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It’s the economy, stupid

James Carville

James Carville, a strategist for former US president Bill Clinton’s election campaign in 1992, coined the phrase “It’s the economy, stupid” as one of the key messages needed in a political campaign.

And I agree… which is why I have recorded so many episodes around the economy and economic issues!

Watching the news and staying up to date with current events requires an understanding and basic level of knowledge about economic issues. While many of you will easily understand these topics in your native language, learning to discuss the economy in English is more challenging.

Check out the following episodes!

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Economics and the Economy

178. What is Inflation? (English Vocabulary Lesson)

Depending on where you live in the world, you may have noticed things becoming more expensive over the past months and years.

Even in countries that traditionally have very stable prices, fuel in gas stations and food in supermarkets have started to become more expensive.

These rising prices are connected to an economic phenomenon called inflation. You will definitely have heard a lot about inflation recently, and will continue to do so in the future, so it is important that you understand and have the vocabulary to describe inflation.

Listen to the following episode, where I discuss what inflation is, what the consequences are, and how to control inflation!

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167. What is a Recession? (English Vocabulary Lesson)

What is a recession? You would think this should be an easy question to answer – they happen relatively regularly after all. Global recessions occurred in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19, and famously in 2008 due to the US housing market crisis. 

Talk about recession is everywhere – so it must be easy to answer the question “what is a recession?”

In reality, however, it is not so straightforward. The technical or academic defintion of recession often differs between countries and economies.

The USA is experienced a political fight over whether the country is, or is not, in recession. And Wikipedia have banned people from editing their page on “recession” because people kept changing the defintion.

Listen to this episode to find out more about recession and recession related vocabulary!

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158. What was the Great Depression? (English Vocabulary Lesson)

If you enjoyed the previous episode about recession, you may enjoy this episode about the most famous recession in history – the Great Depression!

The Great Depression was an economic downturn lasting from 1929 to 1939, and while it started in the US the impact was felt across the world.

Starting as a stock market crash in October 1929, the Great Depression resulted in mass unemployment, industries shut down, and people stopped spending their money. It is still the worst economic crisis in modern financial history – in 1933, 15 million Americans were unemployed and around half of all US banks had collapses and failed. 

Listen to the following episode, which looks at the causes of the crisis, the consequences, and the end of the depression!

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118. What is the Great Resignation?: Why are Millions of People Quitting Their Jobs?

This is one of my older episodes, but I still think it is an interesting listen for those you interested in the economy.

A few years, ago, the world was talking a lot about the Great Resignation.

Millions of people were quitting their jobs in the West. In total, 20.2 million American workers left their employers between May and September 2021. In the UK there were over 1 million job vacancies at that time. The phenomena was not limited to the US and UK, other Western countries also experienced something similar. 

Why were people quitting their jobs? What were the causes of the situation? Is it as simple as some news articles at the time made it sound?

Listen to the episode to find out more!

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148. What is a Trade Union? (English Vocabulary Lesson)

This episode on Trade Unions was recorded after a group of employees at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, successfully formed the company’s first official trade union in the US. This was not an easy thing to do.

Unions are incredibly rare in the American private sector, and Amazon has been actively fighting against all employee attempts to unionise. 

To many casual observers, this might not have seemed like a big deal. A union in one warehouse in a small corner of the United States doesn’t seem significant compared to the immense power and size of Amazon – one of the world’s largest and most valuable companies. But it is a big deal – not least because Amazon sees it as a big deal!

What is a Trade Union? What do they do? Are unions important or a nuisance? Why did the Amazon workers decide to form a union? And why does Amazon oppose unions so fiercely? Could other groups of workers follow in their paths and unionise as well?

Listen to the following episode for a clearer idea about the answers to these questions!

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237. What is a Failed State? (English Vocabulary Lesson)

Earlier this year, many major news publications published articles claiming that South Africa was at risk of becoming a “failed state.”

The country was experiencing an economic crisis and power cuts lasting up to 10 hours a day. There is also an incredible amount of corruption in the country and one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.

But is South Africa really “failing”?

In the episode I discussed the defintion of a “failed state”, talked about the history and a few examples, analysed some criticisms of the concept, before ending with a short discussion about South Africa!

Listen, learn, and enjoy!

Final Thought

What do you think? Have you listened to all of these episodes already? Or will you listen now?

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By Tom Wilkinson

Host and founder of Thinking in English, Tom is committed to providing quality and interesting content to all English learners. Previously a research student at a top Japanese university and with a background in English teaching, political research, and Asian languages, Tom is now working fulltime on bettering Thinking in English!

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