E2 isn't the place to put out a dry definition of macro or micro economics. E2 isn't for academia.
E2 is a place where you describe your colourful sense of things. Where you drop a bomb with your own personal stamp on it.
I am currently taking an undergraduate course in economics. The textbook being taught is aptly named Economics by one N. Gregory Mankiw. A standard really, taught in hundreds of schools. It's an updated version of his Ten Principles of Economics. Now, why they didn't keep the original title is a curious decision seeing as the first thing you read about are his Ten Principles of Economics. So far so good. But this is where I run into difficult ground. The version I am being taught is co-authored by Mark P. Taylor.1 The idea being that the same version of economics can't be taught both sides of the Atlantic (what an a outlandish idea). In Europe there is the EU and the euro currency. In Britain they retained the pound, here in Iceland we have our króna. Belgians can't be expected to think in dollars and Mexicans don't give a dead donkey about ...say....
slovenian euros - strike that - hungarian forints.
On the backside cover of Economics there are positive commentaries from teachers from England, Switzerland and Iceland. Wov, Iceland, you think but why...how come. They must really be casting their nets wide to include the Commercial College of Iceland. Weird huh?
So the Ten Principles are:
1. People Face Trade-Offs
2. The Cost of Something Is What You Give Up To Get It
3. Rational People Think At The Margins
4. People Respond To Incentives
5. Trade Can Make Everyone Better Off
6. Markets Are Usually a Good Way To Organize Economic Activity
7. Governments Can Sometimes Improve Market Outcomes
8. An Economy's Standard of Living Depends on Its Ability to Produce Goods and Services
9. Prices Rise When the Government Prints Too Much Money
10. Society Faces a Short-Run Trade-Off Between Inflation and Unemployment
If there's something I dislike then it's the feeling of study material being rammed down my throat. Therefore I immediately found faults with this textbook.
Modern textbooks are prepared, that is to say the layout, by satanic teams of psychologists. They decide what colors are user friendly as backgrounds and categorise information accordingly so you can be absolutely certain that you're reading a FYI (non-fictitious) and not a "Blast from the past" (fictitious) section. In Economics they've chosen the bewildering image theme of football to accompany the text. Each chapter begins with a football related picture. The first one being a snapshot of a coin being tossed by a referee, in a female football (that's soccer) match. I suppose the connections you're supposed to make are competition, girl power, prize, sweat, sex?
So I haven't (formally) studied any economics, though the subject seriously interests me. Discontent with the material presented with I picked up Robert L. Heilbroner's The Worldly Philosophers. It's subtitle is The Lives and Times of The Great Economic Thinkers and it's a rather entertaining read. But you don't learn economics reading it. You learn about economists mostly which I think is just as essential really. It puts things into perspective.
For a long time economics used to be political economy. Now, I am studying political science and a belief that keeps reinforcing itself, my steadfast belief is that, nothing has happened in a vacuum (the only possible place for a functioning free market). Historical perspective is probably the most underestimated, necessary premise for a successful education. (Regarding social sciences or economics)
It has been said here that everything2ians seem to have a socialist streak. I'm guilty as charged. I don't like people like Ayn Rand or Milton Friedman. Their false ideals of social betterment through selfishness simply don't register. Call me an outcast but first read what Ayn said in her article "What Is Capitalism?"2 from way back in 1965.
The small minority of adults who are unable rather than unwilling to work, have to rely on voluntary charity; misfortune is not a claim to slave labor; there is no such thing as the right to consume, control and destroy those without whom one would be unable to survive. As to depressions and mass unemployment, they are not caused by the free market, but by government interference into the economy.
What a bitch! To her credit she does put in a couple of thoughtful words about forced agricultural reform and gulag slave labour with their millions of casualties, unforgivable, barbaric. But I don't aspire to be a USSR apologist. I am merely of the opinion that a free market can realistically be operated in a vacuum and nowhere else.
Seriously if the so-called civilised Western World lowered trade barriers and import/export controls via the USA proxy trade monoliths the consequences would be catastrophic. There would be a reconfiguration of the world economy ...... unthinkable ..... yeah.... be afraid.
1 - http://www.thomsonlearning.co.uk/mankiw_taylor
2 - published in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
, a collection of essay (which a young Alan Greenspan
contributes too interestingly)