Put out the FIRE (in GDP)!

No one can escape discussions about the state of “the economy.” They inform political campaigns in the U.S., debt and austerity battles in the Eurozone, and development efforts in the poorest countries in the world. Our ideas about “the economy” — how it works, what it involves, and how it is measured — provide the departure point for our debates over inequality, unemployment, wages and a host of other hot topics. And no metric for describing and assessing national economic health is used more frequently today than Gross Domestic Product (GDP).