The troubled economy is sure to keep us looking for ways to sort out all the talk of recessions, depressions, inflation and deflation in the year ahead. These sites shed some light on how the wheels of the economy roll - or how they did before falling off.

Economypedia. Built on the "wiki" model, this is a collaborative effort at amassing an encyclopedia of economic terms. It gets into all sorts of matters, providing definitions of such things as a credit crisis, the Fed, a bailout, and Henry M. Paulson Jr. (described briefly as "the United States Treasury Secretary"). You can add your own wisdom to a wiki, which is both its genius and its danger, since we use the term "wisdom" lightly in this case.

Working economy? The title at this Web page reads, "How does the U.S. economy work?" Not very well, is a practical answer lately. But what you get here are links to many pages at that explain the key elements of the greater economy - GDP, supply and demand, employment, monetary policy, and so on. Do you know what asset-backed commercial paper is? There's a clear definition here.

Stuff works. Another site that explains basics in understandable language is HowStuffWorks. It tries here to answer whether the government can control a stock market crash, and to describe how interest rates, recessions and the Fed work. Once you know everything, you can take the "recession quiz" to find out how much you know about how little you have.

Discuss economics. "In whose pocket is my lost money?" Now, there's a question on the minds of many people who have seen their IRA and 401(k) accounts withering. And if nobody has that money, was it a mirage to begin with? The blog entries here do some explaining, but can get technical. Another good one is, "Where do banks get their money?" Possible answer: What money?

Contact staff writer Reid Kanaley at 215-854-5114 or