• Unit 1: What is Macroeconomics?

    Microeconomics studies exchanges among individual consumers and firms in the market to purchase goods and services. In contrast, macroeconomics focuses on exchanges across all of the markets within a country. We consider the interrelated actions of consumers, businesses, government agencies, financial intermediaries, and global trading partners as they exchange resources, goods, and services and facilitate currency and quantity flows. Microeconomics examines how to achieve profit maximization. Macroeconomics explores how to achieve overall economic stability and growth nationally.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

    • 1.1: The Economic Way of Thinking

      First, we must recognize that resources, such as our time and money, are limited while our wants are unlimited. Economics explores how to satisfy our unlimited wants in light of these limited resources. Economics is the study of choice. An example is the president of a county who must choose how to spend limited funds on domestic issues versus giving foreign aid. Another example is a college student who must choose how to allocate their limited time for studying, working, and socializing. Opportunity cost is the value of the next best alternative action someone could have taken if they had not chosen a particular action. For example, a college student with an 8:00 am class may prefer to sleep in, but wouldn't we all choose to sleep in rather than attend class if we disregard the value of getting an education? We should be thinking at the margin – on exam day, one hour of class is far more important than one additional hour of sleep, especially if you have already slept for eight hours.

    • 1.2: Scarcity and Production Choices

      The fundamental economic project all societies and people face is the scarcity of resources. Every economy faces tradeoffs that apply to every individual, household, and economic organization. Remember that one good can only be produced by diverting resources from other goods – by producing less of them. Just as people choose how to allocate leisure versus work hours, countries choose how much to produce of various goods.

    • 1.3: The Production Possibilities Curve

      The production possibility curve is a graphical representation that shows all of the possible options of output for two goods that can be produced using all factors of production, where the given resources are fully and efficiently used. A production possibilities frontier illustrates several economic concepts – allocative efficiency, economies of scale, opportunity cost, productive efficiency, and scarcity of resources.

    • 1.4: Opportunity Cost

      Opportunity cost measures what we give up or forfeit when we choose one thing over another. Opportunity cost measures the value of the alternative we did not choose. This loss may be monetary, time (productivity), or energy (efficiency). When a company allocates resources to one activity or area, it decides not to pursue a competing activity. Opportunity cost is especially important for smaller businesses with more limited resources and funds. Managers weigh which decision will provide the greatest return on their investments with the least risk. Opportunity cost is a concept that is especially important in microeconomics.

    • 1.5: Demand, Supply, and Market Equilibrium

      The laws of supply and demand are basic to economics. How these forces interact determines the prices of goods when we shop, the profits a company makes, and how one person becomes rich while another remains poor. We see the interplay of supply and demand everywhere. The market brings buyers and sellers together to trade physically and virtually. Demand, supply, and price are the bedrock of market economics.

      Demand predicts how many goods or services we buy from a vendor at a particular price. The higher the price, the less we want to buy. Supply is how many goods or services a seller will part with for a certain price. The lower the price, the fewer goods the vendor wants to sell because making them does cost time and money. Prices signal whether the supply or demand for a product is rising or falling.

    • 1.6: Market Equilibrium

      Equilibrium describes the situation where the quantity demanded equals the quantity supplied. The equilibrium price is the price or dollar amount (if you are trading in U.S. dollars) where these two lines intersect. The buyer is willing to pay the price, and the seller is willing to sell. The equilibrium quantity is the quantity of goods or services where these two lines intersect. The seller is willing to provide the number of goods. At equilibrium, there is no economic pressure from surpluses or shortages that would cause price or quantity to change.

    • 1.7: Price Ceilings and Price Floors

      Government price controls (price floors and ceilings) alter the market outcome if price controls are set at levels that make them effective. Simply put, price controls limit the most you can pay or charge for something. Price ceilings set a maximum cost, keeping prices from rising above a certain level. A price floor establishes a minimum cost – a bottom-line benchmark that keeps prices from falling below a certain level.

    • 1.8: Labor and Financial Markets

      The theories of demand and supply apply to labor markets, including job seekers or employees who supply their labor and firms, corporations, and other employers that hire job candidates to run their businesses. Like the market for goods, the labor market refers to the supply and demand for labor – employees provide the supply, and employers provide the demand. The law of demand applies in labor markets in the following way: a higher salary or wage represents a higher price in the labor market and leads to a decrease in the quantity of labor demanded by employers. In comparison, a lower salary or wage leads to an increase in the quantity of labor demanded.

      For example, let's say a grocery store promises to pay cashiers $100 an hour if they apply during the next 24 hours. Workers from around the city will line up to get a job there. The store will easily be able to fill all of its position openings, and its demand for labor will decrease (a decrease in the quantity of labor demanded by the employer).

      Another common example of demand and supply is the price fluctuation of securities. Stock market analysts study the demand and supply of stocks to predict future price trends. Market prices depend on the interaction of demand and supply. An equilibrium price represents a balance of demand and supply factors. Prices tend to return to this equilibrium unless some characteristics of demand or supply change.

    • Unit 1 Assessment

      • Receive a grade