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An economy consists of the economic systems of a country or other area; the labor, capital and land resources; and the manufacturing, production, trade, distribution, and consumption of goods and services of that area. A given economy is the result of a process that involves its technological evolution, history and social organization, as well as its geography, natural resource endowment, and ecology, as main factors. These factors give context, content, and set the conditions and parameters in which an economy functions. A market based economy may be described as a spatially limited social network where goods and services are freely produced and exchanged according to demand and supply between participants (economic agents) by barter or a medium of exchange with a credit or debit value accepted within the network. Capital and labor can move freely across places, industries and firms in search of higher profits, dividens, interests, and compensations and benefits. Rent on land allocates this generally fixed resource among competing users.
Today the range of fields of study examining the economy revolve around the social science of economics, but may include sociology (economic sociology), history (economic history), anthropology (economic anthropology), and geography (economic geography). Practical fields directly related to the human activities involving production, distribution, exchange, and consumption of goods and services as a whole, are engineering, management, business administration, applied science, and finance.
The English words "economy" and "economics" can be traced back to the Greek words ??????µ?? (i.e. "one who manages a household", a composite word derived from ????? ("house") and ??µ? ("manage; distribute")) and ??????µ?a ("household management").
As long as someone has been making, supplying and distributing goods or services, there has been some sort of economy; economies grew larger as societies grew and became more complex. Sumer developed a large scale economy based on commodity money, while the Babylonians and their neighboring city states later developed the earliest system of economics as we think of, in terms of rules/laws on debt, legal contracts and law codes relating to business practices, and private property.
In Medieval times, what we now call economy was not far from the subsistence level. Most exchange occurred within social groups. On top of this, the great conquerors raised venture capital (from ventura, ital.; risk) to finance their captures. The capital should be refunded by the goods they would bring up in the New World. Merchants such as Jakob Fugger (1459–1525) and Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici (1360–1428) founded the first banks. The discoveries of Marco Polo (1254–1324),[dubious – discuss] Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) and Vasco da Gama (1469–1524) led to a first global economy. The first enterprises were trading establishments. In 1513 the first stock exchange was founded in Antwerpen. Economy at the time meant primarily trade.
Early modern times
The European captures became branches of the European states, the so-called colonies. The rising nation-states Spain, Portugal, France, Great Britain and the Netherlands tried to control the trade through custom duties and taxes in order to protect their national economy. The so-called mercantilism (from mercator, lat.: merchant) was a first approach to intermediate between private wealth and public interest. The secularization in Europe allowed states to use the immense property of the church for the development of towns. The influence of the nobles decreased. The first Secretaries of State for economy started their work. Bankers like Amschel Mayer Rothschild (1773–1855) started to finance national projects such as wars and infrastructure. Economy from then on meant national economy as a topic for the economic activities of the citizens of a state.
The industrial revolution
The first economist in the true meaning of the word was the Scotsman Adam Smith (1723–1790). He defined the elements of a national economy: products are offered at a natural price generated by the use of competition - supply and demand - and the division of labour. He maintained that the basic motive for free trade is human self interest. The so-called self interest hypothesis became the anthropological basis for economics. Thomas Malthus (1766–1834) transferred the idea of supply and demand to the problem of overpopulation. The United States of America became the place where millions of expatriates from all European countries were searching for free economic evolvement.
After World War II
After the chaos of two World Wars and the devastating Great Depression, policymakers searched for new ways of controlling the course of the economy. This was explored and discussed by Friedrich August von Hayek (1899–1992) and Milton Friedman (1912–2006) who pleaded for a global free trade and are supposed to be the fathers of the so called neoliberalism. However, the prevailing view was that held by John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946), who argued for a stronger control of the markets by the state. The theory that the state can alleviate economic problems and instigate economic growth through state manipulation of aggregate demand is called Keynesianism in his honor. In the late 1950s the economic growth in America and Europe—often called Wirtschaftswunder (ger: economic miracle) —brought up a new form of economy: mass consumption economy. In 1958 John Kenneth Galbraith (1908–2006) was the first to speak of an affluent society. In most of the countries the economic system is called a social market economy.
The GDP - Gross domestic product of a country is a measure of the size of its economy. The most conventional economic analysis of a country relies heavily on economic indicators like the GDP and GDP per capita. While often useful, it should be noted that GDP only includes economic activity for which money is exchanged.
An informal economy is economic activity that is neither taxed nor monitored by a government, contrasted with a formal economy. The informal economy is thus not included in that government's Gross National Product (GNP). Although the informal economy is often associated with developing countries, all economic systems contain an informal economy in some proportion.
. Economic history (includes list by country)
. Economic system
. Economic equilibrium
. Ecological economics
. History of money
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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Economy", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.