<< Chapter < Page
  Macroeconomics   Page 1 / 1
Chapter >> Page >

The great depression

The photograph shows people lined up outside a bank during the Great Depression awaiting their relief checks.
At times, such as when many people are in need of government assistance, it is easy to tell how the economy is doing. This photograph shows people lined up during the Great Depression, waiting for relief checks. At other times, when some are doing well and others are not, it is more difficult to ascertain how the economy of a country is doing. (Credit: modification of work by the U.S. Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons)

How is the economy doing? how does one tell?

The 1990s were boom years for the U.S. economy. The late 2000s, from 2007 to 2014 were not. What causes the economy to expand or contract? Why do businesses fail when they are making all the right decisions? Why do workers lose their jobs when they are hardworking and productive? Are bad economic times a failure of the market system? Are they a failure of the government? These are all questions of macroeconomics, which we will begin to address in this chapter. We will not be able to answer all of these questions here, but we will start with the basics: How is the economy doing? How can we tell?

The macro economy includes all buying and selling, all production and consumption; everything that goes on in every market in the economy. How can we get a handle on that? The answer begins more than 80 years ago, during the Great Depression. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his economic advisers knew things were bad—but how could they express and measure just how bad it was? An economist named Simon Kuznets, who later won the Nobel Prize for his work, came up with a way to track what the entire economy is producing. The result—gross domestic product (GDP)—remains our basic measure of macroeconomic activity. In this chapter, you will learn how GDP is constructed, how it is used, and why it is so important.

Introduction to the macroeconomic perspective

In this chapter, you will learn about:

  • Measuring the Size of the Economy: Gross Domestic Product
  • Adjusting Nominal Values to Real Values
  • Tracking Real GDP over Time
  • Comparing GDP among Countries
  • How Well GDP Measures the Well-Being of Society

Macroeconomics focuses on the economy as a whole (or on whole economies as they interact). What causes recessions? What makes unemployment stay high when recessions are supposed to be over? Why do some countries grow faster than others? Why do some countries have higher standards of living than others? These are all questions that macroeconomics addresses. Macroeconomics involves adding up the economic activity of all households and all businesses in all markets to get the overall demand and supply in the economy. However, when we do that, something curious happens. It is not unusual that what results at the macro level is different from the sum of the microeconomic parts. Indeed, what seems sensible from a microeconomic point of view can have unexpected or counterproductive results at the macroeconomic level. Imagine that you are sitting at an event with a large audience, like a live concert or a basketball game. A few people decide that they want a better view, and so they stand up. However, when these people stand up, they block the view for other people, and the others need to stand up as well if they wish to see. Eventually, nearly everyone is standing up, and as a result, no one can see much better than before. The rational decision of some individuals at the micro level—to stand up for a better view—ended up being self-defeating at the macro level. This is not macroeconomics, but it is an apt analogy.

Macroeconomics is a rather massive subject. How are we going to tackle it? [link] illustrates the structure we will use. We will study macroeconomics from three different perspectives:

  1. What are the macroeconomic goals? (Macroeconomics as a discipline does not have goals, but we do have goals for the macro economy.)
  2. What are the frameworks economists can use to analyze the macroeconomy?
  3. Finally, what are the policy tools governments can use to manage the macroeconomy?

Macroeconomic goals, framework, and policies

The illustration shows three boxes. The first is goals, the second is framework, the third is policy tools. Within each box are factors pertaining to the box.
This chart shows what macroeconomics is about. The box on the left indicates a consensus of what are the most important goals for the macro economy, the middle box lists the frameworks economists use to analyze macroeconomic changes (such as inflation or recession), and the box on the right indicates the two tools the federal government uses to influence the macro economy.

Goals

In thinking about the overall health of the macroeconomy, it is useful to consider three primary goals: economic growth, low unemployment, and low inflation.

  • Economic growth ultimately determines the prevailing standard of living in a country. Economic growth is measured by the percentage change in real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product. A growth rate of more than 3% is considered good.
  • Unemployment, as measured by the unemployment rate, is the percentage of people in the labor force who do not have a job. When people lack jobs, the economy is wasting a precious resource-labor, and the result is lower goods and services produced. Unemployment, however, is more than a statistic—it represents people’s livelihoods. While measured unemployment is unlikely to ever be zero, a measured unemployment rate of 5% or less is considered low (good).
  • Inflation is a sustained increase in the overall level of prices, and is measured by the consumer price index. If many people face a situation where the prices that they pay for food, shelter, and healthcare are rising much faster than the wages they receive for their labor, there will be widespread unhappiness as their standard of living declines. For that reason, low inflation—an inflation rate of 1–2%—is a major goal.

Frameworks

As you learn in the micro part of this book, principal tools used by economists are theories and models (see Welcome to Economics! for more on this). In microeconomics, we used the theories of supply and demand; in macroeconomics, we use the theories of aggregate demand (AD) and aggregate supply (AS) . This book presents two perspectives on macroeconomics: the Neoclassical perspective and the Keynesian perspective, each of which has its own version of AD and AS. Between the two perspectives, you will obtain a good understanding of what drives the macroeconomy.

Policy tools

National governments have two tools for influencing the macroeconomy. The first is monetary policy, which involves managing the money supply and interest rates. The second is fiscal policy, which involves changes in government spending/purchases and taxes.

Each of the items in [link] will be explained in detail in one or more other chapters. As you learn these things, you will discover that the goals and the policy tools are in the news almost every day.

Questions & Answers

what is equillibrium
riy Reply
Equilibrium is a state of balance e.g supply equals demand then there is no oversupply or shortage of goods
Scelo
When price increases quantity demnd alway decreases
Sonu Reply
this is because when price increase,consumer can longer effort to pay as they usually do thereby leading to the fall in dd
Muafue
Explain the impact of increase price of substitude goods an equilibirum price and equilibirum quantity
Sonu
Again according to the first law of demand which state that more is demanded at higher price than at lower price.Because of this consumer believe that more can only be demand at low prices than higher prices meaning that a slide change in price will affect demand
Muafue
what are the functions of money?
Liza Reply
medium of exchange
Alhassan
Medium of exchange,store of value,standard for differ payment and unit of account
Muafue
A medium of exchange for goods and services
Allen
what is demand for labour?
Allen
boumols inventory theory?
Vyshnavi Reply
what is inflation?
Jestony Reply
the increase in general price level and the decrease in money value
Inflation can be define as the persistence rise in the general price level of goods and services in the market
Muafue
what are the three reason tgat we study economics
armaan Reply
we may be rational people, know efficient where met profit maximization, know efficient allocation
li
1.How monetary and fiscal policy create stable economy. 2. How to create fairness for all citizens. 3. Determine drivers of human economic behavior.
Mark
To know that you we need understand the demand and supply and others important matters in economics
emz
can you explain. what is the reasons for having international trade
atikah Reply
to aid productivity and efficiency, for economic growth, to help reduce dependence on local product
kunle
can someone please help differentiate between short and long run in microeconomics and macroeconomics
kunle
what is inflation in economic
Christopher Reply
a general increase price level and fall in purchasing value of money
a general increase in price level and fall in purchasing value of money
due to high supply of mony in the market the demand of goods will increase and price will high its call inflation.
Thalay
thanks
Christopher
how to calculate real and calculated unemployment rate for false information
James Reply
I think unemployment can't be calculated but I think due to economics survey that happens every year we come to know about unemployment rate and compares that with precocious year unemployment rate
are foreigners in our country helping our economy or not?
Nwabali Reply
foreign countries invest in India by two ways one for there business promotion(of their product ) through employment which employment generates in India and the 2nd is foreign aid fund means when a country suffers from flood,earthquake etc so other countries help them financial(called foreign aid)
simple answer is yes
Yes, this is through the investment as investors.
jossy
what is revenue commission?
Kelvyn Reply
is the organ which is collect tax from society for public servise
ABIYOT
Where is determination of price is done?
Vidhan Reply
when price equal with marginal cost
ABIYOT
what is demand
Fransis Reply
The willingness and ability to of a buyer to purchase a commodity
Moses
the thing that u r able to buy and which fullfill your want is called Demand
Stanzin
what u want to buy to fulfilling of yours desires is called demand
Thalay
explain manetary policy
Amina Reply
why SA is used in estimating of national income
Unique Reply
first what SA stand for?
Alhassan
SA stand for static adjustment
Unique
machenism of monetary expansion
EFAT
norther one
Unique
explain manetary policy
Amina

Get the best Macroeconomics course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Macroeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Jun 16, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11626/1.10
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Macroeconomics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask