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  1. Preface
  2. 1 Welcome to Economics!
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 What Is Economics, and Why Is It Important?
    3. 1.2 Microeconomics and Macroeconomics
    4. 1.3 How Economists Use Theories and Models to Understand Economic Issues
    5. 1.4 How To Organize Economies: An Overview of Economic Systems
    6. Key Terms
    7. Key Concepts and Summary
    8. Self-Check Questions
    9. Review Questions
    10. Critical Thinking Questions
  3. 2 Choice in a World of Scarcity
    1. Introduction to Choice in a World of Scarcity
    2. 2.1 How Individuals Make Choices Based on Their Budget Constraint
    3. 2.2 The Production Possibilities Frontier and Social Choices
    4. 2.3 Confronting Objections to the Economic Approach
    5. Key Terms
    6. Key Concepts and Summary
    7. Self-Check Questions
    8. Review Questions
    9. Critical Thinking Questions
    10. Problems
  4. 3 Demand and Supply
    1. Introduction to Demand and Supply
    2. 3.1 Demand, Supply, and Equilibrium in Markets for Goods and Services
    3. 3.2 Shifts in Demand and Supply for Goods and Services
    4. 3.3 Changes in Equilibrium Price and Quantity: The Four-Step Process
    5. 3.4 Price Ceilings and Price Floors
    6. 3.5 Demand, Supply, and Efficiency
    7. Key Terms
    8. Key Concepts and Summary
    9. Self-Check Questions
    10. Review Questions
    11. Critical Thinking Questions
    12. Problems
  5. 4 Labor and Financial Markets
    1. Introduction to Labor and Financial Markets
    2. 4.1 Demand and Supply at Work in Labor Markets
    3. 4.2 Demand and Supply in Financial Markets
    4. 4.3 The Market System as an Efficient Mechanism for Information
    5. Key Terms
    6. Key Concepts and Summary
    7. Self-Check Questions
    8. Review Questions
    9. Critical Thinking Questions
    10. Problems
  6. 5 The Macroeconomic Perspective
    1. Introduction to the Macroeconomic Perspective
    2. 5.1 Measuring the Size of the Economy: Gross Domestic Product
    3. 5.2 Adjusting Nominal Values to Real Values
    4. 5.3 Tracking Real GDP over Time
    5. 5.4 Comparing GDP among Countries
    6. 5.5 How Well GDP Measures the Well-Being of Society
    7. Key Terms
    8. Key Concepts and Summary
    9. Self-Check Questions
    10. Review Questions
    11. Critical Thinking Questions
    12. Problems
  7. 6 Economic Growth
    1. Introduction to Economic Growth
    2. 6.1 The Relatively Recent Arrival of Economic Growth
    3. 6.2 Labor Productivity and Economic Growth
    4. 6.3 Components of Economic Growth
    5. 6.4 Economic Convergence
    6. Key Terms
    7. Key Concepts and Summary
    8. Self-Check Questions
    9. Review Questions
    10. Critical Thinking Questions
    11. Problems
  8. 7 Unemployment
    1. Introduction to Unemployment
    2. 7.1 How Economists Define and Compute Unemployment Rate
    3. 7.2 Patterns of Unemployment
    4. 7.3 What Causes Changes in Unemployment over the Short Run
    5. 7.4 What Causes Changes in Unemployment over the Long Run
    6. Key Terms
    7. Key Concepts and Summary
    8. Self-Check Questions
    9. Review Questions
    10. Critical Thinking Questions
    11. Problems
  9. 8 Inflation
    1. Introduction to Inflation
    2. 8.1 Tracking Inflation
    3. 8.2 How to Measure Changes in the Cost of Living
    4. 8.3 How the U.S. and Other Countries Experience Inflation
    5. 8.4 The Confusion Over Inflation
    6. 8.5 Indexing and Its Limitations
    7. Key Terms
    8. Key Concepts and Summary
    9. Self-Check Questions
    10. Review Questions
    11. Critical Thinking Questions
    12. Problems
  10. 9 The International Trade and Capital Flows
    1. Introduction to the International Trade and Capital Flows
    2. 9.1 Measuring Trade Balances
    3. 9.2 Trade Balances in Historical and International Context
    4. 9.3 Trade Balances and Flows of Financial Capital
    5. 9.4 The National Saving and Investment Identity
    6. 9.5 The Pros and Cons of Trade Deficits and Surpluses
    7. 9.6 The Difference between Level of Trade and the Trade Balance
    8. Key Terms
    9. Key Concepts and Summary
    10. Self-Check Questions
    11. Review Questions
    12. Critical Thinking Questions
    13. Problems
  11. 10 The Aggregate Demand/Aggregate Supply Model
    1. Introduction to the Aggregate Supply–Aggregate Demand Model
    2. 10.1 Macroeconomic Perspectives on Demand and Supply
    3. 10.2 Building a Model of Aggregate Demand and Aggregate Supply
    4. 10.3 Shifts in Aggregate Supply
    5. 10.4 Shifts in Aggregate Demand
    6. 10.5 How the AD/AS Model Incorporates Growth, Unemployment, and Inflation
    7. 10.6 Keynes’ Law and Say’s Law in the AD/AS Model
    8. Key Terms
    9. Key Concepts and Summary
    10. Self-Check Questions
    11. Review Questions
    12. Critical Thinking Questions
    13. Problems
  12. 11 The Keynesian Perspective
    1. Introduction to the Keynesian Perspective
    2. 11.1 Aggregate Demand in Keynesian Analysis
    3. 11.2 The Building Blocks of Keynesian Analysis
    4. 11.3 The Expenditure-Output (or Keynesian Cross) Model
    5. 11.4 The Phillips Curve
    6. 11.5 The Keynesian Perspective on Market Forces
    7. Key Terms
    8. Key Concepts and Summary
    9. Self-Check Questions
    10. Review Questions
    11. Critical Thinking Questions
  13. 12 The Neoclassical Perspective
    1. Introduction to the Neoclassical Perspective
    2. 12.1 The Building Blocks of Neoclassical Analysis
    3. 12.2 The Policy Implications of the Neoclassical Perspective
    4. 12.3 Balancing Keynesian and Neoclassical Models
    5. Key Terms
    6. Key Concepts and Summary
    7. Self-Check Questions
    8. Review Questions
    9. Critical Thinking Questions
    10. Problems
  14. 13 Money and Banking
    1. Introduction to Money and Banking
    2. 13.1 Defining Money by Its Functions
    3. 13.2 Measuring Money: Currency, M1, and M2
    4. 13.3 The Role of Banks
    5. 13.4 How Banks Create Money
    6. Key Terms
    7. Key Concepts and Summary
    8. Self-Check Questions
    9. Review Questions
    10. Critical Thinking Questions
    11. Problems
  15. 14 Monetary Policy and Bank Regulation
    1. Introduction to Monetary Policy and Bank Regulation
    2. 14.1 The Federal Reserve Banking System and Central Banks
    3. 14.2 Bank Regulation
    4. 14.3 How a Central Bank Executes Monetary Policy
    5. 14.4 Monetary Policy and Economic Outcomes
    6. 14.5 Pitfalls for Monetary Policy
    7. Key Terms
    8. Key Concepts and Summary
    9. Self-Check Questions
    10. Review Questions
    11. Critical Thinking Questions
    12. Problems
  16. 15 Exchange Rates and International Capital Flows
    1. Introduction to Exchange Rates and International Capital Flows
    2. 15.1 How the Foreign Exchange Market Works
    3. 15.2 Demand and Supply Shifts in Foreign Exchange Markets
    4. 15.3 Macroeconomic Effects of Exchange Rates
    5. 15.4 Exchange Rate Policies
    6. Key Terms
    7. Key Concepts and Summary
    8. Self-Check Questions
    9. Review Questions
    10. Critical Thinking Questions
    11. Problems
  17. 16 Government Budgets and Fiscal Policy
    1. Introduction to Government Budgets and Fiscal Policy
    2. 16.1 Government Spending
    3. 16.2 Taxation
    4. 16.3 Federal Deficits and the National Debt
    5. 16.4 Using Fiscal Policy to Fight Recession, Unemployment, and Inflation
    6. 16.5 Automatic Stabilizers
    7. 16.6 Practical Problems with Discretionary Fiscal Policy
    8. 16.7 The Question of a Balanced Budget
    9. Key Terms
    10. Key Concepts and Summary
    11. Self-Check Questions
    12. Review Questions
    13. Critical Thinking Questions
    14. Problems
  18. 17 The Impacts of Government Borrowing
    1. Introduction to the Impacts of Government Borrowing
    2. 17.1 How Government Borrowing Affects Investment and the Trade Balance
    3. 17.2 Fiscal Policy, Investment, and Economic Growth
    4. 17.3 How Government Borrowing Affects Private Saving
    5. 17.4 Fiscal Policy and the Trade Balance
    6. Key Terms
    7. Key Concepts and Summary
    8. Self-Check Questions
    9. Review Questions
    10. Critical Thinking Questions
    11. Problems
  19. 18 Macroeconomic Policy Around the World
    1. Introduction to Macroeconomic Policy around the World
    2. 18.1 The Diversity of Countries and Economies across the World
    3. 18.2 Improving Countries’ Standards of Living
    4. 18.3 Causes of Unemployment around the World
    5. 18.4 Causes of Inflation in Various Countries and Regions
    6. 18.5 Balance of Trade Concerns
    7. Key Terms
    8. Key Concepts and Summary
    9. Self-Check Questions
    10. Review Questions
    11. Critical Thinking Questions
    12. Problems
  20. A | The Use of Mathematics in Principles of Economics
  21. B | Indifference Curves
  22. C | Present Discounted Value
  23. Answer Key
    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8
    9. Chapter 9
    10. Chapter 10
    11. Chapter 11
    12. Chapter 12
    13. Chapter 13
    14. Chapter 14
    15. Chapter 15
    16. Chapter 16
    17. Chapter 17
    18. Chapter 18
  24. References
  25. Index

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain merchandise trade balance, current account balance, and unilateral transfers
  • Identify components of the U.S. current account balance
  • Calculate the merchandise trade balance and current account balance using import and export data for a country

A few decades ago, it was common to track the solid or physical items that planes, trains, and trucks transported between countries as a way of measuring the balance of trade. Economists call this measurement is called the merchandise trade balance. In most high-income economies, including the United States, goods comprise less than half of a country’s total production, while services comprise more than half. The last two decades have seen a surge in international trade in services, powered by technological advances in telecommunications and computers that have made it possible to export or import customer services, finance, law, advertising, management consulting, software, construction engineering, and product design. Most global trade still takes the form of goods rather than services, and the government announces and the media prominently report the merchandise trade balance. Old habits are hard to break. Economists, however, typically rely on broader measures such as the balance of trade or the current account balance which includes other international flows of income and foreign aid.

Components of the U.S. Current Account Balance

Table 9.1 breaks down the four main components of the U.S. current account balance for the last quarter of 2015 (seasonally adjusted). The first line shows the merchandise trade balance; that is, exports and imports of goods. Because imports exceed exports, the trade balance in the final column is negative, showing a merchandise trade deficit. We can explain how the government collects this trade information in the following Clear It Up feature.

Value of Exports (money flowing into the United States) Value of Imports (money flowing out of the United States) Balance
Goods $410.0 $595.5 –$185.3
Services $180.4 $122.3 $58.1
Income receipts and payments $203.0 $152.4 $50.6
Unilateral transfers $27.3 $64.4 –$37.1
Current account balance $820.7 $934.4 –$113.7
Table 9.1 Components of the U.S. Current Account Balance for 2015 (in billions)

Clear It Up

How does the U.S. government collect trade statistics?

Do not confuse the balance of trade (which tracks imports and exports), with the current account balance, which includes not just exports and imports, but also income from investment and transfers.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce compiles statistics on the balance of trade using a variety of different sources. Merchandise importers and exporters must file monthly documents with the Census Bureau, which provides the basic data for tracking trade. To measure international trade in services—which can happen over a telephone line or computer network without shipping any physical goods—the BEA carries out a set of surveys. Another set of BEA surveys tracks investment flows, and there are even specific surveys to collect travel information from U.S. residents visiting Canada and Mexico. For measuring unilateral transfers, the BEA has access to official U.S. government spending on aid, and then also carries out a survey of charitable organizations that make foreign donations.

The BEA then cross-checks this information on international flows of goods and capital against other available data. For example, the Census Bureau also collects data from the shipping industry, which it can use to check the data on trade in goods. All companies involved in international flows of capital—including banks and companies making financial investments like stocks—must file reports, which the U.S. Department of the Treasury ultimately checks. The BEA also can cross check information on foreign trade by looking at data collected by other countries on their foreign trade with the United States, and also at the data collected by various international organizations. Take these data sources, stir carefully, and you have the U.S. balance of trade statistics. Much of the statistics that we cite in this chapter come from these sources.

The second row of Table 9.1 provides data on trade in services. Here, the U.S. economy is running a surplus. Although the level of trade in services is still relatively small compared to trade in goods, the importance of services has expanded substantially over the last few decades. For example, U.S. exports of services were equal to about one-half of U.S. exports of goods in 2015, compared to one-fifth in 1980.

The third component of the current account balance, labeled “income payments,” refers to money that U.S. financial investors received on their foreign investments (money flowing into the United States) and payments to foreign investors who had invested their funds here (money flowing out of the United States). The reason for including this money on foreign investment in the overall measure of trade, along with goods and services, is that, from an economic perspective, income is just as much an economic transaction as car, wheat, or oil shipments: it is just trade that is happening in the financial capital market.

The final category of the current account balance is unilateral transfers, which are payments that government, private charities, or individuals make in which they send money abroad without receiving any direct good or service. Economic or military assistance from the U.S. government to other countries fits into this category, as does spending abroad by charities to address poverty or social inequalities. When an individual in the United States sends money overseas, as is the case with some immigrants, it is also counted in this category. The current account balance treats these unilateral payments like imports, because they also involve a stream of payments leaving the country. For the U.S. economy, unilateral transfers are almost always negative. This pattern, however, does not always hold. In 1991, for example, when the United States led an international coalition against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the Gulf War, many other nations agreed that they would make payments to the United States to offset the U.S. war expenses. These payments were large enough that, in 1991, the overall U.S. balance on unilateral transfers was a positive $10 billion.

The following Work It Out feature steps you through the process of using the values for goods, services, and income payments to calculate the merchandise balance and the current account balance.

Work It Out

Calculating the Merchandise Balance and the Current Account Balance

Exports (in $ billions) Imports (in $ billions) Balance
Goods
Services
Income payments
Unilateral transfers
Current account balance
Table 9.2 Calculating Merchandise Balance and Current Account Balance

Use the information given below to fill in Table 9.2, and then calculate:

  • The merchandise balance
  • The current account balance

Known information:

  • Unilateral transfers: $130
  • Exports in goods: $1,046
  • Exports in services: $509
  • Imports in goods: $1,562
  • Imports in services: $371
  • Income received by U.S. investors on foreign stocks and bonds: $561
  • Income received by foreign investors on U.S. assets: $472

Step 1. Focus on goods and services first. Enter the dollar amount of exports of both goods and services under the Export column.

Step 2. Enter imports of goods and services under the Import column.

Step 3. Under the Export column and in the row for Income payments, enter the financial flows of money coming back to the United States. U.S. investors are earning this income from abroad.

Step 4. Under the Import column and in the row for Income payments, enter the financial flows of money going out of the United States to foreign investors. Foreign investors are earning this money on U.S. assets, like stocks.

Step 5. Unilateral transfers are money flowing out of the United States in the form of, for example, military aid, foreign aid, and global charities. Because the money leaves the country, enter it under Imports and in the final column as well, as a negative.

Step 6. Calculate the trade balance by subtracting imports from exports in both goods and services. Enter this in the final Balance column. This can be positive or negative.

Step 7. Subtract the income payments flowing out of the country (under Imports) from the money coming back to the United States (under Exports) and enter this amount under the Balance column.

Step 8. Enter unilateral transfers as a negative amount under the Balance column.

Step 9. The merchandise trade balance is the difference between exports of goods and imports of goods—the first number under Balance.

Step 10. Now sum up your columns for Exports, Imports, and Balance. The final balance number is the current account balance.

The merchandise balance of trade is the difference between exports and imports. In this case, it is equal to $1,046 – $1,562, a trade deficit of –$516 billion. The current account balance is –$419 billion. See the completed Table 9.3.

Value of Exports (money flowing into the United States) Value of Imports (money flowing out of the United States) Balance
Goods $1,510.3 $2,272.9 –$762.6
Services $750.9 $488.7 $262.2
Income receipts and payments $782.9 $600.5 $182.4
Unilateral transfers $128.6 $273.6 –$145.0
Current account balance $3,172.7 $3,635.7 –$463.0
Table 9.3 Completed Merchandise Balance and Current Account Balance
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