How acceptable do you think nationalisations and active intervention into and regulation of important industries from the government will be in the future?
This is an open-ended question which asks you to take a stance and justify it. If we break the question down, it talks about nationalisations (i.e. government-owned companies) and active intervention and regulation of important industries (i.e. rules, regulatory frameworks, trade barriers, tariffs, subsidies). It also asks how acceptable such options will be in the future, which implies that you will need to say something about how acceptable such options were in the past, and how acceptable they are now. To do that, you will probably need to explain the broader context in which these options were or weren’t accepted as good practice at different times.
One way to approach the question would be to explain the ways in which the state can intervene in the market (through provision, production, regulation and subsidies) and discuss how and why the state moved away from having a very big role into the economy (through production (i.e. ownership) and excessive regulation) towards having a much smaller role (through privatisation of public companies, deregulation of important industries such as banking and finance, opening up of monopoly markets such as utilities etc.).
You can then discuss the recent responses to the financial crisis which included nationalisations and new regulation of markets which were previously rather unregulated.
You should then be in a position to argue whether you believe that governments will use these instruments again in the future. There are arguments both ways and it will be fine for you to take whichever position you think is stronger. You could argue that it will still be considered acceptable to take control of private companies and to re-regulate industries in the future, if it is felt that it serves the national public interest (as was done in the recent crisis). Alternatively, you may believe that such interventionist options may be acceptable only if many countries use them in a coordinated way. Or, you may argue that such options will not be acceptable in the future, because the way they have been used in the recent financial crisis has created various problems, or because the competition and operation of companies is so globalised that such national options would be ineffective…. etc.
The important thing to remember is that though your answer you need to demonstrate an understanding of what these options (nationalisation/public ownership/regulation) are about, the context in which they proliferated, and their relevance in today’s context and given recent important events.
The above notes are one way to address the question, but they are not the only way, and I will accept answers will approach the question differently if they have a solid analysis. Also, remember that the notes above are for a very good/excellent answer, not for a baseline answer.
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