Economists are a group of individuals who took their mother's advice to heart a little too literally to grow up and live in the Real World. For an economist, the Real World, or real economy, looks at what is going on once we strip out the changes in prices. There is good reason to do this. Imagine the price of every good in the world was suddenly cut in half. Well, if spending was also cut in half, then nothing changed for spending really. The same number of goods still circulated around the economy, only the price tags changed. It was all just a David Copperfield-esque monetary illusion. There are important caveats to this idea that are now being placed center stage in the global economy.

The Weekly Bottom Line - Jan 16 2009