A Personal Triumph 25 Years in the Making with Launch of New Macro Statistic

For the first time since World War II, the Federal government (Bureau of Economic Analysis) will begin publishing a new macro statistic Gross Output [GO] starting in spring 2014 at the same time it releases its quarterly GDP data.

Forbes.com article has just published my article on this new statistic “Beyond GDP“: http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/11/29/beyond-gdp-get-ready-for-a-new-way-to-measure-the-economy/

A shortened version will appear in the Dec. 16 issue of Forbes magazine (circulation over 1 million).

I’ve been advocating this new national statistic since writing The Structure of Production (NYU Press) in 1990. Now it’s finally happening. Steve Forbes calls it a “real breakthrough.”

Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal and Gene Epstein of Barron’s are looking into writing articles on GO.  So is The Economist.

Bill Nordhaus, professor at Yale University, writes, “Congratulations on the article and the work.  It has been a long slog to get the national accounts to introduce innovative measures, and Steve Landefeld [Director, BEA] has been a superstar in this respect…This will open up the potential for new insights into the behavior of the economy.”

GO goes a long way in providing the right balance in the production-consumption process that is missing in GDP data. As BEA Director Steve Landefeld and co-editors Dale Jorgenson and Bill Nordhaus state: “Gross output [GO] is the natural measure of the production sector, while net output [GDP] is appropriate as a measure of welfare. Both are required in a complete system of accounts.”

I think you’ll find the chart comparing GO and GDP of interest, how GO is consistently more volatile than GDP, and a better measure of the business cycle. (Click on the chart below to go directly to the article)

I’m excited — this is a personal triumph nearly 25 years in the making.

Most of the economics textbook writers are planning to include a section on GO in their next editions (McConnell, Parkin, Gwartney, Hubbard), and economic analysts are now starting to look at it.  In an email, Roger Leroy Miller, professor at University of Texas at Arlington, says that he has added a section on Gross Output for his 18th edition of Economics Today.  It is already part of my own Economic Logic textbook.

I hope you’ll check out the Forbes article, as well as Economic Logic and The Structure of Production for a more in-depth look at this important development.

Comments

  1. Austrian says

    Congrats! If I recall from your book, you had dubbed it Gross Domestic Expenditures (GDE). How did it change to Gross Output (GO)?

    AEIOU!

  2. Jim McKinley says

    Thank you, Dr. Skousen! I am not an economist, but I have long felt that focusing on consumerism and the service economy has been misguided. I have had a more or less intuitive feeling that a manufacturing economy produces lasting wealth, while a service economy produces just ephemeral wealth. I have long been uncomfortable with the proposition that a service economy is more advanced than a manufacturing one. At any rate, you have concisely put my feeling into words with your statement in the Forbes article that consumer spending is largely an effect of prosperity, not the cause of it. Good work, sir.
    –Jim McKinley

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