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ECONOMIC SYSTEMS. An organized approach to producing and distributing goods and services. Purpose is to make important decisions about the use and distribution of resources. All economic systems deal with the same problem SCARCITY unlimited wants vs. Limited resources.

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economic systems
  • An organized approach to producing and distributing goods and services.
  • Purpose is to make important decisions about the use and distribution of resources.
  • All economic systems deal with the same problem


unlimited wants


Limited resources

economic systems answers the problem of scarcity

Economic Systems answers the problem of scarcity.

Limited Resources > SCARCITY < Unlimited Wants

scarcity forces us to make choices about
Scarcity forces us to make choices about…
  • What to produce?
  • How to produce?
  • For whom to produce?
economic systems1


Market Economy/Private Enterprise

Command Economy/Centrally Planned Economy

Mixed Economy

market economy capitalism

Pure Price System

  • Decisions about scarcity should be made free from govt. control.
  • Economic forces (price system/supply & demand) in the market should answer the three economic questions.
  • In “laissez faire economics”, the government should adopt a “hands off” policy when it comes to economic decisions.


Laissez Faire

Free Enterprise

Free Market

Private Enterprise

market economy continued
Market economy continued…
  • Competition and profit motive find the most efficient and innovative methods of production.
  • Values individualism and self-interest.
  • Individuals can best achieve their goals if they are allowed to have private ownership.
  • Dollar voting
adam smith
Adam Smith
  • Father of the market system.
  • Published his ideas in his book called “The Wealth of Nations”.
  • Believed the economy would regulate itself if left alone. (Laissez Faire)
  • Believed those that fail to compete fail to survive. (profit motive)
  • The “invisible hand” – the market will solve all basic economic questions.
  • If consumers are sovereign supply and demand will dictate the natural flow of the market.
supply demand
  • What happens when demand exceeds supply?
  • What happens when supply exceeds demand?
  • How does supply and demand affect choices such as…
    • Careers
    • Types of cars
    • Types of restaurants/food(I.e. Lobster)
  • What are some recent examples of instances where demand exceeded supply? What were the results?


Market gives producer incentive

Market provides incentive to hire skilled labor

Wide variety of goods and services are available.

Competition encourages good quality goods.

Productivity is rewarded by profits

Market economy fosters self-reliance.

It is possible to become rich.

Consumers can be manipulated by advertising.

Prices and incomes may not reflect what is best for society.

Boom & bust cycle

Monopolies and oligopolies can emerge

Extreme income inequality can exist.

Environmental problems

Job security

the business cycle
The Business Cycle
  • One of the major problems capitalist nations must constantly deal with is an economic event known as thebusiness cycle.
  • This means that the economy will go through periods of boom(good times) and bust(bad times).
  • In the United States there was a boom during the 1920s.
boom characteristics
"BOOM" Characteristics
  • full employment
  • high inflation
  • high investment
  • high demand
bust characteristics
"BUST" Characteristics
  • high unemployment
  • low inflation
  • low investment
  • low demand

Period of Economic Expansion

Overall GNP

GNP: gross national product, the total value of all goods and services produced in a country in one year. It is hoped a steady moderate increase will occur in a given year.

Period of Economic Decline

Bust (Depression)




Share Share prices fall - PANIC!


Less Trade

Less Money for Banks

Many Factories Close

High Unemployment

Less Spending Power Power

More Factories Close

Even More Unemployment


the roaring twenties
  • United States was the richest country in the world.(resources & population)
  • After the war the U.S.A. became wealthy by mass producing consumer goods like radio’s and cars.
  • Factory workers were paid well which meant they spent money on consumer goods.
the wall street crash
  • As the 20’s progressed , more and more people were buying shares of companies “on margin” and these shares rose in price.
  • By 1929 share prices were rising but profits for companies began to decline.
  • In October of 1929 panic selling of shares forced the value of shares to drop drastically.(crashed)
  • The stock market crash brought an end to prosperity in the U.S.A..
other causes of the great depression
Other Causes of The Great Depression
  • Demand for goods could not keep up with supply
  • Droughts
  • Wages did not increase
  • Farmers went bankrupt
  • Banks failed
  • Factories closed
  • Increase in unemployment
  • High rate of corporate fraud
the great depression
  • By 1931, unemployed people were lining up in breadlines since there was no unemployment insurance.
  • By 1932, 12 million people were unemployed.
  • In 1932, the American people voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt as president on a platform of government intervention to get the USA out of the Depression.




Following the Great Depression, the

USA was no longer a

"pure" market system!

the new deal
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt’s program of government spending to help the people of the United States against the Depression.
  • He wanted to “prime the pump”.
  • He believed that putting money into people’s pockets was like pouring gas into an engine to get it started.
social security

Social Security Act (1935)

  • Gave government pensions to those who could not provide for themselves.
  • Unemployment insurance was introduced.
  • Taxed workers to provide money for social security.
labour laws



  • Set out the maximum hours of work and minimum wage laws.
effect of wwii
Effect of WWII
  • Job creation for war goods (Lend Lease Act)
  • Increase in American GNP
demand side economics keynesian
Demand Side Economics (Keynesian)

John Maynard Keynes (Keynesian Theory)

  • Capitalism tends to move through cycles
    • Prosperity
    • Recession
    • Depression
    • Recovery
  • It is therefore necessary for governments to regulate the economy by spending money temporarily “priming the pump” during recession or depression.



Increase government $

Decrease taxes


Increase $ supply

Decrease interest rates


Decrease government $

Increase taxes


Decrease $ supply

Increase interest rates


Deficit financing

supply side economic reaganomics
Supply Side Economic (Reaganomics)
  • Supply-siders dislike government involvement in the economy and emphasize greater reliance on private enterprise.
Supply-side theory states that if the private market is free to operate, then wealth will trickle down to the general public.
  • The economic theory that Reagan followed was previously known as supply-side economics which is a theory some proponents claim was first described by Adam Smith.
  • Supply-siders emphasize the production side of the market.
  • They feelthat rather than the government spending money to stimulate the economy, it should lower taxes (both business and personal), lower interest rates, and sell government-owned enterprises which would encourage business expansion.
in times of recession
In Times Of Recession…
  • Reduce corporate taxes
    • Creates more profit
    • Acts as incentive to enter business
  • Reduce public income tax
    • Increases public’s incentive to work
    • Provides more money to spend
    • Increased production creates demand
  • Supply-siders insist that increased demand for goods and services must come from the private sector, not from government spending.
in times of inflation
In Times of Inflation…
  • The unrestricted market will eventually bring inflation under control
reaganomics in action
Reaganomics in Action


Following 1981 the Reagan administration put in action the following policies…

  • Tax cuts primarily for corporations and the wealthy
      • Cut income tax 25%
  • Government spending cuts in social services
      • Welfare subsidies, Medicaid, food stamps
  • A stable money supply
  • Deregulation of the economy
      • Reduced environmental, health, & safety regulations
  • An aim to balance the budget.
When President Reagan took office, he was interested in tax reform, reasserting American global economic leadership, and subduing inflation.
  • Reagan pointed out that the national debt was too high and he wanted tax cuts to stimulate the economy.
  • The benefits of more people working and having more money to spend would trickle down to the less fortunate
  • He promised a balanced budget but instead added greatly to the nations debt. Much of what he added to the debt came from his defense buildup
planned economy command economy
Planned Economy(Command Economy)
  • Economy directed by the government
  • All means of production (land, labor, capital) are state owned and controlled.
  • The government makes all economic choices of what to produce, how to produce, how to distribute.
rise of the planned economy
Rise of the Planned Economy
  • People believed that other economic systems were exploiting the working class.
  • Came as a response to the industrial revolution.
  • Some people believed that if the government controlled the economy and chose what should be produced, how and for whom; there would be greater economic equality.
problems created by the industrial revolution
Problems Createdby theIndustrial Revolution
  • Low wages
  • Long hours
  • Urbanization
    • Crime
    • Poverty
    • Disease
    • Pollution
  • Unfair labor practices
  • Unsafe working conditions
elements of a planned economy
Elements of a Planned Economy
  • Cooperation
  • Public ownership
  • Equality as incentive
  • Central planning
    • A group of economic experts carry out the goals of the government.
    • See “Corkscrews vs Bottle Openers” page 325 Ideologies
advantages of the planned economy
Advantages of the Planned Economy
  • Income & wealth more evenly distributed
  • Little unemployment
  • Experiences fewer booms and busts in economy
  • Profits used to expand production
  • Production of goods and services is planned to meet society’s needs
  • Consumers receive basic necessities.
disadvantages of the planned economy
Disadvantages of the Planned Economy
  • Lack of incentive
  • Lack of technological progress
  • Bureaucracies (planning creates inflexibility)
  • Black markets
  • Loss of individuality
  • Inefficient and widespread waste of resources.
father of communism
Father of Communism
  • Karl Marx was the most well known advocate of the planned economy.
  • Wrote the Communist Manifesto & Das Kapital (with Engels)
  • Moved by the problems of the industrial revolution.
  • Did not believe in gradual change rather REVOLUTION.
  • Believed workers (proletariat) must replace the ruling class(bourgeoisie) through revolution.
marx s beliefs
Marx’s Beliefs
  • The bourgeoisie exploited the workers by forcing them to create goods and services with a greater value than the wages received.
  • Capitalism would bring itself to ruin
    • Economic depression
    • Imperialism
    • Wars
    • Revolution by the proletariat.
  • After a series of revolutions capitalism would be eliminated and people would live in a cooperative and voluntary society.
  • Production would be distributed by the motto…

“from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”

the ideal marxist society
The Ideal Marxist Society
  • Individual differences would still exist but no one could amass enormous wealth while others lived in poverty.
  • Equal opportunity (classless society)
  • Abolish private property and profit motive (public ownership)
  • With the existence of surplus goods crime and greed would not exist.
  • Common Good
capitalism laissez faire
Capitalism (Laissez Faire)

Laissez faire (Adam Smith) was used to describe the belief that the government should keep their hands off the economy.

  • Supported by liberals who believed “there were bound to be poor people in society”.
  • Typical laissez faire factory…
    • Means of production owned by capitalists
    • Owners want to maximize production
      • Low wages
      • Expensive product
      • If there is an excess of labor people are fired
    • Workers are seen as a piece of machinery
ideas to battle the evils of the industrial revolution
Ideas to Battle the Evils of the Industrial Revolution

Democratic Socialism

  • Turned against Laissez Faire policies and urged government reform to help the long suffering workers.
  • Typical factory run by the beliefs of a democratic socialist…
    • Means of production still owned by capitalists
    • Minimum wage laws would be passed to create higher wages
    • Reduction in working hours
    • Safety conditions in factories
    • Labor unions allowed to operate in the interest of the workers, etc.
  • They believe that while everyone may not be born with equal abilities, all are equal as human beings and should therefore be guaranteed the basic necessities of life.
ideas to battle the evils of the industrial revolution1
Ideas to Battle the Evils of the Industrial Revolution


  • Communists believe that the inequality capitalism should be overthrown by workers (proletariat) in a violent revolution.
  • Ultimately capitalists are out to exploit the “proletariat” to make a profit.
  • Factory run by the beliefs of a Communist…
    • Workers would overthrow the bourgeoisie (owner)
    • Temporary dictatorship is set up to create stability
    • Once the stability exists the government “withers away” and society becomes a workers paradise.
      • State owns the factory
      • No profits simply make what you need
      • Workers are all paid equally. (From each according to their ability, to each according to their need – Karl Marx)
  • Karl Marx : The Communist Manifesto
look at some of the programs run by governments in canada today
Look at some of the programs run by governments in Canada today:

• stabilization of the economy to prevent booms and busts

(Monetary Policy)

  • control of bank interest rates
  • Control $ supply

(Fiscal Policy)

  • increase or decrease taxes
  • increase or decrease government spending


government laws regulations
Government Laws & Regulations


Govt. marketing boards

  • Influence prices
  • Crop controls
  • Quotas to limit production
  • Food inspection
  • Negotiate sales of wheat to foreign nations

Regulation of the market

  • quality controls
  • some price controls

• prevention of monopolies to preserve competition


  • A reduction of govt. restrictions on business enterprises. (neo-conservatives)
Redistribution of wealth to provide security
  • old age pension
  • unemployment insurance
  • child tax credit
  • welfare

Provision of financial support to businesses

  • subsidies to failing businesses
  • Provision of public services (universality)
  • schools
  • Police
  • fire control
  • Hospitals
  • parks
  • Transfer Programs
  • Progressive tax systems
government owned business
Government Owned Business

Crown Corporations(nationalized industry)

  • CBC Radio and TV
  • Royal Canadian Mint
  • Canada Post Corporation


  • Control an area of the economy which is vital to general welfare of nation.
  • To provide goods/services private entrepreneurs are unable to provide.
  • Earn income for the government.
  • To rescue companies from bankruptcy.
  • Help stabilize economy.
  • Keynesian Methods (deficit financing) created a $580 billion dollar deficit by 1996.
  • Canadian govt. began cutting social programs.
  • Selling of state owned companies to private industry. (Thatcherism/Reaganomics)
  • Create more efficiency in govt.
  • Cut bureaucracy in govt.

Mulroney 1984-1992

  • Privatized 39 crown corps.

Prov. Govt. Alberta

  • Liquor
  • Licensing
  • Telephone

Direct Taxes: those paid by citizens. (GST/Income tax)

Indirect Taxes: hidden in the price of goods. (excise tax)

There are many direct and indirect controls over our economic system.
  • The good news is that these many government programs and regulations have provided us with increased stability, security, and equality.
  • The bad news is that we have lost some individual freedoms and that the cost to taxpayers is high.

Canada's debt is the sum our federal government owes in total. As you can see from the graph below, Canada has continued to have annual deficits that add to our accumulated national debt every year.