The detailed study of product, lab our, and capital markets is called microeconomics. Microeconomics focuses on the behavior of the units – the firms, households, and individuals – that make up the economy. It is concerned with how the individual units make decisions and what affects those decisions. By contrast, macroeconomics looks at the behavior of the economy as a whole, in particular the behavior of such aggregate measures as overall rates of unemployment, inflation, economic growth, and the balance of trade. The aggregate numbers do not tell us what any firm or household is doing. They tell us what is happening in total or on average.

It is important to remember that these perspectives are simply two ways of looking at the same thing. Microeconomics is the bottom-up view of the economy; macroeconomics is the top-down view. The behavior of the economy as a whole is dependent on the behavior of the units that make it up.

The automobile industry is a story of both micro- and macroeconomics. It is a story of microeconomic interactions of individual companies, investors, and trade unions. It is also a story of global macroeconomic forces such as oil shortages and economic fluctuations. When car companies cut employment because demand has fallen, their problems boost the overall unemployment rate.