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Data Papers on Government statistics

Using Price-Adjusted Income Data to Measure Regional Income Inequality Across the UK
Julian Gough, World Economics, March 2018
Data for gross disposable household income for each region of the UK are published annually by the Office for National Statistics. The latest provisional data available are for the year 2015. The annual data for household income are in nominal terms only—i.e. they do not allow for differences in prices between regions of the UK, which distorts the results. A reliable deflator to correct the nominal data for differences in inter-regional price levels was derived from the regular survey of prices for calculating the Retail Prices Index, augmented by a special survey of prices of goods and services. When allowing for price level variations between nominal and real household income in different regions the greatest impact is on London. In real terms, household incomes in London are 6% lower than in nominal terms, amounting to a reduction of about £12.4 billion.
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The Data Quality Index
World Economics
World Economics, June 2017
GDP data is important used to apportion funds from international organisations, to influence rating agency decisions and much more, but official data is totally inadequate for the demands made of it. The notion of GDP data is flawed conceptually, but there are also severe methodological issues that need to be addressed prior to making international comparisons and assessing data reliability. World Economics has created an interactive Data Quality Index for users of economic data which considers five readily measurable factors that influence data reliability across countries. The Data Quality Index ranks 154 countries based on an equal weighting of the five factors, but users can adjust the importance of each to their data needs.
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The Environmental Kuznets Curve: The Validity of Kuznets and its Policy Implications
Harry Booth, World Economics, March 2017
The Kuznets curve is an income inequality measure used in development studies which predicts an inverse-U shape with inequality first rising with industrialisation and then declining, as more and more workers join the high-productivity sectors of the economy. Criticism of the Kuznets curve has focused on the validity of the data it was hypothesised upon as well as its econometric techniques. Kuznets’s work was based on time-series data for just three countries: the United States, the United Kingdom and two states in Germany. Kuznets used the historical shift from agriculture to industry to presume that inequality grew in both the UK and the USA before his time-series data started, although he had no data to confirm this. Later studies using relevant, up-to-date data have found that the Kuznets curve might not be strictly true for a specific country, but that it may hold true for a cross-section of countries, at a specific point in time.
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Are Estimates of the Economic Contribution of Financial Services Reliable
Brian Sturgess, World Economics, March 2017
The methods used to estimate the contribution of financial services to national income are seriously flawed. Banking sector output in the UK was estimated to have increased in 2008 while the financial services sector was collapsing. The relative contribution of service activities in GDP is not easy to measure, but there are many problems in measuring financial services in general and the output of banks in particular. National income accounting standards, used to estimate the output of financial intermediation companies such as banks, rely on flawed indirect measurements based on interest rate spreads. Furthermore, many services are provided at no charge so price indexes cannot be meaningfully created. The main method used, Financial Intermediation Services Indirectly Measured (FISIM), is arbitrary and fails to measure the quality of banking assets and risk. Over the period 2003–7, one study found that aggregate risk-adjusted output would have been only 60% of officially estimated output across the Euro area.
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Neglect Private Debt at the Economy’s Peril?: Applying Balance Sheet Recession Analysis to the Post Bail-in Cyprus Economy
Leslie G. Manison & Savvakis C. Savvides, World Economics, March 2017
The role of private debt as a cause of financial crises and prolonged recessions is often neglected. In Cyprus policy concern has focused on government debt despite the problem of a rapid growth of private debt and its wasteful use. Private debt in Cyprus stands at over 350% of GDP, but the European Commission’s policy of austerity and encouraging the redeployment of private assets through bankruptcy is based on a misdiagnosis of the problem. Studies of the importance of private debt and balance sheet recessions following financial crises conclude that policy-imposed austerity can only worsen and delay economic recovery. In Cyprus there is scope to raise productive government expenditures through using European Union funds, by raising revenue from the large base of unpaid taxes and by taxing the large shadow economy estimated at over 25% of GDP.
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Measuring the Success of Industrial Policy in Australia
Andrew Marks, World Economics, December 2016
Industry policy in the context of trade liberalization has played a critical reinforcing role in re-orienting production in the Australian manufacturing sector from the domestic to international market. In the textile, clothing, footwear and motor vehicle industries this has promoted sustainable output and employment growth. This policy has also been instrumental in improving the structure of manufacturing exports from simple to elaborately transformed manufacturing products. The niche capital and knowledge intensive nature of elaborately transformed manufacturing products is of particular importance because they exhibit a comparative advantage in international markets. This has helped to offset the competitive advantage provided by industry policy in stimulating manufacturing exports in the countries of the South East Asian region which constitute Australia’s major export markets. Pressure is also being applied on other countries to implement industrial policy in order to remain competitive on the international market and in particular in this rapidly growing region of the world.
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Exploding Debt Syndrome: The Politics of the Greek Debt Crisis
Elliot Y. Neaman & Shalendra D. Sharma, World Economics, September 2016
The economic roots of the Eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis are fairly well understood by scholars and analysts, but the political forces behind the crisis less so, despite the fact that the Eurozone predicament derives fundamentally from an intersection of mostly political factors, which led to the recent breakdown in European Union relations between northern and southern states. This paper fills in many of the gaps, by examining both the historical and the political forces behind the current Eurozone debt crisis with reference to Greece’s continuing debt problems.
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Towards a Better Understanding of International Capital Volatility
Graham Bird, World Economics, September 2016
Understanding why capital moves internationally in the way that it does has become increasingly important as capital accounts have been liberalized and as the size of international capital movements has expanded dramatically. International capital movements exert potentially significant effects on many key macroeconomic variables. The pattern of capital mobility reveals considerable volatility; surges, sudden stops and reversals are common features of the contemporary landscape of financial globalization. This article draws on both economic and behavioural approaches in an attempt to offer a reasonably complete analysis of capital movements and volatility. It also relates the ideas introduced to some specific episodes where international capital volatility has been observed. A better understanding of capital volatility involves recognizing that there is no simple and universally applicable explanation that fits all types of capital in all cases.
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The Digital Revolution – New Challenges for National Accounting?
Michael Grömling, World Economics, March 2016
The digital revolution has changed many industries, but measuring these changes from a national accounting perspective causes problems. Generally, in the transition periods during the introduction of new technologies, marked setbacks in the estimation of productivity growth are possible. Whereas new private goods are partly invisible in the national accounts because of measurement lags due to outdated accounting standards, more often only their negative substitution effects turn up in GDP measures. If this causes a market phenomenon it should be reflected initially in a weaker market production and productivity. In order to capture new private digital goods and their welfare effects a separate documentation of their introduction in a ‘satellite account’ is recommended.
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Inflation Targeting in Developing Countries
Anthony Gathogo & Wook Sohn, World Economics, June 2015
This paper analyzes economic and institutional factors that affect the likelihood of adopting an inflation-targeting monetary policy regime in emerging markets and developing countries. We use a logit model for a sample that comprises both inflation-targeting and non-targeting countries for the period of 1990–2009. The results show that countries experiencing improved macroeconomic performance and stronger institutional stability have a high chance of switching to the inflation-targeting framework. In particular, central bank independence, as measured by governor turnover rate and legal independence, positively affects the decision to change regimes.
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Measuring Employment in Developing Countries
Nomaan Majid, World Economics, September 2014
This paper is concerned with measuring categories of employment that have an economy-wide meaning in the developing world. Employment has always had two interconnected sides, output and income, and these two dimensions of employment operate under very different conditions in advanced and developing economies. A developing economy is divided into two parts, organised and unorganised in respect of labour. A large amount of surplus labour exists in the unorganised part creating underemployment that manifests itself in a range of forms of employed labour. In this situation the headcount of the employed overestimates economy-wide employment; and the headcount of the unemployed seriously underestimates economy-wide unemployment.
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Data Manipulation of Inflation Statistics Artificially Raises Real GDP: The Case of China
Christopher Balding, World Economics, June 2014
Baseline Chinese economic data are unreliable. Taking published National Bureau of Statistics China data, three problems appear. First, base data on housing price inflation are manipulated. Second, the NBSC misclassifies most Chinese households as private housing occupants. Third, the NSBC applies a straight 80/20 urban/rural private housing weighting. To correct for these manipulative practices, I use third party and related NBSC data to correct the change in consumer prices in China between 2000 and 2011. I find that using conservative assumptions about price increases, the annual CPI in China should be adjusted upwards by approximately 1%. This reduces real Chinese GDP by 8–12% or more than $1 trillion in PPP terms.
Keywords: China, Real GDP     Download Paper
The Power of Price Indexes: And how to use them to steal a hundred billion dollars, seriously underestimate Japanese growth for 20 years and escape easily from debt
Raymond Cheung and Mike Waterson
World Economics, March 2011
Price indexes are the most important of all economic indicators simply because they are the tool used to calculate the real size, speed and direction of all forms of economic activity. Price indexes are compiled almost everywhere, but with major differences in method and sampling procedures. Some methods and procedures have led to significant errors. Even in the case of a country as advanced as Japan, critics have calculated that imperfections in method have led to a rate of price inflation around 1.8% per year above the level a true cost of living index would have shown. Further research undertaken by World Economics has attempted to make estimates for changes in discounting and promotional practices at the retail level. The conclusion is that, in reality, the overestimation of price changes by the Japanese CPI in recent years may well have been in excess of 2% per annum, and could have been significantly more. Different CPI assumptions change economic growth estimates dramatically. Using World Economics estimates, adding in a minimum figure for marketing and retail changes seen in recent years suggests, contrary to official data, that Japanese consumption growth exceeded that of the US.
A Rising Consumer Class: A perspective on India
Manish Sonthalia, World Economics, December 2010
India has had two stages of growth, both related to consumption since 1947. The first was based on developing economic self sufficiency; the second on rising disposable income. It is now entering its third period of consumption growth which sees it entering the world stage as one of the largest consumers in the world. This paper explains the factors that are driving this dramatic shift from the emerging middle classes to the patterns of consumption and investment in India today.
Greek Economic Statistics: A Decade of Deceit: So how come the rating agencies missed it again?
Brian Sturgess, World Economics, June 2010
This paper looks at the recent problems in official Greek economic data on public finances, whose reliability has been impaired by inappropriate accounting methods, the application of poor statistical methods and deliberate misreporting. Data on deficits and debt have been misleading from before Greece’s eurozone entry, but despite a regular supply of public information about the problems, the rating agencies did not respond by downgrading Greek public debt until it was too late. These agencies reacted to, rather than leading, market tends that were already under way. The issue casts doubt on the fitness for purpose of the European Statistical System where the powers of Eurostat, the statistics arm of the European Commission have been inadequate to effectively monitor the fiscal status of eurozone countries. These powers, at present limited by the principle of subsidiarity to administering a Code of Practice, must be strengthened closer to approximating a power of audit.
Maddison and Wu: ‘Measuring China’s Economic Performance’
Yuri Dikhanov & Eric V. Swanson, World Economics, March 2010
Angus Maddison and Harry Wu (2008) claim that, in 2003, China’s GDP was 73% of that of the United States on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis. Rejecting the results of the 2005 International Comparison Program (ICP), they construct their own PPP using a 1986 GDP estimate for China (Ren & Chen 1995) which they adjust upwards, and then extrapolate to 2003 using their revised growth rates for China, which they adjust downwards. This note examines the validity of their adjustments and assumptions, and finds them to be inconsistent with recommendations both from the perspective of index number theory and recommended national accounting practices. The 2005 PPP estimates from the ICP, which Maddison and Wu reject, produce a more plausible estimate of the size of China’s economy relative to that of the US (43% in 2005).
Measuring China’s Economic Performance
Andreas (Andy) Jobst & Harry X. Wu, World Economics, June 2008
China is the world’s fastest growing economy and is also the second largest. However, the official estimates of the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics exaggerate GDP growth and need adjustment to conform to international norms as set out in the 1993 System of National Accounts (SNA). This paper presents and discusses the necessary adjustments. The two major contributions are new volume indices for the industrial sector and for "non-material" services. Finally, in order to measure the level of Chinese GDP in internationally comparable terms, the authors use a measure of purchasing power parity (PPP) instead of the exchange rate.
Measuring Consumer Inflation in the United Kingdom: Recent developments and the future outlook
David Fenwick, World Economics, March 2003
Responding to Mick Silver’s proposals regarding the RPI, David Fenwick of the ONS summarises some of the issues that confront compilers of price indices.
Some Proposed Methodological Developments for the UK Retail Prices Index
Mick Silver, World Economics, March 2003
The Retail Prices Index (RPI) is one of the UK’s most important macroeconomic indicators, as well as being used for indexation/adjustments for inflation to wages and benefits. This paper argues that the dynamic changes in product markets and consumers’ responses to price changes need to be incorporated into the RPI if it is to effectively measure changes in the cost of living. The quite positive and innovative work undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is acknowledged. However, the basis of the RPI, in measuring the price changes of a matched, fixed basket of goods, is considered inappropriate to modern markets. Some proposals are made.
Owner-occupiers and the Price Index
Ralph Turvey, World Economics, September 2000
The treatment of owner-occupied dwellings in Consumer Price Indexes varies between countries and is the subject of continuing controversy. Ralph Turvey explains the alternative possible treatments and reasons for disagreement.


Keywords: CPI, HICP, Inflation, Prices, RPI     Download Paper