At the heart of economics lies the fundamental problem of scarcity. As Lionel Robbins reflected, economics is a science that studies ‘human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.’ The recurring challenges faced by economists, consumers, businesses – in fact, everyone – is how to allocate finite resources amongst infinite needs and wants.
While reading fellow ESSA contributor Joey Moloney’s article I came across the under-consumption paradox. This was something that I had grappled with before in trying to reconcile the microeconomic lessons about price floors and the minimum wage with macroeconomic lessons about aggregate income and expenditure and the Keynesian Cross. It seems many other people have observed this contradiction before, including Karl Marx.
Last year on December 26th, Shinzo Abe assumed office as Japan’s current Prime Minister and immediately began fulfilling his electoral campaign promises of bringing sweeping economic reform and output growth to the world’s third largest economy. After suffering decades of lacklustre output and many failed attempts to induce growth, Abe’s policies, both currently implemented and in the pipeline, are the biggest things to hit Japan since Godzilla itself.
Recently China’s president Xi Jinping was quoted in saying that China’s GDP growth will be subdued in the foreseeable future, relative to the rapid growth in the past decade. China’s official newspaper Xinhua has put the internal target at 7.5% p.a. for 2013 from a 7.8% p.a. actual figure achieved in 2012, and many are undoubtedly aware that this is a 13-year record low. Exactly how much has the world’s second largest economy grown by and how has China done it?