Widely used because the mid-twentieth century, GDP (gross family product) has turn into the world's strongest statistical indicator of nationwide improvement and growth. essentially all governments adhere to the concept that GDP development is a major financial objective, and whereas feedback of this degree has grown, neither its champions nor its detractors deny its critical value in our political culture.
In The strength of a unmarried Number, Philipp Lepenies recounts the energetic historical past of GDP's political acceptance―and eventual dominance. finding the origins of GDP measurements in Renaissance England, Lepenies explores the social and political elements that initially hindered its use. It used to be no longer until eventually the early 1900s that an ingenuous lone-wolf economist revived and honed GDP's statistical strategy. those principles have been then prolonged by way of John Maynard Keynes, and a extra centred examine of nationwide source of revenue was once born. American economists furthered this paintings by way of emphasizing GDP's ties to social future health, atmosphere the degree for its ascent. GDP eventually completed its singular prestige in the course of global struggle II, assuming the significance it keeps at the present time. Lepenies's soaking up account is helping us comprehend the personalities and renowned occasions that propelled GDP to supremacy and clarifies present debates over the knowledge of the number's rule.
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Additional info for The Power of a Single Number: A Political History of GDP
This spending was once an important evil, which could be recorded as an period in-between product (i. e. , intermediate consumption), yet which was once no longer to be had to finish shoppers for intake. Colin Clark and Simon Kuznets rated country job very equally. considered from this attitude, a rise in armaments construction registered as a decline in nationwide source of revenue. prior to the USA entered global struggle II, the place of work of rate management and Civilian offer (OPACS)—entrusted with mobilizing assets for the war—strongly recommended such a rise, however it at the beginning didn't push via its calls for simply because elevated nation spending used to be anticipated to have such unwanted effects on nationwide source of revenue. OPACS hence had a vested curiosity in enforcing Keynesianism. The authority trusted estimates of non-public intake, deepest and public funding, and executive spending—all aggregates, which performed in notable position in Keynesian thought. The director of the security fiscal component to OPACS, Richard Gilbert, was once the elder cousin of Milton Gilbert, Kuznets’s scholar. Milton Gilbert used to be answerable for nationwide source of revenue estimates within the division of trade. sooner than the warfare, the 2 were speechwriters for President Roosevelt, as had the Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith. Richard Gilbert, who taught at Harvard, used to be one of many first American Keynesians. Roosevelt had first and foremost notion little of Keynes’s doctrines, yet Gilbert was once capable of win him over to Keynesian concept. Gilbert had heavily studied the British courses on nationwide source of revenue accounting, rather these through Meade and Stone, and instantly well-known that he may perhaps use this calculation common sense to illustrate that a rise in armaments creation didn't unavoidably entail a prohibitive fall in nationwide source of revenue. whilst Keynes visited the U.S. in 1941, he exchanged critiques and concepts with OPACS staffers (including a few of his former scholars) and their director, Richard Gilbert. on the time, OPACS used to be engaged on its personal estimate of gross nationwide product. Keynes and Gilbert mentioned the constitution of nationwide source of revenue and the tactic used for its calculation. 34 the outcome used to be an estimate of gross nationwide product, provided by way of OPACS in 1941, which calculated the consequences of upper spending on armaments and integrated public expenditure spending. It used to be an specific try and identify a special approach to calculation from that of Kuznets. Keynes used to be very confident in regards to the examine and stated it was once the paintings of younger economists, who not subscribed to previous frames of brain. Milton and Richard Gilbert have been shut associates and shared an condo in Washington. Richard confident his more youthful cousin of the assumption of a gross nationwide product, such that the latter, upon his appointment as head of the study division within the division of trade, switched over nationwide source of revenue accounting to gross nationwide product accounting supported by way of Keynesian thought. 35 With this, in 1942 Kuznets and the dep. of trade went their separate methods.