Portal:Business and economics

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The Business and Economics Portal

The New York Stock Exchange floor

In the social sciences, economics is the study of human choice behavior and the methodology used to make associated investment and production decisions; in particular, though not limited to, how those choices and decisions determine the allocation of scarce resources and their effect on production, distribution, and consumption. The word "economics" is from the Greek words οἶκος [oikos], meaning "family, household, estate", and νόμος [nomos], or "custom, law", and hence literally means "household management" or "management of the state". An economist is a person using economic concepts and data in the course of employment, or someone who has earned a university degree in the subject. Economics undergraduate courses always cover at least the two main branches:

  • Microeconomics studies the behavior of individual households and firms in making decisions on the allocation of limited resources. Microeconomics applies to markets where goods or services are bought and sold. It examines how decisions and behaviors affect the supply and demand for goods and services, which determines prices, and how prices, in turn, determine the quantity supplied and quantity demanded of goods and services.
  • Macroeconomics deals with the performance, structure, behavior, and decision-making of an economy as a whole, rather than individual markets. This includes national, regional, and global economies.

However, there are also other sub-fields of economics.

In economics, economic systems is the study and analysis of organizing production, distribution, consumption and investment and the study of optimal resource allocation and institutional design. Traditionally the study of economic systems was based on a dichotomy between market economies and planned economies, but contemporary studies compare and contrast a number of different variables, such as ownership structure (Public, Private or Collective), economic coordination (planning, markets or mixed), management structure (Hierarchy versus adhocracy), the incentive system, and the level of centralization in decision-making. A business, also known as an enterprise or a firm, is an organization involved in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are prevalent in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and provide goods and services to customers in exchange of other goods, services, or money. Businesses may also be not-for-profit or state-owned. Management in business and organizations is the function that coordinates the efforts of people to accomplish goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively. Management comprises planning, organizing, staffing, leading or directing, and controlling an organization or initiative to accomplish a goal. Management is also an academic discipline, and is traditionally taught at business schools. An economy can be analyzed in terms of its economic sectors, the classic breakdown being into primary, secondary and tertiary. Economic policy refers to the actions that governments take in the economic field. It covers the systems for setting interest rates and government budget as well as the labor market regulations, national ownership, trade policy, monetary policy, fiscal policy, regulatory policy, anti-trust policy and industrial policy. In economics, sustainable development refers to development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Selected article

A contemporary French print on the English custom of wife selling

Wife selling was a traditional English practice for ending an unsatisfactory marriage. Instead of dealing with an expensive and dragged-out divorce, a husband would take his wife to market and parade her with a halter around her neck, arm, or waist, before publicly auctioning her to the highest bidder. Any children from the marriage might also be sold along with their mother. Prices paid for wives varied considerably, from a high of £100 (plus £25 each for her two children), to a low of a glass of ale, or even free. The Duke of Chandos bought his second wife at one such sale in Newbury in about 1744. Along with other English customs, wife selling was exported to England's American colonies, where one man sold his wife for "two dollars and half [a] dozen bowls of grogg". Husbands were sometimes sold by their wives in a similar manner, but much less frequently. Wife selling persisted in some form into the early 20th century, as general attitudes began to shift.

Selected picture

European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany
Photo credit: Dontworry

The European Central Bank (ECB) is one of the world's most important central banks, responsible for monetary policy covering the 15 member countries of the Eurozone. It was established by the European Union (EU) in 1998 with its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany.


Selected economy

US county household median income 2009.png

The United States of America is the world's largest single national economy. The United States' nominal GDP was estimated to be $17.295 trillion as of Q2 2014, approximately a quarter of nominal global GDP. Its GDP at purchasing power parity is also the largest of any single country in the world, approximately a fifth of the global total. The U.S. dollar is the currency most used in international transactions and is the world's foremost reserve currency. Several countries use it as their official currency, and in many others it is the de facto currency. Its six largest trading partners are Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, Germany, and Italy.

Selected quote

"In all countries, however, men seem at last to have been determined by irresistible reasons to give the preference, for this employment, to metals above every other commodity. Metals can not only be kept with as little loss as any other commodity, scarce any thing being less perishable than they are, but they can likewise, without any loss, be divided into any number of parts, as by fusion those parts can easily be reunited again; a quality which no other equally durable commodities possess, and which more than any other quality renders them fit to be the instruments of commerce and circulation. The man who wanted to buy salt, for example, and had nothing but cattle to give in exchange for it, must have been obliged to buy salt to the value of a whole ox, or a whole sheep, at a time. He could seldom buy less than this, because what he was to give for it could seldom be divided without loss; and if he had a mind to buy more, he must, for the same reasons, have been obliged to buy double or triple the quantity, the value, to wit, of two or three oxen, or of two or three sheep. If, on the contrary, instead of sheep or oxen, he had metals to give in exchange for it, he could easily proportion the quantity of the metal to the precise quantity of the commodity which he had immediate occasion for."

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

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19:31, 25 November, 2014 (UTC)
4,760.89 Increase 6.00 Increase 0.13%
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9,861.21 Increase 75.67 Increase 0.77%
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3,263.98 Increase 20.13 Increase 0.62%
20,009.83 Increase 84.01 Increase 0.42%
10,699.60 Increase 57.10 Increase 0.54%
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17,407.62 Increase 50.11 Increase 0.29%
23,843.91 Decrease 49.23 Decrease 0.21%
2,567.60 Increase 34.72 Increase 1.37%

On this day in Business history...

November 26:

Did you know...

  • ...that dismal science is a derogatory alternative name for economics coined by the Victorian historian Thomas Carlyle in the 19th century to draw a contrast with the then-familiar use of the phrase "gay science"?
  • ...that, according to historical legend, Laissez-faire stems from a meeting in about 1681 between the powerful French finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert and a group of French businessmen led by a certain M. Le Gendre?
  • ...that Antoine Augustin Cournot derived the first formula for the rule of supply and demand as a function of price and in fact was the first to draw supply and demand curves on a graph in his Researches on the Mathematical Principles of the Theory of Wealth?
  • ...that the Toyota Production System (TPS) developed by Toyota, that comprises its management philosophy and practices, organizes manufacturing and logistics for the automobile manufacturer, including interaction with suppliers and customers?


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