David Harvey claimed that the work of financiers shifted to be included in the calculation of national productivity in the 1970s. Previous to this, Harvey claims that finance was excluded from GDP calculations:

"Back in 1970 it (finance) would not have been classified as productive".

This seems to imply that the weakening of Glass Steagall somehow changed this concept. Does anyone have any concrete sources to support the claim that financial activity shifted to be included in GDP calculations in the 1970s? Or are we talking about interest payments and the like as the implied contribution?

  • $\begingroup$ Can you please provide link to the claim (or list source) so we can get more context? $\endgroup$
    – 1muflon1
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ Banks charge fees like any other service provider and that would always have been be part of the GDP calculation, but they also provide "free" services from part of their margin between interest paid on deposits and interest charged on loans (another part of the margin covers loans written off) and I believe that the implicit charge for "free" services may have been introduced to GDP later. $\endgroup$
    – Henry
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 17:24

1 Answer 1


That claim seems completely untrue to me. Finance was one of the sectors in the first US National Income estimates (page 3) back in 1930s, which was probably the first modern analysis of national accounts. You can also notice that banking is one of the productive sectors in the very first edition of the UN System of National Accounts (Appendix 1) that was published in 1953.


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