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What’s wrong with GDP?

Dirk Philipsen argues we need to make economic questions political again

By Jonathan Derbyshire  

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Dirk Philipsen teaches economic history at Duke University in the United States. His latest book is “The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World and What to Do About It“. It “tells the story of an invention—an invention that grew, in one single lifetime, from narrow tool to global rule.” Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, casts a spell over policymakers, Philipsen argues—especially when, as now, economic growth is either anaemic, non-existent or negative. GDP has become a totem or fetish: “national power” is ranked by it (think of…

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