economic data

Here is a reminder, if any were needed, of how economists and investors have turned sour on Latin America during the course of this year.

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The tenth in our series of guest posts on the outlook for the year ahead is by Douglas Beal of Boston Consulting Group

What is the best way to measure a nation’s economic progress? For many decades, most of us have tended to focus on one benchmark: gross domestic product (GDP), which measures national income. There’s no question that income growth is central to economic development. But it has become just as clear that GDP per capita alone is not a sufficient measure of progress. Read more

Men speak on mobile phones at the Adjame market in Abidjan

GDP calling

GDP growth is thought to be correlated to everything from conflict risk to whiskey consumption. And the current slew of positive stories about Africa are driven, in part, by the impressive GDP statistics posted by countries across the continent.

But these numbers are poor estimations of economic development, says Morten Jerven at Simon Fraser University. His argument is not that GDP does not say much about happiness, equality, environmental sustainability. It’s a more technical point: many figures are, well, just wrong. African GDP might actually be growing faster than we think. Read more

Is China’s slowdown worse than the government is letting on? That was the provocative claim in a New York Times article last week which reported that officials were manipulating data on everything from tax revenue to power production in order to present a rosier picture of the economy.

But two prominent analysts have now come to Beijing’s defence, arguing that Chinese statistics are reliable and concerns about falsification overblown. They say the truth is that the economy is slowing, not collapsing, and that the data have accurately portrayed this. Read more

In October, India’s once-robust industrial output contracted by 5.1 per cent from the same month a year earlier – further proof that the economy was slowing – and down from 1.9 per cent in September, according to data released Monday by the Central Statistics Office.

Last month, economists told beyondbrics that 1.9 per cent growth – the slowest pace in two years – fell well below expectations, and bolstered the case for a pause in monetary tightening that has seen the hawkish Reserve Bank of India increase repo rates 13 times since March 2010. Monday’s numbers would seem only to further strengthen that case.

When South Africa’s growth slumped in the second quarter of this year to 1.3 per cent from a robust 4.5 per cent in the previous three months, much of the blame was placed on hundreds of thousands of striking workers.

The hope was that with “strike season” – which affected the mining, fuel, energy, paper and steel sectors – done with until next year there would be at least a slight spurt of expansion in the third quarter. But that theory was painfully shot down on Tuesday when figures showed that gross domestic product for Q3 was an anaemic 1.4 per cent. Read more

New oil, Chinese investment, stable government, highest growth in the world: Ghana is a new success story. But be careful with the exact figures.

While all countries revise their GDP numbers and other accounts, Ghana’s revision of the data takes some beating. The Q2 GDP figure was reported in September as 33.5 per cent. The new figure? 16.4 per cent, less than half. Other numbers given for individual sectors are even further reduced. Read more