The economy is only as good as the numbers…

Posted: June 27, 2013 in Monetary System, Statistics

Today, history was re-written.

Recently media outlets have been drumming up fears of a triple dip recession, but it turns out now that the double dip that occurred during Q4 2011 and Q1 2012, did not happen. Performance has been revised from -0.1% to 0.0%, more than a year after the event

Once initial GDP data is released, there are always two further revisions before we can properly assess performance of the national economy. Interestingly enough, economic history has been revised even later than this ‘final’ number before, calling into question all decisions and analysis conducted prior to this re-write of performance.

This area of statistics is of great importance, given that it is the indicator by which we judge how we are progressing. And this not only applies to the economic sphere, but we must raise the question of how reliable and of what quality are these official statistics? Given different interpretations, analysis and the wealth of indices, rates and measurement tools, which stats tell us the truth? Can authorities use data of their choice to justify their own course of action?

Here is one current column from the London newspaper, City AM calling into question the reliability of the regular GDP number release

The influence of data and numbers and their increasing dominance in our everyday lives is also explored in this particular episode of the brilliant Adam Curtis series, ‘The Trap’. Episode 2, The Lonely Robot is advisable viewing as well as the rest of the series;

“History is (re)written by the victor? He who controls the present controls the past…..”

What do these numbers ultimately tell us? How much quality can we gleam from them, does high GDP tell us anything about justice, happiness, well being – can these factors even be measured by statistics? Should they be?

By creating a yardstick for global measurement, it helps forge all nations in the image required by those who deem themselves supreme.

  1. […] see my earlier post on this subject for more thoughful […]

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