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Economic Terms - Economy ( Must read )

25/01/2017 0 0
  • Absolute Poverty: Poverty defined with respect to an absolute material standard of living. Someone is absolutely poor if their income does not allow them to consume enough to purchase a minimum bundle of consumer goods and services (including shelter, food, and clothing). An alternative approach is to measure relative poverty.
  •  Accelerator, Investment: Investment spending stimulates economic growth, which in turn stimulates further investment spending (as businesses enjoy stronger demand for their products). This positive feedback loop (investment causes growth which causes more investment) is called the accelerator. 
  • Allocative Efficiency: A neoclassical concept referring to the allocation of productive resources (capital, labour, etc.) in a manner which best maximizes the well-being (or “utility”) of individuals. 
  • Automatic Stabilizers: Government fiscal policies which have the effect of automatically moderating the cyclical ups and downs of capitalism. Examples include income taxes (which collect more or less taxes depending on the state of the economy) and unemployment insurance benefits (which automatically replace lost income for people who lose their jobs). 
  • Balanced Budget: An annual budget (such as for a government) in which revenues perfectly offset expenditures, so that there is neither a deficit nor a surplus.
  • Balanced Budget Laws: Laws (usually passed by right-wing governments) which require governments to run balanced budgets regardless of the state of the overall economy. These laws 2 have the negative effect of worsening economic downturns – since governments either must reduce spending or increase taxes during a recession, in order to offset the impact of the recession on its budget, and those fiscal actions deepen the recession. 
  • Banking Cycle: An economic cycle which results from cyclical changes in the attitudes of banks toward lending risk. When economic times are good, bankers become optimistic that their loans will be repaid, and hence they expand their lending. More credit means even stronger economic times, and so on. The opposite occurs when the economy becomes weaker: bankers begin to fear more defaults on their loans, hence they issue fewer loans, and hence the economy weakens even further. 
  • Banks: A company that accepts deposits and issues new loans. It makes profit by charging more interest for the loans than it pays on the deposits, as well as through various service charges. By issuing new loans (or credit), banks create new money which is essential to promoting economic growth and job creation.
  • Barter: A form of trade in which one good or service is exchanged directly for another, without the use of money as an intermediary.
  •  Bond: A financial security which represents the promise of its issuer (usually a company or a government) to repay a loan over a specified time period, at a specified rate of interest. The bond can then be bought and sold to other investors, over and over again. When the rate of interest falls, bond prices rise (and vice versa) – since when interest rates are lower, the bond’s promise to repay interest at the specified fixed rate becomes more valuable. 
  • Capacity Utilization: A company or economy’s capacity represents the maximum amount of output it can produce. The rate of capacity utilization, therefore, represents the proportion of capacity that is actually used in production. When capacity utilization is high (so that a facility is being used fully or near-fully), pressure grows for new investment to expand that capacity. Also, high capacity utilization tends to reduce the unit cost of production (since capital assets are being used more fully and efficiently). 
  • Capital: Broadly defined, capital represents the tools which people use when they work, in order to make their work more productive and efficient. Under capitalism, capital can also refer to a sum of money invested in a business in hopes of generating profit. 
  •  Capital Adequacy: Capital adequacy rules are loose regulations imposed on private banks, in hope of ensuring that they have sufficient internal resources (including the money invested by the bank’s own shareholders) to be able to withstand fluctuations in lending and profitability. 
  • Capital Flight: A destructive process in which investors (both foreigners and domestic residents) withdraw their financial capital from a country as a result of what are perceived to be non-favourable changes in economic policies, political conditions, or other factors. The consequences of capital flight can include a contraction in real investment spending, a dramatic depreciation in the exchange rate, and a rapid tightening of credit conditions. Developing countries are most vulnerable to capital flight.
  •  Capital Gain: A capital gain is a form of profit earned on an investment by re-selling an asset for more than it cost to buy. Assets which may be purchased for this purpose include stocks, bonds, and other financial assets; real estate; commodities; or fine art. 
  • Capitalism: An economic system in which privately-owned companies and businesses undertake most economic activity (with the goal of generating private profit), and most work is performed by employed workers who are paid wages or salaries. 
  • Capitalist Class: The group of individuals (representing just a couple of percent of the population in advanced capitalist countries) which owns and controls the bulk of private corporate wealth, and which as a result faces no compulsion to work in order to support themselves.
  • Carbon Tax: An environmental tax which is imposed on products which utilize carbon-based materials, and hence contribute to greenhouse gas pollution (including oil, gas, coal, and other fossil fuels). The level of the tax should depend on the carbon (polluting) content of each material.
  • Central Bank: A public financial institution, usually established at the national level and controlled by a national government, which sets short-term interest rates, lends money to commercial banks and governments, and otherwise oversees the operation of the credit system. Some central banks also have responsibility for regulating the activities of private banks and other financial institutions. 
  • Central Planning: An economic system in which crucial decisions regarding investment, consumption, interest rates, exchange rates, and price determination are made by central government planners (rather than determined by market forces).
  • Class: The different broad groups in society, defined according to what work they do, their wealth, their degree of control over production, and their general role in the economy.
  • Classical Economics: The tradition of economics that began with Adam Smith, and continued with other theorists including David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, Jean-Baptiste Say, and others. The classical economists wrote in the early years of capitalism, and they uniformly celebrated the productive, innovative actions of the new class of industrial capitalists. They focused on the dynamic economic and political development of capitalism, analyzed economics in class terms, and advocated the labour theory of value.
  •  Climate Change: As a consequence of the cumulative emission of carbon dioxide (a by-product of fossil fuel use) and other chemicals over the past two centuries, the concentration of these gases in the global atmosphere is growing dramatically. These chemicals capture more solar energy within the atmosphere, and hence average global temperatures are rising – by about a full degree Celsius (on land) over the past half-century. The rise in global temperatures is causing many serious consequences, including changes in rainfall, rising sea levels, extreme weather and storms, and changes in plant and animal habitats. 
  •  Commodity: Anything that is bought and sold for money is a commodity – including produced goods and services, inputs (such as capital or raw materials), and even labour. Comparative Advantage: A theory of international trade that originated with David Ricardo in the early 19th Century, and is maintained (in revised form) within neoclassical economics. The theory holds that a national economy will specialize through international trade in those products which it produces relatively most efficiently. Even if it produces those products less efficiently (in absolute terms) than its trading partner, it can still prosper through foreign trade. The theory depends on several strong assumptions – including an absence of international capital mobility, and a supply-constrained economy. 
  • Competition: Competition occurs between different companies trying to produce and sell the same good or service. Companies may compete with each other for markets and customers; for raw materials; for labour; and for capital. 
  • Conditionality: International financial institutions (like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) often attach strong conditions to emergency loans they make to developing countries experiencing economic and financial crises. These conditions require the borrowing countries to follow strict neoliberal policies, such as reducing government spending and deficits; unilaterally opening markets to foreign trade; and privatizing important public assets.
  • Consumer Price Index: The consumer price index (CPI) is a measure of the overall price level paid by consumers for the various goods and services they purchase. Retail price information is gathered on each type of product, and then weighted according to its importance in overall consumer spending, to construct the CPI. Monthly or annual changes in the CPI provide a good measure of the rate of consumer price inflation. 
  • Consumption: Goods and services which are used for their ultimate end purpose, meeting some human need or desire. Consumption can include private consumption (by individuals, financed from their personal incomes) or public consumption (such as education or health care – consumption organized and paid for by the government). Consumption is distinct from investment, which involves using produced goods and services to expand future production. 
  • Corporation: A corporation is a form of business established as an independent legal entity, separate from the individuals who own it. A major benefit, for the owners, of this form of business is that it provides for limited liability for its owners: potential losses resulting from their ownership of the company (should it lose money, face legal difficulties, or experience other problems) are limited to the amount initially invested by the owners. The owners’ other personal wealth is kept separate and protected from claims against the corporation. The corporation is thus well-suited to the joint stock form of ownership.
  • Corporatism: A system for managing wage determination and income distribution, in which wage levels are determined centrally (across industries or even entire countries) on the basis of productivity growth, profitability, and other parameters, following some process of consultation or negotiation involving unions, employers, and often government. Variants of this system are used commonly in Scandinavia, parts of continental Europe, and parts of Asia. 
  • Cost of Job Loss: When a worker is laid off or fired, they experience a significant out-of-pocket cost. That cost of job loss depends on how much they were earning in their job, how long it takes them to find a new job, the level of unemployment benefits they are entitled to, and the level of their pay in the new job. The higher the cost of job loss, the more employers will be able to threaten and discipline their workers. Cutting unemployment insurance has been one key neoliberal strategy for increasing the cost of job loss. 
  • Counter-Cyclical Policies: Governments can take many different actions to offset the ongoing booms and busts of the private-sector economy. These policies include fiscal policies (increasing government spending when the economy is weak), monetary policies (cutting interest rates when needed to stimulate more spending), and social policies (like unemployment insurance) to maintain household incomes and spending even in a downturn.
  • Credit: The ability to purchase something without immediately paying for it – through a credit card, a bank loan, a mortgage, or other forms of credit. The creation of credit is the most important source of new money, and new spending power, in the economy. Credit Squeeze: At times private banks become reluctant to issue new loans and credit, often because they are worried about the risk of default by borrowers. This is common during times of recession or financial instability. A credit squeeze can dramatically slow down economic growth and job-creation. 
  • Debt: The total amount of money owed by an individual, company or other organization to banks or other lenders is their debt. It represents the accumulated total of past borrowing. When it is owed by government, it is called public debt, and it represents the accumulation of past budget deficits. Debt Burden: The real economic importance of a debt depends on the interest rate that must be paid on the debt, and on the total income of the consumer or business that undertook the loan. For public de
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