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“Our mis-leading indicators”: book review featuring “Gross Domestic Problem”

gdproblemThe book review website Public Books features GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti‘s “Gross Domestic Problem” in its article on GDP “Our mis-leading indicators”.

“GDP became the yardstick for measuring progress and still often serves as a proxy for overall national well-being. Policymakers think of national economic life in terms of GDP: raising GDP is a primary policy goal and people across the world look to GDP growth rates to assess how well their leaders are guiding economic policy choices. Yet today GDP is under fire from a variety of sources. Why?”

Gross Domestic Problem is reviewed along with Diane Coyle’s “GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History” and Zachary Karabell’s “Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World”. In his in-depth analysis Stephen Macekura, postdoctoral fellow at the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College (US), says of Fioramonti’s book:

“Fioramonti presents the most scathing critique. He criticizes the deeply held faith that raising GDP can solve all political and social problems—what he calls the “dogma of infinite GDP growth.” For him, the reliance on GDP derives from a technocratic worldview that glorifies experts, corrodes communal values, and devalues the natural world. In addition to inveighing against this worldview throughout his book, he highlights contemporary social movements that are challenging both the use of GDP and mainstream society more broadly. He explains the “transition” and “de-growth” movements, which seek to downscale production and consumption, encourage participatory decision-making, decentralize power towards the community level, redistribute resources along more equitable lines, and lower humankind’s ecological footprint. Similarly, he recounts the efforts of communities that use their own currencies and banking systems to break free of the larger financial power structures (states, multinational corporations) that dominate economic transactions worldwide. In general, he sees technocracy and its GDP “dogma” as powerful centralizing and anti-democratic forces, and he celebrates grassroots, local movements that show “alternative ways of life are not just possible but also desirable.” His prescriptions are thus cultural and political; no merely technical fixes will suffice.”

Read the full article on Public Books

How Numbers Rule the World: The Use and Abuse of Statistics in Global Politics

Cover_Page_How_Numbers_Rule_the_World
(Zed Books, 2014)

Author: Lorenzo Fioramonti

Numbers dominate global politics and, as a result, our everyday lives. Credit ratings steer financial markets and can make or break the future of entire nations. GDP drives our economies. Stock market indices flood our media and national debates. Statistical calculations define how we deal with climate change, poverty and sustainability. But what is behind these numbers?

In How Numbers Rule the World, Lorenzo Fioramonti reveals the hidden agendas underpinning the use of statistics and those who control them. Most worryingly, he shows how numbers have been used as a means to reinforce the grip of markets on our social and political life, curtailing public participation and rational debate.

An innovative and timely exposé of the politics, power and contestation of numbers. For more info see: https://www.zedbooks.net/shop/book/how-numbers-rule-the-world/