• December 16, 2014

What do GDP and free agency in major league sports have in\r\ncommon? Both rank among the 85 most ?disruptive ideas? since 1929, according to\r\nBloomberg Businessweek magazine.

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Also, Robert R. Nathan played a role in both.

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GDP

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Nathan, the founder of Nathan Associates, worked for his former\r\nprofessor Simon Kuznets at the Commerce Department in the 1930s. During this\r\ncollaboration, Nathan assembled data\r\nto create estimates of national income, using surveys, scattered studies, and\r\nreports. The resulting publications formed the basis for gross national\r\nnational product (GNP), then gross domestic product (GDP).

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Although Kuznets\r\nreturned to the University of Pennsylvania, Nathan stayed on to serve as chief\r\nof the National Income Section at Commerce. And during World War II he used the\r\nNational Income Product Accounts and GDP as chief of the Planning Committee of\r\nthe War Mobilization Board.

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?Getting a grip\r\non GDP, including its thousands of components, empowers the planners in both\r\nBig Government and Big Business,? Peter Coy of Bloomberg Businessweek wrote. ?It was conceived mainly in Great\r\nBritain and the U.S., first to understand and combat the Great Depression, then\r\nto organize war production to defeat the Axis powers.??

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Free Agency in Major League Baseball

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Free agency dates to 1975, when an arbitrator ruled in favor\r\nof two pitchers, Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally. Free agency, Bob Costas\r\nwrote for the magazine, made baseball ?fairer? and ?more interesting.?

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?Led by the\r\nformidable Marvin Miller, the union?s head, and propelled by the courage of\r\nCurt Flood, an All-Star center fielder who had essentially walked away from the\r\ngame a few years earlier rather than accept a trade, the players? cause had\r\nbeen gaining steam,? Costas wrote.

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Nathan testified\r\nin 1970 in federal court supporting Flood?s challenge to the reserve clause,\r\nwhich gave team owners virtual control over where players played. Flood lost\r\nthe court case, brought on antitrust grounds, and an appeal to the Supreme\r\nCourt. But Major League Baseball in 1970 did permit senior players to veto\r\ntrades.

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The magazine published the list\r\nto mark the 85th anniversary of its founding, as Business Week.

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