World Economics

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A Statistician’s Ordeal - The Case of Andreas Georgiou
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Miranda Xafa, World Economics, September 2019
For the past eight years Andreas Georgiou has been facing prosecution for the way he discharged his duties while he was president of Greece’s statistical agency (ELSTAT) in 2010-15. His detractors claim that Greece was forced to face harsher conditionality because the deficit was revised upwards, thus helping to justify externally imposed austerity. Despite overwhelming evidence that Mr. Georgiou correctly applied EU rules in revising Greece’s fiscal deficit and debt figures, and despite strong international support for his case, some Greek courts continued the pursuit. The Georgiou case tested the independence of the Greek judiciary, as some senior prosecutors and judges would appear to have repeatedly failed to act in accordance with the rule of law and due process. With a solid majority in parliament, the newly-elected center-right New Democracy government has the opportunity to deliver deep institutional and economic reforms. Ensuring the independence of the judiciary should be a top priority.
The European Union Must Defend Andreas Georgiou
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Nicolas Véron, World Economics, March 2019
In August 2010, Andreas Georgiou, former President of the Hellenic Statistical Authority, was charged with having harmed Greece's national interests. In this paper, Nicolas Veron argues that the relentless prosecutions against Georgiou are more than a matter of shameful harassment by Greece. Georgiou’s case also raises disturbing questions about the integrity of European statistical processes. The European Union also needs to consider reforming its statistical framework to ensure a similar scandal cannot recur.
Measuring Greek Debt: The Difference between Market and Credit Perspectives
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Colin Ellis, World Economics, September 2018
It is likely to be several decades before data on government assets, off-balance sheet and contingent liabilities are consistently available across a wide range of countries. In the absence of data, GDP is a readily available scaling factor, but official sector agencies such as the IMF and private sector analysts recognise the insufficiency of debt–GDP ratios. Some commentators claim that, using international standards, Greek government debt could be only around 75% of GDP, compared with official figures of around 180%. Fundamentally, such discrepancies reflects debt valuation variations related to the difference between market risk and credit risk.
Greek Economic Statistics: A Decade of Deceit
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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.

Displaying: 1-4 of 4