In this first lecture of a series of lectures covering the basics of applied Austrian economics, Joseph Salerno introduces a number of basic concepts including utility, exchange, psychic cost, choice, value, and marginal utility.
What determines market prices? Buyers and sellers must know of feasible trades. They can learn from their mistakes. They prefer higher profits to lower profits. They think in discreet terms. Both participants win in market exchanges.
As with all government intervention, price controls do not achieve what their originators think they will. Trying to maintain a supply of milk by putting a price control on it will cause shortages, which are the very situations the price manipulators said they wanted to avoid.
Factors of Production are economic goods: scarce means used to achieve an individual’s ends. They are land, labor and capital. Each is examined. Incomes are earned by factor owners as production takes place. There is no separated production and distribution.
Causal-realist analysis allows imaginary constructs like the ERE — Evenly Rotating Economy — in order to isolate certain factors like interest. There would be no profit or loss in the ERE, because those can only exist under conditions of uncertainty.
Time preference says that individuals prefer satisfaction now to later, present to future. This explains the loan market. In the structure of production, the capitalist pays wages now, despite the fact that he himself does not get paid until the final stage when the product actually comes to market.
In the history of money, bartering was awkward because wants were not divisible. Direct exchange depended upon a double coincidence of wants. Demand for a medium of exchange grew until a general medium of exchange emerged, like gold and silver.
We have today a hybrid of two forms of banking — loan banking (non-inflationary) and deposit banking (inflationary if not 100% reserve holdings). The cause of booms is the credit expansion by central banks that is not backed by pools of private savings.