Guide Institutional Economics (Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy)

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For Robbins, the insufficiency was solved, and his definition allows us to proclaim, with an easy conscience, education economics, safety and security economics, health economics, war economics, and of course, production, distribution and consumption economics as valid subjects of the economic science. A body of theory later termed "neoclassical economics" or " marginalism " formed from about to The term "economics" was popularized by such neoclassical economists as Alfred Marshall as a concise synonym for "economic science" and a substitute for the earlier " political economy ".

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Neoclassical economics systematized supply and demand as joint determinants of price and quantity in market equilibrium, affecting both the allocation of output and the distribution of income. It dispensed with the labour theory of value inherited from classical economics in favour of a marginal utility theory of value on the demand side and a more general theory of costs on the supply side. In microeconomics , neoclassical economics represents incentives and costs as playing a pervasive role in shaping decision making.

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An immediate example of this is the consumer theory of individual demand, which isolates how prices as costs and income affect quantity demanded. Neoclassical economics is occasionally referred as orthodox economics whether by its critics or sympathizers.

Modern mainstream economics builds on neoclassical economics but with many refinements that either supplement or generalize earlier analysis, such as econometrics , game theory , analysis of market failure and imperfect competition , and the neoclassical model of economic growth for analysing long-run variables affecting national income. Neoclassical economics studies the behaviour of individuals , households , and organizations called economic actors, players, or agents , when they manage or use scarce resources, which have alternative uses, to achieve desired ends.

Agents are assumed to act rationally, have multiple desirable ends in sight, limited resources to obtain these ends, a set of stable preferences, a definite overall guiding objective, and the capability of making a choice. There exists an economic problem, subject to study by economic science, when a decision choice is made by one or more resource-controlling players to attain the best possible outcome under bounded rational conditions.

In other words, resource-controlling agents maximize value subject to the constraints imposed by the information the agents have, their cognitive limitations, and the finite amount of time they have to make and execute a decision. Economic science centres on the activities of the economic agents that comprise society. An approach to understanding these processes, through the study of agent behaviour under scarcity, may go as follows:.

The continuous interplay exchange or trade done by economic actors in all markets sets the prices for all goods and services which, in turn, make the rational managing of scarce resources possible. At the same time, the decisions choices made by the same actors, while they are pursuing their own interest, determine the level of output production , consumption, savings, and investment, in an economy, as well as the remuneration distribution paid to the owners of labour in the form of wages , capital in the form of profits and land in the form of rent.

Because of the autonomous actions of rational interacting agents, the economy is a complex adaptive system. Keynesian economics derives from John Maynard Keynes , in particular his book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money , which ushered in contemporary macroeconomics as a distinct field. Keynes attempted to explain in broad theoretical detail why high labour-market unemployment might not be self-correcting due to low " effective demand " and why even price flexibility and monetary policy might be unavailing.

The term "revolutionary" has been applied to the book in its impact on economic analysis.

Keynesian economics has two successors. Post-Keynesian economics also concentrates on macroeconomic rigidities and adjustment processes. Research on micro foundations for their models is represented as based on real-life practices rather than simple optimizing models.

It is generally associated with the University of Cambridge and the work of Joan Robinson. New-Keynesian economics is also associated with developments in the Keynesian fashion. Within this group researchers tend to share with other economists the emphasis on models employing micro foundations and optimizing behaviour but with a narrower focus on standard Keynesian themes such as price and wage rigidity. These are usually made to be endogenous features of the models, rather than simply assumed as in older Keynesian-style ones. The Chicago School of economics is best known for its free market advocacy and monetarist ideas.

According to Milton Friedman and monetarists, market economies are inherently stable if the money supply does not greatly expand or contract. Ben Bernanke , former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, is among the economists today generally accepting Friedman's analysis of the causes of the Great Depression. Milton Friedman effectively took many of the basic principles set forth by Adam Smith and the classical economists and modernized them. One example of this is his article in the 13 September issue of The New York Times Magazine , in which he claims that the social responsibility of business should be "to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits Other well-known schools or trends of thought referring to a particular style of economics practised at and disseminated from well-defined groups of academicians that have become known worldwide, include the Austrian School , the Freiburg School , the School of Lausanne , post-Keynesian economics and the Stockholm school.

Contemporary mainstream economics is sometimes separated into the Saltwater approach of those universities along the Eastern and Western coasts of the US, and the Freshwater, or Chicago-school approach. Within macroeconomics there is, in general order of their appearance in the literature; classical economics , Keynesian economics , the neoclassical synthesis, post-Keynesian economics , monetarism , new classical economics , and supply-side economics. Alternative developments include ecological economics , constitutional economics , institutional economics , evolutionary economics , dependency theory , structuralist economics , world systems theory , econophysics , feminist economics and biophysical economics.

Economic systems is the branch of economics that studies the methods and institutions by which societies determine the ownership, direction, and allocation of economic resources. An economic system of a society is the unit of analysis. Among contemporary systems at different ends of the organizational spectrum are socialist systems and capitalist systems , in which most production occurs in respectively state-run and private enterprises.


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In between are mixed economies. A common element is the interaction of economic and political influences, broadly described as political economy. Comparative economic systems studies the relative performance and behaviour of different economies or systems. The U. Export-Import Bank defines a Marxist—Leninist state as having a centrally planned economy.

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Mainstream economic theory relies upon a priori quantitative economic models , which employ a variety of concepts. Theory typically proceeds with an assumption of ceteris paribus , which means holding constant explanatory variables other than the one under consideration. When creating theories, the objective is to find ones which are at least as simple in information requirements, more precise in predictions, and more fruitful in generating additional research than prior theories. In microeconomics , principal concepts include supply and demand , marginalism , rational choice theory , opportunity cost , budget constraints , utility , and the theory of the firm.

In development economics , slower growth in developed nations has been sometimes predicted because of the declining marginal returns of investment and capital, and this has been observed in the Four Asian Tigers.

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Sometimes an economic hypothesis is only qualitative , not quantitative. Expositions of economic reasoning often use two-dimensional graphs to illustrate theoretical relationships. At a higher level of generality, Paul Samuelson 's treatise Foundations of Economic Analysis used mathematical methods beyond graphs to represent the theory, particularly as to maximizing behavioural relations of agents reaching equilibrium.

The book focused on examining the class of statements called operationally meaningful theorems in economics, which are theorems that can conceivably be refuted by empirical data. Microeconomics examines how entities, forming a market structure , interact within a market to create a market system.

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These entities include private and public players with various classifications, typically operating under scarcity of tradable units and light government regulation. In theory, in a free market the aggregates sum of of quantity demanded by buyers and quantity supplied by sellers may reach economic equilibrium over time in reaction to price changes; in practice, various issues may prevent equilibrium, and any equilibrium reached may not necessarily be morally equitable.

For example, if the supply of healthcare services is limited by external factors , the equilibrium price may be unaffordable for many who desire it but cannot pay for it. Various market structures exist. In perfectly competitive markets , no participants are large enough to have the market power to set the price of a homogeneous product. In other words, every participant is a "price taker" as no participant influences the price of a product. In the real world, markets often experience imperfect competition.

Forms include monopoly in which there is only one seller of a good , duopoly in which there are only two sellers of a good , oligopoly in which there are few sellers of a good , monopolistic competition in which there are many sellers producing highly differentiated goods , monopsony in which there is only one buyer of a good , and oligopsony in which there are few buyers of a good. Unlike perfect competition, imperfect competition invariably means market power is unequally distributed.

Firms under imperfect competition have the potential to be "price makers", which means that, by holding a disproportionately high share of market power, they can influence the prices of their products.


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Microeconomics studies individual markets by simplifying the economic system by assuming that activity in the market being analysed does not affect other markets. This method of analysis is known as partial-equilibrium analysis supply and demand. This method aggregates the sum of all activity in only one market. General-equilibrium theory studies various markets and their behaviour.

It aggregates the sum of all activity across all markets. This method studies both changes in markets and their interactions leading towards equilibrium. In microeconomics, production is the conversion of inputs into outputs. It is an economic process that uses inputs to create a commodity or a service for exchange or direct use. Production is a flow and thus a rate of output per period of time. Distinctions include such production alternatives as for consumption food, haircuts, etc.

Opportunity cost is the economic cost of production: the value of the next best opportunity foregone.

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Choices must be made between desirable yet mutually exclusive actions. It has been described as expressing "the basic relationship between scarcity and choice ". Part of the cost of making pretzels is that neither the flour nor the morning are available any longer, for use in some other way. The opportunity cost of an activity is an element in ensuring that scarce resources are used efficiently, such that the cost is weighed against the value of that activity in deciding on more or less of it. Opportunity costs are not restricted to monetary or financial costs but could be measured by the real cost of output forgone , leisure , or anything else that provides the alternative benefit utility.

Inputs used in the production process include such primary factors of production as labour services , capital durable produced goods used in production, such as an existing factory , and land including natural resources. Other inputs may include intermediate goods used in production of final goods, such as the steel in a new car. Economic efficiency measures how well a system generates desired output with a given set of inputs and available technology.