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Numbers Guide: The Essentials of Business Numeracy [Hardcover]

The Economist
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 18 1998 Economist Books
An overview of the numeracy skills vital in business circles. "Let's run the numbers." Given our national propensity for innumeracy, many business people need a hand fully grasping what those "numbers" truly mean. This book points out numerical errors common in the business world, and shows business people how to work with numbers to plan, forecast, and monitor their businesses. Revealing exactly what is behind the numbers, it demonstrates how to use numerical techniques to solve everyday business problems--everything from calculating percentages and interest, to evaluating competing investment opportunities. THE ECONOMIST was launched more than 150 years ago in Great Britain, and is acknowledged today as the preeminent international news and business magazine. Worldwide circulation is presently over 600,000, and North American subscriptions are at 280,000, having increased more than 50% in the past five years.

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Product Description

From the Publisher

A handy reference to stay on top of global economic trends. In today's global arena it is imperative that business people keep abreast of the economics of nations around the world. Every day features the release of a new barrage of updated economic indicators and figures that carry often hidden messages about the direction of segments of the economy. This pocket reference enables readers to quickly revisit the meaning and impact of late breaking economic news and to make better decisions based on the looming economic terrain.

From the Inside Flap

Crucial to business success, numerical methods are often viewed as too complex to understand, much less use. They are, in fact, far less complicated, able to be broken down into stepby-step instructions and processed by basic computing devices. This invaluable resource from the publishers of The Economist, the leading international business journal, simplifies and demystifies the numbers game, illustrating just how straightforward—and relatively easy—it really is. Taking you clearly and concisely through numerous fundamental functions, both elementary and advanced, The Economist Numbers Guide arms you with the tools necessary to not only approach numbers with more confidence, but solve financial problems more easily, analyze information more accurately, and make decisions more effectively. Covering finance and investment, forecasting techniques, hypothesis testing, linear programming, and a host of other important topics, it shows you how to handle everything from figuring interest and quantifying risk to projecting inflation and evaluating investment opportunities. In addition to the basic mechanics of numerical techniques, the Guide takes a look at their practical applications, including their role in stock control, simulation, and project management. To help you sidestep potentially costly mistakes, it also highlights common errors to avoid, such as rounding incorrectly and bypassing time series selection. Along with sample calculations, concise definitions, and clear explanations, as well as more than 100 charts, graphs, and tables, The Economist Numbers Guide features an A-to-Z dictionary that encompasses key terms—from autocorrelation to zero sum game—and provides useful reference material on such essentials as conversion factors and formulae for calculating areas and volumes. In-depth and easy-to-use, this is an indispensable reference for business and numbers success.

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First Sentence
Handling numbers is not difficult. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Great to Good March 17 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I have read cover-to-cover a previous edition of this book (when it was published by Wiley in 1998) and recently had an opportunity to carefully peruse this current edition (5th ed. by Bloomberg Press???). What I found is that this is a strange case of how a great book (the 1998 edition) turned into merely a good book (this 5th edition). Because of this regression toward the average, I deducted one star from my review (but still feel that it is good enough for 4 stars).
As you may have noticed, I really loved the older edition of The Economist Numbers Guide that I thankfully own. It is a great overview and introduction of mathematics as it relates to business. There are a lot of great things about that edition of this book. One of the things I admired about it was the range of topics covered, from interest rates and basic probability/statistics all the way up to Markov Chains, linear programming, and marginal analysis. It is hard to find the breadth of topics covered in that book elsewhere - whether all in one book or in any combination of books.
So I found it perplexing that this 5th edition dedacted some materials and topics covered in older editions. Gone are the interesting discussion of descriptive statistics for sets of data that do not easily conform to any of the standard probability distributions (e.g., where median is the best measure of the 'average' and substitutes must be used for the more common parameters such as standard deviation). I have a hard time finding anything coherent much less accessible on those topics elsewhere so it is a shame that they were left off of the 5th edition.
The only new material (not previously present) is a short blurb on public-key cryptography.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent index of business math Dec 10 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This book provides concise and clear definitions of business analytics with practical applications. Excellent for the neophyte in business math. Helpful index and glossary to get started. Good guide to use if learning stats or marketing research.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good start June 11 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
For a novice in economics, not an easy field to be a novice in, this was a helpful book. It got me started, by which I mean I wasn't completely lost when I read it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Great to Good March 17 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have read cover-to-cover a previous edition of this book (when it was published by Wiley in 1998) and recently had an opportunity to carefully peruse this current edition (5th ed. by Bloomberg Press???). What I found is that this is a strange case of how a great book (the 1998 edition) turned into merely a good book (this 5th edition). Because of this regression toward the average, I deducted one star from my review (but still feel that it is good enough for 4 stars).
As you may have noticed, I really loved the older edition of The Economist Numbers Guide that I thankfully own. It is a great overview and introduction of mathematics as it relates to business. There are a lot of great things about that edition of this book. One of the things I admired about it was the range of topics covered, from interest rates and basic probability/statistics all the way up to Markov Chains, linear programming, and marginal analysis. It is hard to find the breadth of topics covered in that book elsewhere - whether all in one book or in any combination of books.
So I found it perplexing that this 5th edition dedacted some materials and topics covered in older editions. Gone are the interesting discussion of descriptive statistics for sets of data that do not easily conform to any of the standard probability distributions (e.g., where median is the best measure of the 'average' and substitutes must be used for the more common parameters such as standard deviation). I have a hard time finding anything coherent much less accessible on those topics elsewhere so it is a shame that they were left off of the 5th edition.
The only new material (not previously present) is a short blurb on public-key cryptography. While that topic is interesting to me and the limited discussion was illuminating and mathematically sound, it seemed a rather quixotic choice to put in when some interesting materials in previous editions were left off and new material that would have been more useful to the targeted audience have yet to be added.
What I mean by useful material that have yet to be added is that both the 1998 edition and this edition don't have some materials that I would think naturally ought to be added. E.g., the section on finance & investment mathematics is mostly devoted to various discussions on interest rate/time value of money & basic probability. I think adding material on CAPM (although CAPM Beta is defined in the book's very helpful glossary section), option/derivative pricing, financial portfolio optimization, and other topics in financial mathematics/engineering would make a great and natural addition to this book.
Some problems common to both the prior and current edition of this book are the occassional (relatively rare) typos. They are usually minor (although they are most annoyingly frequent in the section on time value of money / interest rates).
Another flaw in both the older and newer editions is that there are gaps in the expository material that don't make much sense. To be fair, this book is designed to be a brief intro/overview into a wide swathe of topics so it wouldn't be reasonable to expect that the author go into great detail on every topic. However, there are instances - e.g., the example on mixed strategies in game theory - where one or two additional sentences would help novices to understand (e.g., how did you get the the mixed strategy probabilities? author should have added a couple of more lines about how the system of equations are interrelated with one another when determining mixed strategies).
Having said all of that, let me reiterate that BOTH the old and the new edition of The Economist Numbers Guide is a wonderful resource for people interested in business mathematics. The sections on decision-making and forecasting are especially of value since they are so wonderfully explained here and a comparable set of explanations are hard to find elsewhere.
In future editions, I just hope that the author heeds my advice about bringing back some topics in older editions, correcting a few errors & lapses, and adding some material that would fit in with what has otherwise been an excellent series of books.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent index of business math Dec 10 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book provides concise and clear definitions of business analytics with practical applications. Excellent for the neophyte in business math. Helpful index and glossary to get started. Good guide to use if learning stats or marketing research.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good start June 11 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For a novice in economics, not an easy field to be a novice in, this was a helpful book. It got me started, by which I mean I wasn't completely lost when I read it.
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT PRACTICAL NUMBER USAGE REFERENCE May 13 2009
By Ayman S. Alalfy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've been looking for an easy to read, understand and all rounder book in business math and finally i found it. Number Guide is, in most part what I've been looking for. I've been looking for a quick reference that would help me in recalling many math basics especially statistics basics and to be honest was a little lazy in going through a complete course again, however, this book did a great job and served as a compromise for me. I enjoy reading this book everywhere and whenever I have time. Even reading it early morning in the rest room before going to work. This book is an excellent starting point for a more comprehensive, easy to understand number guide detailed book which I hope the author think of writing it as I assure him it would be a best seller and a must have reference for both students and practitioners.

Thanks economist for the excellent serious of books that I became one of its fans.
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OK, who ordered the numbers? Jan. 10 2007
By David A. Baer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Appreciative readers (they tend to be long-term readers as well) of the ECONOMIST sometimes wonder why misspellings and non sequiturs are virtually absent from that superb weekly magazine.

The answer?: an obsessive dedication to editorial rigor, nowhere better exemplified than in this 'style guide' for the numbers set. It doubles as a methodological guide, for it sets out near canonical equations and means for solving economic problems.

Nine chapters cover:

Key concepts

Finance and investment

Descriptive measures for interpretation and analysis

Tables and charts

Forecasting techniques

Sampling and hypothesis testing

Incorporating judgments into decisions

Decision-making in action

Linear programming and networking

This guide should be required reading for everyone who manages from a numbers-intensive platform.
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