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Introduction to Economics

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1 Introduction to Economics

2 Economics – the study of how individuals and societies make decisions about ways to use scarce resources to fulfill wants and needs. What does THAT mean?!!??!! WHAT IS ECONOMICS?

3 The Study of Economics Microeconomics Macroeconomics
How do individuals make economic decisions “Microeconomists are wrong about specific things…” Macroeconomics The big picture: growth, employment, etc. Choices made by large groups (like countries) “Macroeconomists are wrong about things in general” The Study of Economics

4 However, there is a Fundamental Problem with economics:
SCARCITY: unlimited wants and needs but limited resources

5 What are resources? Definition: The things used to make other goods

6 4 Factors of Production LAND – Natural Resources
Water, natural gas, oil, trees (all the stuff we find on, in, and under the land) LABOR – Physical and Intellectual Labor is manpower CAPITAL - Tools, Machinery, Factories The things we use to make things Human capital is brainpower, ideas, innovation ENTREPRENEURSHIP – Investment $$$ Investing time, natural resources, labor and capital are all risks associated with production

7 Choices, Choices Because ALL resources, goods, and services are limited – WE MUST MAKE CHOICES!!!!

8 Why Choices? We make choices about how we spend our money, time, and energy so we can fulfill our NEEDS and WANTS. What are NEEDS and WANTS?

9 Wants and Needs, Needs and Wants
NEEDS – “stuff” we must have to survive, generally: food, shelter, clothing WANTS – “stuff” we would really like to have (Fancy food, shelter, clothing, big screen TVs, jewelry, conveniences Also known as LUXURIES

10 VS.

11 TRADE-OFFS You can’t have it all (SCARCITY – remember?) so you have to choose how to spend your money, time, and energy. These decisions involve picking one thing over all the other possibilities – a TRADE-OFF!

12 Trade-Offs, cont. What COULD you have done instead of come to school today? These are all Trade-Offs!

13 The Value of the Next Best Choice
A special kind of Trade-Off is an OPPORTUNITY COST = The Value of the Next Best Choice (Ex: Sleeping is the opportunity cost of studying for a test)

14 Opportunity Costs This is really IMPORTANT – when you choose to do ONE thing, its value (how much it is worth) is measured by the value of the NEXT BEST CHOICE. This can be in time, energy, or even MONEY Then I can’t afford the movies… If I buy a pizza… What is the opportunity cost of buying pizza?

15 Production So how do we get all this “stuff” that we have to decide about? Decisions, decisions …

16 PRODUCTION, cont. Production is how much stuff an individual, business, country, even the WORLD makes. But what is “STUFF”? STUFF – Goods and Services. Goods – tangible (you can touch it) products we can buy Services – work that is performed for others

17 Which Factor of Production?

18 Which Factor of Production?

19 Which Factor of production?

20 Which Factor of Production?

21 THREE parts to the Production Process
Factors of Production – what we need to make goods and services Producer – company that makes goods and/or delivers services Consumer – people who buy goods and services (formerly known as “stuff”)

22 Production Possibilities Frontier
A production possibilities curve can help examine the opportunity cost of production and consumption decisions. A PPC shows the different combinations of goods and services that can be produced with a given amount of resources.

23 Production Possibility Frontiers
Cars D Ym Assume a country can produce two types of goods with its resources – Cars and Bicyles If it devotes all resources to cars it could produce a maximum of Ym. If it devotes all its resources to bicycles it could produce a maximum of Xm If the Nation is at point A on the PPC It can produce the combination of Y1 cars and X1 bicycles If it reallocates its resources (moving round the PPC from A to B) it can produce more bicycles but only at the expense of fewer cars. The opportunity cost of producing an extra X1 – X2 bicycles is Y1 – Y2 cars. A Y1 B Y2 C These slides introduce the diagrams and then have animation to show how points on the PPF relate to different resource use and allocation. Moving from point A to point B involves sacrificing some capital goods to gain more consumer goods and thus demonstrates the opportunity cost involved. Students doing history can be reminded about the resource allocation decisions taken by Stalin during the 1930s and the subsequent decisions by successive Soviet premiers since the war about what resources are important for a nation like the USSR! (you might of course have to explain a little bit about what the USSR was!) Bicycles X1 X2 Xm Any point outside the curve (D) – not attainable with the current level of resources Any point inside the curve (C) – resources are not being utilized efficiently

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