> I'm particularly stupid so can someone bright
> please explain something to me?
> 1. Does it matter if the GDP goes up or down? I
> can't say it's ever made any difference to my
> life, nor the lives of anyone I've ever met. But
> maybe someone on here can say if it has affected
> their life.
Not sure of your age minkturtle, but by my age many people have lost their job in a recession at least once, maybe more.
(But at least things are not as bad as in Spain, where the youth unemployment rate is more than 40%, and the overall unemployment rate is now over 20% - that's one in five.)
> 2. Is the measurement accurate? 0.5% doesn't sound
> like a lot to me.
0.5% of a very large number is a very large number.
> 3. What is GDP anyway? What difference does it
The value of all the goods and services we produce.
> 4. Why such an obsession with growth? How come
> sometimes they get upset because it's 'only grown'
> by a little amount, or less than was expected? Why
> can't things just stay the same? Why do we get
> unhappy if it doesn't constantly grow?
Why such an obsession with growth? Why indeed. Good question.
Some would argue that growth is essential in the Western capitalist system, where individuals, firms and governments borrow huge amounts of money, and then later need to pay back both interest and principal. Without growth, there would not be a way of paying that interest. So by spending today what we will only receive tomorrow, we are making a rod for our own backs. And we are slaves to the banks (or rather, those that borrow are) who make considerable sums by lending out money belonging to others, as well as money they've conjured out of thin air.
It has also been argued that once peak oil (and peak everything else) kicks in, growth will become difficult, and the economy will just bumble along roughly on a plateau, as resources factors limit growth each time we enter the start of a growth phase.
And I don't think that was the "no more boom and bust" that Gordon Brown was thinking of back in ?2006?
> 5. Is anybody outside the media and financial
> analysis actually bothered about any of this?
> 6. There's always a lot of talk about debt and
> deficit and cuts - but who are we in debt to? And
> how come they've got so much money to lend out?
> Would it be a problem if they just said, hey,
> don't worry about it?
A nice little 3 minute tongue-in-cheek explanation:
The possibility of major nations defaulting on their debt has been mooted. What exactly would the Chinese etc. do if the US said ya-boo-sucks, for example? I suspect the whole system would fall like dominoes and we could forget those things we take for granted like food on the table, cash from the cash machine, and water from the tap. All deals would be off.
> 7. And for that matter, what's the deal with
> interest rates and inflation and pretty much
> everything else? Couldn't we just live without all
> that stuff and let things take their natural
> course without getting all het up?
You clearly don't have savings, a mortgage, a loan etc. etc., or live on a pension.
If you live in the here and now (no savings, no debt) with a guaranteed income from employment that keeps up (at least) with inflation, that's fine and dandy. But you'll still find your taxes going up to pay for the behaviour of others. (If GDP is flat-lining or going down, the government still has to get the money from somewhere to pay for services, pensions, benefits, bank rescues...and wars of course :-/ and all the money it has to borrow and the interest it has to pay)
> Smart people explain please.
I'm not smart but I hope I've addressed some of the questions in a useful way.