Economy Definition

What is an economy?

An economy is a complex system of interrelated production, consumption, and exchange activities that ultimately determine how resources are distributed among all participants. The production, consumption and distribution of goods and services combine to meet the needs of those who live and operate within the economy.

An economy can represent a nation, a region, a single industry or even a family.

Key points to remember

  • An economy is a system of interrelated production and consumption activities that ultimately determine the allocation of resources within a group.
  • The production and consumption of goods and services as a whole meet the needs of those who live and operate there.
  • Market economies, also known as free market economies, are self-regulating, allowing goods to be produced and distributed in response to consumer demand.
  • Order-based economies are regulated by a government body that determines the goods that are produced, their quantities, and the price paid for them.
  • In the modern world, few economies are purely market-based or command-based.

Understanding Savings

An economy encompasses all activities related to the production, consumption, and trade of goods and services in an entity, whether the entity is a nation or a small city.

No two economies are the same. Each is trained according to its own resources, culture, laws, history and geography. Each evolves according to the choices and actions of the participants.

These decisions are made through a combination of market transactions and collective or hierarchical decision making.

Capitalism needs a market economy. Communism requires a command economy.

Types of savings

In the modern world, few nations are purely market-based or purely command-based. But most lean towards one or the other of these models.

Market economies

Market-based or “free market” economies allow people and businesses to freely exchange goods and services according to supply and demand.

The United States is above all a market economy. Producers determine what is sold and produced, and the prices to be charged. If they hope to succeed, they will produce what consumers want and charge what consumers are willing to pay.

Through these decisions, the laws of supply and demand determine prices and total output. If consumer demand for a specific product increases, production tends to increase to meet the demand. The increase in demand drives prices up until consumers balk and reduce their purchases. The demand for the product will then decrease and the prices will decrease with it.

This constant tug of supply and demand allows a market economy to balance itself naturally. Like prices in one sector increase with demand, the money and manpower needed to meet that demand move to where they are needed.

Command-Based Economies

Command economies depend on a central government that controls production levels, prices, and the distribution of goods.

In such a system, the government owns industries deemed essential on behalf of the consumers who use them. Competition between firms is discouraged or prohibited. Prices are controlled.

Communism requires a command economy. Contemporary examples include Cuba and North Korea.

A command-based economy attempts to replace the functioning of supply and demand.

Mixed economies

Pure market economies rarely exist in the modern world as there is usually some degree of government intervention or central planning. Even the United States could be considered a mixed economy. It may not impose production, but it has ways of influencing it. For instance:

  • In late 2021, President Joe Biden ordered 50 million gallons of oil extracted from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves with the stated aim of lowering gasoline prices by increasing its supply.
  • In 2022, the Federal Reserve imposed a series of interest rate hikes on the country’s banks. The aim was to raise interest rates across the economy to reduce demand for loans and thus reduce inflation in the cost of goods and services.

In truth, most of the world’s developed economies mix market-based and command-based models.

China only had a command economy until 1978, when it began a series of reforms encouraging private enterprise.

Study the savings

The study of savings and the factors affecting savings is called economics. The discipline of economics can be divided into two broad areas of interest, microeconomics and macroeconomics.


Microeconomics studies the behavior of individuals and businesses to understand why they make the economic decisions they make and how those decisions affect the larger economic system.

Microeconomics studies how a particular value is attached to a product or service. It examines how individuals coordinate and cooperate with each other in business.

Microeconomics tends to focus on economic trends, such as the impact of individual choices and actions on changes in production.

Obviously, the principles of psychology and marketing influence microeconomics.


As the name suggests, macroeconomics studies the big picture.

Macroeconomics includes the study of economy-wide factors such as the effect of rising prices or inflation on the economy. It seeks to track and understand financial indicators that clarify the success or failure of an economy over time, such as gross domestic product (GDP), evolution unemploymentand consumer spending.

In short, macroeconomics studies the behavior of the economy as a whole.

Economic indicators

As stated above, macroeconomics is the study of the big picture and the big picture is incomplete without a set of economic indicators. These are some of the most watched indicators.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Gross domestic product is the total value of all completed goods and services produced by an economy during a period of one year.

The gross domestic product of the United States was around $23 trillion in 2021.


The unemployment report estimates the number of people working for pay during a given period. More importantly, the number is tracked over time to determine if unemployment is getting worse.

In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes a monthly unemployment report which breaks down the number of people working, the average number of hours worked and their average earnings. This is used to produce the unemployment rate.

Inflation (or deflation)

Consumer price inflation is measured and tracked so that problems in the economy can be identified. If the rate of inflation exceeds the rate of income growth, the economy is in trouble. Inflation can also be negative, but headline deflation is relatively rare.

The BLS also releases a key inflation report for the United States. The consumer price index tracks the cost of goods and services from month to month. He breaks down his report into vital areas of consumer spending, such as food, energy and rental costs.

These figures determine the rate of inflation.

Trade balance

The balance of trade of an economy is a comparison between the amount of money spent on imports of goods and services and the amount of money it earns on the goods and services it exports. It is measured primarily by recording all products that pass through a country’s customs office.

A nation achieves a positive trade balance when it exports more than it imports. He has a negative trade balance when he buys more than he sells.

Neither is necessarily good or bad. A nation may have a negative trade balance because foreign companies are investing heavily in its future. A nation with a positive trade balance may have protectionist policies in place that could hurt it in the long run.

The United States had a trade balance deficit in 2021 of about $859.1 billion, up $182.4 billion from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

History of the concept of economy

The word economy derives from the Greek term for household management and the word is still used in this context.

Economics as a field of study was taken up by ancient Greek philosophers, notably Aristotle, but the modern study of economics began in 18th century Europe, particularly in Scotland and France .

Development of modern economy

The Scottish philosopher and economist Adam Smith, who in 1776 wrote a historical book entitled The Wealth of Nationswas considered in his time as a moral philosopher. He and his contemporaries traced the evolution of economies from prehistoric barter systems to money-driven and ultimately credit-driven economies.

In the 19th century, the development of technology and the growth of international trade created stronger ties between countries, a process that accelerated until the Great Depression and World War II. After 50 years of Cold War, the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century saw a new globalization of economies.

What is the economy?

Economics is a branch of science that seeks to understand the functioning of a population by studying the functioning of its economy. Each group of people develops a survival plan based on shared labor and resources. How they achieve this, and to what extent they achieve this, is the study of economics.

What is macroeconomics versus microeconomics?

Macroeconomics is the study of the overall performance of an economy. It assesses the stability and progress of an economy over time by analyzing key indicators. These include gross domestic product (GDP), employment, inflation or deflation, and trade balance.

Micronomy is the study of the behavior of individual consumers and businesses that make up the economy. Their motivations, habits and behaviors are studied to determine if an economy is working in their best interest.

What is the economy in real life?

We all participate in an economy, with the possible exception of a hermit living on a desert island. We contribute something to the whole, by producing or helping to produce a product or by offering a service. In return, we receive money which allows us to buy the goods and services that we cannot produce ourselves.

The essential

An economy is a community that can be observed through an analysis of its resource allocation. Every individual and every family in the community has a contribution to make. In return, everyone expects a share of the goods and services provided by other members of the community.

In modern times, the functioning of an economy is analyzed and quantified by economists.

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