Economic Concepts

Economic concepts are widely used but not always defined clearly. Read up on the nature of capitalism, learn how much power the Fed really has and more.


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What Is Universal Basic Income, and Should Everyone Get It?

UBI is 'basic' in that it meets your basic needs, and it's 'guaranteed income' in that you know that it's coming. Pilot programs want to test whether having UBI can change your life for better. And can we afford it?

Are Record Low Gas Prices Good or Bad for the Economy?

Gas prices have plummeted across the U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic. That might be a good thing for your wallet, but is it good for the economy? It depends.

How Wine, Art and Diamonds Defy the Laws of Economics

Economics law says that demand goes down when price goes up. But Veblen goods work the opposite way – when price goes up, so does demand. How do these goods get so lucky?

7 Warning Signs of a Looming Recession

Good luck predicting the economic future; even the experts get it wrong. But there are sure warning signs to look for when a recession is ahead.

How Does Laissez-Faire Economics Really Work?

This economic policy has been embraced by free-market capitalists and demonized by progressive reformers. But what does it really mean?

The Future of Corporate Megadeals After Amazon HQ2

As details of the huge tax incentives offered by many states to lure Amazon HQ2 became public, some residents of the rejects wondered if their states dodged a bullet.

Why Gasoline Prices Vary From Station to Station

Gas stations line the streets of America. But their prices vary as much as the cars we have to fill up. What's the deal?

U.S. Farmers Eye Hemp as a New Cash Crop

Congress passed the new farm bill with a provision that will legalize hemp farming on an industrial scale. Could this be America's next gold rush?

Why a U.S. Yield Curve Inversion Worries Recession Watchers

An inversion of the U.S. Treasury bond yield curve has predicted the last seven U.S. recessions.

How Much Is $1 Trillion, Apple?

Apple's historic valuation had us wondering what $1 trillion is worth these days.

Why Restaurants Love Buffets Even More Than You Do

Think "all you can eat" means you get more than you paid for? As one restaurant expert put it, "The house always wins."

When Will We Reach the Tipping Point for Tipping?

Some U.S. restaurants' experiments with dropping tipping in favor of higher menu prices did not catch on with consumers. Is there a profit point when it would make sense to drop tipping?

Why Is Amazon Not Considered a Monopoly?

The online company has its fingers in just about every e-commerce enterprise; it's even caused many organizations to go out of business. Yet the U.S. government has not tried to stop Amazon's growth. Why's that?

Do Hurricanes Help Local Economies in the Long Run?

Spending goes up on construction and repairs after a disaster. But experts say it doesn't make the local economy better.

Are Money and Religion More Similar Than We Realize?

We place faith in our money and financial systems. But have we put so much faith in them that we're not equate money and religion — or money to, ahem, our eternal salvation?

The Bootstrap Myth: Climbing the Economic Ladder Takes More Than Hard Work

Saying that all it takes to succeed in the U.S. is effort and personal responsibility is an oversimplification of the actual circumstances surrounding poverty.

How the Misery Index Works

Is adding up the inflation and unemployment rates the most effective way to judge our misery?

How the Collaborative Economy Is Changing the World

Sure, ride-sharing is a big part of the collaborative economy, but other services, from health care to energy credits, are turning consumers into borrowers, too.

'Free Cash': Experts Divided on Whether Universal Basic Income Could End Poverty

The idea is that the government gives everyone a set amount of money, just for existing. Would it fly in the U.S.?

Ontario Considering Guaranteed Basic Income

Basic income is guaranteed to everybody, no matter who you are, whether you work or not. And it could be way simpler than some existing welfare systems.

In the Future, Money May Be Redundant (and You May Be, Too)

With enough natural resources, robots and replicators, a la "Star Trek," money could definitely become outdated.

How Crowdfunding Works

Crowdfunding sounds like an easy way to raise funds for a project or product when a bank or family members won't help you out. But while some projects have raised millions, most have actually flamed out.

Unexpected Connections: 10 Oddest Economic Indicators

Burger consumption can predict more than your chances of gaining weight. It can also determine currency equality. Meanwhile, men's underwear is a good indicator of the state of the economy. But how?

How the Debt Ceiling Works

Since 1960, the U.S. Congress has voted to raise the debt ceiling 78 times. In times past, this was a routine assignment but not anymore. What is the debt ceiling, and why has it become so controversial now?

How Inflation Works

Inflation is often defined as too many dollars chasing too few goods. But what does that really mean? And how does it affect the price of goods?