Business Economics and Statistics (Classic Reprint)

Business Economics and Statistics (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Business Economics and Statistics

For unless we can answer it we have little power of forecasting costs and profits; and what is perhaps more important, we have no basis on which to judge what is normal and proper.

To answer the question we will do well to try to see the market from the "enterpriser's" point of view. By the enterpriser is meant the one who assumes responsibility and risk in the handling of wealth. To be sure, the term is often little more than an abstraction, for so complicated is the business world that few men assume this function solely. In some degree every active person is an enterpriser selling his services, the uses of his capital, or his goods. He is investing what he has, and is taking the inevitable responsibility and risk. But in addition he is also performing other functions. Many men who are enterprisers on a large scale are also managers, and as we have just seen should properly charge off a certain portion of their income to their own time before reckoning what their capital has made. Perhaps in the director of a corporation we may find the function of the enterpriser in its most elementary form, particularly when he turns investigation and management over to paid experts. And in any case we may conveniently personify responsible control of business in the figure-head of the enterpriser, however much the function may in fact be divided.

Let us assume the case of the enterpriser of a large industrial corporation. He is using his own and associates' property, borrowing funds, hiring labor, purchasing equipment and supplies, and placing goods on the market. Suppose for the sake of argument that business in general is progressing fairly smoothly. Such change as occurs comes gradually, and is anticipated with some degree of accuracy. What now will determine the rent, interest, profits and wages that the enterpriser pays?

The usual answer to this question is the law of supply and demand. This is quite correct, but it is too broad a generalization to be of much help. We must go further, and inquire into the conditions of supply and demand in each particular case.

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