The power and glory of GDP statistics

An intriguing-looking book has arrived: Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics Behind the World’s Most Powerful Number by Lorenzo Fioramonti. I’ve long thought people in general and economists in particular pay too little attention to statistics – how they are constructed, what they actually measure, how their availability shapes or distorts decisions, how best to present them in charts and tables to give a true and intelligible account of an underlying social reality. Most people unfortunately find the subject dull – hence the old joke about an extrovert statistician being the one who looks at your shoes, not his own, when he’s talking to you. Equally, discussion of the economy bandies the term GDP around as if it were a natural object out in the world, measured by diligent statisticians in the way meteorologists measure rainfall, when it’s entirely a social construct.

Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics Behind the World’s Most Powerful Number (Economic Controversies)

Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading this book, although paging through suggests it ends up in the cul-de-sac of ‘alternative’ green indicators like the ISEW. But I won’t prejudge it.

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