Get AARP the Little Book of Economics. How the Economy Works in PDF

By Greg Ip

ISBN-10: 0470929405

ISBN-13: 9780470929407

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Additional info for AARP the Little Book of Economics. How the Economy Works in the Real World

Sample text

Politicians certainly abuse statistics but virtually never interfere with them. The statistical agencies, though run by political appointees, are independent and apolitical. Even so, the data isn’t perfect. The agencies track the economy by sampling people and businesses, then they extrapolate the data and apply it to the whole economy. That’s an imprecise science given how big, varied, and ever-changing the economy is. As with opinion polls, data surveys have their margins of error, and some are quite large, leading to large revisions later on when more data is available.

Smith calculated that one worker, who could by himself make one pin a day, could now make 4,000. “The division of labor occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase in the productive powers of labor,” he wrote. Two centuries later Wal-Mart revolutionized retailing by using big box stores, bar codes, wireless scanning guns, and exchanging electronic information with its suppliers to track and move goods more efficiently while scheduling cashiers better to reduce slack time. As competitors like Target and Sears copied Wal-Mart, customers of all three benefited from lower prices and more selection, a McKinsey study found.

The Census Bureau separately reports total factory orders, which (besides durable goods) covers nondurables, such as packaged food and gasoline. Each month the Federal Reserve reports industrial production, and the private Institute for Supply Management (ISM) releases an index of manufacturing activity based on a survey of purchasing managers. • Real Estate. The Census Bureau issues three key monthly real estate reports. The first covers housing starts—the number of new homes on which construction begins—and building permits which, like starts, track construction but are less affected by weather.

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AARP the Little Book of Economics. How the Economy Works in the Real World by Greg Ip


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