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In social science, economics was the study of the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.
In circa 1930, Earth experienced an economic upheaval known as the Great Depression. James T. Kirk and Spock experienced this period during a visit to Earth through the Guardian of Forever. (TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever")
Jean-Luc Picard explained to Lily Sloane that "the economics of the future are different," that those of the 21st century, as "money doesn't exist in the 24th century" He further explained that "the acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity." (Star Trek: First Contact) It was further explained by Nog that Humans "abandoned currency-based economics in favor of some philosophy of self-enhancement." (DS9: "In the Cards")
Although Picard was correct that wealth was no longer humanity's driving force, a kind of currency existed, known as the Federation credit, which used more as a bartering system than wealth. McCoy wanted to pay a smuggler to transport him to the Genesis Planet. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
While humanity was not driven by economics, several species throughout the galaxy were economically motivated, including the Ferengi, the Dosi, and the Malon. (TNG: "The Last Outpost", et al.; DS9: "Rules of Acquisition"; VOY: "Think Tank")
In Keiko O'Brien's understanding of Ferengi education, she believed that they employed "a work-study approach, with apprenticeships in a wide range of business and economic fields." The reality of their education, according to Rom, was that "we throw them into the cut-throat competition of Ferengi commerce! Anyone who survives, graduates." (DS9: "A Man Alone")
According to Picard, the Selay and Anticans, two mortal enemies from the Beta Renner system, "have a passionate hatred over matters of custom, god concepts, and even, strangely enough, economic systems.", possibly a reference to the then-current Cold War. (TNG: "Lonely Among Us")
During the 24th century, the Malcorians began exploring new philosophies, technologies and economics. Some traditionalists, including Krola, felt that it was taking his people "too quickly where we have no business going." (TNG: "First Contact")
The Scrolls of Ardra was a simple business arrangement between the Ventaxians and Ardra, drawn up after she "did away with their wars, famine and economic ruin," promising them in return "1,000 years of paradise." During the false return of Ardra, in 2367, the impostor requested from the Ventaxians "an accounting of all you've accumulated for me. This form will give guidelines for a full census of the population, with emphasis on productivity and economic forecasts." (TNG: "Devil's Due")
During the extenuating circumstances of the Dominion War, material shortages within the Federation forced Miles O'Brien to rely on Nog to acquire a graviton stabilizer through trade. Nog's barter chain included an induction modulator, a phaser emitter, 16 cases of blood wine, and Benjamin Sisko's desk (loaned to a souvenir collector, who wanted to create a holophoto of himself behind it). This process was characterized by Nog as effective navigation of the Ferengi Great Material Continuum. (DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")