Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Anyone attending "Beyond GDP"?

by marco Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 03:42:58 AM EST

GDP is the best-recognised measure of economic performance in the world, often used as a generic indicator of progress. However, the relationship between economic growth as measured by GDP and other dimensions of societal progress is not straightforward. Effectively measuring progress, wealth and well-being requires indices that are as clear and appealing as GDP but more inclusive than GDP--ones that incorporate social and environmental issues. This is especially important given global challenges such as climate change, global poverty, pressure on resources and their potential impact on societies.

Is anyone already slated to attend the conference "Beyond GDP" in Brussels on November 19-20, co-hosted by the European Commission, European Parliament, Club of Rome, OECD and the World Wildlife Fund?

[editor's note, by Migeru] Some content moved below the fold for the front page

Registration is closed, but it is still possible to make a Late Registration Request.

Promoted by Migeru


Maybe too soon as a project for the ET Think Tank, but could be a great chance to mix it up with Directors of the World Bank, Co-Presidents of the Club of Rome, Chief Statisticians of the OECD, Hans Rosling.  Who knows, maybe during lunch, coffee breaks, or the cocktail reception, could get a word or two in with Mogens Peter Carl or even Hans-Gert Pöttering to try to start converting a lot of our discussions and ideas on alternatives to GDP as a societal progress benchmark --

-- (there are others) into official policy with potentially serious visibility and impact within the European Union, at least to start out with.

The European Commission, European Parliament, Club of Rome, OECD and WWF will host a high-level conference with the objectives of clarifying which indices are most appropriate to measure progress, and how these can best be integrated into the decision-making process and taken up by public debate. The conference will bring together high-level experts and policy makers to address these critical issues. Over 500 people from economic, social and environmental spheres will attend.

[editor's note, by Migeru] Some content moved below the fold for the front page

According to the conference website, The Beyond GDP conference will feature live webstreaming via the homepage beginning at 15:00 Brussels time on 19 November. After the event, speaker presentations will be available on the Beyond GDP website.

I just learned about this conference in an article by Hazel Henderson (thank you, Google News Alerts):

Economist Simon Kuznets, who developed the gross domestic product (GDP) measure, never saw it as an overall scorecard of a country's progress.

"The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income," he told the US Congress in 1932.

This money-measured index came into full use during World War Two as a way to measure war production, adding up all production of tanks, aircraft, cars, and other goods and services exchanged in a nation's cash economy.

Today, in most industrial economies, services have grown faster than goods and statisticians are constantly revising GDP components to account for our evolving societies and technologies.

<...>

If you think GDP is crazy, you are correct. However, the tide is turning.

Perhaps, after a European Parliament conference on "Beyond GDP" later this month, the 27 nations of the EU will be the first to adopt a new GDP that can integrate all the factors that comprise our quality of life. We now know that when we intentionally blind ourselves to all those "externalities" they create ticking time bombs of risk.

"Time to fully account"

The Beyond GDP conference website also has a Background page linking to

There is also a conference program, as well as a Partners page with a list of Organising Committee Members:

● ● ● Organising Committee Members

The Organising Committee Members represent the co-hosts of the conference and are responsible for developing the conference and its objectives.

Pieter Everaers: European Commission, Eurostat
Enrico Giovannini: OECD
Hazel Henderson: Club of Rome
Andreas Huber: European Parliament
Tony Long: WWF
Robin Miège: European Commission, DG Environment

Advisory board members and media partners are also listed, and confirmed speakers are listed on the main page.

Display:
Just noticed there will be an Expert Workshop on the morning of November 19 preceding the "high-level conference".

Looks like the workshop will include more opportunities for dialogue and exchange between panelists and participants, and among participants, than the main conference sessions:

Session 3: Breakout session: key needs and ways forward

10:50     Split into three groups to identify where energies should be invested to improve the methodologies and increase their adoption. What are the key opportunities for going beyond GDP? What is feasible in the short to medium term and how can implementation be improved? How to engage policymakers, key institutions, business, media and the broader public?

(The mention of "Coffee break with light breakfast buffet" reminded me that I have not yet found information about how much attendance at this conference would cost.)

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sun Nov 11th, 2007 at 10:51:55 PM EST
If the thought of cost even occurs to you, you're probably not the kind of person they're inviting.  Even academics get paid to go to these things, either by grant or honorarium.
by Zwackus on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 12:42:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nihilistic thoughs: Why do we need measures?! Just so people could we fouled more easily?? Wouldn't we possibly better off without paying so much attention to numbers?
by das monde on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 02:59:50 AM EST
Nihilistic thoughs: Why do we need measures?! Just so people could we fouled more easily?? Wouldn't we possibly better off without paying so much attention to numbers?

but do we really want to throw out all numbers?

aren't some measures useful, even necessary, for detecting, identifying, and evaluating problems and measuring progress in reducing those problems?  that is, i think, what Karl Popper was advocating when he wrote of "piecemeal social engineering":

The politician who adopts this method may or may not have a blueprint of society before his mind, he may or may not hope that manking will one day realize an ideal state, and achieve happiness and perfection on earth. But he will be ware that perfection, it at all attainable, is far distant, and that every generation of men, and therefore also the living, have a claim; perhaps not so much a claim to be made happy, for there are not institutional means of making a man happy, but a claim not be to made unhappy, where it can be avoided. They have a claim to be given all possible help, if they suffer. The piecemeal engineer will, accordingly, adopt the method of searching for, and fighting agaginst, the greatest and most urgent evils of society, rather than searching for, and fighting for, its greatest ultimate good.

if so, then maybe someone should be saying that at this conference.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 03:44:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Measurement is useful and task specific, no?

GDP and GNP, by contrast, are estimates, derived by statistical survey (at least in the US), which serve no apparent purpose other than the rhetorical; the 'comparative advantage of nations' and all that predates the metric, oddly enough, and hasn't perceptibly altered the trajectories of domestic governance or mutually assured destruction.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but even bi-lateral trade agreements aren't enforced on account of GNP/GDP but actual stocks and capital flows (unadjusted price) and, well, embargo or martial retaliation. So ...

Perhaps then a preference for cost-based accounting is the negative evidence needed falsify GDP/GNP rhetoric.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 07:27:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I favor the view that piecemeal measures to reduce harm and pain are desirable, even if we would never possibly make everyone happy, relieve all pain, or solve every problem. We will need to make arguments like that. Life is a complicated problem, most probably without most elegant and universal solutions.

The claim not to be made unhappy is pretty close to the Golden rule, isn't it?

On the other hand, identification of "most urgent evils" is a tricky question. Members or groups of a society may disagree mightily. What is the most urgent evil now: terrorism? global warming? market ideology? certain politicians?

Most importantly, I don't see well that we use statistical measures or estimates specifically for upsetting any urgent evils. I can imagine that some institutions are doing their work to follow (say) population health and similar developments - but not on a political scale; nor those institution probably develop themselves or their methods progressively. What I see is that human rational, innovational or inspirational capacities are directed precisely the wrong direction - to fool each other and ourselves with GDP growths and non-worrisome projections. Statistical measures and estimates are forcefully used precisely by the people who do not care about common good or harm. Somehow, rational progressives do not seem to have a set of measures and interpretations to quantify presumed evils, or are not able to "sell" their perspective. From this point of view, statistics is not saving the world at all, for now.

by das monde on Tue Nov 13th, 2007 at 01:26:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Somehow, rational progressives do not seem to have a set of measures and interpretations to quantify presumed evils, or are not able to "sell" their perspective. From this point of view, statistics is not saving the world at all, for now.

I believe this is precisely the problem that Hans Rosling, who will be speaking at "Beyond GDP", is trying to address with his GapMinder project, a

non-profit venture for development and provision of free software that visualise human development.

In the following video, he talks about this software is designed to express statistical information in a way that was not possible until recently:

Unveiling the Beauty of Statistics

Also, Worldmapper is trying to do something similar, in a static, yet nevertheless intriguing way, as well.  For example:

International demonstrations

This map shows the distribution of the 15.9 million people worldwide who protested against the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by troops from over 25 other territories, including from the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and Poland.

Violent Deaths (2002)

The violent deaths shown here are homicide (murder and manslaughter), but exclude deaths due to war.

Landmine Casualties

This map shows those people that have been injured or killed by landmines.

Carbon Damage

This map shows estimated carbon damage due to emissions.

etc.

You can find many, many others, in various categories, on their website.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue Nov 13th, 2007 at 03:54:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's another one I think is pertinent to this discussion, but rather than add yet another graphic to this page, here is the description (just click on the link to see the graphic):

Often Preventable Deaths

In rich territories, deaths from most of these conditions are much lower except for infections in the elderly. For this reason they can be considered easily preventable conditions.

These conditions are divided into (with their contribution to the total deaths in Group I in 2002):

    * A. Infections [Infectious and parasitic diseases], Map 372, (59% of deaths). These are diseases spread directly or indirectly from person to person.
    * B. Respiratory infections, Map 403, (22% of deaths). These are infections of the ears and respiratory tract.
    * C. Maternal conditions, Map 407, (3% of deaths). These are conditions affecting women before, during and after childbirth.
    * D. Perinatal conditions, Map 408, (13% of deaths). These are conditions arising in babies before or within one week of birth.
    * E. Nutritional deficiencies, Map 411,(3% of deaths). These are conditions due to food, vitamin and mineral shortages.

These conditions caused 32% of all deaths worldwide in 2002, an average of 2968 deaths per million people.

Territories are sized in proportion to the absolute number of people who died from most preventable (communicable infections, maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions) in one year.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Tue Nov 13th, 2007 at 04:02:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hans Rosling is one person that uses statistics admirably.
by das monde on Tue Nov 13th, 2007 at 04:12:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To be nihilistic in a different way: to what extend is this meant to find numbers in which the EU does beat the US? It is of course clear that GDP doesn't capture everything that is relevant, but any single number that is going to capture wealth AND societal effects AND environmental effects is going to have a large arbitrary component in it, making it even more vulnerable to political misuse than GDP.

If you want to capture a complicated story, you need more numbers, not just different ones. But perhaps I am too sceptical.

by GreatZamfir on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 04:25:14 AM EST
Maybe. There are a lot of indicators one can use, but there also are improvements in tracking these indicators. We already know, for that measure, that the EU beats the US in terms of sustainable development. How do you express that? You also don't specifically need to use a single measure. You can use a variety of measures that acknowledge that there are no trade-offs between many of the measures (you can't compensate destroying the planet by increasing economic growth, as DeAnander might point out).

However, putting these measures into a coherent framework is a lot of work! I started a hobby project in doing this last year (see this diary), but quickly found that it is very time-intensive. Would love to go to the conference, but I have a budget to think about. I hope there's good documentation.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 05:11:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you want to capture a complicated story, you need more numbers, not just different ones.

The "Beyond GDP" website FAQ mentions this approach, albeit very briefly:

Beyond GDP - International Conference - 19 & 20 November 2007, Brussels

Indicator sets (e.g. those comprised of environmental, economic and social indicators) are yet another way of complementing the single use of GDP. A recently started effort - the Canadian Index of Well-being - is under development in Canada.

The Canadian Index of Well-being's Contribution to Beyond GDP "Virtual Indicator Expo" (PDF) states that:

The CIW will track changes in eight quality-of-life domains.

These are:

     Living Standards
     Healthy Populations
     Educated Populace
     Vital Communities
     Ecosystem Health
     Civic Engagement
     Time Use
     Arts and Culture

In fact, though, there are plenty of "indicator sets" already available, provided for example by the OECD, EuroStat, Worldmapper, and others, many linked to on the "Beyond GDP" website.

The big question is:  Is it easier to persuade everyone to do away with a single indicator altogether for measuring the overall health of a society, or is it easier to come up a composite index (i.e. a single number) that while not perfect at least takes into consideration a far broader and more pertinent set of factors than the unidimensional GDP we have now?

(Actually, even the Canadian Index of Well-being project hedges a bit in that paper --

The domains will be blended into a composite index that will provide a quick snapshot of
whether overall Canadian wellbeing is changing for better or for worse.
CIW reports will
present detailed information on both the composite index and the individual domains. The
CIW's `basket' of domains will be reported regularly with clarity about trends and interrelated
stories (e.g., "While X is on the rise, it is interesting to note that Y is flat, and Z is declining.
Possible explanations include..."
).

-- no doubt in acknowledgement of the possibility that people will continue to discuss, compare, judge, criticize, rank, etc. in terms of a single number.)

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 05:39:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now the CIW is a pretty good measure, in my opinion, although I'm not sure I buy the "Vital Communities," "Arts and Culture," and "Civic Engagement" variables, since I think that's too much a matter of taste.  The obvious question:  What, exactly, are those measuring?

The "Arts and Culture" variable also at least sounds like it would favor certain places above others, perhaps unfairly.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 10:39:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
although I'm not sure I buy the "Vital Communities," "Arts and Culture," and "Civic Engagement" variables, since I think that's too much a matter of taste.  The obvious question:  What, exactly, are those measuring?

Yeah, there's the rub.

Although a piece in yesterday's New York Times agrees that it's not GDP, nor Happiness, but Leisure and Social Interaction that we should measure -- and try to improve:

The era of laissez-faire happiness might be coming to an end. Some prominent economists and psychologists are looking into ways to measure happiness to draw it into the public policy realm. Thirty years from now, reducing unhappiness could become another target of policy, like cutting poverty. <...>

Happiness seems fairly cheap to manipulate. <...>

A notorious study in 1974 found that despite some 30 years worth of stellar economic growth, Americans were no happier than they were at the end of World War II. A more recent study found that life satisfaction in China declined between 1994 and 2007, a period in which average real incomes grew by 250 percent.

Happiness, it appears, adapts. It's true that the rich are happier, on average, than the poor. But while money boosts happiness, the effect doesn't last. We just become envious of a new, richer set of people than before. Satisfaction soon settles back to its prior level, as we adapt to changed circumstances and set our expectations to a higher level.

<...>

Despite happiness' apparently Sisyphean nature, there may be ways to increase satisfaction over the long term. While the extra happiness derived from a raise or a winning lottery ticket might be fleeting, studies have found that the happiness people derive from free time or social interaction is less susceptible to comparisons with other people around them. Nonmonetary rewards -- like more vacations, or more time with friends or family -- are likely to produce more lasting changes in satisfaction.

<...>

More broadly, if the object of public policy is to maximize society's well-being, more attention should be placed on fostering social interactions and less on accumulating wealth. If growing incomes are not increasing happiness, perhaps we should tax incomes more to force us to devote less time and energy to the endeavor and focus instead on the more satisfying pursuit of leisure.

All They Are Saying is Give Happiness a Chance

If so, it would suggest that the CIW is at least on the right track with its "Vital Communities" and "Time Use" categories, despite the challenges od measuring those that you point out.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 04:09:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that CIW looks interesting. The thing that bothers me on this conference is the heavy political influence in it, with half of the organizing committee being EU politicians.

I understand that a single indicator can be useful, if only for communication purposes. However, any composite index will need many choices about what to include and how to wheigh them. And given that there is no more or less "natural" choice for these weights (as opposed to for example the weights used in stock market indices),
it is going to be vulnerable to tuning to get desirable answers.

To put it bluntly, I can't imagine the EU developing an index on which it (or at least its richer parts) score below the US, nor one on which Germany and France differ substantially from each other, or score below the UK. In fact, I don't think the UK will adopt any measure developed  by the EU, no matter how well it scores on it. Basically, if the EU as organization is involved in its development, no matter how good the measure is, it will be a bit suspect

I think it would be much safer if separate people, countries and organizations develop their own measures for their own purposes, much like the CIW you mention. Then, after these have been tested and fine-tuned we can compare them, see how they correlate and scale to different countries and situations. After that, the politicians can come in and pick one that works as they would like it. Let them pick a car but not design the engine.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but this conference seems to be about a much earlier stage in the development. It would be wise to let them explain what they would like to see in an index, but please let independent people develop the details.

by GreatZamfir on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 10:44:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pieter Everaers: European Commission, Eurostat
Enrico Giovannini: OECD
Hazel Henderson: Club of Rome
Andreas Huber: European Parliament
Tony Long: WWF
Robin Miège: European Commission, DG Environment

I see only one politician.* Being in the eurostat service or the DG environment does not make you a politician.

*Actually, not one. I looked up Andreas Huber, and he's head of the environment committee secretariat of the EP, not a Member of Parliament himself.

These are all civil servants.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 01:10:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First of all, you're exactly right on the need to move away from single criteria in political economy. Not necessarily a different number but more numbers. Personally, I think for instance the Human Development Index is less informative than its three component indicators.

The Human Development Index (HDI) then represents the average of the following three general indices:

LE: Life expectancy at birth
ALR: Adult literacy rate (ages 15 and older)
CGER: Combined gross enrolment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary schools
GDPpc: GDP per capita at PPP in USD

It's possible that the EU is just trying to come up with a measure that makes it look better than the US, but I think the problem is that the EU has gotten itself into a pinch with its Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs, especially on the "Growth" bit, because "growth" is not sustainable as currently configured (for a data point, see my diary Spain is unsustainable on November 11th, 2007). It has been suggested to make non-renewable resource extraction (which is not "production"!) contribute a negative amount to GDP as a way to measure "sustainable" growth.

On the "jobs" part of the Lisbon strategy, when one thinks that filling a call centre with telemarketers counts as "jobs", one realizes that there's more to a sensible employment policy than to get people to spend 8 hours a day doing no matter what to earn a living.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 06:08:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't quite follow the EU needing or wanting a measure that makes it look better than the US.  Isn't the EU growing faster at the moment, or did the US pull ahead again in the last two quarters?

The use of non-renewable resources is already captured in future GDP.  We could put it in the current figure, but I think we'd really just be talking about one means of accounting vs another.

The problem with GDP -- and here I'm speaking only to the economics of it -- is that it doesn't give our populations a full story on how the typical person is doing.  Median real income growth/contraction is a much better measure, but that, too, isn't perfect.  GDP is fine for central bankers who need a picture of the economy as a whole, but it's of little use beyond those sorts of macroeconomic issues.

The HDI is a good start as a measure that the public can use to judge how things are going, but I agree with everyone here about needing more numbers.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 10:27:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru above already mentioned the Lisbon agenda. In 2000, there was a large conference with all European leaders, and they made plans to

"make Europe, by 2010, the most competitive and the most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world".

With this, they of course implicitly claimed that the EU was in 2000 not the most competitive blah-blah of the world. Since then, little has been done and nothing has been achieved. European growth figures haven't changed much and US GDP and productivity growth have been comparable or higher than those of the EU countries most of the time. Most projects announced. like the European Institute of Technology, have been ditched because no one was interested.

So,there is reason to suspect that the European Committee would very much like to have a different index on which the EU is doing better than the US, is growing faster than the US, etcetera.

If you believe that the EU was OK in 2000, than it still is doing fine. If you think the EU had a problem in 2000, then the problem hasn't gone away. But the Committee will soon have claim that the EU was doing bad in 2000 and a great job now, so they are in definite need for creative accounting.

by GreatZamfir on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 11:34:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if that is what the EU is truing to do it shouldn't be allowed to.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 11:50:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Growth in knowledge is totally sustainable.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 11:53:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the thing about "most competitive", "most dynamic", "growth" coming from a bunch of economic neoliberals.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 11:56:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well you have expressed your views on the EU fairly vehemently ;-)

But I still think the Lisbon Declaration was a 'good thing', and that the failed promise to implement its aims is regrettable.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 12:09:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the concern being voiced here is that this is a PR exercise, moving the goalposts so that the EU can claim it has achieved the goals it merked for itself in 2010. That's what I was referring to when I said "if this is what the EU is trying to do".

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 01:03:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My misunderstanding.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 01:49:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think they are. Note that they don't have Al Gore on the list of speakers :-)

(These kinds of conferences don't get that much media attention, really)

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 01:58:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At least this brief conversation lead me to the guy's writing who the Lisbon Agenda (or whatever it is called) was based upon: Joseph Alois Schumpeter (February 8, 1883 - January 8, 1950). Austrian chappie played by Peter Lorre in the movie '"Über die matematische Methode der theoretischen Ökonomie". The new Director's Final CutDVD is just out. Fellow called Read all about him here.

Schumpeter and democratic theory

In the same book, Schumpeter expounded a theory of democracy which sought to challenge what he called the 'classical doctrine'. He disputed the idea that democracy was a process by which the electorate identified the common good, and politicians carried this out for them. He argued this was unrealistic, and that people's ignorance and superficiality meant that in fact they were largely manipulated by politicians, who set the agenda. This made a 'rule by the people' concept both unlikely and undesirable. Instead he advocated a minimalist model, much influenced by Max Weber, whereby democracy is the mechanism for competition between leaders, much like a market structure. Although periodical votes from the general public legitimize governments and keep them accountable, the policy program is very much seen as their own and not that of the people, and the participatory role for individuals is severely limited.



You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 02:03:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Someone is doing something...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 02:20:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I should ready the diary before jumping into the comments...

Thanks for posting this, Bruno-Ken! Will be on the webstream whenever I have the time.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 05:14:59 AM EST
Actually, when I learned about this, you were among the first people I thought who could represent ET there (now that you're accruing some proto-pundit street cred -- or at least web cred.)

(^_-)

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 05:46:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For those attending, it might be of interest to download the brand new European Union foreign direct investment yearbook 2007 (Data 2001-2005)

"Foreign direct investment (FDI) plays a key role in the globalisation process and is an important element affecting international relations. An international investment is classified as FDI when at least 10% of the capital of the target enterprise is acquired. The publication provides detailed data on EU - FDI for recent years, for both EU FDI abroad and FDI into the EU. It provides an overview of the position of the EU in World FDI and a comparison with the US. For EU FDIabroad, a particular focus is put on EU FDI in emerging countries. Finally, FDI data with major partners are detailed according to the kind of activity in which the investment takes place. Data focus on the EU as whole and, to a lesser extent, on the Member States."

It is certainly thorough. You can download here

Look for the blue menu item 'pocketbook' bottom right...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 11:42:24 AM EST
People use the GDP because it is a measure of money and money is what is important to bankers and stock investors. It is therefore also important to their trained monkeys, euphemistically called economists.

This conference illustrates another way that the money sector is unwilling to face the future. Given modern technology why should anyone have to travel half way around the globe to attend a conference in person anymore?

We seem to manage to interact in ways similar to a conference (papers presented, citations offered, supporting illustrative material shown, and comments offered) without going anywhere. I can't think of anything earth changing that has emerged from a conference or white paper in, well, ever.

Earth shaking discoveries get disseminated via other mechanisms, although sometimes the announcement is withheld for dramatic effect until a conference. (This is more true of scientific conferences.)

The world seems to have created an international punditry class and in order to justify their existence they hold meeting and publish papers. Pointless.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 04:12:05 PM EST
Similar thoughts occurred to me.  I feel a jarring psychological dissonance between the stated objective of moving "Beyond the GDP" on the one hand and including "Cocktail Reception" in the program on the other.

And to be honest, I am still nervously trying to decipher Zwackus's meaning in his comment that If the thought of cost even occurs to you, you're probably not the kind of person they're inviting.

Having said that, I think it's asking too much of the EU to go from 0 to 100 in one step: i.e. from single-location, physical attendance-based conferences to completely web-based, open to all, global virtual forums (even Yearly Kos is primarily physical attendance-based, right?); drop all the trappings of elitish academic/political/bureaucratic conferences (e.g. cocktail receptions and white papers); and, with regards to the substance of this conference, going from the total domination of GDP to dropping single indicators as a bad idea altogether.

Shouldn't we draw encouragement from the fact that such an establishment-based conference that formally and publicly (although without as much fanfare as it could have had) proposes to overturn the GDP monocracy?

Or do we throw out the baby of institutional evolution and stirrings for progress with the water of inevitable (yet temporary) intitutional inertia?

Put differently, do we compromise and work within and through the system trying to make incremental changes, or do we check out altogether and try to change things in our own self-initiated partnerships and communities outside established institutions?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Nov 12th, 2007 at 04:44:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PRNewswire-USNewswire via EarthTimes.org - Press Release: GLOBESCAN Survey for the BEYOND GDP Conference, European Parliament, Nov. 19th and 20th

This survey was conducted by GlobeScan, on behalf of Ethical Markets Media, in June to August 2007, and looked at opinions in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Kenya and Russia. Alignment in the United States seems likely. Previous studies (from the Americans Talk Issues Foundation) have shown up to 79 percent approval of a 'scorecard' of quality of life indicators in the United States.

These international polling results are timely as a handful of governments have started using growth measures that look beyond pure economics. The 'Green GDP', unveiled by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in 2004, was an effort to adjust China's economic model to take more account of its environmental consequences. Although recently suspended, the concept was popular with the Chinese population. And Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Indicators have received media attention worldwide. More recently, the British Conservative Party policy paper recommended using a beyond GDP index as a superior measure to GDP.

Further, many governments and non-government organizations have taken the initiative and devised their own indices. The best-known and emulated worldwide is the United Nation's Human Development Index, founded in 1990, which measures quality of life criteria. The World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Living Planet Index employs data on species loss. Ecological Footprint analyses measure hectares used to sustain our lifestyles. Other similar indices include the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) and the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life indicators, assessing national trends in the USA since 2000. Many local and city indexes are now in use worldwide, such as those in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Jacksonville, Florida since 1985.

This research across 10 countries shows public support for such broader measures of true wealth, looking beyond GDP. Clearly, international public opinion would be supportive of the goals of the Beyond GDP Conference in the European Parliament in November 2007. <...>

Go to http://www.ethicalmarkets.com/ for press release graphics and full survey.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Mon Nov 19th, 2007 at 06:49:02 PM EST
I have a nasty feeling that, in the end, they all suffer from the same basic problem as GDP: the measurement errors and differences in precisely what is being measured will make comparisons meaningless.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Nov 19th, 2007 at 07:01:32 PM EST
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