Gross Domestic Product

 For the past several years we have had what we have teetered between labeling a recession and various kinds of depression.  Articles are full of numbers about all sorts of things including money and products and what people want and people’s opinions about how to fit these things together.

Central to all of these reports and arguments is the GDP, or gross domestic product, which was originally called the gross national product.  This fiscal process tried to put together all of the economic activities that could be counted and measured, and generate a report that told how much an economy had grown or shrunk in a stated amount of time.

Diane Coyle has told this story in 140 pages from beginning attempts to understand national economic health to our introduction of the gross national product in 1942 as the explanation of how our economy was doing.  She brings it up to the present in clear, simple language of explanation and analysis that even I could follow.  The closer we came to the present the more the previous part of her essay came to mean to me.  She showed how national governments, Greece for example, manipulated their figures to present the picture they wanted rather than what was the actual state of affairs.  She ends by describing why GDP is no longer up to the job it was set to do and how we need to change our thinking.

Anyone concerned with our national (and personal) well being needs to take the time to let this author shape your thinking about our future.  For some it will be fun, for most of us it may be something of a slog until she reaches the time that is contemporary to us.  Then it will nail you right between the eyes.

The name of the book is simply GDP.

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