Monthly Archives: November 2013

Emily Cadman

News this week that Repsol looks increasingly likely to accept a settlement from Argentina’s government over the forced nationalisation of its YPF subsidiary, makes a new paper from Chatham House on clashes over mineral contracts very timely.

The report suggests there is a clear correlation between rising oil prices and the number of disputes in the extractive industry (think oil, minerals and metals).

 

Releasing market-moving data in full at an appointed hour ought to be a non-negotiable obligation of any government statistics agency. Yet it is a task that often proves too much for the Office for National Statistics. Official data are published by newswires at 9.30am on the day of release but there is often a delay before the same information appears on the agency’s website.

This week the UK Statistics Authority, which oversees the work of the ONS, rightly insisted that everyone should be able to access official data on equal terms. An obvious solution would be to fix the ONS website. Yet the UKSA also floated a more drastic proposal in which the ONS would no longer release reports in full on the morning of publication, instead dribbling out the numbers over the course of a day.

 

Emily Cadman

A deal with cash-strapped Ukraine was originally supposed to be the centerpiece of today’s “Eastern Partnership” EU summit in Lithuania. But last week Ukraine froze plans to sign the EU integration agreement in favour of overtures from Russia.

The trade deal with the EU was expected to stimulate much-needed investment flows to Ukraine and exports via the removal of trade tariffs. But as this was contingent on reforms, benefits were likely to be longer term. A deal with Russia on the other hand – potentially a lowering of the price at which the country imports gas – could give a short term fillip to the economy.

Here is why Ukraine’s economy desperately needs a boost.

1. Reserves

First, and most crucially, is the question of Ukraine’s falling foreign exchange reserves.

As of October, foreign reserves stood at $20.6bn, down $6bn in the last year and only just covering three-months worth of imports – a level seen as the danger zone by many economists. And even under the most benign scenario projected UniCredit modeled this August see reserves falling further: 

There is a myth that the London Olympics were delivered within budget. This claim was used recently by David Cameron, the British prime minister, to win support for the proposed high-speed rail line to Birmingham.

The principal relevant facts are these. The first detailed specification of what was needed for London to host the games was drawn up in 2002 by Arup. The report by the engineering and planning consultancy put the cost at £1.8bn, much of it to be privately financed. An extended assessment was then commissioned by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport from PwC. The financial consultancy’s 2003 report estimated the total cost at £3.1bn, requiring a public subsidy of £1.3bn. The balance would be recovered from the private sector and from asset sales after the games. According to PwC’s risk assessment, the probability that the taxpayer would need to provide as much as £2bn was less than 5 per cent.

 

Last year’s cold winter saw the number of excess winter deaths jump by nearly a third, according to official data.
The Office for National Statistics estimates that there were 31,000 excess winter deathsin England and Wales in 2012/13, a rise of 29 per cent on the previous year.

 

Market-sensitive data on economic growth, inflation and employment could be “drip fed” into the public domain because the Office for National Statistics’ website regularly failed to publish them at 9.30am.

Britain’s regulator of statistics has proposed that only the headline number for the most important economic statistics should initially be available online, with the full data sets published an hour later.