Chapter 1 Ten Principles of Economics Outline of Topics T1
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1 Chapter 1 Ten Principles of Economics Outline of Topics T1 Chapter 1 Ten Principles of Economics Outline of Topics T1. Scarcity and Economics T2. How People Make Decisions (principle # 1 to principle #4) T3. How People Interact (principle # 5 to principle #7) T4. How the Economy as a Whole Works (principle # 8 to principle #10)
2 T1 Scarcity and Economics The word economy comes from the Greek word for “ one who manages a household.” This origin might seem odd. But, in fact, households and economics have much in common. A household faces many decisions. It must decide which members of the household do which tasks and what each member gets in return: Who cooks dinner? Who does the laundry? In short, the household must allocate its scarce resources among its various members, taking into account each member’s abilities, efforts and desires.
3 A society faces many decisions too A society faces many decisions too. A society must decide what jobs will be done and who will do them. It needs some people to grow food, other people to make clothing. A society must also allocate the output of goods and services that it produces. The management of society’s resources is important because resources are scarce. Scarcity means that the society has limited resources and therefore cannot produce all the goods and services people wish to have.
4 Economics is the study of how society manages its scarce resources Economics is the study of how society manages its scarce resources. Economists study how people make decisions: such as how much they work, what they buy, how much they save, and how people interact with one another. T2 How People Make Decisions P #1. People face tradeoffs To get one thing that we like, we usually have to give up another thing that we like.Making decisions requires trading off one goal against another.
5 Example 1: a student who must decide how to allocate her time Example 1: a student who must decide how to allocate her time. studying economics vs.watching TV Example 2: Guns vs. Butter Example 3: clean environment vs. a high level of income Example 4: efficiency vs. equity Efficiency: the property of society getting the most it can from its scarce resources. Equity: the property of distributing economic prosperity fairly among the members of society.
6 P #2. The Cost of Something Is What You Give Up to Get It Because people face tradeoffs, making decisions requires comparing the costs and benefits of alternative courses of action. In many cases, however, the cost of some action is not as obvious as it might first appear. Example: Going to university vs. going to work Benefit: intellectual enrichment and a lifetime of better job opportunities. Cost: You might be tempted to add up the money you spend on tuition, books, rooms and board.
7 Yet, this total does not truly represent what you give up to spend a year in university. 1st problem: Even if you quit school, you would need a place to sleep and food to eat. Suppose, the cost of room and board at your school is less than the rent and food expenses that you would pay living on your own town, then the savings on room and board are a benefit of going to university. 2nd problem: the largest cost of going to university is your time. When you attend school, you cannot spend that time working at a job. Therefore, the wages given up to attend school are the largest single cost of education.
8 Opportunity Cost is what you give up from one alternative (choice) to get what you want (from another choice) P #3. Rational People Think at the Margin Decisions in life are rarely black and white but usually involve shades of grey. When exams roll around, your decision is not between blowing them off or studying 24 hours a day, but whether to spend an extra hour reviewing your notes instead of watching TV. Marginal changes are small, incremental adjustments to an existing plan of action.
9 “Margin” means “edge”. So, marginal changes are adjustments around the edges of what you are doing. Comparing extra benefits and costs of a critical choice Marginal Benefits => MB Marginal Costs => MC Example: Imagine that a plane is about to take off with ten empty seats, and a standby passenger is waiting at the gate willing to pay $300 for a seat.Assume the average cost of each seat is $500. Should the airline sell it to him?
10 Although the average cost of flying a passenger is $500, the marginal cost is merely the cost of the bag of peanuts and can of soda that the extra passenger will consume.As long as the standby passenger pays more than the marginal cost, selling him a ticket is profitable. P #4. People Respond to Incentives Because people make decisions by comparing costs and benefits, their behaviour may change when the costs or benefits change. That is, people respond to incentives. Decision to choose one good over another occurs when MB > MC.
11 T3 How People Interact P #5 Trade can make everyone better off Individuals gain from their ability to trade with others. Competition results in gains from trading. Trade allows one to specialize in what they do best.
12 P #6. Markets Are Usually a Good Way to Organize Economic Activity In a Market Economy, households and business firms determine what to buy, who to work for, who to hire and what to produce. Interaction between household and business is as if by an “invisible hand.”
13 P #7. Governments Can Sometimes Improve Market Outcomes Market failure results in inefficiency - failure of the “invisible hand.” When the market fails (breaks down) the government intervenes to promote Efficiency & promote Equity. Market Failure: a situation in which a market left on its own fails to allocate resources efficiently Externality: the impact of one person’s actions on the well-being of a bystander. Example: pollution. Market Power: the ability of a single economic actor ( or small group of actors) to have a substantial influence on market prices.
14 T4 How the economy as a whole works P #8 Standard of living depends on a country’s production. Standard of Living may be measured in different ways (e.g. personal income or total market value of a nation’s production.) Differences in standard of living between countries or even provinces is attributable to the productivity of the country or province. Productivity is the amount of goods and services produced from each hour of a worker’s time. Productivity => Standard of Living
15 P #9. Prices Rise When The Government Prints Too Much Money Inflation is an increase in the overall level of prices in the economy. One cause of inflation is the growth in the quantity of money.
16 P #10. Society Faces a Short-Run Tradeoff Between Inflation and Unemployment Over a period of a year or two, many economic policies push inflation and unemployment in opposite directions. To decrease inflation, you would increase unemployment. So, it’s a Short-Run Tradeoff. This tradeoff is called the Phillips Curve.