Major focus of economic analysis is on how individual economic units have to make a choice among the limited resources.
Economic analysis establishes reference points that indicate what to look for and how economic issues are interrelated. This enables better understanding of relationships among complex and often unrelated economic events in the actual world.
However, a serious limitation may emanate from the assumptions, which form the basis of these propositions. Therefore such assumptions must be realistic so as to serve the purpose of understanding economic issues and propositions
Prior to Keynes, the business cycles were considered to be inevitable, and there was no concrete approach to solve these problems. These economists known as Classical economists focused only on the micro aspects of the economy. The Great Depression of 1930s left many of these economists helpless.
In this backdrop, Keynes came up with a new approach to look at the economy. In his book, ' The General Theory of Employment, Interests and Money'.
Keynes argued that it is possible that high unemployment and underutilization of the capacities may take place and continue in the market economy. He also argued that government can play a bigger role during the economic depressions by effective utilization of monetary and fiscal policies.
After the World War II, the focus of economics was just aimed at countering unemployment and inflation, and some economists proposed a fixed money growth rate to address these issues like inflation and unemployment. Hence these economists were called as monetarists as they have given importance to money.
In the last few decades, another school of thought has gained prominence among noted economists. These economists opine that people should be given enough incentives for their earnings, rather than imposing taxes on their earnings. This group of economists advocates incentives for savings, known as supply side economists.
The effect of this macroeconomic indicator is directly felt by the individuals. It is imperative on any government that it should ensure full employment to the citizens of its country. Unemployment rate shows different patterns in different phases of business cycles. In the given figure , it can be seen that unemployment rate in the US was too high between 1930 and 1940. During this period, the economy witnessed one of the worst depressions.
The ultimate aim of any economy is to provide the desired goods and services. The economy should be in a position to offer these goods and services in ample number. To measure the output of any economy, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the most comprehensive estimate. GDP measures the market value of the entire output in a country during a particular year.
There are two variants in GDP- Nominal and Real. When nominal GDP is adjusted for inflation, it gives real GDP.
The importance of GDP can be analyzed by the fact that any predictions regarding the future growth or fall in the economy or date on the past economic performances are made in the GDP percentage. In the recent figures released by the Central Statistical Organization, India’s economy grew by 9.4%, in the second quarter of 2007.
Stable prices are the third macroeconomic objective. Consumer price index (CPI) is the most commonly used measure of overall price level in an economy. CPI is the measure of the cost of different types of goods bought by the average customer. Inflation denotes the rise or fall in general price level in the economy. Inflation rates, shows the rate of change in the price index. When the inflation is high, the purchasing power of the customers reduces.
A negative fall in the prices is known as deflation, as witnessed during the Great Depression of 1930s. Whereas, hyperinflation refers to the rise in prices by thousands of percentage points, resulting in the collapse of the price systems. Hyperinflation was witnessed in Weimer Germany in the 1920s and again in Brazil in 1980s and Russia in 1990s .
Globalization has resulted in increased transactions between a country and the rest of the world. Balance of Payments records all these transactions, both imports and exports. Countries keep a close watch on their international trade.
The barometer that shows the efficiency of international trade is the net exports. It is the difference between the value of exports and value of imports. Net exports are also called as the balance of trade.
Every country desires to have a positive balance of trade.
In macroeconomics study, various variables are used. Some are stock variables and some are flow variables. Variables like money supply, CPI, Foreign exchange reserves, which can be measured at any given point of time are called as stock variable. Whereas variables like GDP, inflation, imports, consumption and investment, which can be measured only over a period of time, are flow variables .
Fiscal policy is concerned with the use of taxes and government expenditures. Government has to meet various expenditures like salaries, defense expenses, infrastructure development, etc. Another part of government expenditure also goes in the form of transfer payments like financial assistance to the elderly and unemployed. All these expenses leave a positive effect on the overall economy. The impact of government spending is also felt on the overall spending in the economy, thus influencing the size of the GDP.
The other part of the fiscal policy is generation of revenues for the government. Taxes are the main source of revenue for any government. Taxes affect the economy and the individuals in two ways. First, taxes imposed on the income of the people bring down the disposable income in the hands of the consumers. This reduces the spending in the economy. Second, the taxes levied on goods and services make them costlier. This discourages the firm to invest in capital goods.
Monetary policy is the second most widely used macroeconomic policy instrument. Monetary policy helps government, managing the nation’s money, credit, and banking system. There are various entities that are part of the monetary system of an economy. Central bank regulates the monetary system, and other entities like banks, insurance companies, NBFCs are also a part of the monetary sys tem.
In India, Reserve Bank of India is the custodian of the monetary system of the economy. Central bank brings changes in the interest rates, reserve requirements, etc. These changes make significant impact on the overall functioning of the economy.
For example , the lowering of interest rates on housing loans helped the growth of the housing sector. As a result of low rate of interest, it became easier to avail a housing loan and to own a house. This has resulted in the growth of many allied industries as well .
Exchange rates are determined by the demand and supply functions.
India follows a flexible exchange rate policy, which is determined by the demand and supply, where RBI has a right to intervene in the market. In order to regulate the foreign exchange transactions, government has come out with an act FERA, which was replaced by Foreign exchange management act (FEMA).
Globalization has given a big push to the international trade. This has resulted in framing of specific polices by many countries to cope with the new challenges. International trade policy addresses issues like tariff and non tariff barriers.
In line with the changing economic scenario, government came out with export-import (EXIM) policy in 1997. The policy’s primary aim is to increase the exports. It has been renamed as foreign trade policy to reflect the new approach.
Example: The recent policy announced in January 2006 has taken up a series of policy initiatives to fine tune the policy 2002-07. The policy aims at bringing down the transaction costs, accelerating the exports and making the country a manufacturing hub for quality goods and services. SEZs to promote not only manufactured goods but also agricultural products. Special emphasis is placed on exploiting Indian Labour skills to further exports.