Free Market

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free market v. Command Economies
Theoretical Economic Systems

Basically, there are only three systems. At one extreme we have the free market economy where there is a very limited role for the government. At the other end we have the command economy, where the government takes virtually total control. As with market structures (with perfect competition and monopoly), these two extremes are highly unrealistic. Just about every economy in the world is a mix of the two, and is, therefore, called a mixed economy. The question is, what is the degree of mix? Let's see how these different systems answer the three basic economic questions (see above).

A free market economy
Before we look at how the three questions are answered, we must quickly look at some of the characteristics of a free market economy.

Characteristics of this system
Ownership: Nearly all of the country's factors of production are owned privately. Although it might make sense to argue that firms own some of the resources, it is private individuals, or groups of individuals, who own the resources. They then rent them out to the firms so that they can produce the goods and services. Richard Branson is in charge of Virgin, but first and foremost he is a private individual who owns the majority of the shares. He could get someone else to run the company. This brings into play one of the government's limited roles. Through the legal system, the government must uphold the property rights of these private individuals.
Objectives: Everyone in this system is motivated by pure self-interest. Consumers maximise welfare, firms maximise profits and the private individuals, who own the factors of production, aim to maximise rents (on land), wages (on labour), interest and profit (on capital).
Free enterprise: Basically, firms can sell anything they want. They effectively respond to the consumers, who are allowed to buy anything that is sold by the producers. Workers can take on any job they want (this

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