Tuesday, 2 February 2010


The Expert Commission on the Reliability of Greek Fiscal Data has finally reported to Parliament.

Everyone is talking about the shadow EUR 40bn of liabilities that our statistics cannot as yet capture, and even FT Alphaville have called for translators so they can make sense of the new report, which is already sending the vulture-meter off the charts.

If you are a Greek speaker, you can read the report itself here.

If you're not, standby for EPIC FAILZ as I translate bits of the report here.

For now though, let me say it is a shame everyone focuses exclusively on the debt figures. The recommendations of the Committee are actually very good. They call for a first-ever set of fiscal rules and attach important addenda to the draft law on the independence of the National Statistics Agency, which could make it more authoritative and, indeed, independent. Let's hope they are taken on board.

I leave you with my favourite quote from the report:

"The National Statistics Agency does not collect data on municipal public companies and organisations. The only available data on these organisations are derived from a 2002 survey by PETA S.A. [Initials stand for Information - Education - Local Development], a research consultancy majority owned by the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece. The 2002 findings have since been used by the National Statistics Agency in order to calculate the surpluses/deficits of local government organisations not only for 2002 but for every consecutive year as well."

Might as well pick a number out of a hat.


  1. Not really - most national accounts are based on outdated benchmarks - that why final accounts are only published 5 years after year has past.
    The Uk still uses the census on 2001 for most of its benchmarks for manufacturing...

  2. Astonishing last quote - who needs enemies with friends like these? Will Greece’s default bring down the Euro?. By the way, I have just added a Reference List to my economics blog with economic data series, history, bibliographies etc. for students & researchers. Currently almost 200 meta sources, it will in the next days grow to over a thousand. Check it out and if you miss something, feel free to leave a comment.

  3. @Alex. The concern is not that the local authority survey is weighted against old data and needs to be re-based. My concern is that this is the only data in existence. The survey itself is old.

    A UK manufacturing output survey for Q3 2009 would use Q2-Q3 2009 survey data weighted against 2001 census data, but wouldn't use 2001 survey data weighted against 2001 data, plus some arcane rule of thumb.

    I realise I may still have got this wrong and that this might be a basing problem. If so I doubt anyone would bring it up; it is, as you said, common practice as census data is not easy to produce.

    Let me know if your reading of the report is different.

    @CrisisMaven. Thanks. I will look more closely when time permits.

  4. @CrisisMaven: Great collection! Check out my suggestion though: EUKLEMS is a great database. For the record, @Alex thinks it's a bit of a waste of time and money as their main contribution is to double-deflate GVA figures (deflating output as well as intermediate inputs). But it's still great to have everything in one place.


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