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Market economy

Sunday, December 26, 2010
A market economy is an economy based on the power of division of labor in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system set by supply and demand.[1]

This is often contrasted with a planned economy, in which a central government can distribute services using a fixed price system. Market economies are also contrasted with mixed economy where the price system is not entirely free but under some government control or heavily regulated, which is sometimes combined with state-led economic planning that is not extensive enough to constitute a planned economy.

In the real world, market economies do not exist in pure form, as societies and governments regulate them to varying degrees rather than allow self-regulation by market forces.[2][3] The term free-market economy is sometimes used synonymously with market economy,[4] but, as Ludwig Erhard once pointed out, this does not preclude an economy from having socialist attributes opposed to a laissez-faire system.[5] Economist Ludwig von Mises also pointed out that a market economy is still a market economy even if the government intervenes in pricing.[6]

Different perspectives exist as to how strong a role the government should have in both guiding the market economy and addressing the inequalities the market produces. For example, there is no universal agreement on issues such as central banking, and welfare. However, most economists oppose protectionist tariffs.[7]

The term market economy is not identical to capitalism where a corporation hires workers as a labour commodity to produce material wealth and boost shareholder profits.[8] Market mechanisms have been utilized in a handful of socialist states, such as China, Yugoslavia and even Cuba to a very limited extent.

It is also possible to envision an economic system based on independent producers, cooperative, democratic worker ownership and market allocation of final goods and services; the labour-managed market economy is one of several proposed forms of market socialism.[9]

Although no country has ever had within its border an economy in which all markets were absolutely free, the term typically is not used in an absolute sense. Many states which are said to have a market economy have a high level of market freedom, even if it is less than some parts of the population would prefer. Thus, almost all economies in the world today are mixed economies with varying degrees of free market and planned economy traits. For example, in the United States there are more market economy traits than in the Western European countries (an exception being the UK, which is considered, even by Greenspan, to be a freer market than the US).

Capitalism (Liberal Market)

Capitalism generally refers to an economic system in which the means of production are all or mostly privately owned and operated for profit, and in which investments, distribution, income,and pricing of goods and services are determined through the operation of a market economy. It is usually considered to involve the right of individuals and groups of individuals acting as "legal persons" or corporations to trade capital goods, labor, land and money.

Capitalism has been dominant in the Western world since the end of feudalism, but most feel that the term "mixed economies" more precisely describes most contemporary economies, due to their containing both private-owned and state-owned enterprises, combining elements of capitalism and socialism, or mixing the characteristics of market economies and planned economies. In capitalism, there is no central planning authority but the prices are decided by the demand-supply scale. For example, higher demand for certain goods and services lead to higher prices and lower demand for certain goods lead to lower prices.


Laissez-faire is synonymous with what was referred to as strict capitalist free market economy during the early and mid-19th century as an ideal to achieve. It is generally understood that the necessary components for the functioning of an idealized free market include the complete absence of government regulation, subsidies, artificial price pressures and government-granted monopolies (usually classified as coercive monopoly by free market advocates) and no taxes or tariffs other than what is necessary for the government to provide protection from coercion and theft and maintaining peace, and property rights.

Market anarchism

Market anarchism advocates a true free market like laissez-faire and in addition the complete elimination of the state apparatus; the provision of law enforcement, courts, national defense, and all other security services by voluntarily-funded competitors in a free market rather than through compulsory taxation; the complete deregulation of nonintrusive personal and economic activities; and a self-regulated market. Market anarchism argue for a society based in voluntary trade of private property (including money, consumer goods, land, and capital goods) and services in order to maximize individual liberty and prosperity. Some forms of market anarchism, such as mutualism, are also forms of libertarian market socialism, advocating an 'anti-capitalist free market' of free worker's cooperatives and self-employed individuals. Mutualism substitutes the idea of property for possession and use of the means of production.

Market socialism

Market socialism refers to various economic systems in which the government owns the economic institutions or major industries but operates them according to the rules of supply and demand. In a traditional market socialist economy, prices would be determined by a government planning ministry, and enterprises would either be state-owned or cooperatively-owned and managed by their employees. Libertarian socialists and left-anarchists often promote a form of market socialism in which enterprises are owned and managed collectively by the workers, but compete with each other in the same way private companies compete in a capitalist market.

The People's Republic of China currently has a form of market socialism referred to as the socialist market economy, in which most of the industry is state-owned, but prices are not set by the government. Within this model, the state-owned enterprises are free from excessive regulation and function more autonomously in a more decentralized fashion than in other socialist economic systems.

Social market

he social market economic model is based upon the free market economy, combined with regulative measures from the state to prevent market failure.[11] The theoretical fundament is build on the neoliberalism (in Germany also called ordoliberalism).[12] This model was implemented by Ludwig Erhard after World War II in West Germany. Characteristics of social market economies are a strong competition policy and a contractionary monetary policy.


Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek stated that economic freedom is a necessary condition for the creation and sustainability of civil and political freedoms. They believed that this economic freedom can only be achieved in a market-oriented economy, specifically a free market economy. They do believe, however, that sufficient economic freedom can be achieved in economies with functioning markets through price mechanisms and private property rights. They believe that the more economic freedom that is available the more civil and political freedoms a society will enjoy.

Friedman states:

* "Economic freedom is simply a requisite for political freedom. By enabling people to cooperate with one another without coercion or central direction it reduces the area over which political power is exercised" Friedman, Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980, p. 2-3
* "Capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom" Capitalism and freedom

Studies by the Canadian libertarian think tank Fraser Institute, the American conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, and the Wall Street Journal state that there is a relationship between economic freedom and political and civil freedoms to the extent claimed by Friedrich von Hayek. They agree with Hayek that those countries which restrict economic freedom ultimately restrict civil and political freedoms.[13][14]

Generally market economies are bottom-up in decision-making as consumers convey information to producers through prices paid in market transactions. All states today have some form of control over the market that removes the free and unrestricted direction of resources from consumers and prices such as tariffs and corporate subsidies. Milton Friedman and many other microeconomists believe that these forms of intervention provide incentives for resources to be misused and wasted, producing products society may not value as much as a product that is valued as a result of these restrictions.


Robin Hahnel and Michael Albert claim that markets inherently produce class division; divisions between conceptual and manual laborers, and ultimately managers and workers, and a de facto labor market for conceptual workers. Albert says that in a market economy, even if everyone started out with a balanced job complex (doing a mix of roles of varying creativity, responsibility and empowerment), class divisions would arise, as some will be more able than others to capture the benefits of economic gain: if one worker designs cars and another builds them, the designer will use his cognitive skills more frequently than the builder. In the long term, the designer will become more adept at conceptual work than the builder, giving the designer greater bargaining power in a firm over the distribution of income. A conceptual worker who is not satisfied with his income can threaten to work for a company that will pay him more, thus class divisions arise

Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_economy

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