Most academic disciplines generate their own jargon, but in economics much of this jargon is not only intuitively incomprehensible but downright counter-intuitive. The bits we still find useful, because they work as shorthand for more complex concepts, are listed below with our particular slant on their meaning.
Absolute advantage the ability to produce a good with fewer resources per unit of output, in the discussion of trade this is the absolute measure of whether a country produces something more efficiently than another country.
Alternative indicators measures of economic success that include consideration of quality as well as quantity and include non-monetary as well as monetary value; established in contrast to GNP/GDP.
Carrying capacity the size of population of species that an ecosystem can support within its natural resource limits and without degrading natural capital for future generations.
Comparative advantage the ability to produce a good more efficiently than another good, in the discussion of trade this is the relative measure of whether a country produces something more efficiently than another country, so that even though the other country might have absolute advantage in the production of all goods, according to conventional trade theory a country will still benefit if it produce the good it has a comparative advantage in. Of course this really depends on the terms of trade established between the two countries.
Fair trade. Work by cultural icons such as Chris Martin has helped to raise the profile of the issue of trade and its unfairness.
Fractional reserve banking, a system of banking in which banks are only required to hold a quantity of reserves that is a fixed fraction of the amount of money it creates. In practice, this fraction has been reduced and ignored so that banks are free to create money if they can persuade us to borrow it.
Globalisation the movement of capital away from legal structures within nations with a parallel reduction in national political power of corporations, and a rapid increase in levels of trade and capital mobility.
Race to the bottom the consequence of globalisation in terms of employment standards, where the reduction in national state power over labour markets has led to a reduction in wages and terms and conditions.
Reserve currency a currency used as foreign exchange reserves by another country. Controlling a reserve currency gives a state great power, since it can create this currency for nothing but exchange it for valuable goods from countries without reserve currencies which will need to hold it in their central banks.
Seignorage the profit made by a bank through its power to issue currency, the difference between the cost of physically creating the notes and coins and the face value of the money.
Terms of trade the relative values of goods exchanged between two countries during trade.
Trade justice a movement attempting to argue for improved terms of trade for the poorer countries via the World Trade Organisation.
Trade subsidiarity a system of trade where goods are located from the closest possible source, in contrast to the system of globalisation, where corporations buy or produce goods in the cheapest market and sell them in the market where they can obtain the highest price. A system of trade subsidiarity would be enforced by charging taxes on trade transport to reflect its environmental impact.