Thursday, September 09, 2010

9 Principles of Economics

Art Carden boils down the first chapter of the The Economic Way of Thinking into nine principles:

1) People act.
2) Every action has a cost.
3) People respond to incentives.
4) People make decisions at the margin.
5) Trade makes people better off.
6) People are rational.
7) Using markets is costly, but using governments can be costlier still.
8) Profits tell businesses they are helping others, while losses tell businesses they are wasting resources.
9) We shouldn't ignore the long-term and unintended consequences of policies and actions.

Carden amplifies the list a bit, there are full-course seminars that basically follow this outline, and there are books written on each of these principles individually, showing that this list can be the basis for just about any project you want to do in economics, big or small.

Three projects spring to mind: a one-hour "intro to econ" lecture, a series of one-page abstracts on each of the principles, and a bibliography encompassing the principles.

Of course, all that work's already been done. It's just a matter of arranging it into a nice, neat package and making it accessible to folks tasked with explaining econ to non-economists.