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DETERMINANTS: Ceteris paribus factors that are held constant when a curve is constructed. Changes in these factors then cause the curve to shift to a new location. The most common determinants are demand determinants for the demand curve (income, preferences, other prices, buyers' expectations, and number of buyers) and supply determinants for the supply curve (resource prices, technology, other prices, buyers' expectations, and number of buyers). Other common curves and their determinants include: production possibilities curve (technology, education and the quantities of labor, capital, land, and entrepreneurship); aggregate demand curve (the four aggregate expenditures of consumption, investment, government purchases, and net exports); and short-run average cost curve (technology, wages, and other production cost).

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Lesson Contents
Unit 1: Instability
  • Overview
  • Business Cycles
  • Expansionary Good Times
  • Contractionary Bad Times
  • Unit 1 Summary
  • Unit 2: A Simple Cycle
  • Long-Run Trend
  • Contraction
  • Trough
  • Expansion
  • Peak
  • Unit 2 Summary
  • Unit 3: Measurement
  • Indicators
  • Leading
  • Coincident
  • Lagging
  • Unit 3 Summary
  • Unit 4: Causes
  • Complexity
  • Investment
  • The Process
  • Politics
  • The Process
  • Unit 4 Summary
  • Unit 5: Policies
  • Options
  • Expansionary
  • Contractionary
  • Unit 5 Summary
  • Course Home
    Business Cycles

    To purpose of this lesson is to examine the nature and causes of macroeconomic instability, which goes by the handy title business cycles. Business cycles are the recurring expansions and contractions of economic activity that generate the problems of unemployment and inflation. This lesson explores how business cycles can be stabilized with the goal of lessening unemployment and inflation.

    • The notion of business cycles is introduced in the first unit of this lesson, with an eye on what they are and why they are important to study.
    • The four components of a standard, simple business cycle -- expansion, peak, contraction, and trough -- are then presented and discussed in the second unit.
    • The third unit is devoted to several key measures of business cycle activity, especially leading, lagging, and coincident indicators.
    • A couple of the most often discussed causes of business-cycle instability -- investment and politics -- are discussed in the fourth unit.
    • The fifth unit closes out this lesson with an introduction to the expansionary and contractionary economic policies used to stabilize business cycles.

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    AVERAGE TOTAL COST CURVE

    A curve that graphically represents the relation between average total cost incurred by a firm in the short-run product of a good or service and the quantity produced. The average total cost curve is constructed to capture the relation between average total cost and the level of output, holding other variables, like technology and resource prices, constant. The average total cost curve is one of three average curves. The other two are average variable cost curve and average fixed cost curve. A related curve is the marginal cost curve.

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    APLS

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    Today, you are likely to spend a great deal of time driving to a factory outlet seeking to buy either an electric coffee pot with automatic shutoff or a brown leather attache case. Be on the lookout for bottles of barbeque sauce that act TOO innocent.
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    The portion of aggregate output U.S. citizens pay in taxes (30%) is less than the other six leading industrialized nations -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, or Japan.
    "When you play, play hard; when you work, don't play at all. "

    -- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US president

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