The political economy of economic metrics (WEA online conference is now open)
Economic metrics are used to describe the world. Enormous amounts of money are spent on measuring GDP, employment, wages, unemployment, inflation, consumer and producer confidence, debt, money, the price level and whatever. These metrics show us if inequality is rising or if unemployment is going down. But these metrics are not just, or even mainly, gathered for the sake of science.
They also play a role in economic policy and are often designed to enable this. Some of these metrics like government debt as a percentage of GDP, are even used to call entire countries to account – they surely are part of ‘the language of power’.
But are we measuring the right metrics? And do we measure them in the right way? Or are our insights and policies biased because we’re looking at biased and incomplete metrics? And are we looking at them in the right way? Or do they act as blindfolds? Who decides anyway and on which grounds about the very definitions and about the money spent on gathering the data?
These kinds of questions are being discussed in the World Economics Association internet conference on The political economy of economic metrics. The conference, which is led by Merijn Knibbe and Dirk Bezemer, is now open here http://peemconference2013.worldeconomicsassociation.org/ Anyone may take part.