Basic problems can be solved either by the free interaction of the individuals pursuing their own objectives as is done in the market or in a planned manner by some central authority like the government.
The Centrally Planned Economy

In a centrally planned economy, the government or the central authority plans all the important activities in the economy. All important decisions regarding production, exchange and consumption of goods and services are made by the government. The central authority may try to achieve a particular allocation of resources and a consequent distribution of the final combination of goods and services which is thought to be desirable for society as a whole. For example, if it is found that a good or service which is very important for the prosperity and well-being of the economy as a whole, e.g. education or health service, is not produced in adequate amount by the individuals on their own, the government might try to induce the individuals to produce adequate amount of such a good or service or, alternatively, the government may itself decide to produce the good or service in question. In a different context, if some people in the economy get so little a share of the final mix of goods and services produced in the economy that their survival is at stake, then the central authority may intervene and try to achieve an equitable distribution of the final mix of goods and services.

The Market Economy

In contrast to a centrally planned economy, in a market economy, all economic activities are organised through the market. A market, as studied in economics, is an institution6 which organises the free interaction of individuals pursuing their respective economic activities. In other words, a market is a set of arrangements where economic agents can freely exchange their endowments or products with each other. It is important to note that the term ‘market’ as used in economics is quite different from the common sense understanding of a market. In particular, it has nothing as such to do with the marketplace as you might tend to think of. For buying and selling commodities, individuals may or may not meet each other in an actual physical location. Interaction between buyer and seller can take place in a variety of situations such as a village-chowk or a super bazaar in a city, or alternatively, buyers and sellers can interact with each other through telephone or internet and conduct the exchange of commodities. The arrangements which allow people to buy and sell commodities
freely are the defining features of a market. For the smooth functioning of any system, it is imperative that there is coordination in the activities of the different constituent parts of the system. Otherwise, there can be chaos. You may wonder as to what are the forces which bring the coordination between the activities of millions of isolated individuals in a market system.

In a market system, all goods or services come with a price (which is mutually agreed upon by the buyer and the sellers) at which the exchanges take place. The price reflects, on an average, the society’s valuation of the good or service in question. If the buyers demand more of a certain good, the price of that good will rise. This will send a signal to the producer of that good to the effect that the society as a whole wants more of that good than is currently being produced and the producers of the good, in their turn, are likely to increase their production.

In this way, prices of good and services send important information to all the individuals across the market and help achieve coordination in a market system. Thus, in a market system, the central problems regarding how much and what to produce are solved through the coordination of economic activities brought
about by the price signals. In reality, all economies are mixed economies where some important decisions are taken by the government and the economic activities are by and large conducted through the market. The only difference is in terms of the extent of the role of the government in deciding the course of economic activities.

In the United States of America, the role of the government is minimal. The closest example of a centrally planned economy is the Soviet Union for the major part of the twentieth century. In India, since Independence, the government has played a major role in planning economic activities. However, the role of the government in the Indian economy has been reduced considerably in the last couple of decades.


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails
toolbar powered by Conduit