Around The World in 100 Words - August 2016; Week 33

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To those of you following my Around the World (ATW) blog, you'll know that it deals with the quotidian details of capital markets and the global economy. So this week, I thought I'd diverge from the norm to include commentary by Robert Kennedy. Though spoken in 1968 prior to his assassination, the words are as true today as then. They are a philosophical perspective on the economy as measured by the Gross National Product (now call the Gross Domestic Product). It asks of the reader to consider what is important ultimately, contrasting dry statistics with what we value (or should) as human beings. His comments are both insightful and profound. And they remind us of what truly is important in a world that seems to know the price of everything and the value of nothing. 
 
"Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things.  Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product - if we judge the United States of America by that - that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.   It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them.  It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.   It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities.  It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.   Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.   It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile." 
 
-Robert Kennedy 
 
The opinions expressed are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Manulife Securities Investment Services Inc.