Sarkozy Calls For House Cleaning And Leisure To Help Define Economic Progress

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If at first you don't succeed, try, try again change the rules. Undoubtedly a bit frustrated with his country's performance in the GDP league table, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has leveraged a report by economists Joseph Stiglitz and Armatya Sen, to call for a global revolution in how economic progress is calculated. In the proposed new world order, which so far lacks a statistical index to track progress, factors such as household income, consumption and wealth would replace national production as an indicator of living standards. But while Sarkozy is ready to preach the economic virtues of house cleaning to the masses, some aren't quite as convinced about the GDP overhaul proposal.

"There has been growing interest in trying to measure human well-being in other ways" than GDP, (Simon Tilford, chief economist at the Center for European Reform in London) said. But for understanding an economy's prospects, he said, "GDP is still a far superior measure to a type of softer, happiness or well-being index. That's not to say they're not useful, but it's hard to see how they could replace GDP."

This type of explanation must be getting pretty familiar to Sarkozy. Three weeks ago he was calling for an end to the dollar as the world's chief reserve currency and reigniting the debate for a supranational competitor to the US dollar. Some easy substitution work on Tilford's take on GDP can shed some light on the currency issues as well: GDP the dollar is still a far superior measure to a type of softer, happiness or well-being index. That's not to say they're not useful, but it's hard to see how they could replace GDP the dollar.

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