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 Definition The analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. [d] [e]
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I have re-thought some of this article and tidied it up generally and I am now content to submit it for approval. - Nick Gardner 08:27, 5 February 2008 (CST)

On second thoughts there are a number of omissions that - though not of much interest to laymen - should be remedied for the sake of students of economics. Some of them can be dealt with at length in the proposed article on the philosophy of economics, but I think they should get brief references in this article so I plan to deal with them on the Tutorials subpage. I have started on economics as a science and I think there should also be something on normative and positive economics. - Nick Gardner 08:13, 7 February 2008 (CST)

rewriting the introductory material

I don't feel competent as a non-economist to do it myself, but I think that all of the introductory material could probably be rewritten (slightly) in order to put it all into a single paragraph -- or maybe two, I suppose. As it is, it looks to me to be a lot of single statements -- they *are* connected, however, so why shouldn't they be in a somewhat more literary-type organization? Hayford Peirce 17:35, 7 February 2008 (CST)

Yes, I was thinking along those lines. I suppose I should do it:-) Martin Baldwin-Edwards 20:40, 7 February 2008 (CST)
Thank you Hayford and Martin. Somehow the paragraph had "just growed" and your comment made me realise that it needed pruning. I hope it is OK now? - Nick Gardner 23:41, 7 February 2008 (CST)

Article format section

I think the article format section can be completely removed. The explanations of what the subpages contain are redundant - it's completely self-explanatory that the related articles subpage contains links to related articles and so on. It's also not something used anywhere else on the site. --Tom Morris 15:16, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

My principal reason for writing that section was to draw attention to the practice of confining the use of mathematics and graphs to a tutorials subpage - instead of the Wikipedia and previous CZ practice of including them in the main article. That was a controversial innovation when I introduced it but it was agreed with Martin Baldwin-Edwards when he was an economics editor. As far as I am aware, it is not general practice among other CZ workgroups. A second reason was to draw attention to the presence on the related articles subpage of an index of the topics dealt with in all of the economics articles - also a practice not found elsewhere.
However, I do not see how we can resolve our difference: I think the section is useful to the reader, and you do not - and neither of us has any evidence to support his case. If you feel so strongly as to delete the section, I should regret it but I should not attempt to put it back - I have (what I hope are) better things to do (!??). I leave it to you. Nick Gardner 08:23, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Innovative Economic Policies for Climate Change Mitigation

Under this heading, a number of economic approaches to address environmental issues are being discussed here. I think these merit a closer look and incorporation into the system of economics articles, but I do not know what the best place for this may be. --Daniel Mietchen 22:46, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

Daniel: I have great difficulty with the problem of balancing the uncertain costs of climate change against the estimated cost of measures to combat it, and I am profoundly sceptical of some of the subjective judgements that have been offered by environmentalists on the matter. I see this as a highly controversial issue on which Citizendium must take care not to present an unbalanced view - and I cannot, at present envisage an acceptable way of handling it. Consequently I do not feel able to take the initiative in the closer look that you propose, although I should be willing to try to evaluate contributions on the matter, acting in my role as an economics editor. Nick Gardner 06:51, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, Nick. We will take it from there. --Daniel Mietchen 08:03, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

Could use some clarification

I think this paragraph:

Economic theory has been developed by formulating hypothetical "models" of reality, and then by examining how far they reflect what happens in the real world. The objective of the process has not necessarily been to develop realistic assumptions about economic conduct, but rather to make better predictions of its outcomes. The use of empirically-based behavioural assumptions has not so far made a significant contribution to that objective.

especially the last sentence, is a bit confusing. Do you mean the traditional models that assume rational behavior, etc.? They don't contribute significantly to predictions of economic outcomes? I'm not challenging the proposition, if that is what is said, I'm merely bringing it the editors' attention that it is murky. Thanks. --Joseph Carpenter 01:21, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

When I wrote that, I was thinking about people who were drawing attention to the, admittedly important,, experimental psychology findings of Tversky and Kahneman that point to the unrealism of utility-maximising assumptions - without coming up with anything useful for working economists to use for forecasting and advice-giving. I was unaware of the work on the adaptive markets hypothesis being done by Andrew Lo and others at MIT. Now I realise that the last sentence may be untrue as well as unclear, and I have deleted it. Thank you for drawing it to my attention. If you have something in mind to contribute on the subject - either here or in the article on economic philosophy - please go ahead - or discuss it first if you prefer.Nick Gardner 07:25, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
PS the previous sentence referred to Milton Friedman's dictum to the effect that unrealistic assumptions are OK provided that they make possible the production of useful forecasts - which, I now realise, can be a very risky prescription.Nick Gardner 08:54, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

Several observations from a non-specialist

  • Economy currently redirects here, but I assume it may eventually merit its own article, so I started a definition:
  • An illustration would be nice, e.g. something like Fig. S3 in here.
  • I think the section "The economics articles" should be moved to a subpage (probably "Related Articles" or possibly "Addendum", or even something linked from "Catalogs") and replaced by a short notice (possibly on top of the article, similar to the one at Vietnam War).
  • The introductory part could use some wikilinks.

--Daniel Mietchen 22:05, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

Daniel - Contributions concerning accessibility from non-specialists are always helpful, and yours has prompted me to carry out a long-overdue overhaul and update of this article. I should explain that when I did the first draft, I was not fully aware of the improvements to accessibility that can be achieved by the use of wikilinks and, like many economists, I was then more inclined to take mainstream theory as gospel than I am now, in view of the shortcomings revealed by the current crisis.
So - I have added wikilinks to the introductory statement and to all of the paragraphs and I have strengthened the references to behavioural economics (on which subject I plan to draft a new article). I have also adopted your suggestion concerning the "Economics artcles" section, and I have amended your definition of economy.
I have not fully mastered the technique of adding graphics to CZ articles, and I have been inclined to leave that task to others. I have considered "stealing" some diagrams from Wikipedia, but few of them seem to be helpful to the reader.
--Nick Gardner 11:28, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
Nick, those changes have led to great improvements, as far as I can judge. The way this article is structured now could serve as a role model for other topics as well — there is no need for parent topic articles to be larger than subtopic articles, as long as the individual articles are properly interlinked and focused on what their title encompasses. I plan to redo brain morphometry and some related articles in a similar manner, but this works best if the subtopics already have sufficient material, which is not always the case yet.
You did not comment on whether economy should get its own article, nor on the suitability of this figure for illustration (be it here or in one of the sub-articles). As for the definition, I am not sure how frequent the use (ii) is — I have rarely seen it used in ways other than as a qualifier for something else (as in economy class). If disambiguation is necessary, though, then I think a disambiguation page pointing to two distinct articles would be better. In terms of use (i), I wonder how unpaid things like our editing here (which probably counts as a service) fit into the picture (I've seen them being treated as both within and outside of the economy, but I don't know what the textbooks say on this).
Finally, I see lots of parallels between economy and metabolism from a systems theory perspective, and there is also overlap to evolution. I don't have a good idea how to fit that into your current framework, particularly since you did not make reference to natural resources (except for mentioning land), nor to evolutionary economics. --Daniel Mietchen 22:26, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
I shall shortly be away from the computer for a while. I will come back to this when I return. Nick Gardner 07:20, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Daniel: I have been trying to imagine the content of an article on economy, but nothing that seems useful has come to mind. I suppose that it could be on the typology of economic systems such as [1] - which might be of interest to anthropologists - but I know nothing of the matter, and I see no reason to give it priority over pressing topical issues.
I can recall no economics textbook that defines the word economy, and I cannot recall any use of the word in economics except by way of reference to a particular economic system (the German economy, the "hidden economy", etc).
I have been trying without success to envisage a graphic that would convey information about the subject of economics or help the reader to understand an article on the subject. As far as I can see, your suggestion does neither.
Unpaid activities obviously fall within the scope of economics, and do, I suppose have a non-negligible influence on the behaviour of many economic systems. Since all the current economic systems that I know of are open systems, I suppose that it would be illogical to totally exclude the possibility of their influence upon any particular system.
In the arbitrary classification normally adopted in economics , any resource that is neither human nor man-made is referred to as "land", so I suppose that it is used synonymously with the term "natural resources". Its tautologically distinctive feature is that its amount is not influenced by demand.
I do not understand what you see as the common features of economics, metabolism and evolution except that they are all complex interactive systems.
Thanks for your interest,
Nick Gardner 15:03, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

An external article on the nature of economics

I found this article interesting, especially the passages it cited from Joseph Stiglitz. No idea how to incorporate this here, though. --Daniel Mietchen 15:44, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

Thank you Daniel. What he says is thought-provoking, and he obviously has a good grasp of recent developments. But I think he is groping for an understanding of them. I feel the same - glad that I am now an observer and no longer an adviser. Nick Gardner 19:42, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

Approval Process: Approval certified

Call for review: Anthony.Sebastian 19:32, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Call for Approval: Anthony.Sebastian 14:46, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Approval Notice: Anthony.Sebastian 19:31, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

Certification of Approval: Anthony.Sebastian 03:33, 2 June 2012 (UTC)

Please discuss the article below, Economics/Approval is for brief official referee's only!


Nick, the explanatory textbox reads:

Access to the economics articles is provided by a taxonomic index and an alphabetical index, (which is also an index to the topics mentioned in the economics articles), and definitions of the terms used in the articles are provided in the glossary.

Prospective contributors to economics articles are invited to start by visiting the CZ:Economics Workgroup page.

It might help to begin explaining that this is a 'portal' article guiding the reader to numerous subtopics in Economics, through in-text links (blue font) and subpages. For example:

This is a 'portal' article guiding the reader to numerous subtopic articles in Economics, through in-text links (blue font) and subpages. Complete access to those economics articles is provided by a taxonomic index and an alphabetical index, (which is also an index to the topics mentioned in the economics articles), and definitions of the terms used in the articles are provided in the subpage, glossary.

Prospective contributors to economics articles are invited to start by visiting the CZ:Economics Workgroup page.

Of course you will want to use your own locution. —Anthony.Sebastian 20:15, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Anthony, thank you for an excellent idea - which I have duly adopted. Nick Gardner 21:54, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
Looks great. Consider single spacing; consider centering text box. —Anthony.Sebastian 22:13, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
You're right. It does look better that way. Nick Gardner 07:14, 23 April 2012 (UTC)

←Nick, regarding: "Economists normally combine the use of a range of tautological concepts - such as utility, equilibrium, supply and demand, and opportunity cost - with quantitative observations including economic statistics and other survey-based data, using the techniques of statistical inference, applied mathematics and econometrics.:

In what way is 'utility' tautological? And the other terms. Do you intend 'self-evident'?

You do not mention, explicitly, computer models as an economist's tool, though it may be covered in one of the linked sub-articles. See Agent-based computer models could anticipate future economic crisis. —Anthony.Sebastian 20:33, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Anthony - Thank you for catching me out in the error of assuming that the reader will be familiar with what is going on in my own mind. The insertion of the word "tautological" contributes nothing but confusion to the sentence - and I have deleted it. (If you are curious about my thinking, have a look at this).
I have also repaired the omission of a reference to computer models of the economy by replacing the final sentence of The uses of economics. The article on agent-based models is interesting, but its author is mistaken in supposing that economic forecasts are not "agent-based". They make similar - but far more extensive - use of surveys of people's behaviour, (the results of which are termed "economic statistics" ! ). But economic forecasters have to apply them to the more demanding problem of the future behaviour a complex interactive system. - Nick Gardner 05:39, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
I took the lucidly-written Utility/Tutorials-tutorial and found the satisfaction in doing so worth the expenditure of mind-energy. I'm reminded that the complexity of some concepts (e.g., utility as useful tautology) require for comprehension examining its many sub-conceptual moorings first.
Your comment on the article on agent-based models, elaborated, seems might make an independent essay contribution to the economics literature. Anthony.Sebastian 22:05, 28 April 2012 (UTC)


  • Submitted call for approval.
  • Notified economics workgroup by mailing list, requesting review.
  • Posted request for review on Forum. —Anthony.Sebastian 20:42, 27 April 2012 (UTC)


Outside economics expert expects to send his comments by end of week next. —Anthony.Sebastian 02:20, 12 May 2012 (UTC)


Comments from anonymous external academic economics expert

Comments below from an anonymous academic economics expert, a non-CZ-member, whom I requested review, inasmuch as Nick is the only active Economics Editor. Anthony.Sebastian 02:48, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

In general, I thought that this draft entry was pretty good. However, I think that it misses some of how the discipline and its practitioners' thinking has developed over the last 10-20 years.

I have the following comments:

(i) It should be made clear that what Nick is describing is modern, mainstream largely Anglo-Saxon economics. There is an alternative tradition - still influential in Germany and elsewhere - which sees economics as a moral discipline rather more like law than like physics. There are also many (minority) schools of economics that take a critical approach to mainstream economics (Marxist, institutional, Green, etc).

It would help if the blog made a distinction between (a) economics as a scientifically oriented discipline and (b) political economy which is much more focused on policies. Adam Smith and many others up to 1940 (probably including Keynes) thought of themselves at least as much political economy practitioners than as economists.

(ii) The methodology described is very much post-1940 economics with an emphasis on rigorous formal model building backed up by empirical testing e.g. via econometrics.

My view is that economics does involve the type of approach described, but that economics is very much more of an applied science (like medicine or engineering) rather than a pure science like physics. The physics model was standard in the mid-20th century but has since come under increasing question. In my view economics works best when, using a common approach, it develops models-for-courses rather than an axiom-based approach. (See Paul Krugman's blog and the debates he has with the 'freshwater' economists.) In this context, the distinction between positive and normative economics looks a lot fuzzier now than it did 40 years ago - even for supposedly value-free economic analysis. That's partly because it has proved a lot harder than expected to find data and data tests that lead to rejection of economic hypotheses.

(iii) Categories of Economics: I would strongly advise adding Environmental Economics and Development Economics and possibly Regulatory Economics. I doubt that Welfare Economics is still a live area per se. (iv) Financial economics - some of the theorems around one school (efficient market models) has come under heavy criticism but other parts survive fine and behavioural economics has probably made a greater contribution to financial economics than to anything else over the last 10 years - See Robert Shiller.

(v) Micro-economics is, I think, as much under discussion as macro-economics. I would suggest adding to the draft that micro-economics through its impact on all the factors that determine productivity growth - and policy appraisal (including regulation) - probably, most of the time, has a greater impact on people and the various components of their living standards than macro-economics.

Macro-economics is what fills the news and is where the brightest and best economists congregate. However, apart from times when the economic system is under threat, micro-economics is more important. Certainly far more economists work primarily in micro than in macro.


Point (i) Alternative and minority economics and political economy.
My aim was to produce an article that would serve as a reference point for economics graduates and undergraduate students, and for graduate-level laymen who are readers of economics articles in the media. I do not believe that the alternative and minority disciplines mentioned fall within those categories. A few checks confirm that they do not have a place in the economics degree syllabuses of some of the main universities (see, for example the Oxford economics syllabus)
The term "political economy" has fallen out of use. It was once used to refer to the economic analysis of public policy (which, I accept, was the main preoccupation of Adam Smith and JM Keynes). As such, I consider it to have amounted to a very broadly-defined sub-discipline of economics, and I do not accept that it needs to be distinguished from economics.
Point (ii) An applied science and the positive/normal distinction.
I accept that much of it is applied science - that was certainly true of the economics that I once practised. That is already implied by the distinction between academics and practitioners that is drawn in the lede and I can't see how better to bring it out. A suggestion that it is nothing but an applied science would be to ignore the contributions that are still being made at the level of pure theory. The departure from axiom-based analysis is already referred to in the article.
I do not accept that the distinction between positive and normative economics need present a difficulty. Objective analysis can be applied to the assessment of the contribution of a decision to a subjectively-chosen norm, but the analysis itself is conceptually distinct from the norm. The fact that widely-accepted norms are usually taken for granted does not mean that they can't be distinguished from objective criteria. The criterion that is used for the purpose of an entirely objective analysis has to be the (objectively estimated) net effect experienced by those affected - which is obviously a different concept.
Point (iii) Environmental Economics and Development Economics
I regard these as sub-disciplines and distinct from the main disciplines of economics, as explained in the paragraph on sub-disciplines that I have added to the article.
Point (iv) Financial economics.
I take the point, but no change to the text of the article appears to arise from it.
Point (v) The relative importance of microeconomics.
I agree with this, but there must be those who don't, and this article doesn't seem an appropriate place to argue the point
Nick Gardner 14:48, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
As I understand it, CZ articles cannot include images unless their creators' real names are available, and non-citizens cannot comment in the non-citizens' forum without using their real names. So how does use of an anonymous review sit with the real-names policy? Peter Jackson 09:23, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
Good question, Peter. In this instance, my investigation indicated his/her expertise for this topic, so revealing the reviewer's name did not seem important, and in my request for the review I did not discuss the issue. In retrospect, I think I should have indicated our real names policy, and that review would not remain anonymous.
Hopefully others will weigh in. Anthony.Sebastian 15:32, 19 May 2012 (UTC)

Regarding your response to point (i), do you think it would be helpful to add to the pre-lede text box:

This article is intended to serve as a reference point for economics graduates and undergraduate students, and for graduate-level laymen who are readers of economics articles in the media.

Regarding your response to point (ii), could its second paragraph be paraphrased and added to the article text at some appropriate location? Anthony.Sebastian 16:09, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

Good ideas! will do. -Nick Gardner 09:08, 25 May 2012 (UTC)


Responses to comments and edits to manuscript during Review Period deemed satisfactory. Approval certified. Anthony.Sebastian 19:47, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

Requested Matt to complete Approval Mechanics. Anthony.Sebastian 20:16, 30 May 2012 (UTC)