Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tufte’s Short Post # 15: Perhaps we’re not measuring the right things

Perhaps we’re not measuring the right things. We have millions of kids in the developing world walking around with (what in the 70’s would have been) trillions of dollars worth of computing power in their pockets. They clearly think this is valuable. Yet we measure this at current retail prices. The viewpoint of our statistics is that most of the time people spend on the internet is wasted. No one seriously believes that. Even so, our statistics are geared towards measuring the economy we don’t have any more, and that the Chinese do. Perhaps this is why we look so bad and they look so good.

There’s an arthouse film called Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould. You’re getting Twenty-Six Short Posts from Dr. Tufte. :) These are on why it’s difficult to understand the current macroeconomic situation.

Joe Baker is not a macroeconomist, but we all do a little bit of everything at SUU, so he has to teach principles of macroeconomics sometimes. The other day he asked for pointers about summing up for his students why we can’t quite figure out what’s wrong with the economy. I came up with 26 reasons, most of which have been discussed in class, and all of which are now required.

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