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Trading Economics: A Guide to Economic Statistics for Practitioners and Students by Victoria Turton, Trevor Williams

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Introduction

Today's interconnected world, linked by freer trade, by some of the greatest movements of people through tourism and immigration the world has ever seen, by the movement of goods and services – all underpinned by new methods of open communication that were unimaginable a generation or so ago and involving more countries than ever before – means that an understanding of economics matters more than ever. It is no surprise, therefore, that headlines scream economic news, newspapers are full of stories based on statistics about economic performance within and amongst countries, government officials are constantly discussing the economy and there are pundits, radio and TV shows, some broadcasting 24 hours a day, with ‘experts’ claiming to know all sorts of things based on economic data. Then there are all the blogs, tweets and internet media channels to add to the mixture. With the cacophony of noise from these media, it is increasingly hard to discern the underlying economic trends from what are often conflicting data.

What has allowed today's world to come into being is a belief that more trade is better than less trade, that producing goods and services where it is cheapest to do so allows for a rise in living standards for all concerned (though not all to the same extent). This outcome is based on one of the fundamental elements of economic rationale – the division of labour and comparative trade advantage. What is economics about, if not the production of goods ...

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