Tag Archives: gdp

Is GDP almost everything?

In 1968, Bobby Kennedy made a much-celebrated speech in which he denigrated Gross National Product (GNP, now usually replaced by Gross Domestic Product, GDP) as a measure of America’s well-being. He said:

… counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them … Yet does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials … it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile …

Financial Times columnist Janan Ganesh voices his disdain for this view in a recent article:

Yes – GDP is almost everything: The recession should kill off the romantic idea that growth is a mixed blessing.

He says, rightly, that wealthy countries tend to do better on indicators such as homicide rates than poor countries. Yes, poor countries do badly on a range of social indicators. But Kennedy was talking only about America. The richer we are, the less an increase in wealth boosts our well-being.

Ganesh also says:

The looming recession will be painful. But it will also drive a certain kind of post-materialist humbug from polite discourse. Growth will be harder to dismiss as a bean counter’s tawdry obsession when there is so little of the stuff to go round.

Yes, growth will be missed if it’s replaced by recession – growth is good for the feel-good factor and not everyone is post-materialist.

Recession would hit poor people in the rich world hard but we don’t need growth to eliminate most rich-world poverty. We just need to be fairer and more generous to people whose earning power is low.

Ganesh doesn’t mention the costs of growth – such as the demise of the stable physical climate in which our civilisations have evolved. We seem to be getting into a zone where we lose our ability to limit global warming and where our physical environment deteriorates eventually to where the present human population can no longer be supported. The change may be so rapid that, for one or more generations, perhaps in most of the world, human life will be nasty, brutish and short. Whatever the scale of the resulting fall in GDP, the decline in human well-being would be catastrophic.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 13 Comments

GDP above pre-crash level; strongest growth in G7

Today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics show growth of 0.8% in the second quarter of 2014, bringing UK GDP above the level it was before the 2008 crash.

With GDP 3.1% higher than a year earlier, the UK has the fastest growing economy in the G7.

Cheif Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander comments

Today we are passing a major milestone on the long road back to full recovery. There is still a long way to go but Britain has recovered the economic ground lost under Labour and is forging ahead.

The main reason that we stepped forward to

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 64 Comments

The economy is growing again. But that’s no reason to think the voters will be grateful.

Economy-in-the-UKWhat a difference 3 months makes.

As late as 24th April, the fear was the UK economy might be slipping into a ‘triple dip’ recession. That was a bullet dodged. Then a month ago, on 27 June, we discovered the ‘double dip’ recession never actually happened after all. That was a bullet extracted.

Today, the Office of National Statistics has announced GDP growth increased by 0.6% in the second quarter of 2013. The smile of relief has become something more genuine.

No-one should get too carried away. The …

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Relief as 0.3% GDP growth shows economy flat-lining not shrinking. Has the Coalition’s mid-term slump bottomed out?

Reading too much into quarterly GDP figures is, of course, a mug’s game. They’re noticed mainly by avid Westminster-watchers and frequently revised both up and down.

None of that means they don’t matter, though. They frame the way politics is reported in the here and now. And that can affect what happens in the future. They can create momentum, or they can stop it dead.

A triple-dip recession, against market expectations of a modest 0.1% increase in GDP, would’ve been a severe blow to the Coalition’s message that, surely but slowly, the medicine’s working. As it is, the actual 0.3% …

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4 graphs on Thatcher’s legacy: a richer but more unequal nation.

A generation on, the Thatcher legacy continues to provoke and divide. One of the questions it poses for liberals is one this government is still wrestling with: does inequality matter if everyone’s getting richer?

Margaret Thatcher’s answer was that it did not — as she famously illustrated in one of her last Commons performances in response to a question from Simon Hughes:

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As economy shrinks again, Oakeshott calls for Osborne to be moved to make way for “our A team at the treasury”

Here’s how The Guardian reports the call by Lord (Matthew) Oakeshott for George Osborne to be moved from Number 11 in the wake of today’s fresh dire news on the economy:

A senior Liberal Democrat peer has called on George Osborne to be sacked as the chancellor continued to insist the government was on the right economic path, despite “disappointing” official

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland writes a regular column for newspapers in his constituency. Here’s this week’s edition.

Scotland Bill

 Last week the Scotland Bill completed its passage through the House of Commons and received Royal Assent today (1st May). As a Liberal Democrat I have always supported devolution and Home Rule and as Secretary of State for Scotland I am proud to have piloted this Bill through Westminster to deepen devolution even further. Despite their initial opposition, I am pleased that the SNP have also come round to supporting the Bill which will bring about the biggest ever transfer …

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