…And the treatment of public debt in the government’s books gets left in some disarray.
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It’s Andreas Georgiou, the head of Greece’s independent statistics agency, Elstat.
Andrew Dilnot CBE, chair of the UK statistics authority, writes to David Cameron…
Or for that matter, to what degree are national regulators?
Effective monitoring means having good data. The data the European Central Bank currently have is arguably not enough for even the macro-prudential supervision they’d like to do, let alone the more specific kind — a troubling thought if it is to build out a regulatory capacity. Data availability is hampered by legal issues as well as challenges around design and collection. Read more
Thanks to John Kemp, analyst at Reuters and long-time FT Alphaville favourite, for letting us cross-publish his column this morning. An archive of John’s work can be found here.
Economists and media commentators have lined up to question the accuracy of estimates published by Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), showing gross domestic product shrank 0.2 percent in the first quarter, tipping the economy back into recession. Read more
The head of Elstat, Greece’s new independent statistics agency, faces an official criminal investigation for allegedly inflating the scale of the country’s fiscal crisis and acting against the Greek national interest. Andreas Georgiou told the FT he was “being prosecuted for not cooking the books”. The accusations against him are likely to shock EU officials, who are due to meet on Tuesday to discuss a delayed loan tranche for Athens. Mr Georgiou worked at the IMF for 20 years and was appointed in 2010 by agreement with the fund and the European Commission to clean up Greek statistics after years of official fudging by the finance ministry. Mr Georgiou is due to appear before Greece’s prosecutor for financial crime on December 12 to answer the charges. If convicted of “betraying the country’s interests”, he could face life imprisonment.
China is underreporting the amount of steel it makes by about 40m tonnes a year – roughly the amount made by Germany, the FT says. Detective work by Meps, a UK steel consultancy, indicates that Chinese steel output last year was 672m tonnes – nearly half of the world output – as opposed to the 627m tonnes reported by the Chinese authorities. The underreporting has been corroborated by several industry participants, including one of the three big global iron ore producers, and provides insights into the recent high prices for the main raw material used by the world steel industry.
There is a lot of debate on whether the market is actually getting a decent picture of the UK economy at the moment — typified by the latest GDP release, though there’s also construction output and all sorts of indicators playing up and becoming highly volatile.
So we thought we’d pass along this observation from Marchel Alexandrovich, an economist at Jefferies (H/T Bryce Elder): Read more
The US Energy Information Administration, distributor of the world’s most scrutinised and transparent energy statistics, is facing tough budget choices on account of the government’s ongoing debt ceiling fiasco.
Indeed, as the now hard-up EIA stated in a press release on Thursday, it’s come to the point where it’s even holding meetings to seek advice on how it can make its data gathering processes more efficient: Read more
Wikileaks, fresh from angering US authorities, might be about to incur the wrath of China’s economic establishment. The controversial site has published a US embassy cable containing comments made in 2007 by Li Keqiang — then head of the Communist Party in Liaoning and now the man some tip to become the PRC’s next head of government. Read more
A highly damaging — and deeply anonymous — piece of analysis started making the rounds on Wednesday, reports FT Alphaville. Sent from a specially-created Gmail account, with no named author(s), it explores “discrepancies” within published Spanish GDP figures. It questions Spain’s official GDP statistics for the period between 2007 and 2009, suggesting the national statistics office may have understated the country’s decline in growth by as much as 14.2 per cent. Read more
Next time you’re thinking about reacting to the first print of some important UK economic data — please bear in mind this press release from the Office of National Statistics, released on Wednesday:
Quarterly National Accounts (Q1 2010) scheduled for publication on 30 June 2010 at 9.30am has been postponed by the Office for National Statistics. Read more