This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book begins by noting a persistent downward trend in Soviet output growth as the basic problem. It assesses the Soviet midterm economic future and shows how seven knowledgeable students of the Soviet economy set forth the underlying statistical and other evidence, evaluate its solidity, and reflect on its implications. The book reviews the major interrelationships between the domestic Soviet economy and the outside world. It deals with a large and ailing sector of the economy. The book provides detailed evidence concerning a central constraint on the coming Soviet economy. It discusses a number of dilemmas confronting efforts at reform and examines alternative prospects for its sector. The book describes two clusters of possibilities—one assuming that the Soviet policies and economic institutions remain unchanged as they deal with problems, the other assuming that a series of institutional reforms are carried out.