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Gross Domestic Power: Geopolitical Economy and the History of National Accounts

In: Theoretical Engagements in Geopolitical Economy

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  • Jacob Assa

Abstract

Received histories present national accounts as universal, purely economic measures based mostly on theoretical foundations. This paper argues that this is an anachronistic approach to the long and uneven development of these estimates and builds on geopolitical economy to examine national income estimates as quantifications of state power. First, it reveals national income accounts to be historically and geographically contingent rather than universal, suggesting contestation instead of any hegemony or dominance of one central ideology. Second, the economic power and motivations of nation-states, rather than economic theory, are at the core of the design of national income estimates, which are used to promote states’ position in international competition as well as advocate for particular national economic policies. The history of national accounting closely tracks the rise of the nation-state, the unique phase of British hegemony, the two World Wars, the east-west competition of the Cold War, and the north-south competition of the recent two decades. To this day, revisions to national accounting systems reflect the shifting balance of power and incessant international competition.

Suggested Citation

  • Jacob Assa, 2015. "Gross Domestic Power: Geopolitical Economy and the History of National Accounts," Research in Political Economy, in: Radhika Desai (ed.), Theoretical Engagements in Geopolitical Economy, volume 30, pages 175-203, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:rpeczz:s0161-72302015000030a014
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    Cited by:

    1. Jacob Assa, 2017. "Leveraged Growth: Endogenous Money and Speculative Credit in a Stock-flow Consistent Measure of Output," Working Papers 1727, New School for Social Research, Department of Economics.
    2. Jacob Assa, 2016. "The Financialization of GDP and its Implications for Macroeconomic Debates," Working Papers 1610, New School for Social Research, Department of Economics.

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