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Table of Contents

Note on the Paperback Edition vii Introduction 1 ONE From the Eighteenth Century to the 1930s: War and Depression 7 TWO 1945 to 1975: The Golden Age 43 THREE The Legacy of the 1970s: A Crisis of Capitalism 61 FOUR 1995 to 2005: The New Paradigm 79 FIVE Our Times: The Great Crash 95 SIX The Future: Twenty-first-Century GDP 123 Acknowledgments 147 Notes 149 Index 161

About the Author

Diane Coyle is professor of economics at the University of Manchester. She runs the consultancy Enlightenment Economics, and as well as a regular blog, she is the author of numerous books, including The Economics of Enough and The Soulful Science: What Economists Really Do and Why It Matters (both Princeton).


Winner of the 2015 Bronze Medal in Economics, Axiom Business Book Awards One of The Wall Street Journal's Best Books of 2014 One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2014 One of FA-mag.com's Books of the Year 2014 One of "The Books Quartz Read" in 2014 One of Minnpost.com's 'Three (plus) books for the econ buff on your list' 2014 Longlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year 2014 "GDP is, as Diane Coyle points out in her entertaining and informative GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History, a bodge, an ongoing argument."--John Lanchester, London Review of Books "[A] little charmer of a book... GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History is just what the title promises... Cowperthwaite himself would nod in agreement over Ms. Coyle's informed discussion of what the GDP misses and how it misfires... Ms. Coyle--a graceful and witty writer, by the way--recounts familiar problems and adds some new ones... [E]xcellent."--James Grant, Wall Street Journal "Anyone who wants to know how GDP and the SNA have come to play such important roles in economic policy-making will gain from reading Coyle's book. As will anyone who wants to gain more understanding of the concept's strengths and weaknesses."--Nicholas Oulton, Science "Diane Coyle's new book, GDP: A Brief But Affectionate History, is a timely contribution to discussions of modern economic performance."--Arnold Kling, American "[E]xcellent."--Adam Creighton, The Australian "Diane Coyle's book is as good a simple guide as we are likely to see."--Samuel Brittan, Financial Times "Coyle does good work explicating a topic that few understand, even if it affects each of us daily. A pleasure for facts-and-numbers geeks, though accessibly written and full of meaningful real-world examples."--Kirkus Reviews "[S]mart and lucid... [S]hort but masterful."--Todd G. Buchholz, Finance & Development "[G]reat (and well-timed) new book."--Uri Friedman, The Atlantic "In a charming and accessible new book, Diane Coyle untangles the history, assumptions, challenges and shortcomings of this popular rhetorical device, which has become so central to policy debates around the world... Coyle's book is a good primer for the average citizen as well as the seasoned economist."--Adam Gurri, Umlaut "[I]t is interesting and important, particularly when it comes to the emphasis now given to GDP, and the inadequacies of this now time-honoured measurement of how our economies are doing... With clarity and precision, she explains its strengths and weaknesses."--Peter Day, BBC News Business "Diane Coyle has bravely attempted in a recent book to make the subject once more accessible, and even interesting."--John Kay, Financial Times "[T]his is as engaging a book about GDP as you could ever hope to read. It falls into that genre of books that are 'biographies of things'--be they histories of longitude, the number zero or the potato--and is both enlightening and entertaining."--Andrew Sawers, FS Focus "GDP: A Brief But Affectionate History is a fascinating 140-page book that I cannot recommend highly enough. This is simply the best book on GDP that I've ever seen."--John Mauldin "As a potted history of approaches to quantifying national output from the 18th century onward, GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History deserves high marks. It is particularly edifying to learn about the military motivation behind the initial attempts."--Martin S. Fridson, Financial Analysts Journal "The strongest part of the book charts the development of national accounting from the 17th century through to the creation of GDP itself and its literal and metaphorical rises and falls in the 20th and 21st centuries... This is lively and surprisingly readable stuff."--Eilis Lawlor, LSE Review of Books "Coyle has written an engaging, introductory to mid-level book on the GDP that makes sense of a statistic that hardly anyone actually understands... It does not require any training in economics, but it covers many topics that even professional economists would find beneficial, including an argument that GDP is an increasingly inappropriate measure for the 21st century."--Choice "[A] little charmer of a book."--Wall Street Journal (A Best Non-Fiction Book of 2014) "GDP is a thought-provoking account of how the gross domestic product statistic came to be so important... The book is a useful and timely contribution."--Louise Rawlings, Economic Record

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