Economics  

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Love for sale Illustration: Ill-Matched Lovers (c. 1520/1525) by Quentin Matsys
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Love for sale
Illustration: Ill-Matched Lovers (c. 1520/1525) by Quentin Matsys

"Property is theft!" --Proudhon

Pyramid of Capitalist System, anonymous American cartoon (1911)
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Pyramid of Capitalist System, anonymous American cartoon (1911)
This page Economics is part of the politics series.Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.
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This page Economics is part of the politics series.
Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.
Fireworks as an example of 'squandering' surplus product.  Illustration: Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket  (c. 1875) by James McNeill Whistler
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Fireworks as an example of 'squandering' surplus product.
Illustration: Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket (c. 1875) by James McNeill Whistler

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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli

Economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Greek for oikos (house) and nomos (custom or law), hence "rules of the house(hold)."

One of the uses of economics is to explain how economies work and what the relations are between economic players (agents) in the larger society. Methods of economic analysis have been increasingly applied to fields that involve people (officials included) making choices in a social context, such as crime, education, the family, health, law, politics, religion , social institutions, and war.

History

Economic writings date from earlier Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman, Indian subcontinent, Chinese, Persian, and Arab civilizations. Notable writers from antiquity through to the 14th century include Aristotle, Xenophon, Qin Shi Huang, Thomas Aquinas, and Ibn Khaldun. The works of Aristotle had a profound influence on Aquinas, who in turn influenced the late scholastics of the 14th to 17th centuries. Joseph Schumpeter described the latter as "coming nearer than any other group to being the 'founders' of scientific economics" as to monetary, interest, and value theory within a natural-law perspective.

Two groups, later called "mercantilists" and "physiocrats", more directly influenced the subsequent development of the subject. Both groups were associated with the rise of economic nationalism and modern capitalism in Europe. Mercantilism was an economic doctrine that flourished from the 16th to 18th century in a prolific pamphlet literature, whether of merchants or statesmen. It held that a nation's wealth depended on its accumulation of gold and silver. Nations without access to mines could obtain gold and silver from trade only by selling goods abroad and restricting imports other than of gold and silver. The doctrine called for importing cheap raw materials to be used in manufacturing goods, which could be exported, and for state regulation to impose protective tariffs on foreign manufactured goods and prohibit manufacturing in the colonies.

Physiocrats, a group of 18th century French thinkers and writers, developed the idea of the economy as a circular flow]] of income and output. Physiocrats believed that only agricultural production generated a clear surplus over cost, so that agriculture was the basis of all wealth. Thus, they opposed the mercantilist policy of promoting manufacturing and trade at the expense of agriculture, including import tariffs. Physiocrats advocated replacing administratively costly tax collections with a single tax on income of land owners. In reaction against copious mercantilist trade regulations, the physiocrats advocated a policy of laissez-faire, which called for minimal government intervention in the economy.

Modern economic analysis is customarily said to have begun with Adam Smith (1723–1790). Smith was harshly critical of the mercantilists but described the physiocratic system "with all its imperfections" as "perhaps the purest approximation to the truth that has yet been published" on the subject.

Marxism

Marxist (later, Marxian) economics descends from classical economics. It derives from the work of Karl Marx. The first volume of Marx's major work, Das Kapital, was published in German in 1867. In it, Marx focused on the labour theory of value and the theory of surplus value which, he believed, explained the exploitation of labour by capital. The labour theory of value held that the value of an exchanged commodity was determined by the labour that went into its production and the theory of surplus value demonstrated how the workers only got paid a proportion of the value their work had created. The U.S. Export-Import Bank defines a Marxist-Lenninist state as having a centrally planned economy.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Economics" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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