The Great Invention: The Story of GDP and the Making and Unmaking of the Modern World by Ehsan Masood
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Masood is a much-celebrated broadcaster, science writer and journalist who apart from publishing taught at the imperial college. Masood is a famous British writer who through his Book “the great invention” keep the reader engaged in understanding some of the flaws with what he refers to as one of the greatest inventions in economics about the measure of a Country’s economic wellbeing. More interesting in the book is the manner in which the author provokes the minds of the reader. This book although can be read by other professionals seem to be most useful to those interested in economic development measures and policies in an economy. In particular, this book becomes more mind provoking for the readers with an economic professional background. In his book, Masood examines the idea of gross domestic product as a measure of country economic wellbeing and traces its origin before criticizing it for being skewed for rich economies,
He argues that the definition of the GDP is customized for advanced economies. Masood effectively draws the attention of the reader by revisiting the origin of the GDP formula in post-war and GDP measures during the depression era used in the accounting system to assure rich nations that the kind of assistance they were offering in the marshal plan was not a waste of resources, but rather it was contributing to the better performance of their economies. Masood critically examines the current GDP formula and why despite having several shortcomings is still used as a measure of countries economic performance. The problem with this approach of measuring the economic performance is the fact that it does not account for several activities such as the batter trade and black markets.
Masood seems to offer an important alternative recommendation for measuring the economic health of a nation. He argues that the rich nations would continue to look richer while the poor countries would continue to appear poorer if the current system of measuring countries wealth through GDP is anything to go by in future. Masood offers very important suggestions on how to measure the level of economic activities such as the gross national levels of happiness. This approach is also important because it’s broader and tells more about the quality of life that people in that nation are living. His approach although much characterized by both flaws and politics seems to offer a better solution through which to address the shortcomings that has led to many criticisms due to inefficiencies of the GDP.
It is apparent that the happiness index can be a great measure of the level of job satisfaction, the health of the individuals in the country, and other non-monetary factors that make life better. The country’s GDP can increase at the expense of overworked citizens. It can also increase at the expense of the prevalence of diseases through environmental pollution. However when such other non-monetary factors are factored in then the quality of life in a given economy can easily be replicated by the kind of happiness derived from the inhabitants. His ideas are welcomed, and they seem to provoke the current thinking despite being locked into the elements of international politics. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of this measure and standards of accounting for countries economic performance but even if the arguments of Ma sod in the book are highly criticized they provoke thinking, and it’s an interesting book easy to read and follow arguments with the facts.
Masood, Ehsan. The Great Invention: The Story of GDP and the Making and Unmaking of the Modern World. Pegasus Books, 2016.