Here’s a summary of The Economist’s important critique of GDP and suggestions for reform

Duncan Green - May 6, 2016

‘Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made’ said Otto von Bismarck. Turns out you can probably add GDP to that list. Last week’s Economist had a comprehensive takedown of the uses and abuses of Gross Domestic Product as an indicator of wellbeing, economic health or pretty much anything else. People have been critiquing GDP ever since it was created, …

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‘Economics Rules’, Dani Rodrik’s love letter to his discipline

Duncan Green - December 4, 2015

Dani Rodrik has always played an intriguing role in the endless skirmishes over the economics of development. His has been a delicate balancing act, critiquing the excesses of market fundamentalism from the inside, while avoiding the more abrasive tone of out-and-out critics such as Joe Stiglitz or Ha-Joon Chang. He does sorrow; they prefer anger. His work has been hugely influential, helping to stem the …

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Arguing with Angus Deaton on aid

Duncan Green - October 12, 2015

Tremendous news that Angus Deaton has won the Nobel prize in economics, particularly because this will further direct attention towards one of the great challenges of the age – rising inequality, on which Deaton is a great thinker, not least in The Great Escape, which deserves an even wider readership. Last year, I had a public exchange with him on the From Poverty to Power blog, …

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Why is economic orthodoxy so resistant to change? The art of paradigm maintenance.

Duncan Green - September 17, 2014

Ever wondered why it’s so hard to shift big institutions (and the economics profession in general) on economic policy, even when events so graphically show the need for change? I’ve just come across a fascinating 2006 paper by Robin Broad, ‘Research, knowledge and the art of ‘paradigm maintenance’: the World Bank’s Development Economics Vice Presidency (DEC)’, summary here. Full paper here. It must be about …

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‘Economists know almost nothing about anything’. Yet another reason to love Thomas Piketty

Duncan Green - June 20, 2014

From the intro to ‘Capital in the 21st Century’, a taste of his great approach to learning, the easy discursive style, (but also why the book is 600 pages long – succinct he ain’t. I’ve got to page 164): “To put it bluntly, the discipline of economics has yet to get over its childish passion for mathematics and for purely theoretical and often highly ideological …

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Take the survey; plug the paper – what's the impact of blogs?

admin - September 8, 2011

You’ve probably seen it already, and may even have filled it in, but just in case – a bit of collective crowd-asking is taking place in the blogosphere. Please take 5 minutes to fill in this survey on why/how you read development blogs. It should only take 5 minutes (unless, like me, you’re a blogaholic and take ages to fill in the list of blogs you’ve …

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More History, less Maths – FP2P flashback

admin - August 16, 2011

OK, I’m off on holidays this week, so thought I’d retrieve a few posts from the early months of the blog, back in 2008, when hardly anyone read it – recycling is a virtue after all. First up, some thoughts from July 2008 on the use of history – I’m still looking for suggestions on this…. More history, less maths. That’s a phrase that for …

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The Globalization Paradox, a great new book from Dani Rodrik

admin - June 9, 2011

Dani Rodrik is one of the handful of heterodox heroes, prominent economists who took on the lazy thinking of the Washington Consensus in its prime, and continue to dance productively on its grave. His latest book, The Globalization Paradox: Why Global Markets, States and Democracy Can’t Coexist, feels like a Big Book, one that may shape a new way of thinking about the global economy. …

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Ha-Joon Chang's new book: 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism

admin - September 14, 2010

I still remember watching with delight as Ha-Joon Chang kebabed a US trade negotiator, shortly after the launch of the WTO’s Doha round of negotiations. At one of those ‘schmooze the NGOs’ sessions in Geneva, the diplomat was explaining to us the folly of governments ‘picking winners’ – industrial policy. Those who did so were doomed to fail, apparently. From the floor, Ha-Joon pointed out …

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Why do people vote? Don't ask a micro-economist.

admin - May 10, 2010

Britain went to the polls last week, and a right mess we made of it, in terms of choosing a government (four days on, and the parties are still negotiating). Normally, pundits lament the long term decline in voter turnout (though it went up a bit in last week’s close contest, to about two thirds of registered voters), but isn’t it amazing that people vote at …

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