Lies, Damned Lies, and Government Statistics

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The Corbett Report - 12/11/13, James Corbett

Late last month former Bank of Canada governor and recently-appointed Bank of England governor Mark Carney surprised many by criticizing the quality of the economic data being provided by the UK’s Office for National Statistics. Measurement of investment in Britain was one source of discomfort for the former Goldman Sachs insider, who said that “We’re not putting full weight on that data and it has to be said that it doesn’t entirely feel right that investment is, as measured, falling at a time when we see continued strengthening investment intention.” He added that “a lot of work” would have to be done to bring Britain’s flow of funds data up to international standards.

To be clear, what was surprising was not that the ONS data is incomplete and misleading; everyone with an ounce of economic understanding already knew this. What is surprising is that a high-ranking bank official was admitting that the data they and the market in general is relying on is so unreliable.

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