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U.S. Economic System, Acquiring the Factors of Production

new presidents, productive resources, factor markets, entrepreneurial skills, factors of production

All four factors of production—natural resources, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship—are traded in markets where businesses buy these inputs or productive resources from individuals. These are called factor markets. Unlike a grocery market, which is a specific physical store where consumers purchase goods, the markets mentioned above comprise a wide range of locations, businesses, and individuals involved in the exchange of the goods and services needed to run a business.

Businesses turn to the factor markets to acquire the means to make goods and services, which they then try to sell to consumers in product or output markets. For example, an agricultural firm that grows and sells wheat can buy or rent land from landowners. The firm may shop for this natural resource by consulting real estate agents and farmers throughout the Midwest. This same firm may also hire many kinds of workers. It may find some of its newly hired workers by recruiting recent graduates of high schools, colleges, or technical schools. But its market for labor may also include older workers who have decided to move to a new area, or to find a new job and employer where they currently live.

Firms often buy new factories and machines from other firms that specialize in making these kinds of capital goods. That kind of investment often requires millions of dollars, which is usually financed by loans from banks or other financial institutions.

Entrepreneurship is perhaps the most difficult resource for a firm to acquire, but there are many examples of even the largest and most well-established firms seeking out new presidents and chief executive officers to lead their companies. Small firms that are just beginning to do business often succeed or fail based on the entrepreneurial skills of the people running the business, who in many cases have little or no previous experience as entrepreneurs.

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