As the Rolling Stones song says, "You can't always get what you want." So we make choices. Every day, governments and individuals choose how much money to spend and what to purchase. The January 2013 issue discusses opportunity costs and scarcity and how they effect our spending decisions.
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Inflation, deflation, disinflation. They affect the prices of everything we buy. To find out how and what's happening in today's economy, see the February 2011 issue.
How are economics and the environment related? The quick answer is that environmental quality is a worthy goal, but there is an economic trade-off: a clean environment does not come without costs. The September 2014 Page One Economics article, "Economics and the Environment, "provides some economic strategies for protecting the environment.
America is a nation of immigrants, who currently make up about 13 percent of the overall population. The May 2014 issue shows how immigration affects the average American. The essay weighs the costs and benefits of immigration and discusses the concept of immigrant workers as substitutes for and complements to native-born workers.
Financial crises and recessions have often led to significant financial reform. Perhaps the most noteworthy financial reform of the past century was the formation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. The January 2011 issue provides historical details of events leading up to the founding of the Federal Reserve.
In July 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 brought the most sweeping financial regulatory reform since the Great Depression. The May 2011 issue outlines key provisions of the Act intended to prevent or lessen future financial crises and enhance consumer protection.
To find out more about fiscal and monetary policy—who conducts them, how they work, and their roles during economic downturns—read the March 2011 issue.
How is the total value of all the goods and services produced in a country's economy measured? Gross domestic product (GDP) is one common and fairly comprehensive measure. The May 2013 issue explains GDP components and how GDP is calculated. It also describes what GDP does—and does not—measure.
Income inequality has been rising in the United States and other developed countries. The March 2012 issue discusses income inequality, its causes, and some possible policy solutions.
To understand why people trade, suppose you were limited to consuming only items you could find within walking distance of your house. Or, perhaps even worse, only items you could produce yourself. For most of us, this restriction would severely diminish the variety of goods and services we enjoy on a daily basis. Therefore, the simplest answer to the question is that people (or entire countries) trade because they will enjoy a wider variety of goods.
All inflation isn't bad—a moderate amount can signal a healthy economy. But high inflation, such as that during the Great Inflation, can lead to a vicious cycle where expectations of higher inflation lead to further increases in the price level. Read the October 2012 issue to find out what caused the Great Inflation, how tough (and painful) policy brought it to an end, and two key lessons learned.
Drivers may wonder whether the most recent spike in gasoline prices is temporary or will be longer lasting. Will prices eventually decline—maybe even to below $3 per gallon? Or is it time for drivers to alter their driving habits, maybe by buying a hybrid car? Be sure to read the September 2012 issue for a discussion of factors that might influence that decision.
"Human capital" may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about investments, but investing in education and training is an important economic decision. Learn about human capital and the return on such an investment in the February 2013 issue.
The cost of a college education continues to rise.The Project on Student Debt estimates that a typical 2009 college graduate accumulated $24,000 in student loan debt. Is a college degree worth the cost? Read the August 2011 issue for the latest data on college versus high school graduates' earnings and employment prospects.
Competition, sportsmanship, and national pride are the foundations of the Olympics, but how much do the Olympics cost the host city and country? What are some of the economic benefits and deficits? Is the investment in the Olympics worth it in the end? Read about previous host experiences with the economic side of the Olympics in the August 2012 issue.
Have you ever heard someone say "Back in my day, a gallon of gas cost a quarter!" Comparing today's prices with prices "back in the day" can be misleading. Both inflation and deflation between then and now have to be taken into account. Read the August 2013 issue to learn more about the effects of inflation on prices.
They say that "money makes the world go round." Just imagine a world without money as our method of payment for everyday transactions. Without money, we would all need to barter for necessary goods and services. For example, suppose an accountant needs to have her car fixed. Under a barter system, she would have to find someone who needed some tax advice in exchange for car repairs. The search to find a barter partner is time consuming and wasteful. Money solves this problem and many others. Read more about the three main functions of money and the damaging effects of too much inflation on these functions in the March 2013 issue.
Natural disasters often cause extensive loss and damage, yet post-disaster reconstruction may create opportunities that bring long-term economic benefits. Read the October 2011 issue for details.
The output gap is one (of many) economic indicators used by economists to measure the strength of the economy. What exactly is the output gap, and how accurately does it predict the state of the economy? Read the November 2012 issue for an explanation of the output gap and answers to these questions.
Remember when airlines started charging for checked bags? What happened to the number of checked bags after this added charge? And what happened to the availability of in-cabin storage space on planes? The April 2013 issue answers these questions and discusses the pivotal role price plays in a market economy.