How GDP came to rule our lives—and why it needs to change Why did the size of the U.S. economy increase by 3 percent on one day in mid-2013—or Ghana's balloon by 60 percent overnight in 2010? Why did the U.K. financial industry show its fastest expansion ever at the end of 2008—just as the world’s financial system went into meltdown? And why was Greece’s chief statistician charged with treason in 2013 for apparently doing nothing more than trying to accurately report the size of his country’s economy? The answers to all these questions lie in the way we define and measure national economies around the world: Gross Domestic Product. This entertaining and informative book tells the story of GDP, making sense of a statistic that appears constantly in the news, business, and politics, and that seems to rule our lives—but that hardly anyone actually understands. Diane Coyle traces the history of this artificial, abstract, complex, but exceedingly important statistic from its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century precursors through its invention in the 1940s and its postwar golden age, and then through the Great Crash up to today. The reader learns why this standard measure of the size of a country’s economy was invented, how it has changed over the decades, and what its strengths and weaknesses are. The book explains why even small changes in GDP can decide elections, influence major political decisions, and determine whether countries can keep borrowing or be thrown into recession. The book ends by making the case that GDP was a good measure for the twentieth century but is increasingly inappropriate for a twenty-first-century economy driven by innovation, services, and intangible goods.
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This paper analyzes the sources of Mexico's economic growth since the 1960s and compares various decompositions of historical growth into its trend and cyclical components. The role of the implied output gaps in the inflationary process is then assessed. Looking ahead, the paper presents medium-term paths for GDP based on alternative assumptions for productivity growth rates. The results indicate that the most important factor underlying the slowdown in output growth was a decline in trend total factor productivity growth. Economic policy reforms and the introduction of NAFTA may have raised trend productivity growth in recent years. Further increases in productivity growth would appear necessary, however, to raise medium-term growth.
Comprehensive coverage of national accounts estimates is important; however, it is often thwarted by gaps in the recording of economic activity – the so-called “unrecorded economy”. This paper sets out pragmatic statistical approaches for incorporating the unrecorded economy in the national accounts. It describes sources and methods to capture the unrecorded economy and discusses specific issues that arise from the use of indirect sources and techniques. Furthermore, the paper elaborates approaches for collecting data on the unrecorded economy, particularly on economic activities of the household sector.
Following a brief review of the recent history of GDP-linked instruments, this paper proposes a set of tools to examine the quantitative properties of GDP-linked warrants. It argues that trigger conditions should be clearly identifiable and payment amounts easily calculable. Based on a design that includes these features and historical data for the main EMBI countries, the paper provides an assessment of the issuer's capacity to service GDP-linked warrants, comparing payments with tax revenues stemming from contemporaneous growth. The price of the GDP-linked warrants are then estimated from the point of view of both domestic and foreign investors.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other statistics based on national income accounting are ubiquitous but rarely understood today. GDP has been criticized for many reasons, including not reflecting well-being, leaving out the costs of environmental pollution, and not counting unpaid work, but on purely economic terms it has been mostly accepted as an indicator of economic performance. In recent decades, however, GDP has diverged dramatically from economic trends such as employment and median income. This book argues that GDP is flawed even as a narrow economic indicator, and traces the problem to the way financial services are measured. The first part of the book is a political history of the practice of national accounting from its beginning in the mid-17th century to present day, and explores how such income estimates were constructed for political reasons. The Financialization of GDP presents the practice of estimating national income as a historically and political contingent craft - driven by power and not only theory - culminating in the rise of the financial sector and the concomitant inclusion of financial services in GDP in 1993.. The second part of the book focuses on the treatment of financial services in national accounting and develops an adjusted measure of output (Final Domestic Product or FDP) – which treats financial revenues as intermediate inputs (or costs) to the economy as a whole. The final part of the book explores the empirical and policy implications of treating finance as an overall cost to the economy. This volume shows that the Great Moderation of volatility was a statistical artefact; Okun’s Law (relating changes in output and unemployment) never died, and even provides early signs for the Great Recession which analysts using standard GDP did not see. This book is of great interest to those who study political economy and macroeconomics.
This book provides in-depth analyses on accounting methods of GDP, statistic calibers and comparative perspectives on Chinese GDP. Beginning with an exploration of international comparisons of GDP, the book introduces the theoretical backgrounds, data sources, algorithms of the exchange rate method and the purchasing power parity method and discusses the advantages, disadvantages, and the latest developments in the two methods. This book further elaborates on the reasons for the imperfections of the Chinese GDP data including limitations of current statistical techniques and the accounting system, as well as the relatively confusing statistics for the service industry. The authors then make suggestions for improvement. Finally, the authors emphasize that evaluation of a country’s economy and social development should not be solely limited to GDP, but should focus more on indicators of the comprehensive national power, national welfare, and the people’s livelihood. This book will be of interest to economists, China-watchers, and scholars of geopolitics.
Abstract: Real GDP and oil prices are decomposed into common stochastic trend and cycle processes using structural time series models. Potential real GDP is represented by the level of the trend component of real GDP. The potential rate of growth of real GDP is represented by the stochastic drift element of the trend component. Cuevas finds that there is a strong association at the trend and cycle frequencies between real GDP and the real price of oil. This association is also robust in the presence of key economic policy variables. From 1970-80, when the underlying annual rate of increase of the real price of oil was 12 percent, the underlying annual rate of increase of potential GDP in Venezuela was 2.6 percent. By contrast, from 1981-2000 when the underlying rate of increase of the real price of oil was -5 percent, the underlying growth rate of potential GDP fell 1.5 percent. However, the strength of association between the underlying growth of oil prices and real GDP has fallen considerably since the early 1980s, suggesting that oil cannot be relied on as an engine for future growth in Venezuela. This paper"a product of the Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela Country Management Unit, Latin America and the Caribbean Region"is part of a larger effort in the region to encourage research on macroeconomic issues. The author may be contacted at [email protected]@worldbank.org.
This paper presents a statistical analysis of revisions in quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) of the Group of Twenty countries (G-20) since 2000. The main objective is to assess whether the reliability of early estimates of quarterly GDP has been weakened from the turmoil of the 2008 financial crisis. The results indicate that larger and more downward revisions were observed during the years 2008 and 2009 than in previous years.
This paper develops a new forecasting framework for GDP growth in Korea to complement and further enhance existing forecasting approaches. First, a range of forecast models, including indicator- and pure time-series models, are evaluated for their forecasting performance. Based on the evaluation results, a new forecasting framework is developed for GDP projections. The framework also generates a data-driven reference band for the projections, and is therefore convenient to update. The framework is applied to the current World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecast period and the Great Recession to compare its performance to past projections. Results show that the performance of the new framework often improves the forecasts, especially at quarterly frequency, and the forecasting exercise will be better informed by cross-checking with the new data-driven framework projections.
Is GDP a good proxy for social welfare? Building on economic theory, this book confirms that it is not, but also that most alternatives to it share its basic flaw, i.e., a focus on specific aspects of people's lives without sufficiently taking account of people's values and goals. A better approach is possible.