Diane Coyle: innovation, intangibles, inequality, sustainability and measuring beyond GDP


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Economist Diane Coyle is the Bennett Professor of Public Policy, Cambridge University. She co-directs the Bennett Institute, where she heads research under the themes of progress and productivity. Her work has touched innovation, technology and intangibles; sustainability, inequality and measuring beyond GDP.

We discuss the challenges of the current narrowness in economics both in terms of the diversity of people it attracts and the paucity of wider ranging interdisciplinary thinking.

Diane’s 1997 book (The Weightless World) was prescient over many technology, innovation and intangibles trends but sustainability was a missing hole. We discuss sustainability and what she felt she missed and what she had right.

Diane critiques degrowth ideas while noting the challenges which catalyse that type of thinking.

We chat about measurement challenges in an intangible world and how while GDP might have measured more usefully in the past but that in the present it misses many areas of value. In passing, Diane critiques happiness indices and elements of the human development index.

We address the UK’s productivity challenges (but don’t expect we have solved it?!) and conclude it is not only a measurement challenge.

We discuss inequality and “superstar earners” across all sectors and possible solutions.

Diane over-rates / under-rates:

Universal Basic Income, a Job guarantee policy, Industrial Policy, Arrow’s impossibility theorem, running the economy hot; and the New Zealand Prime Minister.

We discuss minimum wage and tax policy. Win-win investment ideas and end with what a productive day looks like and advice for would-be economists.

Transcript and Video available here.

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