Monthly Archives: January 2013

Valentina Romei

Indian car sales continue to slow down. This is being reported as a sign of a broader economic slowdown. But car sales is not the most representative measure of vehicle sales in India – most people drive two-wheeler vehicles.

Passenger car sales growth slowed to below 3 per cent in the first half of 2012, down from over 30 per cent at the end of 2010, but it now shows signs of recovery. The story that emerges when looking at two-wheeler vehicles is quite different, though. Read more

Having written rather outspoken columns about conceptual errors in the Retail Prices Index and criticising the UK statistical authorities for ducking the challenge of rectifying these errors, quite a few people have asked for some numeric examples about the scale of the problem so they can understand better how it arises.

(People who want the real gory detail should look at professor Erwin Diewert’s reportRead more

If you watched every American professional football team play every snap, analysed its success, compared it to all other plays in that situation, and then weighed it according to the defence it faced, you would reach an important conclusion: the Denver Broncos have the best chance of winning the Super Bowl on February 3.

That is according to FootballOutsiders.com, whose popular DVOA rating puts the Broncos as a slight leader (24.3 per cent) over second-favourite New England Patriots (23.6 per cent).

Founded by Aaron Schatz, an ESPN columnist, the site provides an in-depth analysis of every single play of the NFL season along with various ratings based on that analysis.

“For me, personally, I started this because I wanted to make better commentary,” says Mr Schatz. “The bigger gap that needed to be closed was between reality and the nonsense of colour commentators.”

Baseball’s “sabermetrics” movement – popularised by Moneyball (both the book and movie) – led the way increasing the sophistication of the statistics used in sport. It was primarily developed by people outside the baseball establishment to help teams properly value individual players.

In contrast, Football Outsiders does provide some predictive qualities, but the data analysis offers a different utility from the of baseball: to educate and inform football fans about a complicated and sometimes misunderstood sport. Read more

Kate Allen

By Kate Allen. Interactive map by Callum Locke.

The London Underground celebrates its much-publicised 150th birthday this week. The system is the oldest in the world – nearly four decades older than any of the world’s other large metro systems – and has been lauded as a model of public infrastructure investment. But how does it measure up to its younger imitators? Read more

Valentina Romei

Chinese exports grew faster than expected in December, lifting hopes for a prompt recovery from the country’s slowdown. The December reading for exports is certainly good news, but there should be caution in looking at monthly export figures. Read more

Kate Allen

The coalition government – once again in search of welfare bill savings – is considering cutting back on winter fuel payments to pensioners living abroad. Data released by the Department for Work & Pensions under the Freedom of Information Act highlights exactly where those payments are going.

Half of all claimants live in Spain – not known for having a chilly climate. Payments aren’t just going to the Costa del Sol – British pensioners living all over the continent are claiming this benefit. Other popular countries include France, Cyprus and Portugal. Read more