Economic Basics

Economic Basics

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Content Contributors
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Ben Whitten

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Carys Brown

Learning Objectives

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The Economic Problem
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The economic problem refers to the issue of scarcity, as there is not enough resources available to produce all the goods and services required to satisfy needs and wants of all people. If resources become scarce, they can become rare and expensive.

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Economic Questions
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In order to solve both the economic problem and the issue of scarcity, firms need to answer the following economic questions:

  1. What products to produce? 

  2. How much to produce? 

  3. Who to produce the products for? Who will consume the products?

  4. What resources will be used in the production of these products

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Opportunity Cost
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Opportunity cost is defined as the value of alternative sacrificed when a choice or decision is made. Put simply, when resources are limited or scare, then decisions must be made to decide what goods or services we can have with the limited resources.


For instance, if you have $100 and you REALLY need some new shoes and they cost $90, but you also REALLY want a new watch that costs $95. With the money that you have, you must chose either the shoes or the watch: if you chose the shoes then the $95 watch is now the opportunity cost as you had to sacrifice it. This transaction can be known as a trade-off. However, if you had $200, then there is no opportunity cost (no sacrificed good) and the product is described as a free good. It is important to remember, that due to relative scarcity, the value of the best option surrendered (also known as the value of the trade-off) is the actual cost of an economic choice.

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Factors of Production
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The four factors of production are types of resources used by supplyers when producing goods and services.


  1. Land: a natural resource that refers to the things used in production that come directly for the Earth. For example, a mining site's 'land resources' include the geographical location of the firm or the iron ore deposits.

  2.  Labour: The human resource that refers to the physical or mental exertion by workers during production. 

  3. Capital: includes the man-made machinery, tools or equipment used to produce goods or services.

  4. Enterprise: This is another type of human resource as it includes the human management, thought processes and entrepreneurship of workers and owners.

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Micro and Macro Economics
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Microeconomics: studies the behaviour of indivdividual markets. This includeds how households or firms response to changes in demand and supply.


Macroeconomics: is the study of the economy as a whole. It focusses on economic growth and fluctuations over time. Macroeconomic terms include inflation rates, unemployment rates and government polocies. 

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Economic Basics
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