Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
The total dollar value of goods and services produced within a country. Economists generally regard increases and decreases in GDP as the best overall indication of whether an economy is expanding or contracting and at what rate the changes are taking place. The Federal Reserve uses monetary policy to stimulate sufficient GDP growth to keep the economy expanding but not so much growth that it spurs a high rate of inflation. The Bureau of Economic Analysis releases the GDP figures the last week of each month. The data are available on the Web at www.commerce.gov.