Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation
Understanding the U.S.A.

Economy

The Federal Reserve, the U.S. central bank, aims to control expansion of the money supply in a way that prevents inflation.

The Federal Reserve, the U.S. central bank, aims to control expansion of the money supply in a way that prevents inflation.

Overview

The United States entered the 21st century with an economy that was bigger, and by many measures more successful, than ever. Though the United States held less than 5 percent of the world's population, it accounted for more than 25 percent of the world's economic output. In the 1990s, the American economy recorded the longest uninterrupted period of expansion in its history. A wave of technological innovations in computing, telecommunications, and the biological sciences were profoundly affecting how Americans work and play.

The United States remains a "market economy." Americans continue to believe that an economy generally operates best when decisions about what to produce and what prices to charge for goods are made through the give-and-take of millions of independent buyers and sellers, not by government or by powerful private interests.

Besides believing that free markets promote economic efficiency, Americans see them as a way of promoting their political values as well -- especially, their commitment to individual freedom and political pluralism and their opposition to undue concentrations of power. The American belief in "free enterprise" has not precluded a major role for government, however. Americans at times have looked to government to break up or regulate companies. that appeared to be developing so much power that they could defy market forces. They have relied on government to address matters the private economy overlooks, from education to protecting the environment. And despite their advocacy of market principles, they have used government at times to nurture new industries, and at times even to protect American companies from competition.

Online Reading

General

USA Economy in Brief (published by Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) (PDF file, 3.75MB)

An Outline of the U.S. Economy (published by Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)(PDF file, 555KB)

Portrait of the USA: The Business of America (published by Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)(PDF file, 55KB)

The Beige Book: Current Economic Conditions 

Agriculture

Agricultural Biotechnology (Electronic Journal, Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)(PDF file, 261KB)

U.S. Agricultural Trade: Trends, Composition, Direction, and Policy (CRS Report)(PDF file, 255KB)

The U.S. Farm Economy (CRS Report)(PDF file, 113KB)

Food and Agricultural Policy (United States Department of Agriculture)

The Promise of Biotechnology (Electronic Journal, Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) (PDF file, 2.02MB)

Business

Entrepreneurship and Small Business (Electronic Journal, Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) (PDF file, 1.55MB)

Principles of Entrepreneurship (published by Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)(PDF file, 2.42MB)

Promoting Growth Through Corporate Governance (Electronic Journal, Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) (PDF file, 1.12MB)

Small Business and the Corporation (Chapter 4, An Outline of the U.S. Economy, Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)(PDF file, 495KB)

Finance

A Guide to the National Banking System (U.S. Department of the Treasury)(PDF file, 499KB)

Monetary and Fiscal Policy (Chapter 7, An Outline of the U.S. Economy, Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)(PDF file, 495KB)

Monetary Policy Report to the Congress (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System) 

The Federal Reserve System: Purposes & Functions (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System) 

Overview of the President’s Budget (The White House)

Introduction to the Federal Budget Process (PDF file, 167KB)

The Annual Budget Process (PDF file, 50KB)

The Congressional Appropriations Process: An Introduction (CRS Report)(PDF file, 177KB)

Foreign Aid 

Foreign Aid: An Introductory Overview of U.S. Programs and Policy (CRS Report)(PDF file, 626KB)

Foreign Aid in the National Interest: Promoting Freedom, Security and Opportunity (USAID)

International Development Goals: Moving Forward (Electronic Journal, Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) (PDF file, 1.12MB) 

Policy Framework for Bilateral Foreign Aid (USAID)

U.S. Food Aid: Reducing World Hunger (Electronic Journal, Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) (PDF file, 2.39MB) 

U.S. Foreign Assistance Reference Guide (State-USAID Joint Policy Council) 

Labor

Report on the American Workforce (published by the U.S. Department of Labor)(PDF file, 1.09MB)

Occupational Outlook Handbook (published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor) 

Women in the Labor Force: A Databook (published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor)

Americans with Disabilities Act: Questions and Answers (published by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) 

Trade

Benefits of Trade: Costs of Protectionism (Electronic Journal, Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) (PDF file, 2.84MB)

The Language of Trade (published by Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)(PDF file, 751KB) 

Trade Agreements: Impact on the U.S. Economy (CRS Report)(PDF file, 159KB)

 USTR Reports and Publications Home (Office of the United States Trade Representative)

Internet Links

Adobe Reader

  • Download Free
    Download Free

    All downloadable documents on this page are provided in PDF format.  To view PDFs you must have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader.  You may download a free version by clicking the link above.