Many people love a roller coaster’s thrilling ups and downs. When it comes to the economy, however, most people would prefer to avoid a wild ride. In fact, most like a smooth ride with very few dips. This episode of The Economic Lowdown podcast series describes how the economy moves through phases of the business cycle, and the role the Federal Reserve System plays in smoothing some of the ride's bumps.
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Maybe you’ve heard that before. Or you’ve even said it. If so, you probably know it means that everything has a cost. Businesses are especially aware of costs because costs affect profits, and without profits a business might not survive. This episode of The Economic Lowdown podcast series describes how businesses consider costs when making decisions – including about whether to shut down.
The sixth podcast in this series examines the law of demand. Those who love candy bars will find this lesson especially easy to digest. A demand curve is simply defined, as are the sorts of changes that might affect that curve—all in less than seven minutes.
Have you encountered mobile payment systems like mobile credit card readers? Pretty cool—and this kind of innovation can be good for the economy. From micro to macro, in this episode of The Economic Lowdown podcast series, we'll take a look at economic growth—how innovation and technological progress can make things happen for the economy over time by organizing the factors of production to be, well, more productive.
How elastic are rubber bands? There's more than one way to answer this question. The word "elasticity" is commonly used to describe things that have a stretchy quality to them. You might try to answer the question by stretching a rubber band across your finger and shooting it across the room. To an economist, however, elasticity can have a whole other meaning. Learn more in this episode of The Economic Lowdown.
Ever feel as if you are paying the price for someone else's "deal"? Perhaps you are choking on the pollution from a foundry where cheap widgets are made. That spillover effect is called an externality. There are positive ones, too.
The second episode of our podcast series, The Economic Lowdown, discusses the building blocks of the economy, the factors of production.
“Recession” is one of the scariest words in economics. The loss of jobs and income can have lasting impacts on people’s lives. How does the economy get back on track when it’s off course? In this episode of The Economic Lowdown podcast series, you’ll learn about how the government uses fiscal policy to influence the economy.
Money has taken many forms through the ages: shells, wheels, beads and even cows. All forms, though, have always had three things in common. Find out what in this eight-minute podcast. You will also learn how commodity money differs from representative money and how both differ from today's fiat money.
Do you know the difference between nominal and real interest rates? If you're not sure, then it's time to "get real" about interest rates. In this episode of The Economic Lowdown, you will learn how inflation influences the real return on your deposits, how it impacts borrowers and lenders differently, and why price stability—a responsibility of the Federal Reserve System—is important.
GDP data are among the most important economic data available for measuring economic growth, but measuring the output of a large, dynamic economy is a complex task. In this podcast, hear what GDP measures, how it is calculated, how it is useful in determining whether and how quickly the economy is growing, and how GDP can be used as indicator of standard of living.
The fourth episode of our podcast series, The Economic Lowdown, discusses three aspects of inflation: what it is, what causes it and how it is measured. The episode also addresses related topics such as deflation, disinflation and the role of the Federal Reserve in monitoring inflation.
In Episode 10, young people who are looking for that first job can learn about the basics of the labor market in this country. A brief explanation is given of the roles played by education, supply, demand, productivity and government regulation.
The eighth episode of our podcast series answers a crucial economic question: Where do prices come from? Listeners discover that supply and demand work together like the two blades of a scissors to determine the market equilibrium – and the prices of the things you buy.
When it comes to the U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve has a very important role to play. Whether you realize it or not, its decisions affect you. In this episode of The Economic Lowdown podcast series, you’ll learn about how the Federal Reserve uses monetary policy to influence the economy.
In this first episode of The Economic Lowdown, we will introduce three topics in economics: choice, scarcity and opportunity cost.
Prices send signals and provide incentives for buyers and sellers in ways you possibly never thought about. In a market economy, price signals prevent massive shortages and ensure that consumer wants are largely satisfied. In this podcast, hear how price signals from gas prices influence decision-making for both a father of three and a production supervisor for an oil refinery. Do you see price signals influencing decisions in your life?
Is public transportation a public good? How about national defense? Knowing the characteristics of public goods will help you understand why private firms excel at producing private goods, but they have little incentive to produce public goods. Rather, if society wants public goods, government must produce them. This episode of The Economic Lowdown defines the characteristics of private and public goods and explains why these characteristics help determine who is best positioned to produce each.
Adam Smith described self-interest and competition in a market economy as the "invisible hand" that guides the economy. This episode of "The Economic Lowdown" explains these concepts and their importance to our understanding of the economic system.
The seventh episode of our podcast series discusses the supply side of the market – the law of supply, slope of the curve and the difference between a change in supply and a change in quantity supplied.