An interview with Diane Coyle: GDP A Brief but Affectionate History. And win a copy of the book.

One of my favourite economic reads of 2014 was Diane Coyle’s book about an economic statistic – GDP. Whilst monarchs had been trying to take inventories of the national wealth since the Doomsday Book and earlier (so they could tax it!), the idea that you should rigorously measure economic activity is under one hundred years old. But the concept of Gross Domestic Product has now become central to the management of all economies (remember the Maastricht Criteria which based participation in the Euro area on debt and deficit ratios related to GDP? Diane’s book tells how Greece’s dubious GDP number was generated in one room above a parade of shops and without the aid of a computer).

Even with banks of computers GDP is challenging to measure, subject to big revisions, and in a world of rapid technological change, arguably measuring the wrong stuff. But for us bond market participants watching Bloomberg screens, or Prime Ministers announcing triumph, it’s the big one.

GDP image

In this 10 minute video Diane Coyle (@diane1859), Professor at the University of Manchester and responsible for Enlightenment Economics discusses the history of our most used economic statistic, and asks whether it’s the best we can do.

We have 10 copies of Diane’s excellent book to give away in our competition. Question: he’s regarded as one of the creators of modern GDP statistics, but in 1934 he told Congress that “the welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income”? Who is he?

Please email your answer to by 5.00pm Monday 16th February. The first ten correct answers drawn at random will win a copy of the book. This competition is now closed.

The value of investments will fluctuate, which will cause prices to fall as well as rise and you may not get back the original amount you invested. Past performance is not a guide to future performance.

Jim Leaviss

Job Title: CIO Public Fixed Income

Specialist Subjects: Macro economics and fixed interest asset allocation

Likes: Cycling, factory records, dim sum

Heroes: Brian Clough, Morrissey, Neil Armstrong

View profile
Blast from the Past logo Blast from the Past logo

17 years of comment

Discover historical blogs from our extensive archive with our Blast from the past feature. View the most popular blogs posted this month - 5, 10 or 15 years ago!

Recent Blogs