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GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History

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The book “GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History”, takes a historic view of how an artificial yet highly influential indicator of economic success: GDP, came into being, evolved through time, and outlines the challenges it has faced along the way. The author highlights the popularity of this statistic even during its infancy, and how important it has become over a short span of time, attaining the status of being a proxy for national success or failure. This single statistic has the power to decide the fate of elections, overthrow governments and initiate popular movements. Yet, it is far from being perfect and ignores a considerable realm of economic activity. According to François Lequiller, head of national accounts at the OECD, “Part of the problem is perhaps that we expect too much from this trusty, though misunderstood, indicator”.

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