A spanking synthesis of basic economics and personal financial guidance--in the light of today's ""new money,"" or rapidly depreciating currency. Williams, a Business Week editor, plainly recognizes that money has become a subject of avid interest--so he explains everything from the causes of inflation, to the printing (and coining) of money, to the development of the international monetary system. He has his own decided opinions (on what the Federal Reserve Board has been doing wrong, for instance); and he has a sharp eye for sidelights--like the increasing competitiveness of counterfeiting, thanks to the spread of offset printing equipment. He'll also tell you just how drug dealers and other big-league criminals move their millions through offshore institutions that offer transactional anonymity. On the (somewhat) less shady side, he explains the implications as well as the mechanics of electronic funds transfers. His prescription for financial survival bolls down to a handful of commonsense rules: accumulate a rainy-day fund, stay as liquid as possible in investments you understand, and play it safe because money lost is difficult to replace nowadays. But, in amplification thereof, he provides a first-rate guide to investment opportunities from common stocks to commodities and collectibles. (On the slippery latter: ""You're better off in markets where things are precisely identified and catalogued, with published price lists."") Williams is a lively writer with specifics at his fingartips. It's informative, instructive, often amusing--and, in today's market, a lot of book at the price.