The national economy is the engine of growth for any country--whether it is a superpower with global reach or a small nation struggling to emerge from poverty. Every citizen is a participant in the economy, as they work to create income for their families, pay taxes, spend their earnings of products and services, or draw from government programs, such as welfare or Social Security. And yet the workings of the economy remain a mystery to most, even as the demands on our economic resources increase. This volume presents a basic introduction to the national economy--how it works and how various political and business decisions affect it. Chapters one through four explain the concept of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and its components, with an emphasis on supply and demand, long-term growth, and short-term fluctuations resulting from such factors as interest rates and inflation. Chapters five through eight highlight the four basic sectors of the economy--businesses, households, the government, and the international arena--and how they interact. Featuring graphs and charts, a glossary and timeline, examples drawn from the popular press, and sources of current data and information, The National Economy will provide readers with the tools to understand and interpret economic events, conditions, policies, and issues.