Naturally we wish the new US President Barack Obama well in the tough job he has ahead and in his commitment to boost the nation's construction industry in a bid to improve the massive yet increasingly tatty infrastructure.

From the news there would appear to be an international surge in happiness following his election victory.

But I would also like to offer best wishes to King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the 28 year-old Oxford educated newly installed head of state of Bhutan, which recently embarked on a path of democracy.

He intends to remain committed to economic development based on Gross National Happiness, eschewing the more traditional path of pursuing material wealth.

As we head into recession and reflect cynically on the purpose of the past 16 years of economic growth, measured on the basis of Gross National Product (or alternatively GDP), it is refreshing to have a true alternative with which we can compare our chosen economic path.

I have always been interested in the notion of measuring happiness rather than wealth and this interest was reignited when I was lucky to have been given the book Happiness by Richard Layard, who is the programme director at the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.

I recommend it as a good read and for those with a passing interest I have attached a link to a paper he gave on the subject.