What is the GDP, Anyway?

As the world spins deeper into economic recession (is anyone formally using the word “depression” yet?), it seems appropriate to take a look at the number by which we measure such things:  the  Gross Domestic Product, or GDP.  This mega-statistic is the indicator used by countries since WWII to measure their growth, and is by far the dominant measure of overall national progress. And yet, the creator of the GDP, Simon Kuznets, actually warned the United States Congress against using it to measure national progress.  In this video excerpt (of a lecture given in Australia in 2001), I recount the history of the GDP.  I also once wrote a song about the GDP — yes, a song, sung to the tune of a lively Latvian melody — but more about that later.

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