Friday, September 30, 2011

History of statistics that failed to add up

Financial Times
September 30, 2011

Until recently Greek statistics were viewed with derision by the country’s eurozone partners.

Officials still joke about a large upward revision of gross domestic product in 2005, in which the then head of the statistical service claimed to have captured a large chunk of the black economy, “including the sizeable contribution of gambling and prostitution”.

According to revised budget data by Eurostat, the European Union statistical agency, Greece would have failed even to gain admission to the eurozone in 2001, as its deficit exceeded the upper limit of 3 per cent of gross domestic product.

The discovery of another deficit fudge triggered the country’s current crisis, when the newly elected Socialist government revealed a double-digit deficit in October 2009 – almost three times the previous forecast.


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