Study of the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services
See also:
  • FreedomPedia
  • Economics is "a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services" according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The discipline was renamed in the late 19th century primarily due to Alfred Marshall from "political economy" to "economics" as a shorter term for "economic science" at a time when it became more open to rigorous thinking and made increased use of mathematics, which helped support efforts to have it accepted as a science and as a separate discipline outside of political science and other social sciences.

    • Banking - The business of accepting deposits and lending money
    • Comparative Advantage, Law of - Economic tenet formulated by David Ricardo, also Law of Association
    • Economic Fallacies - Popular mistakes in reasoning about economic concepts
    • Economic Resources - Natural, human and man-made factors used in the production of goods and services
    • Economics, Austrian - The school of economic thought founded by Carl Menger
    • Economics Books - Books on economics subjects
    • Economic Systems - Economic, social and political forms of societal organization
    • Economists - Students and teachers of economics
    • Inflation - Popularly, a rise in prices of goods and services; in economics, monetary expansion
    • Money - The most commonly used medium of exchange
    • Monopoly - Exclusive control by someone or some group of the means of producing or selling a good or service
    • No Free Lunch - TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
    • Prices - Convey information between buyers and sellers
    • Taxation - Compulsory contributions demanded by governments from individuals and other entities


    Economics is not about things and tangible material objects; it is about men, their meanings and actions.


    The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, by David R. Henderson (editor)
    Online at the Library of Economics and Liberty and in print (1993, first edition, as The Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics, and 2007, second edition); includes over 150 articles on economics topics and more than 80 biographies of economists


    NewEconomics - Online Library of Liberty
    Over 480 titles, including works by Adam Smith, Condillac, J. B. Say, Frédéric Bastiat, Richard Cobden, David Ricardo, J. S. Mill, Lysander Spooner, Gustave de Molinari, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, F. A. Hayek, James Buchanan and Israel Kirzner


    A-Scalping We van Gogh, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Feb 1999
    Explains the economics concepts of opportunity cost, money, prices and entrepreneurship, based on analysis of scalping of tickets for a Van Gogh exhibit
    "The real cost of a ticket for any person is the value of the highest-ranking alternative use of those hours. This is what economists call 'opportunity cost.' ... Money, or wealth, is the result of production, and all production takes time. ... If you were to lose a sum of money, you'd have to devote time to replacing the lost wealth rather than use that time for something else. "
    Related Topic: Prices
    Economics Is Fun, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr., 27 Apr 2007
    Review of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism by Robert P. Murphy
    "Plenty of people carelessly suppose that reading an economics book must be unspeakable drudgery. To the contrary, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism is great fun, written by a scholar with the ability to produce rigorous scholarly articles as well as to explain difficult concepts in an easy-to-understand way for the general public."
    Immortal Keynes?, by Sheldon Richman, 23 May 2014
    Examines reasons for the continued acceptance of Keynes' economic prescriptions and contrasts them with those of Hayek and others
    "A related aspect of the Keynesian response to the Great Depression ... is the stunning lack of interest in what causes hard times. ... Paul Krugman praise[s] Keynes for not concerning himself with why the economy fell into depression in the first place. All that mattered was ending it. ... Hayek, Robbins, and Mises ... could explain the initial downturn in terms of the malinvestment induced by the central bank's creation of money and its low-interest-rate policies during the 1920s."
    Roots Of Economic Understanding, by Floyd A. 'Baldy' Harper, The Freeman, Nov 1955
    Explains the rudiments of economics by specifying required attributes (desirability, scarcity, exchangeability) then delving into how people, from the earliest age, become cognizant of economic concepts, but ending with criticism of econmic ignorance
    "The study of economics is the study of all matters pertaining to things that are desired but scarce, which exist for trade or can be produced. Those are the things we sometimes speak of as 'economic goods and services.' Those are the things which comprise economic activity in its entirety, which are being produced and owned and traded. A thing must first be desired before it comes within the orbit of economics. ... If it is to be economic, somebody must want it. Without want for it, nobody would work to produce it or sacrifice to buy it."
    Teaching Basic Economics to Fifth Graders, by Arthur E. Foulkes, Mises Daily, 21 Jun 2006
    Recounts the experience of teaching economics to fifth graders, one concept per week, for five weeks, focusing on trade, money, savings, competition and prices
    "I wanted to show them that economics stems from ordinary human behavior in the real world we face every day. ... the concepts we discussed can easily be shown to relate quite directly to other economic concepts; for instance, trade is related to opportunity cost as well as profit and loss; money facilitates trade as well as economic calculation, savings is tied to investment, capital, and production, while competition and prices are related to demand, supply, and relative scarcity."
    Related Topics: Children, Free Trade, Money, Prices, Wages
    The Economics Lesson Obama Needs to Learn, by Sheldon Richman, 25 Jul 2013
    Explains economics in simple terms that even a statist politician ought to understand
    "We live in a world of scarcity. At any given time our ends outnumber the means to achieve them. Hence we economize so that we can achieve as many of our ends as possible. Resources, labor, and time devoted to one purpose can't also be used for other purposes, and the alternative forgone is the true cost of any action. We individually choose among competing ends after assessing the trade-offs, because we don't want inadvertently to give up something we prefer in exchange for something we don't value as much."
    Related Topics: Entrepreneurship, Government
    The Nature and Significance of Economic Education: Economists Should Pursue Their Science with Objectivity, Detachment, and Passion, by Israel M. Kirzner, The Freeman, Oct 1998
    Explains why economic education of both the general public and politicians/legislators is needed and why a teacher, such as Mises, must remain scientifically detached (value free) even if passionate about the teaching goals
    "But why is economic education needed? ... The conclusions of economics are, in general, counter-intuitive. Without careful guidance, the intelligent layman is likely to be led to accept as 'obvious,' policy prescriptions that economics reveals as tending to generate wholly unwanted consequences. ... it is needed in order to introduce the intelligent layman to new ways of looking at and understanding the world. "
    Wants, Efforts, Satisfactions, by Claude Frédéric Bastiat, Economic Harmonies, 1850
    Examines the concepts of sensation, pain, wants, satisfactions and connects them by the concepts of activity or human effort to postulate that the exchange of services in a social framework are what constitute the science of economics
    "The subject of political economy is man. But it does not embrace the whole man. ... What does it deal with? With transactions carried on between people who do not know each other, who owe each other nothing beyond simple justice, who are defending and seeking to advance their own self-interest. ... This is not to say that political economy does not have its own special poetry. Whenever there is order and harmony, there is poetry. But it is to be found in the results, not in the demonstrations."
    Related Topics: Children, Labor, Metaphysics
    Aristotle Understood the Importance of Property, by Richard M. Ebeling, 27 Sep 2016
    Discusses Aristotle's views on private property and property rights (contrasting them with those of Plato), the "ends" of human life, economics ("household management"), wealth acquisition, prices, money and related topics
    "Wealth, therefore, in Aristotle's view, is a legitimate subject for study as an essential means to the proper ends of man. Thus, we find in Aristotle a subject matter called oikonomik, or 'household management.' ... Aristotle classified 'Economics,' or 'household-management,' as a 'natural' pursuit in that it is conduct proper and essential to human existence and the fulfillment of man's nature in developing his inherent potential for 'good' as a human being. It incorporates both the production and consumption of wealth in attaining those 'higher' ends. "
    Complex Societies Need Simple Laws: We need to end the orgy of rule-making at once and embrace the simple rules that true liberals like America's founders envisioned, by John Stossel, 15 Mar 2012
    Reflects on the "uncountable" number of laws and regulations in the United States as well as Britain, and elicits the views of Laozi, Hayek, Buchanan and Mises in favor of ending "the orgy of rule-making"
    "F.A. Hayek wisely said, 'The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.' ... 'With good men and strong governments everything was considered feasible,' the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises wrote. But with the advent of economics, 'it was learned that ... there is something operative which power and force are unable to alter and to which they must adjust themselves if they hope to achieve success, in precisely the same way as they must taken into account the laws of nature.'"
    Related Topics: Law, Laozi, Society
    Give Me Liberty, by Rose Wilder Lane, 1936
    Originally published as an article titled "Credo" in the Saturday Evening Post; describes her experiences in and history of Soviet Russia and Europe, contrasting them with the history of the United States, emphasizing the individualist themes
    "Economics, however, is not concerned with abstract principles and general laws, but with material things ... Economic power in action is subject to an infinity of immediately unpredictable crises affecting material things; it is subject to drought, storm, flood, earthquake and pestilence, to fashion, and diseases, and insects, to the breaking down and the wearing out of machinery. And economics enters into the minute detail of each person's existence—into his eating, drinking, working, playing, and personal habits."
    Rationality and Irrationality; Subjectivism and Objectivity of Praxeological Research, by Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics
    Chapter 1, "Acting Man", section 4; argues that all human action is rational, i.e., the outcome of reasonable deliberation
    "It is fashionable nowadays to find fault with the social sciences for being purely rational. The most popular objection raised against economics is that it neglects the irrationality of life and reality and tries to press into dry rational schemes and bloodless abstractions the infinite variety of phenomena. No censure could be more absurd. Like every branch of knowledge economics goes as far as it can be carried by rational methods."
    Related Topic: Life
    The Austrian Economists, by Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1891
    Explains some of the major tenets of the Austrian school -just two decades after publication of its seminal treatise, contrasting them with the views of classical economics and the historical school; paper solicited by the editors of the magazine
    "To explain the modern economic order there is, apparently, need of two processes: 1st, just as in Crusoe's economy, we must understand the relation of our interests to external goods; 2d, we must seek to understand the laws, according to which we pursue our interests when they are entangled with the interests of others. ... The two processes of explanation must fit together like the two cogwheels of a machine."
    The Drug War as a Socialist Enterprise, by Milton Friedman, 16 Nov 1991
    From keynote address at Fifth International Conference on Drug Policy Reform; examines why, 20 years after Friedman's admonition against Nixon's drug war, the government continues its attempts at enforcement, in spite of the observable, predicted results
    "My last is economics, the study of how society organizes its limited resources to meet the many and varied wants of its members. Fundamentally, society's resources can be organized in only one of two ways, or by some mixture of them. One way is by market mechanisms: from the bottom up. The other way is by command: from the top down. The market is one mechanism. Authoritarian organization-the military is a clear exarnple--is the other."
    The Drug War's Immorality and Abject Failure, by Anthony Gregory, Future of Freedom, Jul 2006
    Discusses how drug use differs from criminal, property-rights violations, the justifications for the drug war and the many areas where it has had detrimental effects on society: inner cities, rule of law, foreign relations, etc.
    "The laws of economics, the principles of supply, demand, and human action that undermine socialist systems, also undermine the war on drugs. Millions want to use drugs and no government program will stop them all, or even most, as long as they are willing to pay and a supplier is willing to sell. The more the state ratchets up the drug war, the higher the profits at stake, and the more innovative and determined the dealers become."


    An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith, Mar 1776
    Partial contents: Of the Causes of Improvement in the productive... - Of the Nature, Accumulation, and Employment of Stock - Of the different Progress of Opulence in different Nations - Of Systems of political Œconomy - Of the Revenue of the Sovereign...
    Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One
        by Thomas Sowell, 2003
    Contents: Politics versus Economics - Free and Unfree Labor - The Economics of Medical Care - The Economics of Housing - Risky Business - The Economics of Discrimination - The Economic Development of Nations
    A Treatise on Political Economy: or The Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Wealth, by Jean-Baptiste Say, 1803
    Electronic text available at The Library of Economics and Liberty; contents: Of the Production of Wealth - Of the Distribution of Wealth - Of the Consumption of Wealth
    Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy
        by Thomas Sowell, 2000
    Partial contents: What Is Economics? - The Role of Prices - Price Controls - The Rise and Fall of Businesses - Productivity and Pay - Investment and Speculation - National Output - Money and the Banking System - International Trade - "Non-Economic" Values
    Classical Economics: An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought - Volume II [PDF], by Murray N. Rothbard, 1995
    Partial contents: J.B. Say - Jeremy Bentham - James Mill, Ricardo, and the Ricardian system - Monetary and banking thought - John Stuart Mill - Roots of Marxism - Alienation, unity, and the dialectic - The Marxian system - After Mill: Bastiat
    Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics
        by P.J. O'Rourke, 1998
    Partial contents: Love, Death and Money - Good Capitalism - Bad Capitalism - Good Socialism - Bad Socialism - From Beatnik to Business Major - How to Make Nothing from Everything - How to Make Everything from Nothing - How to Have the Worst of Both Worlds
    Economic Logic
        by Mark Skousen, 2000
    Partial contents: What is Economics? - The Foundations of Economic Behavior - Production and Consumption: The Structure of Economic Activity - The Theory of the Firm: The Role of Profit and Loss - Macroeconomics - Government Policy - What Do Economists Do
    Economic Policy: Thoughts for Today and Tomorrow
        by Ludwig von Mises, Bettina Bien Greaves ((introduction)), 1979
    Six lectures originally given in 1959 on the following subjects: capitalism, socialism, interventionism, inflation, foreign investment and policies/ideas
    Economics in One Lesson
        by Henry Hazlitt, 1946
    Partial contents: The Lesson - The Broken Window - The Blessings of Destruction - Public Works Mean Taxes - Taxes Discourage Production - Credit Diverts Production - The Curse of Machinery - Spread-the-Work Schemes - Disbanding Troops and Bureaucrats
    Economic Thought Before Adam Smith: An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought - Volume I [PDF], by Murray N. Rothbard, 1995
    Partial contents: The first philosopher-economists: the Greeks - The late Spanish scholastics - Mercantilism - The liberal reaction - Richard Cantillon - Physiocracy - The brilliance of Turgot - The Scottish Enlightenment - The celebrated Adam Smith
    Elements of Political Economy, by James Mill, 1821
    Electronic text available at the Library of Economics and Liberty; partial contents: Production - Distribution - Interchange - Consumption
    Essay on the Nature of Commerce in General, by Richard Cantillon, 1730
    Partial contents: Of Wealth - Of Human Societies - Of Villages - Of Market Towns - Of Metals and Money, and especially of Gold and Silver - Of Barter - Of Market Prices - Of the Circulation of Money - Of Foreign Trade - Of the Exchanges and their Nature
    Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life
        by David D. Friedman, 1996
    Partial contents: Economics for Pleasure and Profit - Price=Value=Cost: Solving a Simple Economy - In Search of the Real World - Standing in for Moral Philosophy: The Economist as Judge - Applications: Conventional and Un
    Human Action: A Treatise on Economics
        by Ludwig von Mises, 1949
    Partial contents: Acting Man - The Epistemological Problems of the Sciences of Human Action - Economics and the Revolt Against Reason - A First Analysis of the Category of Action - Time - Uncertainty - Action Within the World - Human Society
    • ISBN 0786101709: Audio cassette, Blackstone Audiobooks, Section One, 1997
    • ISBN 0786101717: Audio cassette, Blackstone Audiobooks, Section Two, 1997
    • ISBN 0809297434: Hardcover, NTC/Contemporary Publishing Co, 3rd edition, 1966
    • ISBN 0945466242: Hardcover, Ludwig Von Mises Institute, Scholars Edition, 1998
    • ISBN 1572460210: Hardcover, Foundation for Econ Education, 4th edition, 1996
    • ISBN 0930073185: Paperback, Fox & Wilkes, Scholars edition; 4th edition, 1996
    Making Economic Sense
        by Murray N. Rothbard, 1995
    Partial contents: Making Economic Sense - The Socialism of Welfare - Politics as Economic Violence - Enterprise Under Attack - Fiscal Mysteries Revealed - Economic Ups and Downs - The Fiat Money Plague - Economics Beyond the Borders
    On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, by David Ricardo, 1817
    Partial contents: On Value - On Rent - On the Rent of Mines - On Natural and Market Price - Of Wages - On Profits - On Foreign Trade - On Taxes - Taxes on Raw Produce - Taxes on Rent - Tithes - Land-Tax - Taxes on Gold - Taxes on Houses - Taxes on Profits
    Related Topic: Taxation
    Principles of Political Economy, by John Stuart Mill, 1848
    Contents: Introduction, by W. J. Ashley - Preface - Preliminary Remarks - I. Production - II. Distribution - III. Exchange - IV. Influence of the Progress of Society on Production and Distribution - V. On the Influence of Government
    Selected Essays in Political Economy, by Claude Frédéric Bastiat, 1850
    Partial contents: What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen - The Law - Property and Law - Justice and Fraternity - The State - Property and Plunder - Protectionism and Communism - Plunder and Law - Academic Degrees and Socialism - The Balance of Trade
    The Critics of Keynesian Economics
        by Henry Hazlitt (editor), 1960
    Collection of essays by Jean-Baptiste Say, John Stuart Mill, Frank H. Knight, F. A. Hayek, Benjamin M. Anderson, Garet Garrett, Ludwig von Mises, Wilhelm Röpke, W. H. Hutt, Jacob Viner, Etienne Mantoux, Franco Modigliani, Arthur F. Burns and others
    The Making of Modern Economics: The Lives and Ideas of the Great Thinkers
        by Mark Skousen, 2001
    Partial contents: It All Started with Adam - The French Connection - The Irreverent Malthus - Tricky Ricardo - Milling Around - Marx Madness - Menger and the Austrians - Marshalling the Troops - The Missing Mises - The Keynes Mutiny - Milton's Paradise
    The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science: An Essay on Method [PDF], by Ludwig von Mises, 1962
    Partial contents: The Human Mind - The Activistic Basis of Knowledge - Necessity and Volition - Certainty and Uncertainty - On Some Popular Errors Concerning the Scope and Method of Economics - Further Implications of the Neglect of Economic Thinking
    Law's Order: What Economics Has to Do with Law and Why It Matters
        by David D. Friedman, 2000
    Partial contents: What Does Economics Have to Do with Law? - Efficiency and All That - What's Wrong with the World - Defining and Enforcing Rights - Of Burning Houses and Exploding Coke Bottles - The Economics of Contract - Marriage, Sex, and Babies
    Related Topic: Law


    Amanda BillyRock 07 June 2013 Economics In One Lesson Chapter 1 050, by Amanda BillyRock, 1 Jun 2013
    An instructive hand-drawn animation based on Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson, chapter 1, "The Lesson"
    Related Topic: Henry Hazlitt

    How an Economy Grows and Why It Doesn't, by Irwin A. Schiff, 19 Apr 2009
    Comic book presentation of basic economics concepts, including an allegory of United States economic history in the 20th century

    The introductory paragraph uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.