bankers economic advisers development consultants IMF special ists World

Bankers economic advisers development consultants imf

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bankers, economic advisers, development consultants, IMF special- ists, World Bankers and the like, as these technocrats know best how to propel economic growth and manage the business cycle. 11 But GDP is not an arbitrary invention, it merely registers the econo- mists’ recognition that the only thing of interest to capitalists is the value and the surplus-value that can be extracted from living labor. 12 Thus he says, “GDP is not just a number. It is the number par excellence … in the case of GDP statistics, to measure is to rule.” 13 There is a grain of truth here—as we shall see in the next section, GDP data imperfectly portray a world marked by gross inequality between rich and poor countries, yet at the same time conceal the exploitative, imperialistic relation between them. This is accomplished not by arbitrarily excluding important cat- egories of social production from the calculation of GDP, although this undoubtedly contributes to the deception, but because of what is included: the fallacious and tautological concept of value added . The result, as we shall see in the next section, obscures both the exploitation of labor by capital and of poor nations by rich nations, and this is indeed instrumental in maintaining the rule, not of a number, nor of the tech- nocrats responsible for calculating it, but of the capitalist class they serve. Dirk Philipsen, professor of economic history at Duke University and the author of yet another recent history of GDP, The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World and What to Do About It, makes the same mistake as Fioramonti, but in a far more crass manner, when he argues that “the tyranny of ignorance that characterized modern econo- mies into the 1930s and helped bring about the Great Depression has been replaced by another kind of tyranny, that of a single metric.” 14 No, the tyranny is not of a number; it is not a number that rules the world, as the title of his book claims, capitalists rule the world. According to
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256 IMPERIALISM IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY Philipsen, “The more central GDP has become, the more wreckage it has produced: depletion of resources, climate change, erosion of communi- ties, social decay, rapid decline of biodiversity, a stark divide between haves and have-nots—and resulting endless conflict.” 15 No, capitalism , not “GDP,” is inflicting these evils. Philipsen’s anti-growth tract seeks to protect capitalism and rescue it from its malevolent consequences: “Following the GDP logic is a self-inflicted problem. It is not . . . an inevitable result of the profit motive, nor is it necessary to run modern economies. Instead, its particular logic is directly traceable to a series of responses to 1930s disaster and war.” 16 GDP and GNP GDP differs from GNP (Gross National Product) because the former includes income generated domestically by foreign firms and individu- als and excludes income generated overseas by a country’s own firms and citizens. If net profit repatriation and remittance of wages abroad is
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