Volume 44, Number 173,
April-June 2013

Fundamentals of Economics, Marcela Astudillo, Jorge Paniagua (collaborator), Institute of Economic Research -unam, probooks, 2012.

“Economics, similar to the air we breathe, does not merit very many people’s attention, despite the fact that many economic issues have a decisive impact on society.” A new book by Marcela Astudillo and Jorge Paniagua opens with this reflection, establishing that the central objective of their work is to help the reader to not only better understand contemporary economic science, but also to provide precise information on certain concepts that are perhaps little understood or even ignored, although used quite frequently on a daily basis.

Throughout the book’s 185 pages and 10 units, the authors tell us about the meaning of economics as a science and its relation to other disciplines, providing a simple explanation of the multidisciplinary nature of economics. This is one of the essential contributions of this work.

The second unit presents a pertinent analysis regarding the evolution of economic systems. The explanation of primitive communities, the period of enslavement, mercantilism and the birth of capitalism is quite accessible and shows the reader the evolution of socio-economic formations and their main features.

The third unit, “Microeconomics: The Market,” addresses the concepts of market, price, supply and demand, distinguishing among the fundamental laws that govern markets as well as factors that are involved in determining prices. The fourth unit analyzes the concept of a business and its meaning and operations. The central goal of this section is to show that a business is a production unit and means by which to maximize profits or benefits. In other words, the authors explain that a business makes decisions based on obtaining the highest profits. The purpose of this section is to provide a timely and real approach to the functioning of a contemporary business, whose principal concern is the success of production.

The fifth unit, entitled, “Macroeconomics,” sets forth a clear notion of the central objective of this branch of economics. “The word macroeconomics – the authors say – comes from the Greek macro, meaning large.” This branch is thus understood as focused on studying the functioning of the overall economic system of a country and its relation to other nations. The terms Gross National Product and Gross Domestic Product are explained at length here, as well as other indicators of macroeconomic evolution, such as population growth, inflation and unemployment.

The sixth unit explains the functionality of the concept of national accounting, and how national accounts allow us to build economic indicators for a country, making it possible to find the balance of production.

The seventh unit talks about the need to understand the meaning of State macroeconomic policy and its possible use as a tool for economic intervention, through fiscal and monetary policy strategies. The three final units of the text cover economic growth and development, commercial blocs and investment projects and the methods for their evaluation, respectively. These units offer an overall vision of the transformations that contemporary economic science has undergone as a function of changes in the financial sector and the introduction of new technologies.

The book Fundamentals of Economics is a didactic effort. Put simply, it is meant both for a person studying economics as well as the casual reader who merely seeks to understand the complex phenomena of current economics.

Santiago Hernández
Institute of Economic Research – unam

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 194 July-September 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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