Gross Domestic Product
Gross domestic product (GDP) is defined by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as "an aggregate measure of production equal to the sum of the gross values added of all resident, institutional units engaged in production (plus any taxes, and minus any subsidies, on products not included in the value of their outputs)."
GDP estimates are commonly used to measure the economic performance of a whole country or region, but can also measure the relative contribution of an industry sector. This is possible because GDP is a measure of 'value added' rather than sales; it adds each firm's value added (the value of its output minus the value of goods that are used up in producing it). For example, a firm buys steel and adds value to it by producing a car; double counting would occur if GDP added together the value of the steel and the value of the car. Because it is based on value added, GDP also increases when an enterprise reduces its use of materials or other resources ('intermediate consumption') to produce the same output.
The more familiar use of GDP estimates is to calculate the growth of the economy from year to year (and recently from quarter to quarter). The pattern of GDP growth is held to indicate the success or failure of economic policy and to determine whether an economy is 'in recession'.
The gross domestic product (GDP) is one the primary indicators used to gauge the health of a country's economy. It represents the total dollar value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period - you can think of it as the size of the economy. Usually, GDP is expressed as a comparison to the previous quarter or year. For example, if the year-to-year GDP is up 3%, this is thought to mean that the economy has grown by 3% over the last year.
Measuring GDP is complicated (which is why we leave it to the economists), but at its most basic, the calculation can be done in one of two ways: either by adding up what everyone earned in a year (income approach), or by adding up what everyone spent (expenditure method). Logically, both measures should arrive at roughly the same total.
The income approach, which is sometimes referred to as GDP(I), is calculated by adding up total compensation to employees, gross profits for incorporated and non incorporated firms, and taxes less any subsidies. The expenditure method is the more common approach and is calculated by adding total consumption, investment, government spending and net exports.
As one can imagine, economic production and growth, what GDP represents, has a large impact on nearly everyone within that economy. For example, when the economy is healthy, you will typically see low unemployment and wage increases as businesses demand labor to meet the growing economy. A significant change in GDP, whether up or down, usually has a significant effect on the stock market. It's not hard to understand why: a bad economy usually means lower profits for companies, which in turn means lower stock prices. Investors really worry about negative GDP growth, which is one of the factors economists use to determine whether an economy is in a recession.
The value of a country's overall output of goods and services (typically during one fiscal year) at market prices, excluding net income from abroad.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) can be estimated in three ways which, in theory, should yield identical figures. They are:
- Output basis: how many goods and services were sold, and
These estimates, published quarterly, are constantly revised to approach greater accuracy. The most closely watched data is the period to period change in output and consumption, in real (inflation adjusted) terms. If indirect taxes are deducted from the market prices and subsidies are added, it is called GDP at factor cost or national dividend. If depreciation of the national capital stock is deducted from the GDP, it is called net domestic product. If income from abroad is added, it is called gross national product (GNP). The main criticisms of GDP as a realistic guide to a nation's well-being are that:
- it is preoccupied with indiscriminate production and consumption, and