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. An economy can be analyzed in terms of its economic sectors, the classic breakdown being into primary, secondary and tertiary. 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. 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 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.

Selected picture

The Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City.
Photo credit: Genghiskhanviet

Bitexco Financial Tower is a skyscraper in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, owned by Bitexco Group, a Vietnamese company. With 68 floors above ground and three basements, the building has a height of 262.5 metres (861 ft), making it the 124th tallest building in the world. The tower was made by the French company AREP and architects J.M. Duthilleul, E. Tricaud and Carlos Zapata. World renowned Ecuadorian architect Carlos Zapata, who was behind Bitexco Financial Tower, drew inspiration for this skyscraper’s unique shape from Vietnam’s national flower, the Lotus. The tower was the tallest building in Vietnam from 2010 to early 2011 when Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower topped out on 24 January 2011. The tower was officially inaugurated on October 31, 2010.


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

"A fully free banking system and fully consistent gold standard have not as yet been achieved. But prior to World War I, the banking system in the United States (and in most of the world) was based on gold and even though governments intervened occasionally, banking was more free than controlled. Periodically, as a result of overly rapid credit expansion, banks became loaned up to the limit of their gold reserves, interest rates rose sharply, new credit was cut off, and the economy went into a sharp, but short-lived recession. (Compared with the depressions of 1920 and 1932, the pre-World War I business declines were mild indeed.) It was limited gold reserves that stopped the unbalanced expansions of business activity, before they could develop into the post-World War I type of disaster. The readjustment periods were short and the economies quickly reestablished a sound basis to resume expansion.

But the process of cure was misdiagnosed as the disease: if shortage of bank reserves was causing a business decline — argued economic interventionists — why not find a way of supplying increased reserves to the banks so they never need be short! If banks can continue to loan money indefinitely — it was claimed — there need never be any slumps in business. And so the Federal Reserve System was organized in 1913. It consisted of twelve regional Federal Reserve banks nominally owned by private bankers, but in fact government sponsored, controlled, and supported. Credit extended by these banks is in practice (though not legally) backed by the taxing power of the federal government. Technically, we remained on the gold standard; individuals were still free to own gold, and gold continued to be used as bank reserves. But now, in addition to gold, credit extended by the Federal Reserve banks ("paper reserves") could serve as legal tender to pay depositors.

When business in the United States underwent a mild contraction in 1927, the Federal Reserve created more paper reserves in the hope of forestalling any possible bank reserve shortage. More disastrous, however, was the Federal Reserve's attempt to assist Great Britain who had been losing gold to us because the Bank of England refused to allow interest rates to rise when market forces dictated (it was politically unpalatable). The reasoning of the authorities involved was as follows: if the Federal Reserve pumped excessive paper reserves into American banks, interest rates in the United States would fall to a level comparable with those in Great Britain; this would act to stop Britain's gold loss and avoid the political embarrassment of having to raise interest rates. The "Fed" succeeded; it stopped the gold loss, but it nearly destroyed the economies of the world, in the process. The excess credit which the Fed pumped into the economy spilled over into the stock market, triggering a fantastic speculative boom. Belatedly, Federal Reserve officials attempted to sop up the excess reserves and finally succeeded in braking the boom. But it was too late: by 1929 the speculative imbalances had become so overwhelming that the attempt precipitated a sharp retrenching and a consequent demoralizing of business confidence. As a result, the American economy collapsed. Great Britain fared even worse, and rather than absorb the full consequences of her previous folly, she abandoned the gold standard completely in 1931, tearing asunder what remained of the fabric of confidence and inducing a world-wide series of bank failures. The world economies plunged into the Great Depression of the 1930's."

Alan Greenspan, Gold and Economic Freedom, 1966

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