Free Enterprise

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DEFINITION of 'Free Enterprise'

An economic system where few restrictions are placed on business activities and ownership. In this system, governments generally have minimal ownership of enterprises in the market place. This system aims for limited restrictions on trade and minimal government intervention.

BREAKING DOWN 'Free Enterprise'

The free enterprise movement started in the 1700s, when many individuals were restricted from starting and owning their own business without the permission of the government. The movement looked to reduce ownership and other related restrictions, such as how one should operate their business and who they were allowed to trade with.

Over time, the focus of this movement has shifted. A lot of its causes have been incorprated in most free-market systems. In the U.S. free enterprise advocates continue to fight for fewer restrictions along with fighting against any new developments that would restrict free enterprise.

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