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Introduction

You may know the answer to the question, “How do you eat an elephant?”

“One bite at a time.”

That's the approach you need to take when you are trying to understand the U.S. economy, which is the largest in the world. In this section, we start by carving this elephant into some fairly large parts, or sectors, as economists call them.

As we learn about these sectors, keep in mind that each one is made up of human beings. It is actual people in households, businesses, and government who decide how much of which goods and services to produce, what to purchase, and how much to pay for them. When dealing with trillions of dollars and entities like “government” and “business,” it's easy to forget this fact. But when we lose sight of the people in the economy, we can also lose sight of the fact that we, and not some malevolent machine or faceless bureaucracy, are the economy. We have more control over our economic lives than we often realize.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Economics © 2003 by Tom Gorman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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