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More Or Less Friday, 22 November, 2002, 15:13 GMT
Quantifying economic success
Euro notes and US dollars
What's the best way to measure economic performance?

More or Less was broadcast on Tuesday, 26 November, 2002 at 1600 GMT on BBC Radio 4.

 Click here to listen to the programme


How can one of the world's biggest economies be described by some as a basket case and by others as taking over the world?

When so much time and effort is devoted to crunching the numbers, it's a wonder there can be such divergence over a simple question about how well an economy is performing.

More or Less looks at the evidence which is proving so controversial and asks why we might get the wrong measure of another country and whether the public has been given a wholly wrong impression of success and failure.

More or Less put four economists in a room and got five different asessments of the state of an economy. A slight exaggeration. But through their disagreements we explore the problems of measuring economic health.

How can the numbers tell such different stories and what are we poor observers to make of it all?

And the image of numbers. Why do those who study or love them feel stereotyped as nerds?

Is there truth in the caricature? Are they, as one student tells us, instantly bracket with words like 'Star Trek'?

Plus the man who was once caught in an avalanche and now studies the maths of how they move by rolling ping-pong balls down a ski slope.

Producer: Michael Blastland
Editor: Nicola Meyrick

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