So, then you have a proper grain of salt, so that you are always focused on the true intuition.And that's really the most important thing to get from a course on economics. a little bit funny, but they're really I think helpful things to keep in mind, especially when you go deep into the mathematical side of economics. And it's very important to always keep that in mind, to always make sure that you have the intuition for what's happening in the math, or to know when the math is going into a direction that might be strange based on over-simplifications or wrong assumptions. Peter, most famous for Peter's Principals, a professor at USC.
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Then he says: nor is it always the worst for society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest, he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. But the United States, with its overall experience of an American, is at least as influenced by the work of Adam Smith, by this kind of foundational ideas of capitalism. Or, what's going to happen when you raise or lower taxes. How does that affect the overall productivity when you do this. So, in either case you could start with some of the ideas, some of the philosophical ideas, so of the logical ideas, to say someone like Adam Smith might have. We simplify things, so we can start to deal with it kind of a mathematical way.
And they just both happened to happen around the same time. Individual actors, by essentially pursuing their own self-interested ends might be doing more for society than than if any of them actually tried to promote the overall well-being of society. Could lead to more wealth, more, a larger pie for everyone. and when he makes a statement, he is actually making a mix of micro-economic and macro-economic statements. And you hear the words scarce resources a lot when people talk about economics. But a resource that would be scarce is something like food, or water, or money, or time, or labor. And so microeconomics is how do people decide where to put those scarce resource, how do they decide where to deploy them. does that affect prices and markets, and whatever else. So, you have these basic ideas about how people think, how people make decisions. SO you simplify it, so you can start dealing with it in a mathematical sense. It can allow you to prove things based on your assumptions.
As we begin our journey into the world of economics, I thought I would begin with a quote from one of the most famous economists of all time, the Scottish philosopher Adam Smith.
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And he really is kind of the first real economist in the way that we view it now.
By directing that industry, so that the industry in control of that individual actor in such a manner, as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain. And he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.
He is saying, look, when individual actors just act in their own self-interest, that often in aggregate leads to things that each of those individual actors did not intend. And that's why I point out that it was published in the same year as the American Declaration of Independence, because obviously America, the Founding Fathers, they wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, that really talks about what it means to be a democratic country, what are the rights of its citizens. And in both macro- and micro-economics, there is especially in the modern sense of it, there is an attempt to make them rigorous, to make them mathematical. You say "oh, all people are rational", "all people are gonna act in their own self-interest, or all people are going to maximize their gain", which isn't true -- human beings are motivated by a whole bunch of things.
And so, now, modern economists tend to divide themselves into these two schools, or into these two subjects: microeconomics, which is the study of individual actors. and those actors could be firms, could be people, it could be households. But at the same time, it could be a little bit dangerous, because you are making these huge simplifications, and sometimes the math might lead you to some very strong conclusions.
And you have macro-economics, which is the study of the economy in aggregate. Conclusions, which you might feel very strongly about, because it looks like you've proven them in the same way that you might prove relativity, but they were based on some assumptions that either might be wrong, or might be over-simplifications, or might not be relevant to the context that you're trying to make conclusions about.