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How does the Economy Work?

Our local or global economy is always in the news; it doesn’t matter if it’s spiralling downwards or upwards. Does it make you think, how does the economy work? For instance, while local, national and international economies are not the same thing, they are deeply interconnected. So how does the economy work in our county?

Through this article, you will learn what types of economies there are. Moreover, we will explore how the economy affects the world around us. Also, we will discuss some of the key terms and concepts pertaining to the economy.

Key Terms & Definitions to Understand
How does the Economy Work

Before we discuss how does the economy work, let’s look at some of the key terms used in the global economy. The terms and definition will help you better understand how does the economy work. 


Boom & Bust

Boom and bust refer to the business cycle. Boom refers to the growth of the economy, and bust refers to the economic recession period.


The budget is the yearly outline a government creates for a particular state. And it determines how much money will be allocated to public spending and the rate of taxation.


Capital, in short, refers to the money or assets that are exchanged or acquired in the economy.


Debt is a crucial part of economic growth. It allows individuals, companies, and the government to make investments. In addition, debts make it possible to afford types of products or services that you would otherwise not be able to afford.


The economy of a country is a complex web of production and consumption. The growth of an economy determines how to allocate resources and capital.


Economics is the study of the economy of a society. It gives us ideas on how to use resources. 

Financial System

The financial system is the official institution of a state that facilitates the exchange of money in an economy.


GDP refers to Gross domestic product. GDP is the total value of a country’s finished goods and services in a particular time period. 


Globalisation is the trend of interconnection between countries around the world. It refers to the fact that a global audience can now access the goods and services made in any particular country. 


Growth is the increase in the production of goods and services. It is calculated per capita in an economy over a period of time.


Inflation refers to the rate of increase in prices over a certain period of time. Inflation is expressed as an annual percentage change. It indicates the decrease in purchasing power of a currency. 

Macro Economics

Macroeconomics provides an extensive picture analysis of the economy. You get information about factors such as inflation and economic growth, among others. 

Micro Economics

Microeconomics provides a more refined and detailed analysis of the economy. It gives details on how households and businesses make financial decisions. 


A recession is a period of negative economic growth. Understanding recession is key to understanding how does the economy work. Expert economists measure recession as a sustained period of falling GDP.

Stock Market

The stock market is an interconnected system of businesses, investors, and securities. You can buy and sell shares of companies in the stock market. 

What does the Economy Mean?

Before we discuss how does the economy work, let us explore the concept in a detailed manner. The economy is an interrelated system of human labour. Production, exchange, and consumption of goods are fundamental tenets of an economy. In simple terms, aggregated human actions create an economy

To improve our standard of living, we trade goods and products nationally and globally. And when labour is much more productive, the standard of living keeps on improving. Consequently, productivity is driven by working capital, specialisation, and technological innovation. And by means of increased productivity, an economy can grow in a sustainable manner. 

Regional boundaries distinguish the economy of a country from one another. For instance, the Chinese economy, the German economy, the south Asian economy etc. However, with the rise of globalisation, the distinction has become more subtle. To mould an economy in a planned way, government effort and intervention is necessary. 

Let us now explore different levels of the economy and its complexity.  


Local Economy

When we talk about the local economy, we refer to the interconnected network of markets. And the markets are situated within a particular community. Local people, organisations and businesses contribute to this network of the economy. Moreover, the local government plays an important role as well.  

To purchase raw materials, most local businesses prefer local sellers that are nearby. To motivate and increase sales, local councils or governments sometimes provide tax exemptions. In addition, sellers and buyers of products receive other benefits and incentives from the local government. The purpose is to increase production, sales, and consumption of products to keep the economy flowing and prosperous. 

Consequently, within the local community, residents work for businesses and pay taxes to the local government. Local residents also pay for and consume local goods and services. Establishing a local economy was monumental to developing civilisations. Up until the 19th century, production, and exchange of goods happened within a local community.

Over time, countries around the world become more connected. And the economy expanded to become more complex. As such, local economies no longer exist as separate entities. In fact, it is a part of something bigger.

National Economy

As per the Bank of England, the national economy refers to a system for distributing scarce resources. An economy is based on resources. Workers, land, raw materials etc., are some of the resources our economy is based on. While the resources are scarce, the demand for resources is infinite. 

The government moulds and manufactures an economy. Sometimes, the national government has radically different approaches to mould the economy. However, distributing scarce resources is at the heart of the economy. 

And it is also the principle of the economy. Hence, we can see the principle of economy varies from one nation to another. For instance, the economy of China is very much different from the economy of the US.    

Consequently, the national economies are part of a much wider network of interconnected nations.

Global Economy

The global economy is also known as the world economy. It refers to the economic system of the whole world. The global economy basically captures the various economic systems within different nations. Moreover, it also includes the exchanges and activities taking place in and out of the nations.

International trade, investment, and finance help to power the world economy. And the power of globalisation made it possible. Consequently, the broad scope can capture consumption and production of goods as well as the exchange of assets.

Types of Economic Systems

We have discussed how the economy generally functions. Now we will discuss what type of economic system your state or local economy is likely to adopt. 



A communist economy aims for the ownership of means of production by the community. The concept of communism was inspired by creating an egalitarian society where everybody had an equal share of everything. 

A communist economy aims to create a classless society. Communist economy lets you contribute as per your ability and consume products as per your need. However, individual freedom is often sacrificed in this system and markets are heavily controlled by the government.

After the fall of the USSR in the ’90s, communism in the economy was shown as the reason that crippled the society and economy of a country. As such, many countries and their governments are even afraid of hearing the term. However, there are some countries in the world whose economy is based on the communist principle. For instance, China, Vietnam, Cuba etc. 

Consequently, there are some countries that have opted for a mixed economy. The mixed economy concept is created by combining communism and capitalism.


Experts also call feudalism the middle age economy. In conclusion, a king or ruler was the owner of all the areas he and his army conquered. And then the king would reward certain nobles who supported him with parts of the land. Consequently, the nobles would lease out the land to regular people for farming and other means of production. 

The general population or subjects at that time had to pay taxes to the landowners. This tax was usually in the form of goods produced or created on the land. Because in the middle age, the concept of currency was yet unknown. 

Feudalism was often designated as an unjust economic system. Because the working population had to give up more than two-thirds of their produced goods in the form of tax. 


The public or the state is the sole owner of the means of production in socialism. Socialism is the optimal result of a communist economy. Socialism dictates everybody shall have access to equal amounts of amenities and facilities. And everybody should be equally hard-working. As such, everyone will be working for the wealth that is equally distributed and enjoyed by the population. So, the concept of working for profit is foreign in socialism.

A Socialist economy produces products and services based on the usage value. In contrast, the supply and demand of products hardly have any impact on setting the prices. Some examples of socialist economic countries include North Korea, Sri Lanka etc.


The capitalist economy is the widespread preferable choice of the economy globally. Private industries can control property and production according to their interest and profitability. It is the key characteristic of a capitalist economy. Businesses get full autonomy in setting the supply and demand settings in the free market system.

Usually, market prices are set to serve the greater interest of the society in a capitalist economy. Consequently, a standout feature of a capitalist economy is that profit is the driving force of motivation to increase supply and demand. Countries following the principles of the capitalist economy include the United Kingdom, USA, Australia, among others.

How does the Economy Work?

Now for the part, we have all been waiting for. How does the economy work? The key to understanding how does the economy work is to understand the principles that drive it. Economy cycles are made up of short-term debt cycles, long-term debt cycles and productivity growth. The driving forces that make the economy work are,


The economy is made up of zillions of simple transactions repeated over and over again. You can even say the economy works like a simple machine. Transactions which is driven by human nature drives the economy. And it is the building block of the economic machine. Consequently, all forces in the economy are driven by transactions. So, to understand how does the economy work, you have to understand how transactions work.

Buyers and sellers make transactions for the same thing in the market. For instance, in the stock market, buyers and sellers transact in stock. As such, the combination of the whole of transactions in all of the markets is what makes an economy. Consequently, the government is the biggest buyer and seller in the economy. The central government collects taxes and spends money.  


In addition, the central bank controls the amount of credit and money in the economy. It does so by printing new money and setting interest rates. Credit is the largest and most volatile component of the economy. When someone burrows credit, they increase their amount of sending. And this spending is what drives the economy. Because your spending is a source of income for somebody else. Thus, an endless loop of transactions takes place in the economy.


In the economy, your earnings depend on how much you produce and how much value the buyer puts on your product. Also, your income depends on the rate of productivity. Consequently, using credit leads to economic cycles.  

If you use credit, it basically means that you are borrowing money from your future self. As you acquire debt, you spend more than you produce. However, while paying off the debt, you consume less than what you produce.

Debt swings occur in two main cycles. These are short-term debt cycles and long-term debt cycles. The cycles are naturally occurring as a result of spending and buying. There are no laws or regulations manipulating the cycles. Let’s look at the cycle in a detailed manner for a better understanding of how does the economy work.


Short Term Debt Cycle

Economic growth expands as businesses and individuals lend or borrow money from each other. This causes an increase in spending faster than the production of goods. And it causes inflation. Consequently, the central bank raises the interest rate if inflation gets too high. And the increase in the interest rate causes the spending to slow because borrowing money becomes more difficult. 

An economic recession period begins as the activity of buying and spending becomes slow. Then the central bank lowers the interest rate if the recession becomes too severe. And this increases borrowing and stimulates economic activity.  So, economic expansion happens when credit becomes easily available.

Long Term Debt Cycle

Borrowing and spending are increasing over the long term in the economy of a nation. To offset the rise of debt, income has to grow at an equal or faster pace. Consequently, asset values soar as the economy grows. And people borrow huge amounts of money as the value of assets soars. 

Debt burden increasing over time reaches a point where it exceeds the ability of incomes to keep up. And debt repayment continues to increase, which causes our economy to shrink. Long term debt cycles can be chaotic unless proper measures are taken by the government. Some of those measures are –

  • Less Spending
  • Reducing the debt
  • Redistributing the wealth by increasing tax for the richer population.
  • Printing money
  • Increasing productivity and labour.

Are you interested in learning more about the basics of economics and recession? Then get enrolled in our case study for the economic recession course today! The course is designed to assist individuals in learning strategic ways to minimise the impact of the recession on their business. You will also learn to tackle the challenges for maintaining a successful business in this economic climate.

Here’s a video to help you easily understand how does the economy work.

Now that you have a better understanding of how the economy works, let’s explore how to know if the economy is doing well and how the economy impacts our daily lives.

How to Know if the Economy is Doing Well?

To describe the economy, people use many expressions. The economy can either be thriving or struggling, depending on the context. To get an idea of how the economy is doing, you should know about the four components that influence the economy.

1. GDP

GDP is the measure of economic growth. It means gross domestic product. And it incorporates the measurement of all the goods produced over a period of time in a country. If there is an increase in the GDP, it indicates that the economy is growing.

2. Inflation

Inflation is the rate at which prices of goods and services in a country increases. An inflation rate above or below the 2% rate is unfavourable for the healthy and stable growth of an economy.

3. Inequality

To create an economy that is free from inequality, the government should oversee that wealth and prosperity are properly distributed. Consequently, high inequality indicates the economy is unhealthy and struggling. 

4. Unemployment  

Unemployment is the rate of individuals who are qualified for work but can not find a job. The lower the rate of unemployment, the better it is for the economy.


Impact of the Economy in Our Lives

Now we have learned how does the economy work and the fact that the economy is all around us. The economy of a country affects the daily life of an individual. Some of the aspects of our economy that directly influences our lives are –

Cost of Living

The rent or the cost of the apartment you live in is deeply influenced by the economy. Consequently, the economy controls the amount of money you need to cover basic living expenses. It includes your food cost, taxes, and other expenses. 

And this is where inflation plays a role. We have already learned what inflation is. The inflation rate helps measure the cost of your living. Moreover, the power of a unit of currency lessens as the cost of living increases.

Rate of Employment

A growing economy creates more job opportunities for the population. Consequently, a growing economy means goods and services are in demand. And to deliver those products in time, more human resources are necessary. As such, it increases the rate of employment. In contrast, fewer jobs will be available when the demand for services and products goes down.

Government Spending or Expenditure

The condition of a country’s economy will affect the policies as well as how the government decides to spend the money. When businesses make more profit, they have to pay more taxes. And more taxes improve the cash flow. And the improved cash flow allows the government to invest in services and infrastructure.  

Quality of Living

More resources become available to spend as a country’s economy grows. The government spends on sectors such as healthcare and education.  It basically means that there are more jobs available. Consequently, healthy growth of the economy will cause a reduction in poverty. And overall wellbeing of people will be improved in the economy. 


However, these are pretty simplified ways of telling how does the economy work. In practice, many complexities and mechanisms influence the economy. And it determines the impact of the economy on individuals. Economic forecasts can determine how societies will grow and change.


Now that you know how does the economy work, you know what is responsible for an economic recession. Productivity is essential for growing economies. Increasing productivity can also help build up capital goods. Depending on the government’s involvement, the economy can take up many different forms. And there are several factors determining how the economy performs on the micro and macro levels of economics. Knowing in detail how does the economy work can have a positive impact on the growth of the economy.

November 23, 2021

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