3 economic advisers to the president might disagree

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3. Economic advisers to the president might disagree about a question of policy because of differing scientific judgments or differences in values. Questions for Review 1. Economics is like a science because economists use the scientific method. They devise theories, collect data, and then analyze these data in an attempt to verify or refute their theories about how the world works. Economists use theory and observation like other scientists, but they are limited in their ability to run controlled experiments. Instead, they must rely on natural experiments. 2. Economists make assumptions to simplify problems without substantially affecting the answer. Assumptions can make the world easier to understand. 3. An economic model cannot describe reality exactly because it would be too complicated to understand. A model is a simplification that allows the economist to see what is truly 7
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important. 4. Figure 3 shows a production possibilities frontier between milk and cookies ( PPF 1 ). If a disease kills half of the economy's cow population, less milk production is possible, so the PPF shifts inward ( PPF 2 ). Note that if the economy produces all cookies, so it doesn't need any cows, then production is unaffected. But if the economy produces any milk at all, then there will be less production possible after the disease hits. Figure 3 5. The idea of efficiency is that an outcome is efficient if the economy is getting all it can from the scarce resources it has available. In terms of the production possibilities frontier, an efficient point is a point on the frontier, such as point A in Figure 4. A point inside the frontier, such as point B, is inefficient since more of one good could be produced without reducing the production of another good. 8
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Figure 4 6. The two subfields in economics are microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics is the study of how households and firms make decisions and how they interact in specific markets. Macroeconomics is the study of economy-wide phenomena. 7. Positive statements are descriptive and make a claim about how the world is, while normative statements are prescriptive and make a claim about how the world ought to be. Here is an example. Positive: A rapid growth rate of money is the cause of inflation. Normative: The government should keep the growth rate of money low. 8. The Council of Economic Advisers is a group of economists who consult with the president of the United States about economic matters. The Council consists of three members and a staff of several dozen economists. It writes the annual Economic Report of the President. 9. Economists sometimes offer conflicting advice to policymakers for two reasons: (1) Economists may disagree about the validity of alternative positive theories about how the world works; and (2) economists may have different values and, therefore, different normative views about what public policy should try to accomplish.
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