What a timely book, and one that I am glad has made it into print. The world economy of the 21st century is an interesting place. I class myself as being pretty well read and also pretty well informed about world affairs, it comes as part and parcel of wearing my other hat of journalist. yet in reality I know next to nothing about the world economy or how it works.

Randy Charles Epping has done a wonderful job of correcting my lack of knowledge with The 21st Century Economy. He also has a wonderful knack of explaining things in plain English, a language that seems to evade most economists.

I now know the difference between Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Gross National Product (GNP), I had always thought the two terms were interchangeable, they most certainly are not. Likewise recession and depression, many people do not understand the difference.

The 21st Century Economy is very well written and a well researched work, it is scholarly in its approach, yet written in language that the average man can understand. I mean no disrespect when I say that you could almost re-title it The Dummies Guide To The Financial World.

What I really enjoyed was the wide range of subjects covered. The world economy is not just about the governments and the banks, there are many other elements that play a role. The world of illegal drugs is a prime example. There is a ‘food chain’ there are billions of dollars involved. What happens in that nether world has a direct effect on the ‘white market’. In some ways one could almost argue that the dollars earned illegally are beneficial. The money is laundered, and comes back into the ‘white market’ in the form of fast cars, big houses, and other luxury goods.

Even the thorny subject of DRM (Digital Rights Management) gets a mention. The music industry is huge, it is an important sector, and the Internet has created an environment that has polarized the music industry. I know this all too well by being peripherally involved. The small independent labels and musicians love it, while the big five that comprise the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) view it as an invention of the devil.

Another subject that Randy Charles Epping looks at is the question of population and the always controversial question of immigration. All developed countries are in fact suffering from a decline in the working population. Fewer workers is a problem, more workers are needed to fuel a healthy economy. For a variety of reasons some economic, the birth rate is dropping, and people are living longer. The U.S. population is growing, but it is a false statistic. Immigration both legal and illegal, combined with an ever increasing number of retirees is the reason. Without an adequate workforce the economy will suffer.

How about global warming? How does this fit into the economic well being of the planet? Actually it has a significant influence. Green is in, but there is a cost. Growing the raw materials for creating bio-fuels has an effect on the acreage available for growing crops for human consumption. The net result is a huge increase in the price of grain staples. One only has to go to the supermarket and buy a loaf of bread to see how prices have changed in the past decade.

A really great feature of this book is that it includes a compendious glossary of terms. Do you know what BRIC stands for? Well I do!

I walked away from reading The 21st Century Economy feeling a great deal smarter than when I first opened it. Economics may sound like a dry and boring subject, it is not. The author has done a very fine job of bringing all of the concepts together. He also employs a splendid technique in the book. After each subject is discussed he has a small section titled Informational Tool, this often just one or two paragraph section uses everyday examples to explain the concepts.

I would love to see someone take this book and use it in a class room setting, it would make a great foundation for a course on the global economy.

You can order your copy of this very well crafted book from Amazon. There is also a companion web site.

Simon Barrett

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