A High School Economics Guide

Supplementary resources for high school students

Definitions and Basics

Long-run Aggregate Supply at Khan Academy

Short-run Aggregate Supply, at Khan Academy

Inflation, from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

Nonmonetary theories of inflation traditionally separate “demand-pull” sources from “cost-push” factors like oil, monopoly power, or wages. A surge in the demand for goods and services in general (“aggregate demand”) is thought to “pull” prices up across the board, especially when “aggregate supply” is held back by inertia or capacity limitations. Skeptics rightly question how demand could constantly outstrip supply. Surely, demand must originate from purchasing power, purchasing power from wealth, wealth from income, and income from the ability to produce (and hence supply) goods and services. This contradiction was understood early in the nineteenth century by Jean-Baptiste Say and others….

In the News and Examples

Papola on the Keynes-Hayek Rap Videos at EconTalk, May 2011

John Papola of Emergent Order talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about their collaboration creating rap videos based on the ideas of John Maynard Keynes and F. A. Hayek. Their first was “Fear the Boom and Bust” which was released January 25, 2010. This past week they released “Fight of the Century.” The latest video discusses the overarching differences between the philosophies of Keynes and Hayek and their views on whether government spending promotes recovery from an economic downturn and whether it leads to prosperity.

A Little History: Primary Sources and References

Jean-Baptiste Say, biography from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

Say’s Law has various interpretations. The long-run version is that there cannot be overproduction of goods in general for a very long time because those who produce the goods, by their act of producing, produce the purchasing power to buy other goods. Say wrote: “How could it be possible that there should now be bought and sold in France five or six times as many commodities as in the miserable reign of Charles VI?” With this statement Say had the long run in mind. Certainly the long-run version is correct. Given enough time, supply does create its own demand. There can be no long-run glut of goods.

But Say also had a short-run version, that even in the short run there could be no overproduction of goods relative to demand. It was this version that Malthus attacked in the nineteenth century and that Keynes attacked in the twentieth century. They were right to attack it….

Advanced Resources

Kling on Patterns of Sustainable Specialization and Trade at EconTalk, February 2011

Arnold Kling talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about a new paradigm for thinking about macroeconomics and the labor market. Kling calls it PSST–patterns of sustainable specialization and trade. Kling rejects the Keynesian approach that emphasizes shortfalls in aggregate demand arguing that the aggregate demand approach masks the underlying complexity of the recalculations that periodically take place in a dynamic economy. Instead, Kling invokes the mutual exploration between entrepreneurs and workers for profitable opportunities that pay well using the workers’ skills. This exploration takes time, involves trial and error, and can have false starts because businesses sometimes fail or employees are difficult to find or match with employment opportunities. Kling applies these ideas to the current crisis to explain why labor market recovery is so sluggish and what might policies might improve matters.

Arnold Kling on Economics for the 21st Century at EconTalk, March 2018

Economist, blogger, and author Arnold Kling talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the state of economics in the 21st century. Kling argues that economics would be more useful if it took account of intangibles like culture, incorporated the role of financial intermediation in the economy, and modeled some of the the subtleties of the labor market–how wages are set and the role of team production.

New Classical Macroeconomics, from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

The new classical macroeconomics is a school of economic thought that originated in the early 1970s in the work of economists centered at the Universities of Chicago and Minnesota—particularly, Robert Lucas (recipient of the Nobel Prize in 1995), Thomas Sargent, Neil Wallace, and Edward Prescott (corecipient of the Nobel Prize in 2004). The name draws on John Maynard Keynes’s evocative contrast between his own macroeconomics and that of his intellectual forebears.

Boudreaux on Monetary Misunderstandings on EconTalk, January 2011

Don Boudreaux of George Mason University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts on some of the common misunderstandings people have about prices, money, inflation and deflation. They discuss what is harmful about inflation and deflation, the importance of expectations and the implications for interest rates and financial institutions.

Related Topics

Aggregate Demand



Business Cycles