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Portal:Business and economics

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The New York Stock Exchange floor

In the social sciences, economics is the study of human choice behavior and the methodology used to make associated investment and production decisions; in particular, though not limited to, how those choices and decisions determine the allocation of scarce resources and their effect on production, distribution, and consumption. The word "economics" is from the Greek words οἶκος [oikos], meaning "family, household, estate", and νέμω [nemo], or "distribution, allocation", hence meaning "household management" or "management of the state". An economist is a person using economic concepts and data in the course of employment, or someone who has earned a university degree in the subject. Economics undergraduate courses cover at least two main branches:

  • Microeconomics studies the behavior of individual households and firms in making decisions on the allocation of limited resources. Microeconomics applies to markets where goods or services are bought and sold. It examines how decisions and behaviors affect the supply and demand for goods and services, which determine prices, and how prices, in turn, determine the quantity supplied and quantity demanded of goods and services.
  • Macroeconomics studies inflation, price levels, rates of growth, national income, gross domestic product and changes in unemployment of a country, rather than the more specific details that microeconomics studies.

There are also other sub-fields of economics.

In economics, the field economic systems studies and analyzes the organizing of production, distribution, consumption and investment, as well as optimal resource allocation and institutional design. Traditionally, the study of economic systems was based on a dichotomy between market economies and planned economies, but contemporary studies compare and contrast a number of different systems, such as ownership structure (public, private or collective), economic coordination (planning, markets or mixed systems), management structure (hierarchy versus adhocracy), the incentive system, and the level of centralization in decision-making. An economy can be analyzed in terms of its economic sectors, the classic breakdown being into primary, secondary and tertiary.

Economic policy comprises the actions that governments take in the economic field. It covers the systems for setting interest rates and the government budget as well as the labor market regulations, national ownership, trade policy, monetary policy, fiscal policy, regulatory policy, anti-trust policy and industrial policy. In economics, sustainable development refers to development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

A business, also known as an enterprise or a firm, is an organization involved in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are prevalent in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and provide goods and services to customers in exchange of other goods, services, or money. Businesses may also be not-for-profit or state-owned. Management in business and organizations is the function that coordinates the efforts of people to accomplish goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively. Management comprises planning, organizing, staffing, leading and directing, and controlling an organization or initiative to accomplish a goal. Management is also an academic discipline, and is traditionally taught at business schools.

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Damage from Hurricane Katrina

Actuaries are business professionals who deal with the financial impact of risk and uncertainty. Actuaries are highly trained experts with a deep understanding of financial security systems, their reasons for being, their complexity, their mathematics, and the way they work. They evaluate the likelihood of future events and design creative ways to quantify the contingent outcomes in order to minimize losses associated with uncertain undesirable events. These risks can impact both sides of the balance sheet and require asset management, liability management, and valuation skills. It takes a combination of strong analytical skills, business knowledge and understanding of both human behavior and the vagaries of information systems to design and manage programs that control risk. Actuaries work in a number of insurance disciplines, which may be classified as life, health, pensions, annuities, and asset management, social welfare programs, property, casualty, liability, general insurance and reinsurance.

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The Federal Reserve headquarters in Washington, DC.
Photo credit: Genghiskhanviet

The Federal Reserve System (also known as the Federal Reserve, and informally as the Fed) is the central banking system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913, with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907. Over time, the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve System have expanded, and its structure has evolved. Events such as the Great Depression in the 1930s were major factors leading to changes in the system.

Selected economy

Ohio quarter, reverse side, 2002.jpg

The economy of Ohio nominally would be the 25th largest global economy behind Sweden and ahead of Nigeria according to the 2013 World Bank projections, and the 24th largest global economy behind Sweden and ahead of Norway according to the 2013 International Monetary Fund projections. The state had a projected GDP of $526.1 billion in 2013, up from 517.1 in 2012, and up from 501.3 in 2011, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In 2013, Ohio was ranked in the top ten states for best business climate by Site Selection magazine, based on a business-activity database. The state was edged out only by Texas and Nebraska for the 2013 Governor's Cup award from the magazine, based on business growth and economic development. A new report by the Quantitative Economics and Statistics Practices (QUEST) of Ernst & Young in conjunction with the Council On State Taxation (COST), ranks Ohio as third in the nation for friendliest tax environment.

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"I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one — and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces."

Henry Ford, My Life and Work Chapter IV, 1922

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On this day in Business history...

March 23:

Did you know...

  • ...that, as of August 2008, more than 113 countries around the world, including all of Europe, required or permitted IFRS reporting and 85 required IFRS reporting for all domestic, listed companies?
  • ...that in the circular flow model, the inter-dependent entities of producer and consumer are referred to as "firms" and "households" respectively and provide each other with factors in order to facilitate the flow of income?
  • ...that the balance of payments of a country is the record of all economic transactions between the residents of a country and the rest of the world in a particular period?


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