The One Lesson of Business and Economy: Notes

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Chapter 2 The One Lesson of Business

Chapter 2 – Summary of main points
• Voluntary transactions create wealth by moving assets from lowerto higher-valued uses. • Anything that impedes the movement of assets to higher-valued uses, like taxes, subsidies, or price controls, destroys wealth. • Economic analysis is useful to business for identifying assets in lower-valued uses. • The art of business consists of identifying assets in low-valued uses and devising ways to profitably move them to higher-valued ones. • A company can be thought of as a series of transactions. A welldesigned organization rewards employees who identify and consummate profitable transactions or who stop unprofitable ones.


Introductory anecdote
• Two prominent hospitals recently refused patients for kidney transplants because the organs were from “directed donations.” • Demand for organs is high – far exceeding supply - and many never receive them. • Despite high demand and low supply, buying and selling organs is illegal. • Why?


Capitalism 101
To identify , you must first understand how wealth is created (and sometimes destroyed). • Definition: Wealth is created when assets are moved from to uses • Definition: Value = • + .



• The chief virtue of a capitalist economy is its ability to create wealth • create wealth. , between individuals or firms,


Example: Robinson Crusoe economy
• A house is for sale:
• The buyer values the house at $130,000 – • The seller values the house at $120,000 – . .

• The buyer and seller must agree to a price that “splits” surplus between buyer and seller. Here, $128,000. • The buyer and seller both benefit from this transaction: • Buyer surplus = • Seller surplus =

• Total surplus = = difference in values


Wealth-Creating transactions
• Which assets do these transactions move to higher-valued uses? • Factory Owners • Real Estate Agents • Investment Bankers • Corporate Raiders • Insurance Salesman

• Discussion: How does eBay create wealth? • Discussion: Which individual has created the most wealth during your lifetime? • Discussion: How do you create wealth?


Do mergers create wealth?
• The movement of assets to a higher-valued use is the wealthcreating engine of capitalism. • Our largest and most valuable assets are .


• Dell-Alienware merger:
• In 2006, Dell purchased Alienware, a manufacturer of high-end gaming computers. • Dell left design, marketing, sales and support in Alienware’s hands; manufacturing, however, was taken over by Dell. • With its manufacturing expertise, Dell was able to build Alienware’s computers at a much lower cost

• Despite this example, many mergers and acquisitions do not create value – and if they do, value creation is rarely so clear. • To create value, the assets of the acquired firm must be .


Does government create wealth?
• Discussion: What’s the government’s role is wealth creation?

• Discussion: Why are some countries so poor?
• No , no

• Discussion: Much of the justification for government intervention comes from the assertion that markets have failed. One money manager scoffed at this idea. “The markets are working fine, but they’re giving people answers that they don’t like, so people cry market failure.”


The one lesson of economics
• Definition: an economy is efficient if .
• This is an unattainable, but useful benchmark

• The One Lesson of Economics: the art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups. • Policies should then be judged by whether they move us towards or away from efficiency.

• The economist’s solution to inefficient outcomes is to argue for a change in public policy.



One lesson of economics (cont.)
• Taxes Destroy Wealth:
• By deterring wealth-creating transactions – when . • Which...
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