Laurie Taylor Column

June 23, 2006

"Economics departments use old-fashioned teaching methods and fail to put their subject in touch with the modern world" - The Times Higher, June 16.

Morning, Economics 2B.

Morning, Professor Tom-lin-son.

Again.

MORNING, PROFESSOR TOM-LIN-SON.

You may sit. Take out your exercise books. Quickly. We don't have until Christmas. What is it, Groat? Forgotten your book? See me afterwards. Today's heading is "Elasticity". And begin. "The degree to which a demand or supply curve reacts to a change in price is the curve's elasticity." Yes, boy in the second row.

A little slower, sir.

Slower? You're not at school now. "TO DETERMINE THE ELASTICITY OF THE SUPPLY OR DEMAND CURVES WE USE THIS EQUATION: ELASTICITY EQUALS THE PERCENTAGE CHANGE IN QUANTITY OVER THE PERCENTAGE CHANGE IN PRICE." So, what is the elasticity equation? All together.

ELASTICITY EQUALS THE PERCENTAGE CHANGE IN QUANTITY OVER THE PERCENTAGE CHANGE IN PRICE.

Good. Mills. Yes, you Mills. Dark satanic Mills. I didn't see your mouth opening.

I missed that bit.

And that's what you'll write on your unseen exam? "I missed that bit." This is economics, Mills. You're not here to enjoy yourself. Yes, girl with the ring in her nose.

Could you give us an example?

Perhaps you'd like me to wrap it and put a bow on it? Very well. Consider a sudden increase in the price of Bournvita. Would people decide to go without? Not necessarily. Why? Because there is an available substitute. What might that be? Anyone? Well, of course, the answer is Horlicks. MILLS, ARE YOU TALKING?

I was borrowing a pencil, sir.

Mills, that's quite enough. Come up here immediately. Let me show you elasticity at work.

You mean...

That's right, Mills. Bend over.

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