Search Council for Economic Education's full glossary for terms and definitions


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A job or profession; also a category of work, sometimes identified by the degree of skill required.

Odd lot


A market structure in which a few, relatively large firms account for all or most of the production or sales of a good or service in a particular market, and where barriers to new firms entering the market are very high. Some oligopolies produce homogeneous products; others produce heterogeneous products.

Open Market Operations

The buying and selling of government bonds by the Federal Reserve to control bank reserves and the money supply.

Operating Costs

The expenses of doing business.

Opportunity Cost

The second-best alternative (or the value of that alternative) that must be given up when scarce resources are used for one purpose instead of another.

Opportunity Cost of Saving for the Future


Sometimes called offshoring, outsourcing occurs when a firm in one country tries to reduce costs by locating production facilities in other countries and/or by hiring cheaper foreign workers.

Over-the-counter market (OTC)

Over-the-counter stock


A check written for more than the balance in one's checking account; in colloquial terms, a check that bounces. The bank will mark such a check NSF, for "non-sufficient funds," and will charge a penalty fee for the nuisance involved in handling a bounced check.