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English for Economists

English for Economists

By Alan Robert

Weekly English lessons for people who need to speak and read about the economy in English. Alan Robert has been teaching business English to economists for 20 years. Join him for these weekly business English lessons that include news and headlines you can use to learn the English vocabulary you need to read, write and speak about the economy. These business English podcast lessons focus on current events and teach you English vocabulary for economics finance, business, banking, and government.
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Fintech Financing Slump | English Lesson

English for EconomistsOct 24, 2022

Yellen’s Debt Limit Warnings, and the Idiom 'A Stitch in Time Saves Nine'

Yellen’s Debt Limit Warnings, and the Idiom 'A Stitch in Time Saves Nine'

Podcast #74 dives into Janet Yellen's ignored debt limit warnings and their potential fallout. Learn key economic terms such as "warnings went unheeded," "fallout," "spending cap," and "contingency plan." Plus, we break down a timely idiom, "A stitch in time saves nine," in the context of this economic event.

Jun 02, 202307:01
The Debt Ceiling Crisis

The Debt Ceiling Crisis

Explore the headline "Investors brace for a painful crash into America's debt-ceiling" published in The Economist magazine on May 10, 2023. Learn the words "brace," "debt-ceiling", and "default".

May 24, 202307:55
Learn the idioms "Getting in Your Face" and "Breathing Down Your Neck", used in the context of the delicate relationship between South Korea and the superpowers China and United States.

Learn the idioms "Getting in Your Face" and "Breathing Down Your Neck", used in the context of the delicate relationship between South Korea and the superpowers China and United States.

In Episode 72 of "English for Economists," we explore idiomatic expressions in a recent Economist article about South Korea's delicate position between the United States and China. Learn the meanings behind the idioms "in its face" and "breathing down its neck," as well as the related expression "at odds with." This episode is perfect for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of English idiomatic expressions, especially those with an interest in economics and international relations. Don't miss out on this engaging lesson—subscribe and share with your friends to support the podcast!

Apr 25, 202305:28
Wonking Out: Discussing the Future of the US Dollar
Apr 17, 202305:20
Tinkering with ChatGPT – How AI is Impacting the Writing Industry

Tinkering with ChatGPT – How AI is Impacting the Writing Industry

Join Alan Robert on this episode of "English for Economists" as he dives into the world of AI technology and its impact on the writing industry. Discover the meaning behind the phrase, "The writing is on the wall," and learn about the new work specialty of "prompt engineering."

Find show notes at

Apr 11, 202307:36
Twitter-Fueled Bank Run

Twitter-Fueled Bank Run

In our latest "English for Economists" episode, we dive into the fascinating story of the first Twitter-fueled bank run that led to the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. Understand the role of social media in this unprecedented event and learn essential English vocabulary and idioms. Find all the show notes at Tune in now!

Mar 28, 202305:22
Riding the Investment Roller Coaster

Riding the Investment Roller Coaster

In this English lesson, you will learn how to use the expressions 'Boom,' 'Bust,' 'Capex,' and the idiomatic expression 'Riding a Roller Coaster.'

Find show notes at

Mar 22, 202304:18
Understanding 'Premiumization'
Mar 07, 202304:18
China's Population Drop

China's Population Drop

In this episode, you will hear how to use these useful words and phrases: 

• Shrinking population - a decrease in the total number of people living in a given area over time.

• Working-age population - the number of people who are of working age in a population.

• Yields diminishing returns - the returns from investments are not as great as they were before.

• Bloated real estate sector - an oversupply of housing.

• Economic superpower - a country that has significant economic power, both in terms of production and consumption.

Photo credit: Galen Crout at Unsplash. Follow on Twitter:

Feb 27, 202303:44
The Battle Over Retirement Age in France

The Battle Over Retirement Age in France

In this English lesson, we will examine the topic of the proposed changes to the retirement age in France. 

Our key words and phrases are: 

· Brace for protests

· Statutory retirement age

· Aging population

· Social security benefits

· And the idiom "ripe old age".

Visit the webpage for class notes. 


Photo credit:  CC BY-SA 4.0

File:Sens-FR-89-manif 19 01 23-réforme retraites-16.jpg

Created: 19 January 2023


Feb 22, 202305:43
'Hedging Your Bets' by using 'Nearshoring'
Feb 07, 202303:32
CBDC, Stablecoins, DeFi and Web3

CBDC, Stablecoins, DeFi and Web3

Our topic deals with the vocabulary of digital currencies, and more specifically, Central Bank Digital Currencies and stablecoins. I will present definitions for important words for people learning English for economics and finance. 

Jan 24, 202306:16
ChatGPT and AI

ChatGPT and AI

This lesson deals with language surrounding new chatbot technology that applies artificial intelligence (AI) to solve problems, providing detailed, well-written answers.. that may or may not be factual. Chatbots like this one can be an important tool if you want to learn English. 

See lesson notes at

Jan 10, 202306:19
What Is the 'Gig' Economy?

What Is the 'Gig' Economy?

learn vocabulary related to the so-called ‘gig economy’ that is currently growing with leaps and bounds, words like gig, task, self-employed, and freelancer, among a few more.   I’ll also go over the pronunciation of some words related to the economy that are often mispronounced in English so you can make sure you are saying them right.

Find show notes here:


Photo credit: Gig worker. (2022, December 8). In Wikipedia.

Jan 02, 202306:40
What is a 'FinTwit Scheme'?

What is a 'FinTwit Scheme'?

See lesson notes at

Dec 19, 202205:25
Some Central Banks Are Stockpiling Gold | English Lesson

Some Central Banks Are Stockpiling Gold | English Lesson

This lesson looks at some words related to gold and gold reserves. Also, come practice how to pronounce some especially tricky words. 

Dec 06, 202203:50
'Breakthrough' in talks 'spurs' concessions | English Lesson

'Breakthrough' in talks 'spurs' concessions | English Lesson

Read the show notes and learn more about our English programs at

Nov 30, 202204:55
Spike in Counterfeit Jewelry Sales | English Lesson

Spike in Counterfeit Jewelry Sales | English Lesson

Find show notes and courses at Also, find the course 'How to Give Great Presentations in English, Even if Your English Isn't Great'.

Foto de Samar Ahmad en Unsplash
Nov 22, 202204:46
The Collapse of the FTX Crypto Exchange | English Lesson

The Collapse of the FTX Crypto Exchange | English Lesson

To read lesson notes, visit

Nov 18, 202209:09
Windfall Taxes | English Lesson

Windfall Taxes | English Lesson

Find lesson notes and more here:

Nov 10, 202207:19
Fintech Financing Slump | English Lesson

Fintech Financing Slump | English Lesson

This English lesson for economists covers the recent decrease in the money moving in to invest in the fintech sector.  Find lesson notes at:

Oct 24, 202206:56
Bailouts | English Lesson

Bailouts | English Lesson

Are company bailouts the new normal? 

To see show notes, visit

Image credit: “Bailing Out the Boat”, by William Marshal Brown (Edinburgh, 1863).

Oct 07, 202205:14
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished | English Lesson
Sep 01, 202203:55
Turkey Becomes Türkiye | English Lesson

Turkey Becomes Türkiye | English Lesson

Learn why Turkey changed its official name to Türkiye, and hear how this new name is pronounced in English.

For lesson notes and videos, visit:

Aug 24, 202202:51
Hiring Spree | English Lesson
Aug 09, 202202:15
Friend-shoring | English Lesson

Friend-shoring | English Lesson for lesson notes.

Aug 03, 202204:02
UN Population Projections | English Lesson

UN Population Projections | English Lesson

See lesson notes for this English lesson here:

Jul 20, 202204:52
Crypto Asset Prices Fall | English Lesson

Crypto Asset Prices Fall | English Lesson

See lesson notes and previous lessons here:

Jul 14, 202206:08
Dollarization| English Lesson

Dollarization| English Lesson

This lesson looks at some English you need to discuss the topic of dollarization. See lesson notes here:

Jul 06, 202204:45
India Tech and the Carbon Footprint | English Lesson
Jun 16, 202203:51
Food Insecurity | English Lesson

Food Insecurity | English Lesson

The topic of this week's English lesson is 'Food Insecurity'.

To see notes and links, visit:

#englishforeconomists #englishforfinance #englishlessons #englishforbusiness #foodinsecurity

Jun 08, 202204:13
Bear Market Rally | English Lesson

Bear Market Rally | English Lesson

For lesson notes and video, you can visit

Jun 01, 202203:27
Money Markets and Reverse Repos | English Lesson

Money Markets and Reverse Repos | English Lesson

Watch the video and see lesson notes at

May 26, 202206:01
Digital Payments | English Lesson

Digital Payments | English Lesson

This English vocabulary lesson covers some words related to the topic of digital payments.   Vocabulary includes: Digital Payments / Digital Wallet / Unbanked / Financial Inclusion / Data Breach / Pros and Cons  

You can find class notes here:

May 18, 202209:03
Solar Geoengineering | English Lesson

Solar Geoengineering | English Lesson

Our English lesson today has to do with climate change and science. The topic is ‘Solar Geoengineering’.  Study with the script to this video:

May 11, 202206:03
Elon Musk Buys Twitter | English Lesson

Elon Musk Buys Twitter | English Lesson

To see video and lesson, visit

May 03, 202206:18
Fertilizer Shortage | English Lesson

Fertilizer Shortage | English Lesson

An English vocabulary lesson to help you learn the language you need to discuss the current fertilizer crisis. See lesson notes here:

Apr 26, 202208:14
Sovereign Debt and Default | English Lesson

Sovereign Debt and Default | English Lesson

Find video version and show notes at

Apr 21, 202207:25
Inflation | English Lesson

Inflation | English Lesson

Learn useful English vocabulary to talk about inflation. To see the full lesson, visit

Apr 13, 202211:27
Drought and Desertification | English Lesson

Drought and Desertification | English Lesson

Find show notes and vocabulary list here:

Apr 06, 202208:56
Universal Basic Income (UBI) | English Lesson

Universal Basic Income (UBI) | English Lesson

To see the script and watch the video, visit

Mar 30, 202210:60
Wheat Price and Supply : Crisis in Ukraine | English Lesson

Wheat Price and Supply : Crisis in Ukraine | English Lesson

To watch the video lesson and to see show notes, visit:

Mar 24, 202207:21
Refugee Surge from Ukraine | English Lesson

Refugee Surge from Ukraine | English Lesson

Find show notes and view the video here:

Mar 16, 202206:50
Sudden Increase in the Price of Oil and Gas

Sudden Increase in the Price of Oil and Gas

See lesson notes here:

Mar 08, 202206:22
Economic Sanctions and Their Effect on Currency

Economic Sanctions and Their Effect on Currency

Our vocabulary today is related to economic sanctions and their impact on currency.

If you are listening to this lesson on a podcast, I want you to know that you can also watch the lesson on video on my website. Watching the lesson gives you the benefit of seeing, not just hearing, the highlighted words. CURTAIN

Here are our keywords and expressions. You will hear me use them later in context. Listen closely:

Economic sanctions: Commercial and financial penalties applied by one country against another. Note the verb I used: Apply. Countries apply sanctions. You can also say that countries “impose” sanctions or “levy” sanctions. So, you apply, impose and levy sanctions.

Ruble: Russia’s currency. Note the pronunciation.

Slump: To suddenly decrease in value. Other words you can use are “plunge” and “plummet”. It’s often used to talk about the fall in the value of a currency.

Bank run: When large groups of depositors withdraw their money from banks at the same time. This causes extreme stress on the bank.

Queue:  A lineup of people is a queue. You can also use it as a verb: “to queue” means “to line up”.

ATM: ATM stands for Automated Teller Machines, the machines you use to access your bank account and withdraw cash.

To shore up: to support something in order to keep it from falling.

Downgrade: To reduce to a lower rank.

Junk status: Below an acceptable investment grade.

Okay, friends.

The most important news this week, without a doubt, is the military invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Most countries have been quick to condemn the aggression and many major economies have applied economic sanctions to punish Russia.

These economic sanctions levied against Russia have had a dramatic impact on Russia’s currency, the ruble. On Monday, the ruble slumped 20%. This sudden fall created a panic among some Russians who began to queue at the ATMs to withdraw cash.

Mar 02, 202205:35
Cryptocurrency Risks

Cryptocurrency Risks

English Lesson: The Deputy Governor of India’s central bank, T Rabi Shankar, said in a speech that cryptocurrencies are not suitable to be defined as a currency, asset, or commodity because they have no underlying cash flows and they have no intrinsic value.  Our vocab: Buzz / Wave of the future / Ponzi scheme / Fiat currency

Feb 22, 202205:04
Central Banks Raise Policy Rates

Central Banks Raise Policy Rates

Well, it has been all over the news this past month. From Brazil to Russia to the United Kingdom, central banks all over the world are raising their interest rates, and analysts expect that the United States Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank to begin raising their rates later this year.

Learn some useful vocabulary to discuss this global trend. Our highlighted vocabulary in this lesson includes

Soaring Inflation Surging prices Tightening monetary policy Economic rebound Hawkish stance Dove Upward shift
Feb 17, 202206:05
Problems and Delays in the Global Supply Chain

Problems and Delays in the Global Supply Chain

In  this episode, you'll learn these useful words you can use to talk about the global supply chain crisis:

Freight: goods transported in bulk by truck, train, ship, or airplane. A related word is “cargo”.

Gauge: device or formula for measuring the size, amount, or contents of something. In this case a gauge is used to measure length of time.

Glut: an excessively abundant supply of something. In this case, a glut of shipped merchandise.

Warehouse: a large building where raw materials or manufactured goods may be stored before their export or distribution for sale.

Longshoreman: a dockworker involved in loading and unloading cargo from ships.

Backlog: A backlog is a buildup of work that needs to be completed. In this case, a backlog of freight that needs to be delivered.

Feb 07, 202209:14
Trailer / Promo for "English for Economists" Podcast

Trailer / Promo for "English for Economists" Podcast

Learn the English vocabulary you need to read, write and speak about the economy in English!

Hi. I am Alan Robert, and I am a teacher who specializes in teaching English to economists, and to other professionals who need to speak, read or write about the economy in English. I’ve taught English to economists employed at central banks, pension funds, and utility companies for more than 20 years, and I will show you the most useful, relevant vocabulary you need to talk about what is happening in your country, and your industry.

In every podcast, I’ll share a topic that has been in the economic news recently and I’ll introduce the key words related to the issue. You will hear the definition of the word, and you’ll get a chance to hear the word used in context.

Subscribe or follow this show so you don’t miss any future episodes. I also encourage you to listen to earlier episodes. The topics are still relevant, and so is the vocabulary.

If you are interested and you’d like to learn more about other English language lessons, come visit the website

But for now, welcome to the show. I am so glad you could join me.

Feb 07, 202201:21
The Global Housing Price Boom

The Global Housing Price Boom

Is the current high level of house prices sustainable? Central banks, worried about surging inflation, are tightening monetary policy, including by raising interest rates. In its latest financial-stability report the IMF warned that “downside risks to house prices appear to be significant”. This could reduce prices substantially. 

However, in a recent article, the Economist magazine argues that there are three reasons why prices could remain at their current level, or even continue to increase.

Here is the vocabulary we will look at in this podcast. 

Surging inflation: Inflation that is increasing suddenly, and powerfully.

Downside risk: A risk that something will get worse.

Sustainable: Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

Stable jobs: A job position that employees can keep for long periods of time.

Foreclose: take possession of a mortgaged property as a result of a lack of payment. The property is then usually resold.

Shifting preference: A change in preference. A change in what people want.

Supply constraint: A constraint holds something back, in this case, a supply constraint is a limit on the amount of supplies, like building materials for example.

Feb 01, 202207:08
Chinese Real Estate Developer 'Evergrande Group' in a Liquidity Crisis

Chinese Real Estate Developer 'Evergrande Group' in a Liquidity Crisis

Real Estate: Houses or buildings

Liability: In this story, liability is debt.

Onshore and Offshore: Inside a country and outside of the country

Liquidity Crisis: A lack of cash or liquid assets

Contagion: The spreading of something negative, like fear, or an illness.

Demolish: To knockdown, or tear down, a building.

Jan 08, 202206:41
Omicron Surge

Omicron Surge

Surge: a sudden powerful forward or upward movement

Variant: a version of something that differs from a standard.

Disrupt: to interrupt / to cause a disturbance or problem.

Flight crews: the workers responsible for the operation of an aircraft during flight.

Contagious: able to be passed from one individual to another through contact

Staff shortage: not enough workers to do the job properly

Complacent: to lose the feeling that there is a risk

Dec 29, 202105:47
China's Belt and Road Initiative

China's Belt and Road Initiative

In this week’s episode, English for Economists looks at the Belt and Road Initiative, the massive global infrastructure development program being promoted and funded by China.

But first, our vocabulary:

Infrastructure: Infrastructure is the physical and organizational structures and facilities, for example, buildings, airports, roads, the electrical system, ports.

Linkage: The connection or interconnection between two or more parties. In this case, it is the connection, or the relationship, between countries.

Soft power: the use of economic or cultural pressure as a method of influence.

Debt burden: the obligation to pay back borrowed money. You take a loan? Well, you have acquired a certain debt burden. It is a weight. An obligation.

Debt trap diplomacy: When the creditor country is said to extend excessive credit to a debtor country with the goal of getting economic or political concessions when the debtor country is unable to pay the money back.

Creditor trap: When the lender is unable to collect on loans and is faced with taking a loss.

Contractor: Contractors are professionals or companies who provide skills or services for a limited time. In other words, people, or companies, that are contracted to do something.

Dec 22, 202108:38
The Commercial Fishing Industry

The Commercial Fishing Industry

Today's podcast takes a look at some vocabulary you can use to talk about the commercial fishing industry. 

Fishery: the enterprise of raising or harvesting fish.

Wild fishery: a natural body of water with a fish or other aquatic animal population that can be harvested for its commercial value.

Freshwater fishery: Fishery in ponds, reservoirs, lakes, rivers, and other inland waterways. The opposite of freshwater is salty water, by the way.

Ocean fisheries: Fishery in the oceans, in saltwater.

Aquaculture: Basically, it is farming in water. Aquaculture is breeding, raising, and harvesting fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants. Related words are are fish farming and pisciculture.

Fishing season: The legally established time period when fishing is allowed.

Fishing quota: An assigned share of a fish catch by weight to an individual or enterprise. Authorities try to prevent overfishing by establishing fishing quotas.

Bycatch: is a fish or other marine species that is caught unintentionally while fishing for specific species.

Factory ship: ship accompanying a group of fishing vessels known as a fishing fleet, with facilities to process the catch.

Fish meal: ground dried fish used as fertilizer or animal feed.

Overfishing: the practice of catching fish faster than they can reproduce.

Moratorium on fishing: This is a ban on fishing, or in other words, a temporary or permanent stop to fishing.

Dec 17, 202109:27
Returning to work and the hybrid workplace

Returning to work and the hybrid workplace

In today’s podcast, we are going to look at what has become a reality for many of you: hybrid work. And by hybrid work, I mean when you some of your job at your traditional place of work, and some of it at home… or at some other place.  Human resource departments and management have a lot of thinking and planning to do so their workers can be productive. 


Workforce: People who are engaged in, or ready to work. The workers.

Workplace: The place where people work, like an office, school, or factory.

Remote work: Remote work (also known as work from home or telecommuting,  is a type of flexible working arrangement that allows an employee to work from home, or some other location.

Hybrid working: Hybrid working is a type of flexible working where an employee splits their time between the workplace and working remotely

Pilot program: A pilot program, also called a trial, is a small-scale, short-term experiment that helps an organization learn how a project might work.

Employee wellbeing: The happiness, comfort and health of employees. Also called “welfare”.

Employee morale: The confidence, enthusiasm and happiness of employees.

Personnel: people employed in an organization

Dec 06, 202108:14
Microfinance: Small loans backed by trust

Microfinance: Small loans backed by trust

Today, our topic is microfinance.

Here is the Vocabulary: It is a much longer list today. Listen closely, and listen to this section a few times if you need to!

Microfinance: this refers to the financial services provided to low-income individuals or groups who are typically excluded from traditional banking.

Working capital: money that the entrepreneur can use for day-to-day operations, or purchase transport or equipment.

Microcredit: A part of the field of microfinance, microcredit is the provision of credit services to low-income entrepreneurs. Another way to say microcredit is microloan.

Collateral: Something offered as security for the repayment of the loan.

Unbanked: A term used to describe the world’s working poor who are outside of the formal banking sector.

Microentrepreneur: Micro entrepreneurs are people who own small-scale businesses that are known as microenterprises.

Financial Inclusion: Financial inclusion happens when people have access to a range of banking products at affordable prices.

Group Lending: Group Lending happens when a group of people make a collective repayment promise.

Sponsors: An individual who supports a borrower.

I also want to remind you of a word you learned on last weeks podcast “Pledge”. Remember? To pledge means “to promise”.

Nov 29, 202108:33
Climate Change: The COP26 Conference

Climate Change: The COP26 Conference

In today’s podcast, we are going to go over some very useful vocabulary related to the topic of climate change.

This is a timely topic, since the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, recently finished. The climate conference was held in Glasgow, Scotland in the United Kingdom. What were the goals of the conference and what was accomplished? Well, you’ll hear about that a little later, but first, but first, listen up! Here is our key vocabulary. Pay close attention to the meanings and the pronunciation.

Collective action: This is when a number of people work together to achieve some common objective.

Heatwave: a long period of unusually hot weather.

Flood:  An overflowing of a large amount of water, especially over what is usually dry land. Too much water? A flood. Floods can cause a tremendous amount of destruction.

Drought: A long dry period with an unusually small amount of rain. Too little water? A drought. Droughts can have a terrible impact on agriculture.

Fossil fuel: These fuels are found in the Earth and can be burned for energy. Coal, oil, and natural gas are examples of fossil fuels. Coal, by the way, is that black rock.

Emissions: the production and release of gas. Emissions are produced by burning fossil fuels and industrial agriculture, among many other causes.

Greenhouse Gas: A greenhouse gas is a chemical compound found in the Earth’s atmosphere. Two examples are carbon dioxide and methane.

Renewable energy: Renewable energy is energy that comes from naturally replenished resources, such as sunlight, wind, waves, and geothermal heat.

Pledge: A commitment to do something. A promise.

Phase-out: an act of discontinuing a process, project, or service in phases.

Nov 23, 202110:20
Institutions: Why Nations Fail, a book by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson.

Institutions: Why Nations Fail, a book by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson.

Today, we will introduce the book titled Why Nations Fail. This book was written by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson and it was first published in 2012.  The author's view of the relationship between institutions and progress has gained the support of many readers, but there are others who criticize the book and say its ideas are simplistic. I wonder what you think about it.


Vocabulary. Here is some English vocabulary that helps you understand the topic, and more importantly, this vocabulary helps you THINK about the topic.

Here we go:

Natural resources: Elements that can be used for economic gains, like forests, water, fertile land, oil, or minerals, such as gold, or copper, or silver.

Procedure: An established or official way of doing something in a certain order or manner.

Institutions: refers to entities with procedures and ways of doing things. The state apparatus that manages affairs in a country is an example of an institution. In fact, it is an institution composed of many other institutions doing different things.

Institutional strengthening: The process of helping institutions develop and work better.

Sustainable development: This happens when the economy develops without depleting the natural resources that society depends upon.

Prerequisite: This is something that is required as a prior condition for something else to happen or exist.

Political Pluralism: When political power is shared among many different actors with many different opinions and ideologies.


The complete title of the book is: Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. As you would expect from a book with this title, the authors try to explain how some countries have managed to achieve high levels of prosperity, while others have consistently failed.

The authors argue state that political and economic institutions — not culture, natural resources, genetics, religion, or geography — are the main reason why some nations have gotten rich while others remain poor. This is because institutions have a set of rules and enforcement mechanisms.

A good example is North Korea and South Korea. Eighty years ago, the two were very similar, now, thanks to the impact of the different institutions south and north or the border, the two countries are very, very different. South Korea is prosperous; North Korea is not. North Korea has a very authoritarian government, South Korea is much less so.

The authors say that pluralistic political institutions – where there is a wide range of thought and opinion –– can guarantee that the owners of existing monopolies will not be able to block the introduction of new technologies … new technologies that, according to the authors, are a necessary condition for the country's transition to sustainable development.

Authors Acemoglu and Robinson also believe that another prerequisite is a sufficient level of centralization of power in the country. Without this centralization, political pluralism can become a real mess, and nothing will get done. It is a delicate balance.

Some critics point out that there have been cases of countries without political plurality, who have in some cases been dictatorships, that have experienced rapid growth and deep economic reforms, for example, the experience of China in the 1980s.  Others point out that there have also been cases of countries with pluralistic institutions which have exploited their natural resources without considering their sustainability at all.

Nov 15, 202110:37
Mining and Smelting

Mining and Smelting

In today's lesson, we take a look at some of the vocabulary surrounding the mining and smelting industries.

Let’s look first at some key vocabulary.

Prospecting: Prospecting is often the very first stage in the search for mineral deposits.

Drill sampling: A small hole is pierced into the ground and a sample of rock is brought to the surface.

Ore: a mineral that has a high concentration of a certain element, typically a metal. By the way, an ore is always a mineral, but a mineral is not always an ore.

Surface mining: This is a broad category of mining in which soil and rock lying on top of the mineral deposit are removed.

Sub-surface mining: consists of digging tunnels or shafts into the earth to reach buried ore deposits.

Ore milling: a process to crush rock and separate ore from waste material.

Smelting: A process that uses heat or chemicals to separate the metal from the ore.

Mining is a very important industry and key player in the economies of certain countries. For example, mining is a very important industry in my adoptive home of Peru. The principal metals mined here are copper, gold, zinc, and silver. Mining exports are one of the most important drivers of the economy.

The first step in the mining process is prospecting. This is when geologists and other professionals search for mineral deposits hidden underground. Once they discover a location likely to contain minerals, they take the exploration process one step further and conduct drill sampling, where they extract ore samples from underground. If the concentration of a valuable metal within the ore sample is high enough to make mining profitable, they look for investors to develop the mine.  Exploration is a risky business though: Less than one per cent of exploration projects typically progress to establishing a mine.

Mines come in many different shapes and sizes, and I am no expert, but for the sake of this podcast lesson, let’s break them up into two main categories: surface mining and sub-surface mining. With surface mining, the miners dig and remove the soil on rock that sits on top of the mineral deposits. This can leave massive holes in the ground. With sub-surface mines, on the other hand, the mineral is reached through a system of tunnels and shafts. Probably for most of you, this is what you imagine when you think about mining. Men –– and it is almost always men –– in hard hats going down deep into the earth to access the minerals. When mines are operated without proper safety standards, this can still be a very dangerous job.

Now, once the ore is removed from the mine, it needs to be processed to separate the minerals from the waste material. Processing the minerals is first done at an ore mill where the ore is broken and crushed into smaller pieces and washed. This can involve large amounts of water.

Ore mills generate large amounts of waste, called tailings. For example, 99 tons of waste are generated per ton of copper, with even higher ratios in gold mining – because only 5.3 g of gold is extracted per ton of ore, a ton of gold produces 200,000 tons of tailings.

Once the milling is finished, the final step is smelting, where the valuable metal is extracted from its ore by a process involving heating and melting. This process uses a lot of electricity, and smelters have been known to produce water and air pollution, especially at older smelters.

Nov 09, 202110:07
Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining

Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining

Originating in Great Britain, trade unions became popular in many countries during the Industrial Revolution.

Why do unions exist? Well, the most common purpose of these unions is –– to put it simply –– to maintaining or improve the conditions of the workers’ employment”. This may include the negotiation of wages, safety standards, complaint procedures, rules about job promotions, and employment benefits–– such as vacation, health care, and retirement.

The trade union, through an elected leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labor contracts with employers. Since the unions are negotiating on behalf of a group of employees, this is known as a collective negotiation or collective bargaining.

The general public hears about labor unions when there is a labor dispute. That’s because when the negotiations don’t go well, the unions can sometimes take collective action to pressure their employers to meet their demands. This pressure can take many forms. One of the most well-known pressure tactics is for the union to call a strike, where workers refuse to work. Sometimes striking workers will even picket the company’s offices or factories. Have you ever seen this? Maybe on the news. I am talking about when striking workers gather together, some of them holding signs, sometimes chanting what they want. It is rare for labor disputes to deteriorate to a strike with workers picketing the offices. Both sides of the dispute usually want to avoid this type of conflict.

The overall impact of unions seems to vary from country to country. On one hand, research from Norway and other Nordic countries, which by the way have the highest levels of trade union density, has found that high unionization rates lead to substantial increases in firm productivity, as well as increases in workers' wages.

On the other hand, research in the United States finds that unions can harm profitability and reduce employment and business growth.

My personal opinion is that while unions can provide higher wages and reduce inequality, they also restrict employment flexibility and hurt company profits.

What about the labor unions in your country? Are there many? Are they powerful? Let me know what you think in the comments section on our webpage.

Okay, friends, let’s take one last look at our vocabulary from this lesson.

Labor Union: an organization of employees for dealing collectively with employers to improve working conditions. Some related expressions are trade union and trade syndicate.

Collective bargaining: collective bargaining is negotiating as a unified group.

To strike: a refusal to work organized by the union as a form of protest, and to apply pressure on the employer during a negotiation.

To picket: a group of people protesting outside a place of work, often carrying signs and chanting slogans.

Nov 02, 202109:00
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Our topic today? Foreign Direct Investment, also known as FDI.


Economic territory: the areas under the effective economic control of a single government.

Residence: the economic territory where the enterprise has its main economic interest.

Foreign Parent: A foreign parent an owner residing outside the host country which has at least 10 percent ownership in the enterprise.

Inward Flow: This measure captures FDI from one market to the host country.

Outward Flow: This measure captures FDI from the source to a foreign country.


Most economists agree that foreign direct investment (FDI) is beneficial for the economic development of the host country –– and by “host country”, I mean the economic territory that receives the investment.

The benefits of FDI are many and can include the creation of new jobs, especially if the investment is used for the construction of new projects. Also, for developing economies, FDI can be key for bringing new technology into the country.

Some countries benefit more from FDI than others because the nature of the investment can create an important multiplier effect, for example through the use of local production of materials for construction.

It is possible to identify the direct impact of FDI on economic development through the national accounts, however FDI could also have many indirect impacts that are more difficult to capture––such as the development of human capital.

Generally speaking, developing economies receive a net inward flow of FDI and developed economies a net outward flow. That makes sense, richer countries invest in poorer countries where local funding is scarce. For example, in a country with plentiful natural resources, a large investment could be necessary to develop them.

What can be some of the disadvantages of FDI?

The disadvantages of FDI could be that the revenues from the investment don’t necessarily stay in the economic territory, but rather flow across the border to the foreign parent. Depending on the scale of the economy of the host country, the outward flow of profit remitted to the foreign parent can even provoke a trade deficit.

Vocabulary Review

Economic territory: the areas under the effective economic control of a single government.

Residence: the economic territory where the enterprise has its main economic interest.

Foreign Parent: A foreign parent an owner residing outside the host country which has at least 10 percent ownership in the enterprise.

Inward Flow: This measure captures FDI from one market to the host country.

Outward Flow: This measure captures FDI from the source to a foreign country.

Oct 21, 202107:45
Immigration and Remittances

Immigration and Remittances

Our topic today is immigration.

Let's look at our vocabulary first.

Migration: the action of moving from one country to another. A migrant is a person who moves from one place to another, especially in order to find work or better living conditions.

Immigration: the action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country. An immigrant is a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.

To put it simply, a migrant is someone who moves temporarily to a new country while an immigrant is someone who will settle and stay permanently

Refugee (political, economic): a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Undocumented immigrant: Undocumented immigrants are foreign nationals who lack proper authorization to be in their new country.

Repatriation: to return someone to their own country, sometimes against their wishes. A related word is deportation, which means transport someone to their home country

Remittances: In this context, a remittance is the money that migrants or immigrants send back to their home country, usually to family.

Border: The legal line that separates one country from another.

Multiculturalism: the presence of, several distinct cultural or ethnic groups within a society.

Oct 21, 202108:34
Grants, subsidies and stimulus payments

Grants, subsidies and stimulus payments

Our topic today? Grants, subsidies and stimulus payments. That’s right. Free money! The best money of all!

Oct 11, 202105:33


Our topic today is superintendencies.


Supervise and Supervision: Supervision is the act or function of supervising something or somebody. In other words, to supervise something or somebody. Other related concepts––which are not necessarily synonyms--include the following verbs: oversee, regulate, administer, control, manage and monitor.

Superintendence: the act or process of superintending.

Superintendency: the position or work of a superintendent.

Superintendent: a person who manages or superintends an organization or activity

Oct 11, 202106:01
The Electrical Grid and Power Transmission

The Electrical Grid and Power Transmission

You could say that today’s lesson a very “powerful”. Our topic? The electrical grid.

Let’s begin with some relevant vocabulary:

Electrical grid: An electrical grid is an interconnected network for electricity delivery from producers to consumers.

Hydropower: Also known as hydroelectric power, Hydropower is electrical energy produced through the power of moving water.

Wind power: Wind power or wind energy is the use of wind to provide mechanical power through wind turbines to turn electric generators for electrical power.

Solar power: Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity,

Renewable energy: Renewable energy means energy that is sustainable - something that can't run out, like the sun or the wind or ocean tides. Renewable energy is also known as green energy.

Non-renewable energy: Non-renewable energy comes from sources that will run out or will not be replenished for thousands or even millions of years. Most non-renewable energy sources are fossil fuels: coal, petroleum, and natural gas.

Power outage: also called a power cut, a power out, a power blackout, power failure, or a blackout is a loss of electric power to a particular area.

So let’s get started. What is an electrical grid? An electrical grid is an interconnected network for electricity delivery from producers to consumers. The electrical power grid was created when power utilities formed joint operations to provide a more reliable service.

Oct 01, 202111:08
Housing: Moratoriums on Rental Payments

Housing: Moratoriums on Rental Payments

Today’s topic is rental housing.

Let’s begin by looking at our vocabulary.


Housing: A building, or something else that covers and protects. An example of housing is an apartment building.

Property: Something belonging to somebody. In this case, it refers to real estate, in particular rental housing (houses, apartments).

Landlord: Someone who owns a house, apartment, condominium, land, or other type of real estate which is rented or leased to an individual or business, who is called a tenant. (landlord/tenant)

Moratorium: a legal authorization to debtors to postpone payment.

Eviction: the action of expelling someone, especially a tenant, from a property. (to evict)

Maintenance: refers to all tasks necessary for keeping a building functional and livable, such as cleaning, painting and repairs.

Now, listen to the reading and hear how these words are used in context.


The Covid-19 crisis provoked a rise in unemployment, which has raised the number of tenants unable to pay rent for their housing. To prevent landlords from evicting tenants who fall behind on their rent, some government agencies have instituted rent moratoriums. These moratoriums pause the obligation of tenants to pay rent and effectively block evictions, which allows the tenants to remain in their home.

What are the pros and cons of these measures?

We could separate the effects into short-term, and long-term. On one hand, the measure offers temporary relief for tenants who can no longer pay rent because they are unemployed, or whose income has reduced. On the other hand, the owners (landlords) stop receiving regular income, which can affect their ability to pay their own debt, property taxes and building maintenance expenses.

Oct 01, 202106:29


Today’s topic is “near and dear” to the hearts of many economists, and anybody else who takes an interest in the economy. Our topic today is elections.

So, let’s get started. Our vocabulary list is a little longer than usual today, so pay close attention. Here goes!


Run for office: To seek political power via an election

Platform: a political party’s formal written statement of its principles and goals

Poll: a survey of people taken to find out which candidate they might vote for

Front runner: the political candidate who looks as though he/she is winning

Polling station: location where people vote

Voting booth: a small enclosure in which a person votes

Paper ballot: a piece of paper on which you indicate your choice

Cast a ballot: to vote in an election

Spoiled ballot: ballot paper that is invalid

Voter turnout: percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election

Landslide: A victory in which one candidate’s votes far surpass those of other candidates

Electoral fraud: illegal interference with the process of an election

Alright, now listen for the words in this reading so you can hear how they are used in context.


Economists pay special attention to elections since government policies have a very big impact on the economy.

The way elections are held vary from country to country, but they all have several things in common. First, politicians decide to run for office. Maybe they run for mayor or run for a seat in congress or the senate, or maybe they run for president.

During the race, politicians make a lot of promises. These promises are part of their so-called “political platform”. Their platform is basically what they represent, and what they promise to do if they get elected.

Oct 01, 202110:33
 Pensions and Retirement

Pensions and Retirement

The topic of today’s podcast is pensions.

Let’s start by looking at some basic vocabulary.

Retire: to leave your job and to stop working, usually by reaching the legal age for leaving employment. Maybe 60-years old, or 65. The person who retires is known a retiree.

Pension: A pension is a regular payment––usually from a company you worked for or from the government––that you receive after you retire. The person who receives the pension is known as a pensioner.

Employer: a person or organization that employs people, in other words, this is the one that gives the employee payment in exchange for their work.

Disability: A disability is any medical condition that makes it more difficult for a person to do certain activities, like work, for example.

Trade Union: an organized association of workers formed to protect and further their rights and interests. Also known as a labor union or a syndicate.

Okay, let’s go to our dialogue to hear these words used in context.

Retirement plans may be set up by employers, insurance companies, the government, or other institutions such as employer associations or trade unions. The quality of pension systems available to workers varies greatly across the globe.

Probably the most common are the so-called “state pensions”. These are paid to pensioners by governments that are committed to providing social security to their citizens. Workers receive state pensions when they reach the age of retirement, or if they become disabled and can no longer work. Normally, the citizen has contributed with payments during their working life to qualify for this benefit. Those are “state pensions”.

Another common form of pensions are the so-called “employment-based pensions”. Employment based pensions are retirement plans that usually require both the employer and employee to contribute money to a fund during their employment in order to receive defined benefits upon retirement.  Those are “employment-based pensions”.

Oct 01, 202106:56


Auction: a public sale in which goods or property are sold to the highest bidder, in other words, to the person or organization who offers the most money. By the way, we often use the phrasal verb “auction off” to describe the action, as in: they auctioned off the painting to the highest bidder.

Bid: The action of making an offer at an auction. You make a bid at an auction when you make an offer to buy.

Lot: An individual object or group of objects offered for sale at auction as a single unit.

Hammer Price: the winning bid for a lot at auction. In other words, the price of the sale.

Buyers’ Premium: auction houses charge buyers an additional fee which is calculated as a percentage of the hammer price. It’s how they make their money.

Forward auction: a situation where a single seller offers an item for sale, and bidders compete to buy at the highest price possible.

Reverse auction: a situation where buyers give their suppliers the chance to competitively offer their goods and services at the lowest price possible.


You have possibly seen auctions on television or in the movies. The auctioneer standing in front of a crowd, sometimes speaking very, very quickly, and the bidders raising their hands or maybe lifting a small sign to show that they are making an offer. That is one of many kinds of an auction, and the style or format of auction varies a lot depending on where it is held, and what is being sold, but no matter whether you are selling livestock, real estate, cars, or artwork, the principle at work is the same, and auctions can be a very exciting contest to see which bidder wins!

But auctions are much more than that traditional idea of the auctioneer standing in front of a bidder, saying “going, going, gone” as they strike the table with a wooden hammer, signifying that the item, which is known as a “lot”, is sold at a final price––known as the hammer price.

The world of auctions is evolving along with technological advances. Auctions now are now carried out online on platforms like E-Bay, or over the telephone, or even through a system of bids enclosed in envelopes.

Oct 01, 202112:20
The Forestry Industry

The Forestry Industry

Forestry: the science of growing trees

Hardwood: In general––but not always––hardwood comes from trees that lose their leaves annually. Hardwood is usually slow-growing and the wood is dense.

Softwood: Softwood is more common than hardwood. It usually comes from trees that remain green year-round, like pine trees for example.

Timber: refers to standing trees, or trees that have been cut down

Lumber: timber that has been cut into smaller pieces for construction

Pulpwood: wood suitable for use in paper manufacturing

Logger: somebody who harvests lumber or timber for a living

Cutting cycle: a period of time between the harvest of trees

Sawmill: a factory where logs are sawed into lumber by machines

Virgin forest: an area of old trees that has never has been harvested by humans

Tree farm: A privately-owned, managed forest to produce timber.


Let’s talk about forestry. Forestry is the science of growing trees. People grow trees for ecological or economic reasons.

The principal categories of wood are hardwood and softwood.

Trees are cut down by people know as loggers. This process of cutting down trees to get the wood is also known as harvesting. Trees, and trees that are cut down, are usually known as timber. Those big pieces of timber are transported to the sawmill and cut into lumber. Hey friends, be careful because the words lumber and timber are used differently in American and British English, but my suggestion is the use the American style, where the loggers cut down timber, which gets transported and cut into lumber at a sawmill.

Of course, one of the other important uses for trees is to make paper. Paper is made from so-called pulpwood, which is usually lower quality, or smaller pieces of timber. So, pulpwood is made into pulp, and pulp is made into paper at paper mills. By the way, did you know that paper production and consumption has been declining? There are two important reasons. The first is that people use less paper now that they work online, and the second reason is that a lot of packaging is done with plastic.

Oct 01, 202106:30
International Aid

International Aid

Recipient: a person or institution that receives something, like a donation.

Humanitarian aid: usually short-term help, like money, food or medical supplies.

Technical assistance: sharing information, skills, instruction, or technical data.

Tied aid:  foreign aid that must be spent in the country providing the aid

Bilateral aid:  assistance given by a government directly to the government of another country.

Multilateral aid: assistance provided by governments to international organizations like the United. Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund (IMF)

NGO: refers to a non-governmental organization

So, international aid can be described as in its most basic form as assistance that flows from one country to another usually from developed countries to developing countries. The flow is from the donor––the one who gives, to the recipient––the one who receives. International aid is also commonly called foreign aid, overseas aid, or foreign assistance. The contribution can be of money, equipment, or services.

There are many types of international aid––too many to list here––but let’s look at some of the most common:

Humanitarian aid. Humanitarian aid is the assistance that usually gets into the newspapers. Humanitarian aid is meant to help in the short term. A good example of humanitarian aid would be a donation of food or medicine from one country to another after a man-made catastrophe––like a civil war–– or an environmental disaster, like an earthquake or a flood. Humanitarian aid. Do you hear the root of “humanitarian”? It’s the word “human”.

Oct 01, 202108:17
Waste Management

Waste Management

Solid waste: You probably know what this is, but remember the synonyms garbage and trash.

Incinerate: to destroy by burning

Air pollution: a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air

Dumpsite: a piece of land where waste materials are dumped

Dispose of: to get rid of, to throw away

Landfill: a place to leave waste material and cover it with soil


Solid waste management mostly deals with municipal solid waste, which is the majority of waste that is created by households, industry, and commerce. Waste management is very expensive for municipalities.

In most developed economies, garbage trucks collect solid waste left outside of homes and businesses. That waste is often incinerated, which means that the waste is burned at high temperatures, sometimes in special plants which produce electricity. When you incinerate waste, you can reduce the volume from 80 to 95 percent.

Not all countries manage their waste disposal well. Some researchers estimate that worldwide approximately 25% of all the municipal solid waste is not collected at all, and a further 25% is mismanaged after collection, which means that it is often burned in open and uncontrolled fires–– creating terrible air pollution––or it can be dumped at informal dumpsites, instead of being disposed at formal, managed landfills.

Oct 01, 202106:43
Mortgage Loans

Mortgage Loans


Down payment: an initial payment made when something is bought on credit.

Mortgagor: the borrower in a mortgage, typically a homeowner.

Mortgagee: the entity that lends money to the borrower against the security of property.

Collateral: something offered as security for repayment of a loan.

To purchase outright: Without borrowing money in one payment.

Foreclosure: the action of taking possession of a mortgaged property when the mortgagor fails to keep up their mortgage payments.

Repossession: the action of retaking possession of something, in particular when a buyer defaults on payments.

Amortization: a period in which a debt is reduced or paid off by regular payments.

Oct 01, 202109:23
The London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR)

The London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR)

These English lessons are for anyone who needs to read, talk or write about the economy in English. Welcome to our first lesson! Today, we will take a look at the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). This is a great English lesson for bankers. 

Here is our key English vocabulary. Listen to how these words are used during the podcast.

Benchmark: a point of reference against which things may be compared or assessed.

Syndicated loan: a loan offered by a group of lenders.

Gauge: to estimate, to measure or to determine a size or an amount.

Conflict of interest: when someone gets personal benefit from their official actions or decisions.

Fine: penalty of money that a court of law or other authority decides has to be paid as punishment.

Underpin: to support, to be the basis for something.

Sep 30, 202108:37