- Aims of the government
Most national governments share similar macro-economic objectives:
- low and stable price
- a high and stable level of
- economic growth and
- a favourable balance of
Governments use policy instruments, including taxes and regulations, to help achieve their objectives through the impact they have on the actions of producers and consumers.
Fiscal policy involves changing the total level of taxation or government spending in an economy to influence the level of demand for goods and services
Monetary policy uses the interest rate of the central bank to influence demand
Supply-side policy instruments are used to encourage higher levels of output and employment. They include tax incentives, subsidies and regulations
Policy aims and actions can sometimes conflict. For example, raising taxes or interest rates to reduce price inflation may reduce employment and economic growth in output and incomes.
Macro-economics is the study of how a national economy works
and the interaction between economic growth in output and national
income, employment and the general level of prices.
A macro-economy consists of all the different markets for goods and
services, labour, finance, foreign exchange and other traded items.
Changes in the behaviour of producers and consumers in individual
markets will therefore have an effect on the macro-economy and the
rate of economic growth, inflation, employment and trade.
Most national governments share similar macro-economic objectives. These
- low and stable price inflation
- a high and stable level of employment
- economic growth and prosperity
- a favourable balance of international payments.
Governments can use different policy instruments, including taxes and
regulations, to help achieve their objectives through their impact on the
actions of producers and consumers.
- Actions taken by the government and their impact
(i) Fiscal policy involves varying total public sector expenditure and/or the overall
level of taxation to influence the level of demand in an economy. If the demand in the economy increases (aggregate demand), so does the economic activity which in turn triggers economic growth.
Types of fiscal policies are:-
(a) Expansionary fiscal policy
It may be used during an economic recession to
boost demand for goods and services through tax cuts or increased public
sector spending. Firms may respond by hiring more labour and increasing
output. However, increasing demand can force up market prices and involve
spending more on imported goods and services from overseas. Increasing
imports will have a negative impact on the balance of payments.
(b) Contractionary fiscal policy
It may be used to reduce price infl ation. It involves
reducing demand in an economy through tax increases or cuts in public sector
spending. However, fi rms may respond to falling demand by cutting their
output and reducing employment. Increased taxes may also reduce work
incentives and therefore productivity.
|Impacts on consumers||Impacts on producers|
|Increase income taxes||Disposable income is reduced
and consumer spending falls
|Market prices and profits fall as consumer demand falls. Firms cut output and employment.|
|Reduce income taxes||Disposable incomes and
consumer spending rise
|Market prices and profits start
to rise so firms expand output
and employ more labour
|Increase taxes on
|Consumers are not directly
affected but may pay higher
prices if firms cut output
|After-tax profits fall. Firms may
increase their prices and/or cut
output in response
|Cut taxes on profits||Consumers may benefit from
reduced prices as output rises
|After-tax profits rise so firms
may expand their output and
|Increase indirect taxes
on goods and services
|Consumers on low incomes
may be hit hardest by price
rises because they spend all or most of their incomes
|Consumer demand may
contract and profits fall. Firms
may cut output and reduce
their demand for labour
|Cut indirect taxes on
goods and services
|Consumers may expand
their demand for goods and
services as after-tax prices fall
|Expanding demand will boost
profits which are an incentive
to firms to raise their output
and demand more labour
|Public sector workers could
be paid more. Low income
families may receive more
benefits. More public services
could be provided for free
|Firms supplying goods and
services to government will
enjoy increased revenues and
profits, and may expand their
output and employment
|Public sector workers could
suffer pay cuts or be made
unemployed. Welfare benefits
may be reduced.
|A cut in public spending on
capital projects, such as road
and school building, will cause
cutbacks in the construction
industry. Subsidies paid to
other firms may be cut
(ii) Monetary policy involves varying the interest rate charged by the central bank for lending money to the banking system in an economy.
There are two types of monetary policies:-
(a) Contractionary monetary policy
It may be used to reduce price inflation by increasing the interest rate. Because banks have to pay more to borrow from the central bank they will increase the interest rates they charge their own customers for loans to recover the increased cost. Banks will also raise interest rates to encourage people to save more in bank deposit accounts so they can reduce their own borrowing from the central bank. As interest rates rise, consumers may save more and borrow less to spend on goods and services. Firms may also reduce the amount of money they borrow to invest in new equipment. A reduction in capital investment by firms will reduce their ability to increase output in the future. Higher interest rates may therefore reduce economic growth and increase unemployment.
(b) Expansionary monetary policy
It may be used during an economic recession
to boost demand and employment by cutting interest rates. However,
increasing demand can push up prices and may increase consumer spending
on imported goods and services.
|Monetary policy instruments||Impacts on consumers||Impacts on producers|
|Spending falls as consumers
save more and borrow less.
The foreign exchange rate of the national currency may rise. This will reduce the prices of imports.
Consumers may buy more
imports instead of home produced goods and services.
|Firms cut output and
employment in response to
Firms borrow less to invest in
new capital equipment, which
may harm economic growth.
Prices of exports sold overseas will rise if the exchange rate
increases. Exporting firms may suffer falling demand and profits
|Spending rises as saving
becomes less attractive and
borrowing less expensive.
The exchange rate may fall
causing imported inflation.
|Firms increase output and
demand more labour as demand rises.
Firms may increase investment.
Prices of exports sold overseas may fall if the exchange rate rises. Demand for exports may
(iii) Supply-side policies aim to increase economic growth by raising the
productive potential of the economy. An increase in the total supply of goods and services will require more labour and other resources to be employed, will reduce market prices, and provide more goods and services for export. Supply-side policy instruments aim to encourage firms and employees to become more productive, and to remove any barriers that may prevent this.
|Supply-side policy instruments|
|Reducing taxes on profits and small firms can encourage enterprise. Tax allowances can also be used to encourage investments in new capital equipment and R&D.|
Subsidies or grants
|These reduce production costs and also help firms to fund the research and development (R&D) of new technologies.|
Education and training
|Teaching new and existing workers new skills to make them more productive at work.|
Labour market regulations
|Include minimum wage laws to encourage more people into work, and legislation to restrict the power of trade unions.|
|Regulations that outlaw unfair and anti-competitive trading practices by monopolies and other large powerful firms.|
Free trade agreements
|Removing barriers to international trade to allow countries to trade their goods and services more freely and cheaply.|
|Removing old, unnecessary and costly rules and regulations on business activities.|
|The transfer of public sector activities, such as refuse collection, to private firms to provide them more efficiently.|
END OF UNIT QUESTIONS:-
Q1. How might a reduction in taxation help any two macro-economic aims of a government?
Q2. What actions could a government take to help reduce unemployment?
Q3. Discuss the actions that a government might take to control inflation.
Note:- You can find the answers to all of these questions in the lecture above!