Re: [OPE] defining 'recession'

From: Paul Adler <>
Date: Wed Dec 03 2008 - 12:17:49 EST

These are important issues you both raise about the utility of GDP. However, I was asking a much more elementary question: insofar as officialdom uses GDP as an output measure, would we not get a somewhat more realistic picture of cycles if GDP were deflated by population growth? Would not the duration of officially declared recessions be extended?

A simple change like this would hardly mobilize millions :-), but wouldn't it give more ammunition to those, like us, who argue that the anarchy iof the market and the associated capitalist cycles impose inacceptable social/economic costs? Right now, the historical charts show just tiny slivers of time in recession compared to long periods of GDP growth.

Paul A.

----- Original Message -----
From: Gerald Levy <>
Date: Wednesday, December 3, 2008 8:04 am
Subject: Re: [OPE] defining 'recession'
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <>

> > A concept like GDP tells us little about income distribution,
> and depending on whether you are rich or poor,
> > the concepts do not have the same meaning or implications.
> Hi Jurriaan:
> That's true, but the alternative measure which Paul A asked about -
> GDP/capita - also tells us little,
> if anything, about income distribution.
> > Marx remarked that the ultimate barrier to capital was capital
> itself. It is not that the resources are not there,
> > but that they cannot be bought or sold.
> I don't think that's what Marx was referring to what he wrote that
> "the *true barrier* to capitalist production
> is *capital itself*" (Volume III, Ch. 15, Section 2, Penguin ed.,
> p. 358, emphasis in original).
> In solidarity, Jerry
> > This means, most generally - contrary to equilibrium theory -
> that capitalist development is unable to maintain
> > the economic proportions necessary for balanced development in
> space and time, so that endogenously too much
> > capital and income entitlement end up in the "wrong" place. As
> long as everybody can make gains, it doesn't matter,
> > you can to an extent be generous and individual interests appear
> to match social interests seamlessly and effortlessly;
> > equilibrium seems to have been achieved - but in a serious
> economic breakdown, there is nothing much left anymore
> > of the equilibrium theory and the previous generosity or social
> solidarity, people stick to their own kind.
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Received on Wed Dec 3 12:19:32 2008

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