Press Releases

PPI Unveils New Study, Rome Conference on “The Data-Driven Economy”

By / 10.4.2012


Steven Chlapecka –, T: 202.525.3931

WASHINGTON—Government statistics don’t show it, but the production and consumption of data is the leading edge of economic growth in the United States, says a new report released today by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI).

The report, Beyond Goods and Services: The (Unmeasured) Rise of the Data-Driven Economy, is by Dr. Michael Mandel, PPI’s Chief Economic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Wharton’s Mack Center for Technological Innovation. It was prepared for a transatlantic conference in Rome on Oct. 11-12 organized by PPI and John Cabot University.

Government statistical agencies, notes Mandel, traditionally divide economic activity into two categories: goods and services. Data, however, is neither a good or service:

Data is intangible, like a service, but can be easily stored and delivered far from its original production point, like a good. What’s more, the statistical techniques that have been traditionally used to track goods and services don’t work well for data-driven economic activities. The implication is that the key statistics watched by policy makers – economic growth, consumption, investment and trade – dramatically understate the importance of data for the economy. In turn, these misleading statistics distort government policy.

To remedy this problem, Mandel proposes that data be added as a primary economic category alongside goods and services. After adjusting government figures to account for unmeasured data consumption, Mandel estimates that real U.S. GDP rose at a 2.3 percent rate in the first half of 2012, compared to the official rate of 1.7 percent.

Next week’s Rome conference, The Rise of the Data-Driven Economy: Implications for Growth and Policy, brings together two dozen representatives of U.S. and European companies, officials of the European Union and Parliament, and academic experts. The forum will highlight the contribution of data-driven growth to the economies of Europe as well the United States; examine the potential impact of new European Union rules on data regulation and privacy on cross-border data flows; and, explore broader Internet governance questions that will on the agenda in December’s meeting of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai.

Leading representatives of U.S. Internet and telecommunications firms will also be hand to discuss corporate responsibility for empowering customers to protect their privacy and being ethical stewards of data. These include Laura Fennell, General Counsel of Intuit; Maurice Fitzgerald, Vice President of Strategy-Autonomy of Hewlett-Packard; Carolyn Nuygen, Technology Policy Strategist of Microsoft; Anthony House, Manager of Public Policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Google; and Ed Black, President and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

The Progressive Policy Institute is an independent, innovative and high-impact D.C.-based think tank founded in 1989. As the original “idea mill” for President Bill Clinton’s New Democrats, PPI has a long legacy of promoting break-the-mold ideas aimed at economic growth, national security and modern, performance-based government. Today, PPI’s unique mix of political realism and policy innovation continues to make it a leading source of pragmatic and creative ideas.

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