Economic liberalism, also known as fiscal liberalism, is the ideological belief in organizing the economy on individualist lines, meaning that the greatest possible number of economic decisions are made by individuals and not by collective institutions or organizations. It includes a spectrum of different economic policies, but it is always based on strong support for a market economy and private property in the means of production. Although economic liberalism can also be supportive of government regulation to a certain degree, it tends to oppose government intervention in the free market when it inhibits free trade and open competition. However, economic liberalism may accept government intervention in order to remove private monopoly, as this is considered to limit the decision power of some individuals (most often the poor). While economic liberalism favors markets unfettered by the government, it maintains that the state has a legitimate role in providing public goods.
Economic liberalism is often associated with support for free markets and private ownership of capital goods, and is usually contrasted with similar ideologies such as social liberalism and social democracy, which generally favor alternative forms of capitalism such as welfare capitalism, state capitalism, mixed economies or protectionism. Historically, economic liberalism arose in response to mercantilism and feudalism. Today, economic liberalism is also generally considered to be opposed to non-capitalist economic orders, such as socialism, market socialism and planned economies.