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Measuring Illegal Activities in the National Accounts
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Brian Sturgess, World Economics, June 2018
Until 2014 the only illegal activity measured in the UK National Accounts by the Office of National Statistics was the smuggling of alcohol and tobacco. The European System of National Accounts 2010 requires statistical bodies to measure consensual illegal economic activities such as drug consumption and prostitution. In 2014 the first estimates measured the contribution of illegal drugs and prostitution at 2009 prices to UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at just under £10 billion. The estimates are based on a flawed methodology using survey data while private sector figures suggest that the contribution of the cannabis market alone to GDP may be over three times the official value of £828 million .
Are National Accounts Revisions Harmful for Historical Comparisons?
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Dieter Brümmerhoff & Michael Grömling, World Economics, December 2012
Revisions of national accounts affect economic analysis, calling into question theoretical findings based on earlier data. Revisions to German national accounts have resulted in a markedly higher GDP in absolute terms and a lower volatility in macroeconomic production. According to the revised data, recessions have been less pronounced. Moreover, less volatility in production has changed income accounts and, above all, reduced the fluctuations in property and entrepreneurial income. The stylised fact of declining property and entrepreneurial incomes during recessions in West Germany from 1970 to 1991 has vanished into thin air as a result of the revisions of 2002 and 2006.
The Power of Price Indexes
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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.
Maddison and Wu: ‘Measuring China’s Economic Performance’
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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 Information Technology and Productivity in the New Economy
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Kevin J. Stiroh , World Economics, March 2002
The growing importance of information technology raises significant challenges for statisticians and economists. The US national accounts now incorporate sophisticated measurement tools to capture the rapid rates of technological change and dramatic improvements in the performance/price ratio of many hightech assets like computer hardware, software, and telecommunications goods. These data have been incorporated into traditional sources of growth analyses to identify the impact of information technology on the US economy. The emerging consensus is that information technology played a key role in the post-1995 revival of US productivity growth.
Wanted: Measures of Economic Change
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Ralph Turvey, World Economics, June 2001
Economic growth may involve change, but there can be change without economic growth insofar as outputs of some products or employment in some regions or industries grows while there are equal decreases elsewhere. National accounts data do not reveal such shifts, yet they may involve investment and disinvestment, require the acquisition of new skills and cause changes in the location of economic activities. Some simple examples are provided, demonstrating that the rate of growth and the pace of change are by no means perfectly correlated. Hence separate measures of change are required if we are to understand what is happening in the economy.
Extending the UK National Accounts
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Amanda Rowlatt, World Economics, March 2000
The national accounts measure economic activity. The UK is developing "satellite accounts" which use the framework of the national accounts but aim to quantify other aspects of living standards. This article starts by comparing satellite accounts with the use of indicators to measure the quality of life. It then reports on progress with the UK environmental accounts, and with the household accounts, which measure the productive unpaid work done in the home. It concludes with a discussion of the scope for developing a wider range of satellite accounts for the UK.


The Black Economy - Benefit frauds or tax evaders?
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Jim Thomas, World Economics, March 2000
One answer to the question "How Rich are We?" is to compare levels of National Income either across countries or for a single country over time. However, the relevance of this approach depends on how accurately National Income measures the output of goods and services of a country. While it is difficult to measure, the Black Economy represents the output of goods and services that is not generally captured in the National Income Accounts. This article discusses the problems of measuring the size of the Black Economy and speculates on the questions of who is involved and how. The relative importance of Tax Evasion versus Benefit Fraud is discussed.



Displaying: 1-8 of 8