The Free State
"Man, in a word, has no nature. What he has is - history."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

...and statistics

I've been watching French talk shows recently and surprised by the extent of 'declinism' in the conversation. All these scholars and intellectuals are convinced Europe and America 'don't get it' and are thoroughly unprepared for the new economic order emerging, essentially, due to the rise of India and China.

I am not an economist but I think it's worth saying that all these statistics on comparative GDPs can be pretty flimsy. First, the ones that say that China and India are important (1/4 and 1/2 of the US economy respectively are those that measure GDP through 'purchasing power parity'. There are apparently many ways of measuring it, but it involves a certain amount playing with the raw numbers.

I don't know how much this affects accuracy but, consider this. I have an Atlas from 1980 showing the wealth and poverty of the world. It claims that East Germany was as rich as France, that New Zealand was equal per capita to the Soviet Union and Poland, and that North and South Korea were equally poor.. I think 'a grain of salt' is my point, especially in places where measuring is difficult to begin with (because its communist regime provides official statistics on the economy, for instance..).


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