What are the biggest misunderstandings about wealth

"GDP is a measure of the economic performance of an economy over a period of time. The rate of change in real GDP serves as a measure of economic growth in national economies and is therefore the most important variable in national accounts. "1 The entry on the "gross domestic product" in the German-language Wikipedia still contains some technical information on calculation and terminology. The central message is already contained in the passage quoted at the beginning: It seems simple and clear what the GDP* measures what it is good for - and that this is important: "It's the economy, stupid!"2

Whoever talks about growth, prosperity and the economy today is actually talking - consciously or unconsciously - about GDP: the a numberthat today has such a great influence on people and nature worldwide than any other measured variable, no indicator, no statistics. From a purely technical point of view, GDP is all that - but at the same time it is much more and also much less. What it is made for, what it does and what it hides, why the GDP is "20th century" and how one can think of the economy, prosperity and growth in a completely different way, namely life-friendly and sustainable - that is exactly what this main topic is about. (And this is exactly where we dock again and again to the impulses from theory, research and practice that the ImZuWi also makes available on this website.)

We would like to touch, answer and clear up central misunderstandings, crucial questions and hot iron around the GDP. For a change, there is no counting, measurement or calculation. In short, we place GDP (and its historical precursors in this role) at the core of the lows cultural Crisis of our time - mind you neither as its cause nor as a mere symptom, but as powerful representation of what was left of progress at some point: prosperity, growth and economy, and preferably more and more of the same.

So to criticize GDP, as we do here, is to criticize the notions of economy, prosperity and growth that it stands for - that it represents. So it is initially a "proxy criticism" - but at the same time more than that, because the power of GDP is immediate and real. The more we know about these effects, the downside and the downside, but also about the empty sides of GDP, the better equipped we are to knock it off its pedestal and (what is left of it) to mend it with life-friendly and sustainable building blocks. We will not be able to abolish "the economy" as an institutionalized, reified subject area of ​​economics - and we do not have to. But we should give it its proper place by the side of all the other things that are just as important in life.

John Maynard Keynes has probably contributed more to the current power of GDP and economics than any economist since then - his plea for a post-economic age in which the economy and its science (and we add accordingly: GDP too, after the work is done quasi) would be shrunk back to the proverbial status of "dentistry", but today seems to us far more contemporary: If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people, on a level with dentists, that would be splendid!3 We fully agree with the wish.


*In this context, "GDP" very often stands for its historical predecessors and in general for "the economy", which it represents statistically.

1Wikipedia >> Gross Domestic Product

2 The slogan "The economy, stupid!" is an expression of a neoliberal discourse that has arrived in political culture and everyday language use, which stages "the economy" as a reified central target of political action in the global competition for locations. see Wikipedia >> It's the economy, stupid

3 John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, pp. 321-332 in: ders .: Essays in Persuasion. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes. Volume IX, London and Basingstoke 1972.

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Category: GDP. Criticism & alternatives
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