Fix The Economy? Toss The GDP

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WhoWhatWhy Advisory Board member Jonathan Rowe explains why we need a whole new way of measuring the health of the economy.

One reason that the nation has not made more progress toward an economic “recovery” is that the people in charge really don’t know what one would look like. The top economists in Washington don’t appear to have asked the obvious question, “Recovery of what—and for what?” …Economic indicators are our national psyche’s main gauges, the mirror into which we look to see how things are going. ….Such metrics as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) have an oracular status; reporters watch them obsessively, policy experts steer by them, and politicians march to their command. Yet for the most part the indicators are a crock and testimony to the grip of yesterday upon the expert economic mind. The prime example is the GDP, the anachronism of which is a secret, it seems, only within the media and policy establishments that invoke it constantly. Any measure that portrays an increase in car crashes, cancer, marital breakdown, kinky mortgages, oil use, and gambling as evidence of advance—as the GDP does—simply because they occasion the expenditure of money has a tenuous claim to being reality-based discourse….



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