This week the government changed the way it measures the size and growth of our economy. Its new figures deliver a clear message, one that reinforces President Obama's recent emphasis on shifting away from deficit mania and focusing on jobs.
If you don't want to review the data yourself, we'll get you through it all in 10 easy steps:
1. This is a better way to measure the economy.
These changes make sense. Previous measurements didn't include investment in research and development or intellectual and artistic efforts, both of which have an essential role to play in our national destiny.
These new figures, from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), are a better way to measure the economy.
2. These changes have some interesting effects.
Adding the value of intellectual creations to the total size of our economy leads to some unexpected results. As the Financial Times reported, Seinfeld has earned $3.1 billion in syndicated reruns since the show ended its original broadcasts in 1998.
Those earnings will now be included in the nation's GDP, in a category known as "artistic originals," along with books, movies, music, other television programs, and other copyrighted materials. They're calling it "the Seinfeld effect."
The new methodology will also change the way pensions are included in the GDP. It's technical, but they will use a technique called "accrual-based accounting" to calculate ... yada yada yada "
What? Oh, I get it. You're still thinking about "the Seinfeld effect."
3. The economy's bigger than we thought.
The value of this intangible capital adds roughly 3.6 percent to the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
4. Which means that government deficits are even less of a problem than we thought.
Washington's deficit hysteria has been misplaced from the start. European obsession with austerity economics caused that continent massive economic harm (and actually increased European deficits.) The flaw in this thinking's become even clearer as the national deficit has continued to fall, from over 10 percent of GDP in 2009 to a projected 4 percent for the current fiscal year.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
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