VI. Read the following questions and identify the type and style of each letter. Then write any two of them. Write your answer in the appropriate style, using 120-180 words. Do not include addresses.

Мы поможем в написании ваших работ!

Мы поможем в написании ваших работ!

Мы поможем в написании ваших работ!


VI. Read the following questions and identify the type and style of each letter. Then write any two of them. Write your answer in the appropriate style, using 120-180 words. Do not include addresses.

1. You have just returned from an exotic safari in Africa. Write a letter to your friend telling him/her about it.

2. You have recently received a letter from, your cousin. Write a reply accepting his invitation to go skiing for the weekend.

How about going to Loon Mountain this weekend? I hear the skiing there is fantastic! Let me know soon if you can come...

3. This is part of a letter you have received from a friend who lives in Germany. Write a reply giving him the appropriate information.

I’ll be visiting your city next month from the 5th to the 12th. Can you find, out which 'universities offer courses in Business Administration? When I arrive I would like to visit them and start the application process.

4. You have seen an advertisement in The Sunday Times on May 10th. Write a letter applying for the position of Junior Reporter.

5. Your teenage son is having discipline problems at school. Write a letter to the school counsellor asking for her advice on the matter.

Roadworks have been in progress for several weeks outside your house, causing frequent traffic jams and excessive noise. Write a letter complaining about the situation to the local authority.


I. Read the advertisement and the notes. Then, write a letter to the Grange Health Spa to complain about the inadequacy of the services offered while you were a guest there. Include all the information given.


Set in the scenic countryside of the Lake District, The Grange offers a full range of health and diet programmes (but: all guests ate the same food), each one specially formulated to suit the needs of each guest. The use of all modern facilities including swim­ming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, and gymnasium are available 24 hours a day.

₤ for a 2-day stay in a luxury suite (but: tiny room, no view), call 9527406 Price is all-inclusive (but: had to pay for some things)


II. Read the instructions below and write a reply including all the information given.

Your friend is thinking of taking a summer course to learn how to sail. He wants your opinion, as you took the course last summer. Write to him using the information in the advert and the notes you made. Write a letter of between 120 and 180 words in an appropriate style. Do not write addresses.




Learn how to guide a sailboat


Two month (June and July best months) course (3 mornings a week 4-hour sessions) – low fee (₤120)

All equipment (small sailboats, life jackets) provided

Small (only 5 students per class) classes

Instruction (qualified, experienced instructors) in the classroom and sea

Contact Mr Lewis at:66

Tinmouth St., Southampton





1. Printed letterhead

1A. Sender's Name, Address

2. Recipient's Name, Address

3. Date

4. References

5. Salutation

6. Subject Line

7. Body of Letter

8. Complimentary close

9. Signature

10. Enclosure

NB: If there is Printed Letterhead, 1A is not used.


Block form:  
    1 -


SAMPLE OF OFFER Mr Fred North Purchasing Manager Broadway Autos 11 November, 20— Dear Mr. North,   Thank you very much for your enquiry. We are of course very familiar with your range of vehicles and are pleased to inform you that we have a new line in batteries that fit your specifications exactly. The most suitable of our products for your requirements is the Artemis 66A Plus. This product combines economy, high power output and quick charging time and is available now from stock. I enclose a detailed quotation with prices, specifications and delivery terms. As you will see from this, our prices are very competitive. I have arranged for our agent Mr. Martin of Fillmore S.A. to deliver five of these batteries to you next week, so that you can carry out the laboratory tests. Our own laboratory reports, enclosed with this letter, show that our new Artemis 66A Plus performs as well as any of our competitor's product and, in some respects, outperforms them. If you would like further information, please telephone or telex me: my extension number is 776. Or you may prefer to contact Mr. John Martin of Fillmore S.A. in M_______________: his telephone number is 01 77 99 02. I look forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely, Fred Stock Fred Stock



SAMPLE OF INQUIRY   Pet Products Ltd. 180 London Road Exeter EX4 4JY England 25th February, 2007 Dear Sirs,   We read your advertisement in the 'Pet Magazine' of 25th December. We are interested in buying your equipment for pro­ducing pet food. Would you kindly send us more information about this equipment:   — price (please quote CIF Odessa price) — dates of delivery — terms of payment — guarantees — if the price includes the cost of equipment installation and our staff training.   Our company specializes in distributing pet products in Ukraine. We have more than 50 dealers and representatives in different regions and would like to start producing pet food in Ukraine. If your equipment meets our requirements, and we receive a favourable offer, we will be able to place a large order for your equipment.   Your early reply would be appreciated. Yours faithfully, V.Smurov V.Smurov Export-Import Manager  
TO: Richard Branten FR: John Brown DATE: February 1, 2007 SUBJECT: Problems with the W. Lawson Ltd. account


Please send me copies of all documents relating to the W. Lawson account, and let me know if you see anything unusual in the file.


We have had many problems servicing this account. During the past year we’ve billed them incorrectly and sent the wrong merchandise on several occasions.


Also, please process their current order as quickly as possible.




Most students taking economics for the first time are surprised by the breadth of what they study. Some think that economics will teach them about the stock market or what to do with their money. Others think that economics deals exclusively with problems like inflation and unemployment. In fact, it deals with all these subjects, but they are pieces of a much larger puzzle.

Economics has deep roots in, and close ties to, social philosophy. An issue of great importance to philosophers, for example, is distributional justice. Why are some people rich and others poor, and whatever the answer, is this fair? A number of nineteenth century social philosophers wrestled with these questions, and out of their musings economics as a separate discipline was born. The easiest way to get a feel for the breadth and depth of what you will be studying is to explore briefly the way economics is organized. First of all, there are two major divisions of economics: microeconomics and macroeconomics.

Microeconomics deals with the functioning of individual industries and the behaviour of individual economic decision-making units: single business firms and households. Microeconomics explores the decisions that individual businesses and consumers make. The choices of firms about what to produce and how much to charge and the choices of households about what to buy and how much of it to buy help to explain why the economy produces the things it does. Another big question that microeconomics addresses is who gets the things that are produced. Wealthy households get more output than do poor households, and the forces that determine this distribution of output are the province of microeconomics. Why do we have poverty? Who is poor? Why do some jobs pay more than others? Why do teachers or plumbers or baseball pitchers get paid what they do? Think again about all the things you consume in a day, and then think back to that view out over a big city. Somebody decided to build those factories. Somebody decided to construct the roads, build the housing, produce the cars, knit the shirts, and smoke the bacon. Why? What is going on in all those buildings? It is easy to see that understanding individual micro decisions is very important to any understanding of your society.

Macroeconomics, in its turn, deals with the functioning of national economic complex and the behavior of the main classes and social groups.



The study of economics should begin with a sense of wonder. Pause for a moment and consider a typical day in your life. For breakfast you might have bread made in a local bakery with flour produced in Minnesota from wheat grown in Kansas and bacon from pigs raised in Ohio, packaged in plastic made in New Jersey. You spill coffee from Colombia on your shirt made in Texas from textiles shipped from South Carolina. After class you drive with a friend in a Japanese car on an interstate highway system that took 20 years and billions of dollars worth of resources to build. You stop for gasoline refined in Louisiana from Saudi Arabian crude oil brought to the United States on a supertanker that took three years to build at a shipyard in Maine. At night you call your brother in Mexico City. The call travels over newly laid fiber-optic cable to a powerful antenna that sends it to a transponder on one of over 1.000 communications satellites orbiting the earth.

You use or consume tens of thousands of things, both tangible and intangible, every day: buildings, the music of a rock band, the compact disc it is recorded on, telephone services, staples, paper, toothpaste, tweezers, soap, a digital watch, fire protection, antacid tablets, beer, banks, electricity, eggs, insurance, football fields, computers, buses, rugs, subways, health services, sidewalks, and so forth. One hundred twenty million people in the United States - almost half the total population - work at hundreds of thousands of different kinds of jobs producing nearly six trillion dollars worth of goods and services every year. Some cannot find work; some choose not to work for pay. Some are rich, others are poor.

The United States imports $60 billion worth of petroleum and petroleum products each year and exports $37 billion worth of food. High-rise office buildings go up in central cities. Condominiums and homes are built in the suburbs. In other places homes are abandoned and boarded up. Some countries are wealthy. Others are impoverished. Some are growing. Some are stagnating. Some businesses are doing well. Others are going bankrupt.

Economics is the study of how individuals and societies choose to use the scarce resources that nature and previous generations have provided. The key word in this definition is “choose”. Economics is a behavioural science. In large measure it is the study of how people make choices. The choices that people make, when added up, translate into societal choices.



Getting a job is a very hard period in the life of most people. Companies choose an employee from hundreds of candidates according to special rules, that's why there're special 'typical' factors, influencing on employer's choice. Among such factors are: age, sex, experience, family background and marital status, personality and references. If you're to go to an interview tomorrow, sleep well before it and don't forget your CV at home - is the basic rule. Moreover, there're some recommendations, which can help you, for example, to read annual report, or company newspaper of the company to show your understanding of the corporate strategy on the interview. What's more, you should choose corresponding dress code for the interview. Even such advices are to help you make a good impression; some companies don't want to hire a man, who follows every advice. To illustrate this, I can quote Artemiy Lebedev, the most famous Russian web-designer: "If you enclose a standard stupid resume, written by the rules of American bureaucracy, we would delete it immediately after receiving. If your CV is composed according to all rules, we wouldn't choose you, as we might think, that your profession is to acquire a job". After getting a job, you may have some unexpected troubles with boss, too: e.g. if you dye your hair or wear something not appropriate. The best solution of such situation is to ask a trade union for advice, which can always help you in your fight with an employer. Of course, if you affect company discipline not coming in time or working badly, your dismissal wouldn't be unfair. To conclude, I can say that it is sometimes hard not only to get a job, but also to work in the staff, and if you don't wantto be laid off, you should follow company rules, it is a must.


In theory, wages ought to change so that the supply and demand in the labour market are always in equilibrium. In practice, wages are often sticky, especially in a downward direction when demand for labour falls. In this situation, the fall in demand results in higher unemployment and many governments impose a minimum wage that employers must pay.

Firms may choose to pay above the equilibrium wage to increase the productivity of workers. Such so-called efficiency wages may make workers less likely to join another firm, so cutting the employer’s hiring and training costs. They may encourage workers to do a better job. They may also attract a higher quality of worker.

In recent years, employers have tried to reduce wage stickiness by increasing the proportion of pay that is linked to the performance of their firm. Thus if falling demand reduces the employer’s profit the pay of its employees falls automatically, so it does not have to lay off as many workers as it otherwise would.


Aminimum rate of pay that firms are legally obliged to pay their workers. Most industrial countries have a minimum wage, although certain sorts of workers are often exempted, such as young people or part-timers. Most economists reckon that a minimum wage, if it is doing what it is meant to do, will lead to higher unemployment than there would be without it. The main justification offered by politicians for having a minimum wage is that the wage that would be decided by buyers and sellers in a free market would be so low that it would be immoral for people to work for it.

Some economists have challenged this model. Several studies have suggested that a minimum wage moderately above the free-market wage would not harm employment much and could (in rare circumstances) potentially raise it. These studies are not widely accepted among economists. Whatever it does for those in work, a minimum wage cannot help the majority of the very poorest people in most countries, who typically have no job in which to earn a minimum wage.


There are several ways of defining inflation. In some contexts it refers to a steady increase in the supply of money. In others it is seen as a situation where demand exceeds supply. It seems best, however, to define inflation as a situation in which the general price level is constantly moving upwards.

In the extreme form of inflation, prices rise at a phenomenal rate and terms such as hyperinflation, run-away inflation, or galloping inflation have been used to explain the situation. Germany experienced this kind of inflation in 1923 and by the end of that year prices were one million times greater than their pre-war level. Towards the end of 1923, paper money was losing half or more of its value one hour, and wages were fixed and paid daily.

Under conditions of hyperinflation people lose confidence in the currency's ability to carry out its functions. It becomes unacceptable as a medium of exchange and other goods, such as cigarettes, are used as money. When things have become as bad as this the only possible course of action is to withdraw the currency and issue new monetary units.

Another type of inflation is described as suppressed inflation. This refers to a situation where demand exceeds supply, but the effect on prices is minimized by the use of such devices as price controls and rationing. The excess demand still exists and it will tend to show itself in the form of waiting lists, queues, and black markets.

The most common type of inflation is creeping inflation where the general price level rises at an annual rate between 1 and 6 percent.



The more competition there is, the more likely are firms to be efficient and prices to be low. Economists have identified several different sorts of competition. Perfect competition is the most competitive market imaginable in which everybody is a price taker. Firms earn only normal profits, the bare minimum profit necessary to keep them in business. If firms earn more than this (excess profits) other firms will enter the market and drive the price level down until there are only normal profits to be made.

Most markets exhibit some form of imperfect or monopolistic competition. There are fewer firms than in a perfectly competitive market and each can to some degree create barriers to entry. Thus firms can earn some excess profits without a new entrant being able to compete to bring prices down.

The least competitive market is a monopoly, dominated by a single firm that can earn substantial excess profits by controlling either the amount of output in the market or the price (but not both). In this sense it is a price setter. When there are few firms in a market (oligopoly) they have the opportunity to behave as a monopolist through some form of collusion. A market dominated by a single firm does not necessarily have monopoly power if it is a contestable market. In such a market, a single firm can dominate only if it produces as efficiently as possible and does not earn excess profits. If it becomes inefficient or earns excess profits, another more efficient or less profitable firm will enter the market and dominate it instead.


Money makes the world go round and comes in many forms, from shells and beads to gold coins to plastic or paper. It is better than barter in enabling an economy’s scarce resources to be allocated efficiently. Money has three main qualities:

• as a medium of exchange, buyers can give it to sellers to pay for goods and services;

• as a unit of account, it can be used to add up apples and oranges in some common value;

• as a store of value, it can be used to transfer purchasing power into the future.

A farmer who exchanges fruit for money can spend that money in the future; if he holds on to his fruit it might rot and no longer be useful for paying for something. Inflation undermines the usefulness of money as a store of value, in particular, and also as a unit of account for comparing values at different points in time. Hyper-inflation may destroy confidence in a particular form of money even as a medium of exchange. Measures of liquidity describe how easily an asset can be exchanged for money (the easier this is, the more liquid is the asset).



Money illusion is a situation when people are misled by inflation into thinking that they are getting richer, when in fact the value of money is declining. Whether, and how much, people are fooled by inflation is much debated by economists. Money illusion, a phrase coined by Keynes, is used by some economists to argue that a small amount of inflation may not be a bad thing and could even be beneficial, helping to "grease the wheels" of the economy. Because of money illusion, workers like to see their nominal wages rise, giving them the illusion that their circumstances are improving, even though in real (inflation-adjusted) terms they may be no better off. During periods of high inflation double-digit pay rises (as well as, say, big increases in the value of their homes) can make people feel richer even if they are not really better off. When inflation is low, growth in real incomes may hardly register.


Money supply is the amount of money available in an economy. In the heyday of monetarism in the early 1980s, economists pounced upon the monthly (in some countries, even weekly) money-supply numbers for clues about future inflation. Central banks aim to manage demand by controlling the supply of money through open-market operations, reserve requirements and changing the rate of Interest (to be exact, the discount rate).

One difficulty for policymakers lies in how to measure the relevant money supply. There are several different methods, reflecting the different liquidity of various sorts of money. Notes and coins are completely liquid; some bank deposits cannot be withdrawn until after a waiting period. M3 (M4 in the UK) is known as broad money, and consists of cash, current account deposits in banks and other financial institutions, savings deposits and time-restricted deposits. M1 is known as narrow money, and consists mainly of cash in circulation and current account deposits. M0 (in the UK) is the most liquid measure, including only cash in circulation, cash in banks’ tills and banks’ operational deposits held at the Bank of England.

Although it is a poor predictor of inflation, monetary growth can be a handy indicator of economic activity. In many countries, there is a clear link between the growth of the real broad-money supply and that of real GDP (gross domestic product).



Fiscal policy is one of the two instruments of macroeconomic policy. It comprises public spending and taxation, and any other government income or assistance to the private sector (such as tax breaks). It can be used to influence the level of demand in the economy, usually with a goal of getting unemployment as low as possible without triggering excessive inflation. At times it has been deployed to manage short-term demand through fine tuning, although since the end of the tabilize era it has more often been targeted on long-term goals, with monetary policy more often used for shorter-term adjustments.

For a government, there are two main issues in setting fiscal policy: what should be the overall stance of policy, and what form should its individual parts take?

Some economists and policymakers argue for a balanced budget. Others say that a persistent deficit (public spending exceeding revenue) is acceptable provided, in accordance with the golden rule, the deficit is used for investment (in infrastructure, say) rather than consumption. However, there may be a danger that public-sector investment will result in the crowding out of more productive private investment. Whatever the overall stance on average over an economic cycle, most economists agree that fiscal policy should be counter-cyclical, aiming to automatically tabilize demand by increasing public spending relative to revenue when the economy is struggling and increasing taxes relative to spending towards the top of the cycle. For instance, social (welfare) handouts from the state usually increase during tough times, and fiscal drag boosts government revenue when the economy is growing.

As for the bits and pieces making up fiscal policy, one debate is about how high public spending should be relative to GDP (gross domestic product). In the United States and many Asian countries, public spending is less than 30% of GDP; in European countries, such as Germany and Sweden, it has been as high as 40-50%. Some economic studies suggest that lower public spending relative to GDP results in higher rates of growth, though this conclusion is controversial. Certainly, over the years, much public spending has been highly inefficient.

Another issue is the form that taxation should take, especially the split between direct taxation and indirect taxation and between capital, income and expenditure tax.



It comprises investing directly in production in another country, either by buying a company there or establishing new operations of an existing business. This is done mostly by companies as opposed to financial institutions, which prefer indirect investment abroad such as buying small parcels of a country’s supply of shares or bonds. Foreign direct investment (FDI) grew rapidly during the 1990s before slowing a bit, along with the global economy, in the early years of the 21st century. Most of this investment went from one country to another, but the share going to developing countries, especially in Asia, increased steadily.

There was a time when economists considered FDI as a substitute for trade. Building factories in foreign countries was one way of jumping tariff barriers. Now economists typically regard FDI and trade as complementary. For example, a firm can use a factory in one country to supply neighbouring markets. Some investments, especially in services industries, are essential for selling to foreigners. Who would buy a Big Mac in London if it had to be sent from New York?

Governments used to be highly suspicious of FDI, often regarding it as corporate imperialism. Nowadays they are more likely to court it. They hope that investors will create jobs, and bring expertise and technology that will be passed on to local firms and workers, helping to sharpen up their whole economy. Furthermore, unlike financial investors, multinationals generally invest directly in plant and equipment. Since it is hard to uproot a chemicals factory, these investments, once made, are far more enduring than the flows of hot money that whisk in and out of emerging markets.

Mergers and acquisitions are a significant form of FDI. For instance, in 1997, more than 90% of FDI into the United States took the form of mergers rather than of setting up new subsidiaries and opening factories.


Free trade means the ability of people to undertake economic transactions with people in other countries free from any restraints imposed by governments or other regulators. Measured by the volume of imports and exports, world trade has become increasingly free in the years since the Second World War. A fall in barriers to trade, as a result of the general agreement on tariffs and trade and its successor, the world trade organisation, has helped stimulate this growth. The volume of world merchandise trade at the start of the 21st century was about 17 times what it was in 1950, and the world's total output was not even six times as big. The ratio of world exports to GDP had more than doubled since 1950. Of this, trade in manufactured goods was worth three times the value of trade in services, although the share of services trade was growing fast.

For economists, the benefits of free trade are explained by the theory of comparative advantage, with each country doing those things in which it is comparatively more efficient. As long as each country specializes in products in which it has a comparative advantage, trade will be mutually beneficial. Some critics of free trade argue that trade in developing countries, where wages are usually lower and working hours longer than in developed countries, is unfair and will wipe out jobs in high-wage countries. They want autarky or fair trade.

Real-world trade patterns sometimes seem to challenge the theory of comparative advantage. Most trade occurs between countries that do not have huge cost differences. The biggest trading partner of the United States, for instance, is Canada. Well over half the exports from France, Germany and Italy go to other European union countries. Moreover, these countries sell similar things to each other: cars made in France are exported to Germany, and German cars go to France. The main reason seems to be cross-border differences in consumer tastes. But the agricultural exports of Australia, say, or Saudi Arabia's reliance on oil, do clearly stem from their particular stock of natural resources. Also poorer countries often have more unskilled labour, so they export simple manufactures such as clothing.



A buzz word that refers to the trend for people, firms and governments around the world to become increasingly dependent on and integrated with each other. This can be a source of tremendous opportunity, as new markets, workers, business partners, goods and services and jobs become available, but also of competitive threat, which may undermine economic activities that were viable before globalisation.

The term first surfaced during the 1980s to characterise huge changes that were taking place in the international economy, notably the growth in international trade and in flows of capital around the world. Globalisation has also been used to describe growing income inequality between the world's rich and poor; the growing power of multinational companies relative to national government; and the spread of capitalism into former communist countries. Usually, the term is synonymous with international integration, the spread of free markets and policies of liberalisation and free trade. The process is not the result simply of economic forces. The decisions of policymakers have also played an important part, although not all governments have embraced the change warmly.

The driving force of globalisation has been multinational companies, which since the 1970s have constantly, and often successfully, lobbied governments to make it easier for them to put their skills and capital to work in previously protected national markets. Firms enjoying some national protection, and their workers, have been some of the main opponents of globalisation, along with advocates of fair trade.

Despite all the talk of globalisation during the 1990s, in some respects the world economy was more integrated in the late 19th century. The labour market was certainly more global. For example, the flow of people out of Europe, 300,000 people a year in the mid-19th century, reached 1million a year after 1900. Now governments are much fussier about immigration, and people are no longer free to migrate as they wish. As for capital markets, only in the 1990s did international capital flows, relative to the size of the world economy, recover to the levels of the few decades before the first world war.

This early globalised economy did not last for long, however. Between the two world wars, the flows of trade, capital and people collapsed to a trickle. Even before the First World War, governments started to put up the shutters against migrants and imports. Could such a backlash against globalisation happen again?



Labour. One of the factors of production , with land, capital and enterprise. Among the things that determine the supply of labour are the number of able people in the population, their willingness to work, labour laws and regulations, and the health of the economy and firms. Demand for labour is also affected by the health of the economy and firms, labour laws and regulations, as well as the price and supply of other factors of production.

In a perfect market, wages (the price of labour) would be determined by supply and demand. But the labour market is often far from perfect. Wages can be less flexible than other prices; in particular, they rarely fall even when demand for labour declines or supply increases. This wage rigidity can be a cause of unemployment.

A flexible labour market is one in which it is easy and inexpensive for firms to vary the amount of labour they use, including by changing the hours worked by each employee and by changing the number of employees. This often means minimal regulation of the terms of employment and weak trade unions. Such flexibility is characterised by its opponents as giving firms all the power, allowing them to fire employees at a moment’s notice and leaving workers feeling insecure.

Opponents of labour market flexibility claim that labour laws that make workers feel more secure encourage employees to invest in acquiring skills that enable them to do their current job better but that could not be taken with them to another firm if they were let go. Supporters claim that it improves economic efficiency by leaving it to market forces to decide the terms of employment.

Labour theory of value is the notion that the value of any good or service depends on how much labour it uses up. First suggested by Adam Smith, it took a central place in the philosophy of Karl Marx. Some neo-classical economists disagreed with this theory, arguing that the price of something was independent of how much labour went into producing it and was instead determined solely by supply and demand.




Tax collection is the oldest profession. In its early days, taxation did not always involve handing over money. The ancient Chinese paid with pressed tea, and Jivara tribesmen in Brazil stumped up shrunken heads. As the price of their citizenship, ancient Greeks and Romans could be called on to serve as soldiers and had to supply their own weapons. The origins of modern taxation can be traced to wealthy subjects paying money to their king in lieu of military service.

The other early source of tax revenue was trade, with tolls and customs duties being collected from travelling merchants. The big advantage of these taxes was that they fell mostly on visitors rather than residents.

Income tax, the biggest source of government funds today in most countries, is a comparatively recent invention, probably because the notion of annual income is itself a modern concept. Governments preferred to tax things that were easy to measure and on which it was thus easy to calculate the liability. This is why early taxes concentrated on tangible items such as land and property, physical goods, commodities and ships, as well as things such as the number of windows or fireplaces in a building.

In the 20th century, particularly the second half, governments around the world took a growing share of their country’s national income in tax, mainly to pay for increasingly more expensive defence efforts and for a modern welfare state. Indirect taxation on consumption, such as value-added tax, has become increasingly important as direct taxation on income and wealth has become increasingly unpopular.

But big differences among countries remain. One is the overall level of tax. For example, in United States tax revenue amounts to around one-third of its GDP, whereas in Sweden it is closer to half. Others are the preferred methods of collecting it (direct versus indirect), the rates at which it is levied and the definition of the tax base to which these rates are applied. Countries have different attitudes to progressive and regressive taxation. There are also big differences in the way responsibility for taxation is divided among different levels of government.

Arguably, any tax is a bad tax. But public goods and other government activities have to be paid for somehow, and economists often have strong views on which methods of taxation are more or less efficient. Most economists agree that the best tax is one that has as little impact as possible on people’s decisions about whether to undertake a productive economic activity. High rates of tax on labour may discourage people from working, and so result in lower tax revenue than there would be if the tax rate were lower, an idea captured in the laffer curve. Certainly, the marginal rate of tax may have a bigger effect on incentives than the overall tax burden.

Land tax is regarded as the most efficient by some economists and tax on expenditure by others, as it does all the taking after the wealth creation is done.

Some economists favour a neutral tax system that does not influence the sorts of economic activities that take place. Others favour using tax, and tax breaks, to guide economic activity in ways they favour, such as to minimize pollution and to increase the attractiveness of employing people rather than capital. Some economists argue that the tax system should be characterized by both horizontal equity and vertical equity, because this is fair, and because when the tax system is fair people may find it harder to justify tax avoidance and tax evasion. However, who ultimately pays the tax incidence may be different from who is initially charged, if that person can pass it on, say by adding the tax to the price he charges for his output. Taxes on companies, for example, are always paid in the end by humans, be they workers, customers or shareholders.

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