Tuesday, March 10, 2009

U.S. economic indicators: smoke and mirrors?

Mary Dejevsky opines that one of the advantages in the current economic crisis will be a shift towards the U.S looking to gauge itself in 'live-ability' indicators and factors like healthcare, education and emotional security. Whether this will actually happen or will it get washed away with the next ephermal bubble remains to be seen. Of course, a sign of the times might be Obama's renewed focus on universal health care and the administrations vigorous tone on reforming education.

From her article here: Why, if the US was doing so splendidly compared with France, was so much of the infrastructure – roads, railways and municipal offices – so neglected? How come there was so much money around, in theory (on the ballooning stock market and in those dot-com share options), when so little effort seemed to be put into making it? Was it just lack of state benefits that kept unemployment down? And why could the US have one of the worst perinatal mortality rates in the industrialised world without this affecting its economic standing? The answer to all these questions, of course, is that it depends what you count and how you count it. The US topped so many economic rankings because, for the most part, it chose the indicators.
One of the beneficial, and less noticed, consequences of the current crisis is that it has spawned new interest in ways of judging a country's economic soundness and overall success. There have long been quality-of-life indices that include the "live-ability" of cities, including standards of health, housing, schools and public transport. But only rarely are the results amalgamated with officially recognised indicators, such as growth rate, productivity and per capita income.

No comments: