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CARDINAL UTILITY: A measure of utility, or satisfaction derived from the consumption of goods and services, that can be measured using an absolute scale. Cardinal utility exists if the utility derived from consumption is measurable in the same way that other physical characteristics--height and weight--are measured using a scale that is comparable between people. There is little or no evidence to suggest that such measurement is possible and is not even needed for modern consumer demand theory and indifference curve analysis. Cardinal utility, however, is often employed as a convenient teaching device for discussing such concepts as marginal utility and utility maximization.

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KEYNESIAN ECONOMICS: A school of thought developed by John Maynard Keynes built on the proposition that aggregate demand is the primary source of business cycle instability, especially recessions. The basic structure of Keynesian economics was initially presented in Keynes' book The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, published in 1936. For the next forty years, the Keynesian school dominated the economics discipline and reached a pinnacle as a guide for federal government policy in the 1960s. It fell out of favor in the 1970s and 1980s, as monetarism, neoclassical economics, supply-side economics, and rational expectations became more widely accepted, but it still has a strong following in the academic and policy-making arenas.

     See also | Keynesian theory | macroeconomics | Great Depression | aggregate demand | business cycle | recession | depression | classical economics | monetarism | cross elasticity of demand | supply-side economics | full employment | Keynesian cross | unemployment rate | gross domestic product | full employment | equilibrium | investment expenditures | consumption function | marginal propensity to consume | multiplier | fiscal policy | monetary policy | inflation | stagflation | aggregate supply | aggregate market |


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ASSUMPTIONS, CLASSICAL ECONOMICS

Classical economics, especially as directed toward macroeconomics, relies on three key assumptions--flexible prices, Say's law, and saving-investment equality. Flexible prices ensure that markets adjust to equilibrium and eliminate shortages and surpluses. Say's law states that supply creates its own demand and means that enough income is generated by production to purchase the resulting production. The saving-investment equality ensures that any income leaked from consumption into saving is replaced by an equal amount of investment. Although of questionable realism, these three assumptions imply that the economy would operate at full employment.

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