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Using This Reference

Deciphering Economics: Timely Topics Explained explores the fundamentals of economics. In language that is clear and precise, this reference guide introduces and applies the basic economic concepts and principles, analyzes economic choices and decisions, examines competing theories, traces historical trends and movements, and explains the operation of the U.S. and global economy. The structure of this user-friendly reference guide enables students, teachers, researchers, and others to quickly access a wealth of timely information. The four main parts of the book create a logical flow to economic information from an introduction to economics (Chapters 1–3), to microeconomic topics (Chapters 4–7), to macroeconomic topics (Chapters 8–10), and finally to international economics (Chapters 11–13). The ease of access to specific information is also enhanced by the structure of each chapter. That is, information within chapters is organized under a series of major headings and subheadings. A chapter summary is found at the end of each chapter.

A number of strategies will help users of Deciphering Economics locate information. Readers seeking information on a general topic such as “economic systems,” “business organizations,” or “international trade” should begin their search by scanning the table of contents at the beginning of the book. The 13 chapter titles and the major headings beneath each title give clear indications about the subject of each chapter. For example, “economic systems” is covered in some detail in Chapter 3, “Economic History and Economic Systems.” The four major headings in Chapter 3 include:

• Stages of Economic History

• Economic Systems: The Models

• Capitalism

• Other Economic Systems

The reader can further narrow the search by scanning the Chapter 3 subheadings. For example, under the major heading “Other Economic Systems” there are four subheadings. These subheadings divide the topic of other economic systems as follows:

• Socialism

• Communism xviii USING THIS REFERENCE

• Economies in Transition: Shock Therapy in The Russian Federation

• Economies in Transition: Gradualism in The People's Republic of China

Another way for readers to fine-tune their search for specific information is to scan the general index at the end of the book and other book features. The general index provides instant access, by page number, to additional information on a topic. The reader could use the general index to locate additional information on “Economies in Transition: Gradualism in the People's Republic of China” under the heading “China.” Other book features also deal with China's economy. “Economics in History: The Case of Hong Kong and Economic Freedom”; Table 11.1, “Top Exporting and Importing Nations, 2012”; Table 12.3, “Largest U.S. Merchandise Trade Deficits and Surpluses, 2012”; and “A Timeline: Key Economic Events That Shaped the Modern Era, 1776 to 2014” all give additional detail about China's economic transition.

The breadth of information, and the meticulous attention to citing authoritative sources, makes the use of this reference book adaptable to many learning situations. It is an excellent print source for research papers, reports, or projects. It is a handy academic guide for students at the high school or undergraduate levels, or in teacher preparation programs. It is also a comprehensive citizen's guide for expanding people's understandings of many timely economic topics.

Consider the comprehensiveness of this reference guide. Part I, “An Introduction to Economics,” consists of Chapters 1–3. These chapters provide a foundation for the study of economics. This part introduces the basic economic concepts, principles, and methodology of economics. It also traces the stages of economic history and the formation of economic systems. Part II, “Microeconomic Topics,” consists of Chapters 4–7. These chapters examine in detail the roles of the individual decision makers in the economy—consumers, businesses, workers, and the government. Part III, “Macroeconomic Topics,” consists of Chapters 8–10. Macroeconomics, which became a branch of economics during the late 1930s and 1940s, analyzes the performance of the overall economy. This part of the book focuses on economic growth and stability in the U.S. economy. Part IV, “International Economics,” consists of Chapters 11–13. This part deals with the forces that support global economic connectivity, a process that economists typically refer to as globalization. It also deals with the prospects for sustainable economic development in our increasingly interdependent world.

Like other aspects of Deciphering Economics, the information that appears in the book's front matter and back matter facilitates access to general or specific topics. The front matter includes a list of figures, list of tables, guide to related topics, and “A Timeline: Key Economic Events that Shaped the Modern Era, 1776–2014.” The lists of figures and tables identify by title and page number more than 80 tables, charts and graphs, diagrams, and formulas, that support and enrich the running narrative. The Guide to Related Topics shows how the five basic economic principles described in Chapter 1 apply to many topics in the study of economics. The Timeline puts the people and events of the modern era into a proper sequence, which creates historical perspective for the reader. Photographs reinforce and enrich the topics presented in the book. The back matter consists of several handy reference tools including a comprehensive glossary of selected terms, common abbreviations in economics, selected bibliography, key economic web sites, index to primary documents, index to economics in history, and a general index. Combined, these features also help the reader find specific topics within this reference book and topics from outside print and online sources.

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