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Financial Literacy: U.S. Economy

A guide designed with Union College students in mind; personal finance, investing, paying for college, and making wise financial decisions.

Economic Terms to Know

  • Debt Ceiling - "Also known as debt limit,  is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments."
  • Demand - "It is not just about measuring what people want; for economists, it refers to the amount of a good or service that people are both willing and able to buy."
  • Free Market -  "An economic system based on supply and demand with little or no government control."
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - "A measure of economic activity in a country. It is calculated by adding the total value of a country's annual output of goods and services. GDP = private consumption + investment + public spending + the change in inventories + (exports - imports)."
  • Gross National Product (GNP) -  "Another measure of a country's economic performance. It is calculated by adding to GDP the income earned by residents from investments abroad, less the corresponding income sent home by foreigners who are living in the country."
  • Inflation - "Rising prices, across the board. Inflation means less bang for your buck, as it erodes the purchasing power of a unit of currency."
  • Macroeconomics - "The big picture: analyzing economy-wide phenomena such as growth, inflation and unemployment...the product of all the microeconomic activity in an economy."
  • Microeconomics - "The study of the individual pieces that together make an economy...considers issues such as how households reach decisions about consumption and saving, how firms set a price for their output, whether privatization improves efficiency, whether a particular market has enough competition in it and how the market for labour works."
  • Recession - "A period of slow or negative economic growth usually accompanied by rising unemployment."
  • Supply - "The amount of a good or service available at any particular price."

Source: The Economist - Economics A-Z Terms

Books and eBooks on the US Economy from the Union College Libraries Catalog

U.S. Economy

Where to Start?

Data & Statistics

UC LibGuides at Union College