND (Federal Reserve OR Fed)

ECONOMICS: Italy’s Banks
TOPIC: Italy’s banks are thought to hold 30% of the Eurozone’s non-performing loans (NPLs). European Union rules limit state aid to banks and, to date, the Union is insisting the Italian government follow those rules. What’s the potential long-term effect of the collapse of one or more big Italian banks? What is the impact on ordinary citizens? How did the banks accumulate all those NPLs and how do Italian banks compare to other banks in Eurozone countries?
SEARCH TERMS: Italy AND banks AND non-performing loans

ECONOMICS: Bull Market
TOPIC: Standard and Poor’s 500 index shows that the current seven year bull market is second only to the bull market that ended in August 1956 and may have the strength to surpass it. What is the length of the top three bull markets and what are some ways in which the stock market impacts the overall economy? What are the strongest and weakest aspects of the current economy and what is being done to help strengthen the weak parts?
SEARCH TERMS: bull market AND record

ECONOMICS: New Tax Structure
TOPIC: India has passed a far-reaching tax reform with its new Goods and Services Tax, which will replace the hodge-podge of local and state taxes. It will make all of India into a single market. What are some of the problems that India’s current system of taxation creates for companies that do business throughout the country? How will the GST help them? What else should happen if this tax is applied fairly?
SEARCH TERMS: India AND Goods and Services Tax

ECONOMICS: Mylan’s Price Hike of the EpiPen
TOPIC: Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, is facing mounting criticism of their decision to hike the price of their product. What types of consumer and political push-backs are happening due to their decision? How do pharmaceutical companies determine pricing of their products? How do price variances get determined when selling brand name drugs versus generic drugs? What determines whether an insurer covers the cost of some prescriptions while others are paid by consumers out-of-pocket?