Now that you’re studying economics, don’t be surprised if people start asking you questions like “What’s going to happen with the stock market?” If you don’t know exactly what the stock market is, don’t worry— you’ll learn about it later in this book. But here’s a secret: even if you memorized every bit of economic wisdom ever written, you still wouldn’t be able to predict whether the stock market will rise or fall tomorrow. In fact, as you will learn in Chapter 12, not even the experts know what will happen to the stock market. But economics has a lot to offer. It can help you make sense of the daily news; make good decisions about your time and money; and lead a happier, more satisfying life.
How can economics do all that? Economics provides a framework for understanding the world around you. It offers a powerful set of decision making tools for individuals, businesses, organizations, and governments. Economics can help you figure out what to do with your earnings, develop a successful business, and plan for the future. When businesses stumble, as many have recently, economics shapes policies to help workers hold on to their jobs and homes. Throughout the world, in the wake of severe weather, oil spills, and other disasters, economic forecasts help people prepare for jolts to food and energy prices.
Your study of economics will also help you evaluate messages from advertisers, the media, and the troubling number of tricksters out to capture your hard- earned money. For example, you’ve already read that the stock market is unpredictable, so you know to be wary of claims that a particular stock investment is a “sure thing.” Economic education can also boost your earnings: people with training in economics often earn high salaries because they have acquired skills valued in fields such as business, finance, and government.
Beyond that, you can expect familiarity with economics to help you become a better citizen. Before long, as a voter, a member of a household, and a participant in the life of your community, you will have opportunities to make important decisions. Economic literacy will help you navigate the swirling debates over budgets, the environment, health care, and taxes. Your exposure to economics might even inspire you to seek public office or change the world in some other way! In fact, many former presidents, members of Congress, business executives, rock stars, and philanthropists were economics majors.
An introduction to economics will not give you all the answers, but it will teach you the right kinds of questions to ask and give you a logical way to approach decision making. Ultimately, the economic way of thinking will help you explore your possibilities for success and happiness. And that’s why this book is titled Explorations in Economics!
Economics provides a logical way for people to think about decisions at every level— personal, family, organizational, business, and governmental— and what these decisions mean for society.