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

Iroquois women work.JPG

The economy of the Iroquois (also known as Haudenosaunee) historically was based on communal production and combined elements of both horticulture and hunter-gatherer systems. The tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy and other Northern Iroquoian-speaking peoples, including the Huron, had their traditional territory in what is now New York State and the southern areas bordering the Great Lakes.

The Iroquois peoples were predominantly agricultural, harvesting the "Three Sisters" commonly grown by Native American groups: maize, beans, and squash. They developed certain cultural customs. Among these developments were ideas concerning the nature and management of property. The Iroquois developed a system very different from the now-dominant Western variety. This system was characterized by such components as common ownership of land, division of labor by gender, and trade mostly based on gift economy.

Selected picture

John D. Rockefeller as an industrial emperor, 1901 cartoon from Puck magazine
Photo credit: Dontworry

John D. Rockefeller was an American industrialist and philanthropist and founder of Standard Oil. This cartoon from Puck magazine satirizes Rockefeller as an industrial emperor.


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

"Production Cloning

On the supply side, the ultimate source of a mass winner-take-all market is that the services of the best performers can be reproduced, or "cloned", at low additional cost. For example, once the master recording has been made, it costs no more to transcribe the best soprano's performance onto a compact disc than it does her understudy's. Once the film is in the canister, it costs no more to make an additional print of an Academy Award winner than a B western. Once the television cameras have been set up, it costs no more to broadcast a tennis match between the first- and second-ranked players in the world than it does to broadcast a match between the 101st and 102nd. If the best performers' efforts can be cloned at low marginal cost, there is less room in the market for lower-ranked talents.

More generally, whenever there are economies of scale in production or distribution, there is a natural tendency for one product, supplier, or service to dominate the market. The battle is to determine which one it will be.

Network Economies

On the demand side of many markets, a product becomes more valuable as greater numbers of consumers use it. A vivid illustration is VHS's defeat of the competing Beta format in home video recorders. VHS's defeat of the competing Beta format in home video recorders. VHS's attraction over the initial versions of Beta was that it permitted longer recording times. Thought Beta later corrected this deficiency and on most important technical dimensions came to be widely by experts as superior to VHS, the initial sales advantage of VHS proved insurmountable. Once the number of consumers owning VHS passed a critical threshold, the reasons for choosing it became compelling-variety and availability of tape rentals, access to repair facilities, the capability to exchange tapes with friends, and son on."

Robert H. Frank, The Winner-Take-All Society, 1995

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19:31, 26 October, 2014 (UTC)
4,483.71 Increase 30.92 Increase 0.69%
1,964.58 Increase 13.76 Increase 0.71%
14,543.82 Increase 56.99 Increase 0.39%
43,665.54 Decrease 25.52 Decrease 0.06%
51,940.73 Increase 1,227.47 Increase 2.42%
6,388.73 Decrease 30.42 Decrease 0.47%
8,987.80 Decrease 59.51 Decrease 0.66%
4,128.90 Decrease 28.78 Decrease 0.69%
8,532.09 Decrease 13.99 Decrease 0.16%
396.12 Decrease 0.77 Decrease 0.19%
3,077.81 Increase 6.40 Increase 0.21%
19,495.68 Increase 60.70 Increase 0.31%
10,339.30 Increase 5.60 Increase 0.05%
5,399.31 Increase 29.36 Increase 0.55%
15,291.64 Increase 152.68 Increase 1.01%
23,302.20 Decrease 30.98 Decrease 0.13%
2,302.28 Decrease 0.14 Decrease 0.01%

On this day in Business history...

October 31:

Did you know...

  • ...that, as of August 2008, more than 113 countries around the world, including all of Europe, required or permited IFRS reporting and 85 required IFRS reporting for all domestic, listed companies?
  • ...that in the circular flow model, the inter-dependent entities of producer and consumer are referred to as "firms" and "households" respectively and provide each other with factors in order to facilitate the flow of income?
  • ...that the balance of payments of a country is the record of all economic transactions between the residents of a country and the rest of the world in a particular period?


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