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Economics: A Contemporary Introduction 7th Edition. by William A. McEachern PowerPoint Slides prepared by Dale Bails Christian Brothers University. © 2006 Thomson/South-Western. The Art and Science of Economics. Chapter 1. © 2006 Thomson/South-Western. The Economic Problem.

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economics a contemporary introduction 7th edition
Economics: A Contemporary Introduction 7th Edition


William A. McEachern

PowerPoint Slides

prepared by

Dale Bails

Christian Brothers University

© 2006 Thomson/South-Western

the art and science of economics
The Art and Science of Economics

Chapter 1

© 2006 Thomson/South-Western

the economic problem
The Economic Problem
  • Economics examines how people use their scarce resources to satisfy their unlimited wants
  • Scarce resource
    • Not freely available  when its price exceeds zero
  • Resources
    • Inputs
    • Factors of production
    • Used to produce goods and services
  • Goods and services are scarce because resources are scarce
  • Four general categories
    • Labor
    • Capital
    • Land
    • Entrepreneurial Ability
labor and capital
Labor and Capital
  • Labor: broad category of human effort
    • Physical and mental
    • Time
    • Scarcity of time  scarcity of labor
  • Capital: Human creations used to produce goods and services
    • Physical capital: factories, machines, tools, buildings, airports, highways and other manufactured items employed to produce goods and services
    • Human capital: consists of the knowledge and skill people acquire to enhance their labor productivity
land entrepreneurial ability
Land &Entrepreneurial Ability
  • Land
    • Land and other natural resources
    • Gifts of nature including bodies of water, trees, oil reserves, etc.
  • Entrepreneurial Ability
    • Special kind of human skill
    • Talent required to dream up a new product or find a better way to produce an existing one
payments for resources
Payments for Resources
  • Wages  payment for use of labor
  • Interest  payment for the use of capital
  • Rent  payment for use of land
  • Profit  reward for entrepreneur’s reward
    • Revenue from sales minus cost of resources employed
    • Claims what is left over after paying for other resources
goods and services
Goods and Services
  • Goods
    • Tangible items
  • Services
    • Intangible items
  • Good or service is scarce if the amount people desire exceeds the amount that is available at a zero price  we must continually choose among them
    • Choices in a world of scarcity implies we must pass up some goods and services
free goods
Free Goods
  • Goods that are available at a zero price
  • Even these goods may come with strings attached
  • For example, while air and seawater may appear to be free, clean air and seawater have become scarce
economic decision makers
Economic Decision Makers
  • Four types of decision-makers in the economy
    • Households
      • Demand the goods and services produced
      • Supply labor, capital, labor, and entrepreneurial ability
    • Firms, governments, and the rest of the world
      • Demand the resources
      • Supply the goods and services
      • Rest of the world  foreign households, firms and governments
  • Means by which buyers and sellers carry out exchanges
  • Product markets
    • Markets in which goods and services are bought and sold
  • Resource Markets
    • Markets in which the resources are exchanged
    • Labor, or job, market is the most important of the resource markets

Exhibit 1: Circular-Flow Model

Households supply resources in the resource market and demand goods and services in the product market

Firms supply goods and services in the product market and demand resources in the resource market

Money flows in resource markets determine wages, interest, rents and profits which flow as income to households

Product markets determine the prices for goods and services which flow as revenue to firms

rational self interest
Rational Self Interest
  • Maximizing the expected benefit achieved with a given cost or minimizing the expected cost of achieving a given benefit
  • Self Interest
  • Rational – people try to make the best choices they can, given the available information
time and information
Time and Information
  • Time and information are both scarce and valuable
  • Often willing to pay others to gather and digest it for us
  • Decision-makers will continue to acquire information as long as the additional benefit expected from that information exceeds the additional cost of gathering information
marginal analysis
Marginal Analysis
  • Comparison of expected marginal cost and the expected marginal benefit of the action under consideration
  • Marginal
    • Incremental
    • Additional
    • Extra
micro and macro economics
Micro and Macro “economics”
  • Microeconomics
    • Examines the factors that influence individual economic choices
    • Studies the individual pieces of the economic puzzle
  • Macroeconomics
    • Studies the performance of the economy as a whole
    • Focuses on the big picture
science of economic analysis
Science of Economic Analysis
  • Economic theory or model
    • Simplification of economic reality
    • Used to make predictions about the real world
    • Focuses on the important elements of the problem under study
    • More details  more unwieldy
exhibit 2 the scientific method
Exhibit 2 The Scientific Method

1. Identify the Question and Define Relevant Variables

2. Specify Assumptions

3. Formulate a hypothesis

Modify Approach

4. Test the hypothesis


Use the hypothesis until a better one shows up

Reject the hypothesis

scientific method
Scientific Method
  • Identify the Question and Define the relevant variables
    • Variable is a measure that can take on different values
  • Specify Assumptions
    • Other-things-constant assumption: ceteris paribus
    • Behavioral Assumption refer to how people behave  rational self-interest consumers maximize satisfaction and firm maximizes profits
formulate and test hypothesis
Formulate and Test Hypothesis
  • Statement about how the key variables relate to each other
  • Provides the predictions of interest based on cause and effect relationships
  • Test involves comparing these predictions with real world
  • This is where the validity of theory is tested
    • We reject the theory if it predicts worse than the best alternative
    • We accept the theory until a better one comes along
normative versus positive
Normative versus Positive

Positive economic statement

Assertion about economic reality

Supported or rejected by reference to the facts

Normative economic statement


Cannot be shown to be true or false by reference to the facts

predicting average behavior
Predicting Average Behavior
  • Because the unpredictable actions of numerous individuals tend to cancel one another out, the average behavior of a group of individuals can be predicted more accurately than the actions of any one individual
pitfalls of economic analysis
Pitfalls of Economic Analysis
  • Three possible sources of mistakes in reasoning leading to faulty conclusions
    • Fallacy that Association is Causation
    • Fallacy of Composition
    • Mistake of Ignoring Secondary Effects
pitfalls of economic analysis24
Pitfalls of Economic Analysis
  • Fallacy that Association is Causation
    • Event A caused event B simply because the two are associated in time
    • The fact that one event precedes another or that the two events occur simultaneously does not necessarily mean that one event caused the other
  • Fallacy of Composition
    • Erroneous belief that what is true for the individual or the part, is also true for the group, or the whole
ignoring secondary effects
Ignoring Secondary Effects
  • Unintended consequences of policies or choices
  • Primary Effects
    • Effects that are felt relatively quickly
    • Easily observed
  • Secondary Effects
    • Tend to develop more slowly
    • Frequently not obvious