Comments on: Don’t obsess about GDP measures Wed, 07 Oct 2015 17:23:32 +0000 hourly 1 By: eleno Thu, 23 Feb 2012 17:46:14 +0000 True exact numbers are not useful, but the difference between numbers – the variations – can provide a lot of information and insight.

The commerce stats, in absolute terms may deceptive, but as long as the information is gathered in a consistent way a lot of useful information can be inferred by the changes.

So don’t write the gathering of numbers off completely.

By: paintcan Thu, 23 Feb 2012 15:40:24 +0000 BTW – not penultimate but “ultimate”. But until the ME and the Chinese start tearing down their second growth of urban infrastructure and start moving like Atilla’s Huns, this country is still king of consumption and will have a gigantic GDP. It wrote the books on consumption, transcribed them to an ever changing variety of electronic formats, made all the older types obsolete and finally even burned the books. And a lot of the old gadgets are being recycled in Africa and the shipping cartons get sent back to China on the empty vessels they came in, to made a fortune for a very clever Housewife.

Another BTW – Louis XIV used to eat gigantic meals and had a bay window bigger than a Beacon Hill townhouse. But he had good legs and was otherwise in good physical condition.

Everything that went into him and everything that came out was treated like it was a sacrament and given ritual respect. The rituals of Versailles – or at least the props and ornaments – even spread to other courts in other kingdoms but not nearly as obsessively. I don’t think the potty part was popular.

It makes me think the court knew something about economics before almost anyone knew anything about the subject.

By: paintcan Thu, 23 Feb 2012 14:55:48 +0000 The USA is the penultimate consumer and disposable society. It moves more often. It travels with disposable vehicles far more frequently and for far greater distances. It builds less substantially and it tends to use up the goods and services it buys more rapidly than older ways of life and most other countries. Of course it has a larger GDP than almost any place on earth. It designed itself and it’s population to do just that.

However, it appears that the joy ride and consumption and building boom have hit a snag. All those transactions for fairly flimsily constructed homes and business premises, millions of vehicles and related products and services, and the flood of products uses by all activities, make for large GDP figures, large employment figures, a booming economy of money making money on money but it also makes for a very flimsy and transient definition of wealth and an enormous appetite for the world’s resources. One could almost say it is an economy that very nearly eats its own tail and that also implies it eats its own excrement as well. And it produces mighty jakes that could gag an elephant and certainly are getting harder to bury.

For the past few years the UN has been talking about sustainable growth. The American way of life is not one that can be exported well without enormous disruption to older societies and it tends to leave an ever-growing mountain of garbage in its wake. It also seems to require constant debt to maintain itself. But older societies have a difficult time making money supply grow and tend to live with longer lasting environments, even if they may become squalid from lack of maintenance, the poverty of the residents and population pressure. And they do not have the room for nor can the planet sustain consumption and waste at American scales.

The world cannot live like sharks that must constantly swim to eat and stay alive. We are not the great Satan (no one has a monopoly on him) but it might be the Great Insatiable.

By: robb077 Thu, 23 Feb 2012 13:26:06 +0000 Another concept is that the GNP does not reflect well being of the citizens. You can have a country selling billions of cigarettes and then spend billions on cancer research, all the while reflecting a growing economy. This scenario illustrates the absurdity of using the GNP for an indication of real growth.

By: BidnisMan Thu, 23 Feb 2012 08:57:48 +0000 Bravo! Finally a man who can think for himself instead of letting the ‘accountants’ think for him. The world is richer than it ever was and people are getting unhappier and unhappier. Funny thing, that when I was young, my grandmother used to tell me “money can’t buy happiness”, nowadays people don’t say that anymore. There is a belief that money IS happines. Our thinking has become rotten and diseased.

By: OneOfTheSheep Wed, 22 Feb 2012 18:02:43 +0000 Excellent analysis. Any comparison of anything is affected by the one’s culture, expectations (what we each believe “normal” in our particular society) and aspirations; the latter varying with one’s age and education.

Americans, on a fundamental level, desire to each be economically self-sufficient. The European “model” tends to prefer “cradle to grave” government intervention, early retirement and long vacations. The difference has explained the historic higher “productivity of Americans. We will work harder to have “more”.

None of us would choose to die alone and broke, although many do. Most of us want some control over how some of our “income” is spent and what for.

The “jury is still out” as to whether any “advanced society” can afford the medical interventions that are rapidly becoming possible. The cost of possible medical care is as unlimited as is our individual thirst for life. Our individual income does not expand nearly so fast, either in recent years nor, I predict, in the future.

This “disconnect” between our “need” and what we can afford will continue to be a defining issue of our time.

By: Alistair2 Wed, 22 Feb 2012 17:09:57 +0000 The obsession with numbers causes harm in other areas too. Priorities in health and education are often distorted in order to meet precise targets.

We need to assess progress in the economy, health and education. What’s the best way to do so?