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Modern economics-or political economy as it used to be called-dates back to 1776 It didnt begin with the American Revolution A man named Adam Smith a Scottish philosopher published a book called Smiths work is considered the first example of modern economics In some places Smith is most famous for suggesting that business always try to monopolize markets and raise prices Economists credit him with the theory of the invisible hand- the idea that a market economy will operate so that no one can be made better off without making someone else worse off It is as if an invisible hand is guiding the markets when in reality the markets merely reflect the activities of those trading in them Economics didnt actually start with Smith Prices and economics were discussed long before Smith appeared St Augustine considered what a just price is When prices for some widely consumed good or service surge or when some companys profits appear to reach stratospheric levels the popular press seems to return to St Augustine and ask what is the just price Others maintain that economics began much much earlier Economics figures in most national elections In 1992 Bill Clintons unofficial slogan was its the Economy Stupid In 1984 Ronal Reagan based his reelection on a simple question Are you better off than you were four years ago Both approaches struck a responsive chord and both men were elected Examples extend to almost every presidential campaign John Kennedy was elected during the recession that plagued the prior administration the recession ended in the second moth of Kennedys term as he demonstrated a combination of timing and luck matched by few Presidents Franklin D Roosevelts landslide victory in 1936-based on his efforts to turn back the Great Depression- set the course for the next several decades of US politics The economy is telling us whats happening and what could happen next To understand the economy you have to
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