Sonntag, Januar 30, 2005

Blog Blog Blog...

Damn. I've been trying to get some time free, and with the combination of work and family it simply hasn't happened.

But here is something worth posting about. It's from Cold Fury and looks like this.

Now there is a man of brevity that I can agree with.

Now I will take a moment and rant.

One of the things I'm trying to deal with at work is new data sets. The EU is finally getting around to moving to chain weighted time series for NIPA data; the problem is getting people's minds around the concept.

Basically, it means that as long as our customers haven't made the transition from 40 years of economics teaching - that the deflated components of GDP add up - to the new, bright and improved way of statistics - that the deflated components of GDP no longer add up - we are screwed. Of course, we can't do anything about that: Eurostat et al make these kinds of decisions without, apparently, thinking these things through.

So we abandon 40 years of economics that accepted substitution bias in NIPA deflators and periodic revisions that sometimes turned recessions into non-recessions and have replaced it with something that no one except statisticians and economists understand. Or have I missed something here? All I know is that my colleagues aren't happy, especially those who are trying to work with NIPA accounts, and that trying to explain this brave new world of statistics to customers isn't gonna be easy.

But then again, we, the poor data users, aren't the customers of statistical offices: we are the users. From what I can see of the arguments made for using chain weights, it means that politicians - and politicians are the true customers, even if virtually none of them actually use the numbers - no longer have to fear statistical revisionism that eliminates whatever claims to glory that politicians can make to having caused or aided economic growth - we all know that in reality the vast majority have little or nothing to do with aiding growth, and if truth be told the majority probably hold growth back - and that those running statistical offices can now truthfully claim that their numbers will indeed be more accurate than they have been in the past.

But it doesn't mean that the numbers will necessarily mean the same. And working out what the numbers actually mean is a significant portion of my work, and it just got harder.

So posting will remain fairly sparse until I get my numbers set up in nice and tidy rows, ready to be crunched for new models...


PS: On the other hand, I can no build my models with consistency between NIPA, Input-Output and Industrial statistics, something that pretty much has been very, very tenuous in the past, to put it mildly... and I've got some really, really great deflators now for my services sectors that are the best I've ever come up with. You see, we have only nominal numbers for our services sectors and by calculating the prices - price as a function of input costs plus profits - I can then calculate real numbers, which is what we forecast. While the calculated prices are not the ones that Eurostat recommends using in its handbooks, the reason for not using them is that prices should be a function of value times amount. But when you don't have amount, then you do it via calculated prices. And it beats not being able to do it at all!

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