Portal:Business and economics

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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.

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A postcard dated July 12, 1907 showing the New Orleans Mint

The New Orleans Mint operated as a branch of the United States Mint from 1838 to 1861 and from 1879 to 1909. During its years of operation, it produced over 427 million gold and silver coins of nearly every American denomination, with a total face value of over US$307 million. It was closed during most of the American Civil War and the period called Reconstruction. After its decommissioning as a mint, the building served a variety of purposes, including as an assay office, a United States Coast Guard storage facility, and a fallout shelter. Since 1981 it has served as a branch of the Louisiana State Museum. As of August 2006 it is closed to the public pending repairs following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The New Orleans Mint has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and is currently the oldest surviving structure to have served as a U.S. Mint. Along with the Charlotte Mint, it is one of two former mint facilities in the United States to house an art gallery.

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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.

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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.

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"Human wants and desires are countless in number and very various in kind: but they are generally limited and capable of being satisfied. The uncivilized man indeed has not many more than the brute animal; but every step in his progress upwards increases the variety of his needs together with the variety in his methods of satisfying them. He desires not merely larger quantities of the things he has been accustomed to consume, but better qualities of those things; he desires a greater choice of things, and things that will satisfy new wants growing up in him.

Thus though the brute and the savage alike have their preferences for choice morsels, neither of them cares much for variety for its own sake. As, however, man rises in civilization, as his mind becomes developed, and even his animal passions begin to associate themselves with mental activities, his wants become rapidly more subtle and more various; and in the minor details of life he begins to desire change for the sake of change, long before he has consciously escaped from the yoke of custom. The first great step in this direction comes with the art of making a fire: gradually he gets to accustom himself to many different kinds of food and drink cooked in many different ways; and before long monotony begins to become irksome to him, and he finds it a great hardship when accident compels him to live for a long time exclusively on one or two kinds of food. "

Alfred Marshall, Principles of Economics, 1890
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19:31, 24 January, 2015 (UTC)
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On this day in Business history...

January 25:

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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