Economics Academy – Semester One

Welcome! Here you will find all the resources you will need to complete Semester One of Economics Academy.

Economists and policy makers often use the language of economics to exclude people from the national economic debate, using what Richard Denniss calls ‘econobabble’.

Now, when the Federal Government is set to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to combat the recession, it is more important than ever that every Australian has the tools to participate in the economic debate and to understand the choices that governments are making for us and concealing from us. That’s where the Australia Institute’s new Economics Academy comes in.

Economics is the science of the efficient allocation of scarce resources, but what does that mean in real life? What is ‘opportunity cost’ and why does it matter? What happens when markets fail?

Richard Denniss will help you answer these questions and more. We’ll take you through some of the basic principles of economics, help you spot the bullsh*t and cut through the econobabble so that you feel more confident to participate in and understand the national economics debate. No prior knowledge of economics is necessary to participate.


In each video, Richard Denniss and Matt Grudnoff will take you through some of the basic principles of economics in Richard Denniss’ typical easy-to-understand style.

The science of the efficient allocation of scarce resources

Released Wednesday 30th September

  • What’s the point of learning a bit of economics?
  • The science of the efficient allocation of scarce resources and what does that mean?
  • What can economics do for us?
  • Scarcity
  • Efficiency

Opportunity cost & thinking at the margins

Released Tuesday 13th October

  • Production-possibility frontier
  • Opportunity cost
  • Marginal vs. Average
  • Cost benefit analysis

Demand, supply, equilibrium and elasticity

Released Tuesday 27th October

  • Determinants of demand & supply
  • The meaning of equilibrium – everyone isn’t happy
  • Price elasticity – sensitivity
  • Willingness and ability to pay

When markets work well

Released Tuesday 10th November

  • Perfect competition
  • Lots of buyers and sellers
  • No barriers to entry
  • No externalities

When markets don’t work well

Released Tuesday 24th November

  • Market failure
  • Externalities
  • Public goods
  • Natural Monopoly
  • Imperfect information
  • Equity