Incremental Analysis, with TwoYards to Go

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Incremental Analysis, with TwoYards to Go The academic paper that Daviu Romer began writmg two years ago did not look like something that could determine the outcome of a Super Bowl. Sure, it was an analysis of whether professional football teams punt more often than is rational, but it seemed intended mainly for the amusement of sports […]

ECONOMISTS IN WASHINGTON

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ECONOMISTS IN WASHINGTON President Harry Truman once said that he wanted to find a one armed economist. When he asked his economists for advice, they always answered, “On the one hand”. Truman was right in realizing that economists’ advice is not always straightforward. This tendency is rooted in one of the Ten Principles of Economics. People face […]

POSITIVE VERSUS NORMATIVE ANALYSIS

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POSITIVE VERSUS NORMATIVE ANALYSIS To help clarify the two roles that economists play, we begin by examining the use of language. Because scientists and policy advisers have different goals, they use language in different ways. For example, suppose that two people are discussing minimum-wage laws. Here are two statements you might hear: POLLY: Minimum-wage laws cause […]

THE ECONOMIST AS POLICY ADVISER

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THE ECONOMIST AS POLICY ADVISER Often, economists are asked to explain the causes of economic events. Why, for example, is unemployment higher for teenagers than for older workers? Sometimes economists are asked to recommend policies to improve economic outcomes. What, for instance, should the government do to improve the economic wellbeing of teenagers? When economists are trying to […]

MICROECONOMICS AND MACROECONOMICS

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MICROECONOMICS AND MACROECONOMICS Many subjects are studied on various levels.’ Consider biology, for example. Molecular biologists study the chemical compounds that make up living things. Cellular biologists study cells, which are made up of many chemical compounds and, at the same time, are themselves the building blocks of living organisms. Evolutionary biologists study the many varieties of animals […]

OUR SECOND MODEL: THE PRODUCTION POSSIBILITIES FRONTIER

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OUR SECOND MODEL: THE PRODUCTION POSSIBILITIES FRONTIER Most economic models, unlike the circular-flow diagram, are built using the tools of mathematics. Here we use one of the simplest such models, called the production possibilities frontier, to illustrate some basic economic ideas. Although real economies produce thousands of goods and services  let’s assume an economy that produces only two […]

OUR FIRST MODEL: THE CIRCULAR FLOW DIAGRAM

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OUR FIRST MODEL: THE CIRCULAR FLOW DIAGRAM The economy consists of miltions of people engaged in many activities-buying, selling, working, hiring, manufacturing, and so on. To understand how the economy works, we must find some way to simplify our thinking about all these activities. In other words, we need a model that explains, in general terms, how […]

THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD: OBSERVATION, THEORY, AND MORE OBSERVATION

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THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD: OBSERVATION, THEORY, AND MORE OBSERVATION Isaac Newton, the famous 17th-century scientist and mathematician, allegedly became intrigued one day when he saw an apple fall from a tree. This observation motivated Newton to develop a theory of gravity that applies not only to an apple falling to the earth but to any two objects in […]