Christmas-decor

Our Christmas quiz offers an eclectic test of knowledge, only some of it related to economics and business. The answers and a brief explanation of the factors at work are at the end of the quiz.

1. Which US corporate popularised today's image of Santa Claus as a rotund, red-suited, jolly old man?
a. McDonald's
b. Hallmark Cards
c. Coca-Cola

2. Match the following activities to their associated emissions of carbon.
a. An email sent to 100 people
b. Running a fridge for a week
c. A one-hour Zoom call made on a MacBook Pro
d. Cycling a mile on a push-bike powered by a rider eating bananas
e. Cycling a mile on an electric bike
i. 2g
ii. 3g
iii. 26g
iv. 40g
v. 2kg

3. Earlier in the year, before the pandemic struck, the UK Office for National Statistics revised the ‘basket’ of goods and services it monitors to assess inflation to make it more reflective of the mythical average consumer’s spending. Identify the product or products which were added to, or removed from, the basket.
a. Cocktails in a can
b. Gluten-free cereals
c. Self-tanning products
d. MP4 player

4. The Office for Budget Responsibility recently forecast that UK government debt is likely to reach 105% of GDP this fiscal year. How does this compare to the peak level of government debt in the aftermath of the UK’s war with Napoleon ending in 1815?
a. About twice as much
b. About three times as much
c. About half as much
d. About a quarter as much

5. Which one of the following champagnes came top in Which? magazine’s blind taste test this year?
a. Waitrose Brut Champagne (£20)
b. Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne (£36)
c. Aldi Veuve Monsigny Brut Champagne (£13)
d. Lanson Black Label Brut Champagne (£33)
e. Morrisons Adrien Chopin Brut Champagne (£18)

6. The prices of goods and services in the UK have been more erratic than usual this year. Which of the following have increased and which have decreased in price?
a. Second-hand cars
b. Petrol
c. IT accessories
d. Haircuts

7. What is the best-selling Christmas song of all time worldwide?
a. All I Want For Christmas is You - Mariah Carey
b. Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid
c. Last Christmas - Wham!
d. White Christmas - Bing Crosby

8. Among major economies, which one of the following is expected to grow fastest next year, according to the OECD?
a. New Zealand
b. China
c. Spain
d. United Kingdom

9. In which one of the following countries are people least likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine if it were available, according to polling conducted by Ipsos?
a. Canada
b. France
c. India
d. United Kingdom
e. United States

10. Which one of the following has been the best performing stock in the FTSE 100 stock exchange index this year? (As of 4 December)
a. Precious-metals mining giant Fresnillo plc
b. Online grocer Ocado plc
c. Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust plc
d. IAG plc (owner of British Airways and Iberia)

11. Happiness, as measured by the Office for National Statistics in a large-scale survey, varies widely within the UK. Quality of life is at least as important as economic indicators such as income levels in determining happiness. Which of the following two areas of the UK recorded the highest levels of happiness in the latest survey?
a. Richmondshire (N Yorkshire)
b. Mid Ulster (N Ireland)
c. Kensington and Chelsea (London)
d. Winchester (Hampshire)
e. Orkney Islands (Scotland)

12. Equity markets have had a roller coaster ride this year. Global equities lost 33% of their value between the start of the year and late March as the scale of the pandemic emerged. Since then falling interest rates and massive government stimulus have driven a rebound, driving up global equity prices by 63%. The performance across countries and sectors has varied widely. Which one of the following, on 4 December, was trading below its 1 January 2020 value?
a. US technology shares
b. UK small company shares
c. The UK FTSE 100 of large companies
d. Euro area shares
e. Chinese shares

13. According to the latest UK census data for England and Wales, which one of the following occupations saw the fastest job growth between 1871 and 2011?
a. Bar staff
b. Hairdressers
c. Accountants

14. Of the following countries, which one has the most affordable housing market relative to incomes, according to the OECD?
a. Germany
b. Canada
c. Greece
d. UK

Answers:

1. Which US corporate popularised today's image of Santa Claus as a rotund, red-suited, jolly old man?
a. McDonald's
b. Hallmark Cards
c. Coca-Cola

Answer: c. Contrary to popular myth Coca-Cola did not invent the image of the red-clad Santa, but it played a major role in popularising it. Indeed Coca-Cola was not even the first soft drinks company to utilise the image of Santa Claus in their advertising, as White Rock Beverages had used it to sell mineral water in 1915 and ginger ale in 1923. There are records of Santa wearing different coloured costumes in the nineteenth century, including green outfits, although the default choice was red. The US magazine Harper's Weekly produced a series of engravings of Santa between 1863 and 1886 which showed him much as he appears today. The artist of these pictures, Thomas Nast, is often credited with having created the modern Santa. In the early 1930s Coca-Cola started a 30-year festive advertising campaign featuring drawings by the Swedish artist Haddon Sundblom of a fat Santa in a red coat trimmed with fur and secured with a large belt. Through Coke's magazine advertisements, billboards and store displays these images helped cement today's image of Santa.

2. Match the following activities to their associated emissions of carbon.
a. An email sent to 100 people
b. Running a fridge for a week
c. A one-hour Zoom call made on a MacBook Pro
d. Cycling a mile on a push-bike powered by a rider eating bananas
e. Cycling a mile on an electric bike
i. 2g
ii. 3g
iii. 26g
iv. 40g
v. 2kg

Answer: a. 26g, b. 2kg, c. 2g, d. 40g, e. 3g.
Individual emails use little power but the sheer volume of them has a noteworthy effect on carbon emissions, equivalent to around seven million extra vehicles on the road. Zoom calls are far more carbon-efficient than having people travel to meet; replacing a meeting in San Francisco with three attendees flying from London with a Zoom call would save 33 tonnes of carbon emissions. Perhaps surprisingly the marginal emissions of an e-bike are lower than those of a push bike. The calories needed to fuel the cyclist produce more carbon than the energy from the national grid which powers an electric bike.

3. Earlier in the year, before the pandemic struck, the UK Office for National Statistics revised the ‘basket’ of goods and services it monitors to assess inflation to make it more reflective of the mythical average consumer’s spending. Identify the product or products which were added to, or removed from, the basket.
a. Cocktails in a can
b. Gluten-free cereals
c. Self-tanning products
d. MP4 player

Answer: Cocktails in a can, gluten-free cereals and self-tanning products were added to the UK CPI basket due to their increasing popularity. MP4 players were removed having increasingly been supplemented by other devices.

4. The Office for Budget Responsibility recently forecast that UK government debt is likely to reach 105% of GDP this fiscal year. How does this compare to the peak level of government debt in the aftermath of the UK’s war with Napoleon ending in 1815?
a. About twice as much
b. About three times as much
c. About half as much
d. About a quarter as much

Answer: a. Twice as much. High levels of public debt are not without precedent in the UK. In 1946, public debt reached 259% of GDP due to high wartime borrowing and an economy struggling to adjust to a peacetime footing. In 1816, following 12 years of war with France, public debt reached 213% of GDP or around twice as much as it is forecast to reach this year.

5. Which one of the following champagnes came top in Which? magazine’s blind taste test this year?
a. Waitrose Brut Champagne (£20)
b. Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne (£36)
c. Aldi Veuve Monsigny Brut Champagne (£13)
d. Lanson Black Label Brut Champagne (£33)
e. Morrisons Adrien Chopin Brut Champagne (£18)

Answer: e. UK supermarket Morrisons took the crown with their own-brand bubbles, which were described as having “stewed apple aromas, rich flavours and a hint of sweetness”. This was despite their offering being priced at less than half that of the most expensive champagne tasted. One expert taster described the Moët & Chandon as being a little bland.

6. The prices of goods and services in the UK have been more erratic than usual this year. Which of the following have increased and which have decreased in price?
a. Second-hand cars
b. Petrol
c. IT accessories
d. Haircuts

Answer: Increased in price: second-hand cars and IT accessories have risen by 11% and 14%, respectively; haircuts for men and children have risen by 10% in price while those for women are up 6%. Second-hand car prices have been bolstered by a shift away from public transport and by greater cost consciousness on the part of consumers. The price of IT accessories, which includes keyboards and monitors, have been boasted by soaring demand created by higher levels of home working. Hairdressing costs have risen in part because of extra costs associated with social distancing and the use of cost of personal protective equipment. The price of petrol has fallen by 10% – demand for oil dropped sharply in the first months of this year as the pandemic took hold. BP does not expect that the world will ever regain the levels of oil demand seen in 2019.

7. What is the best-selling Christmas song of all time worldwide?
a. All I Want For Christmas is You - Mariah Carey
b. Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid
c. Last Christmas - Wham!
d. White Christmas - Bing Crosby

Answer: d. Bing Crosby’s recording of White Christmas is not just the best-selling Christmas song but the best-selling single ever recorded, according to Guinness World Records. First recorded by the US singer in 1941, the original recording took just 18 minutes to commit to tape and has sold over 50m copies.

8. Among major economies, which one of the following is expected to grow fastest next year, according to the OECD?
a. New Zealand
b. China
c. Spain
d. United Kingdom

Answer: b. China. Despite being the epicentre of the initial outbreak of COVID-19, effective suppression of the virus means China is set to be the only major economy not to shrink this year. Chinese growth is expected to come in at a strong 8% in 2021. Activity in most advanced economies is also expected to bounce back strongly next year, albeit at a slower rate.

9. In which one of the following countries are people least likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine if it were available, according to polling conducted by Ipsos?
a. Canada
b. France
c. India
d. United Kingdom
e. United States

Answer: b. France. Only 54% of adults in the second-largest EU economy agreed or strongly agreed that they would get a vaccine if it were available. This compares to India (87%), UK (79%), Canada (76%) and US (64%). The most common reasons given by vaccine-cautious French respondents as to why they would not get a vaccine were that they thought clinical trials had been rushed or they were worried about side effects, only a small minority were against vaccines in general.

10. Which one of the following has been the best performing stock in the FTSE 100 stock exchange index this year? (As of 4 December)
a. Precious-metals mining giant Fresnillo plc
b. Online grocer Ocado plc
c. Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust plc
d. IAG plc (owner of British Airways and Iberia)

Answer: c. Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust has returned 91% year to date. As a global investment trust it has been the darling of investors due to its holdings of soaring global equities. Its largest single holding has been in the US-listed electric carmaker Tesla, which has returned 609% YTD at the time of writing. Fresnillo has returned 80% this year, in part due to rising prices for gold and silver. Ocado has returned 74% as online grocery sales boomed. IAG has returned -59% in a torrid year for airlines.

11. Happiness, as measured by the Office for National Statistics in a large scale survey, varies widely within the UK. Quality of life is at least as important as economic indicators such as income levels in determining happiness. Which of the following two areas of the UK recorded the highest levels of happiness in the latest survey?
a. Richmondshire (N Yorkshire)
b. Mid Ulster (N Ireland)
c. Kensington and Chelsea (London)
d. Winchester (Hampshire)
e. Orkney Islands (Scotland)

Answer: Richmondshire in North Yorkshire had the highest level of happiness in the survey of 438 local authority areas at 8.35 compared to a UK average of 7.48, according to the Office for National Statistic’s annual survey. Mid Ulster was in second place at 8.12 and Kensington and Chelsea ranked bottom with a score of 6.85. Winchester ranked second from bottom at 6.96. Orkney was in 13th place at 7.99.

12. Equity markets have had a roller coaster ride this year. Global equities lost 33% of their value between the start of the year and late March as the scale of the pandemic emerged. Since then falling interest rates and massive government stimulus have driven a rebound, driving up global equity prices by 63%. The performance across countries and sectors has varied widely. Which one of the following, on 4 December, was trading below its 1 January 2020 value?
a. US technology shares
b. UK small company shares
c. The UK FTSE100 of large companies
d. Euro area shares
e. Chinese shares

Answer: c. FTSE100, down 13% on the level at the start of the year. US tech shares are up 43% since the start of the year; UK small company shares up 3%; euro area shares up 6% and Chinese shares up 17%.

13. According to the latest UK census data for England and Wales, which one of the following occupations saw the fastest job growth between 1871 and 2011?
a. Bar staff
b. Hairdressers
c. Accountants

Answer: c. Accountants. The number of people in work in England and Wales has more than doubled in the last 150 years. Technological change and globalisation have reduced or eliminated whole categories of work but, in the process, lowered the cost of essentials and raised incomes, welfare and employment. The number of people working as accountants increased more than twentyfold between 1871 and 2011, from 9,800 to 215,700. The number of hairdressers rose almost tenfold, from around 18,100 to 177,400 and the number of bar staff rose more than fivefold, from around 28,600 to 176,400.

14. Of the following countries, which one has the most affordable housing market relative to incomes, according to the OECD?
a. Germany
b. Canada
c. Greece
d. UK

Answer: c. Greece. Property in Greece is undervalued by 8% relative to a long-run average of incomes. The financial and debt crises have hit Greek housing hard. Despite a recent recovery, prices are still 34% below their pre-financial-crisis peak. German property is undervalued by 4%, but this number is down to a fifth of the levels in 2012, thanks to recent rises in house prices. By comparison, UK housing is 24% overvalued against incomes. The most expensive market in this list, with housing overvalued by 49%, is Canada, where house prices barely fell during the financial crisis and have seen a rapid rise since.