The attempt is made in the following pages to present the elementary principles of economics clearly and in a small compass. The author trusts that this presentation in brief form will prove helpful not only to the general reader but also to the student who is making a beginning in economics and who often finds that the diffuseness of the text serves to obscure the principles which he is trying to grasp.
The present work is an introduction to economics. It attempts to lay the foundations for economic reasoning rather than to say the final word on the great present-day questions of economic policy. Ethical and practical problems are not ignored, but in the interest of clearness of reasoning it is necessary first to establish the positive facts and principles. It is of course unnecessary to say that the author is an adherent of the view that economics is an ethical science.
It is hoped that the questions at the ends of the chapters will be found useful in reviewing the matter. The references to works on economics have been made with the idea of bringing to the attention of the student a small number of readily accessible books which he will read. For this reason it was thought desirable to refer to a few standard general treatises rather than to a larger number of books of a more special character.
The debt of the present writer to the authors cited will be readily apparent to the reader but he is no less indebted to a great many others to whom on account of their number no reference could be made. It is a special pleasure to him to record his obligations to his former teachers in the University of Berlin, Professors Wagner, Schmoller and Sering. These obligations are much greater than a cursory reading of the book will reveal.