Apr 18 2008

From the Help Desk: Long-run vs. short-run economic growth, consupmtion and investment…

*Click on the graphs to see full-size versions

The following message was submitted through the AP/IB Econ Help Desk:

Jason,

An AP Macro Question: Comes from the recently published AP Practice Exam

An increase in which of the following is most likely to promote economic growth?

A. Consumption Spending
B. Investment Tax Credits
C The natural rate of unemployment
D The trade deficit
E Real Interest Rates.

The answer is B, and I understand the economic principles of why that would promote economic growth, but what I can’t answer for my students is why A, Consumption Spending wouldn’t work. I know that consumption spending makes up part of the demand in aggregate demand, but I can’t help but think that an increase in it, would promote economic growth.

Thanks, “Econ Teacher”

For what it’s worth, here is my reply:

Hello “Econ Teacher”,

That’s a good question. I would explain to my students that in the short-run, an increase in AD alone will lead to some growth, but would be accompanied by inflation, since AS does not shift out when consumption increases. However, an investment tax credit will result in REAL long-run economic growth (by real I mean nominal GDP will increase while the price level remains stable), since it encourages investment. Investment is a determinant of AD, just like consumption, so AD will shift out, but it is also a determinant of AS, since firms are investing in capital. Increase the quantity or the quality of capital, and labor becomes more productive. Greater productivity shifts out AS, leading to growth AND stable prices.

Economic growth is defined, in terms of the AD/AS model, as an outward shift of both AD and AS. Increases in consumption will increase AD, but this will lead to inflation, and in the long run, workers will demand higher wages, increasing the costs of production and shifting AS leftward, returning the economy to the full employment level of output at an even higher price level, i.e. no economic growth occurs (see graph to the right). Investment, however, encouraged through a tax credit, will have positive demand and supply side effects, resulting in real economic growth and stable prices (see graph below)

Hope that helps!

Jason Welker


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About the author:  Jason Welker teaches International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement Economics at Zurich International School in Switzerland. In addition to publishing various online resources for economics students and teachers, Jason developed the online version of the Economics course for the IB and is has authored two Economics textbooks: Pearson Baccalaureate’s Economics for the IB Diploma and REA’s AP Macroeconomics Crash Course. Jason is a native of the Pacific Northwest of the United States, and is a passionate adventurer, who considers himself a skier / mountain biker who teaches Economics in his free time. He and his wife keep a ski chalet in the mountains of Northern Idaho, which now that they live in the Swiss Alps gets far too little use. Read more posts by this author

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One Response to “From the Help Desk: Long-run vs. short-run economic growth, consupmtion and investment…”

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