Chapter 4 the market system
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Chapter 4: The Market System - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Chapter 4: The Market System. Three fundamental questions:. What? How? For whom?. What?. In the words of Adam Smith:

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Three fundamental questions:

  • What?

  • How?

  • For whom?

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  • In the words of Adam Smith:

    • It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their self-interest. (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter I)

    • [A producer,] directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it. (Smith, Book IV, Chapter II)

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Consumer sovereignty?







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  • In a market economy:

    • profit maximization requires least-cost production (holding quantity and quality constant).

    • new technology is introduced only if it lowers total cost.

    • sellers of a resource have an incentive to supply the resource to its most highly valued use.

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For whom?

  • In a market economy, both output and resource (factor) markets determine who receives which goods.

  • Distribution of income (wages, interest, rent, and profit) is determined in the resource market.

    • Individuals who own more highly valued resources receive higher incomes.

  • The allocation of goods and services is determined in the output market (given the distribution of income).

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Government and the three fundamental questions

  • Government influences the responses to each of the three fundamental questions. Examples:

    • What?

      • government spending

      • product safety and consumer protection laws

    • How?

      • safety regulations

      • minimum wage laws

      • environmental protection

    • For whom?

      • tax structure

      • welfare programs

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  • As defined by the Census Bureau, a household consists of one or more individuals sharing living quarters

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  • Types of firms

    • sole proprietorship

    • partnership

    • corporation

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Sole proprietorship

  • Single owner

  • Advantages:

    • autonomy

    • single taxation

  • Disadvantages

    • difficult to acquire funds

    • unlimited liability

  • Most common form of business organization (by number of firms)

  • Accounts for a small share of total output.

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  • Two or more individuals share ownership

  • Advantages:

    • Pooled wealth and resources

    • Single taxation

  • Disadvantages:

    • Loss in autonomy (relative to sole proprietorship)

    • Unlimited liability

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  • A legal entity separate from its owners

  • Advantages

    • limited liability

  • Disadvantages

    • double taxation

    • separation of ownership from control

  • Most output is produced by corporations

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International sector

  • The international sector has been expanding as a share of output in the U.S. Both imports and exports have been rising.

  • A trade deficit occurs when imports exceed exports

  • A trade surplus occurs when exports exceed imports