Diane Coyle traces the history of this artificial, abstract, complex, but exceedingly important statistic from its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century precursors through its invention in the 1940s and its postwar golden age, and then through the Great Crash up to today. The reader learns why this standard measure of the size of a country’s economy was invented, how it has changed over the decades, and what its strengths and weaknesses are. The book explains why even small changes in GDP can decide elections, influence major political decisions, and determine whether countries can keep borrowing or be thrown into recession. The book ends by making the case that GDP was a good measure for the twentieth century but is increasingly inappropriate for a twenty-first-century economy driven by innovation, services, and intangible goods.
Running the economy for tomorrow as well as today will require a wide range of policy changes. The top priority must be ensuring that we get a true picture of long-term economic prospects, with the development of official statistics on national wealth in its broadest sense, including natural and human resources. Saving and investment will need to be encouraged over current consumption. Above all, governments will need to engage citizens in a process of debate about the difficult choices that lie ahead and rebuild a shared commitment to the future of our societies.
Creating a sustainable economy--having enough to be happy without cheating the future--won't be easy. But The Economics of Enough starts a profoundly important conversation about how we can begin--and the first steps we need to take.
While economic research emphasizes the importance of governmental institutions for growth and progress, conventional public policy textbooks tend to focus on macroeconomic policies and on tax-and-spend decisions. Markets, State, and People stresses the basics of welfare economics and the interplay between individual and collective choices. It fills a gap by showing how economic theory relates to current policy questions, with a look at incentives, institutions, and efficiency. How should resources in society be allocated for the most economically efficient outcomes, and how does this sit with society’s sense of fairness?
Diane Coyle illustrates the ways economic ideas are the product of their historical context, and how events in turn shape economic thought. She includes many real-world examples of policies, both good and bad. Readers will learn that there are no panaceas for policy problems, but there is a practical set of theories and empirical findings that can help policymakers navigate dilemmas and trade-offs. The decisions faced by officials or politicians are never easy, but economic insights can clarify the choices to be made and the evidence that informs those choices. Coyle covers issues such as digital markets and competition policy, environmental policy, regulatory assessments, public-private partnerships, nudge policies, universal basic income, and much more.
Markets, State, and People offers a new way of approaching public economics.
Analyzing the political and banking history of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil through several centuries, Fragile by Design demonstrates that chronic banking crises and scarce credit are not accidents. Calomiris and Haber combine political history and economics to examine how coalitions of politicians, bankers, and other interest groups form, why they endure, and how they generate policies that determine who gets to be a banker, who has access to credit, and who pays for bank bailouts and rescues.
Fragile by Design is a revealing exploration of the ways that politics inevitably intrudes into bank regulation.