Vince Cable made some interesting remarks last week. Not going to comment on the financial bits, but this was interesting.
Cable also revealed some of the frustration he feels at being in government. He said "arid" statisticians were thwarting ambitions for using the public balance sheet more aggressively to support industry. And he said that the decision to make the Office for National Statistics (ONS) independent, while taken out of an understandable wish to end political interference, had proved to be "a mistake" because the ONS now sat in a "God-like role" when it decided what did and did not score as public borrowing. He said it had "hemmed in" the government and prevented it from "doing all sorts of things" to boost industry.
Hmmm, now let me clear up the bias first. I consider myself to be a statistician, used to dabble around in statistics and still do, even went as far as to join the Royal Statistical Society. So I speak as one. And this winds me up somewhat terribly. So lets see what he is saying. This politician is saying that an independent body of statisticians charged with reporting data and facts does not allow you to ride rough shod over it and use MY taxes on your pet projects?
AWWWWW! lemme guess whose side I will take?
On the other hand, see what the politicians do to the statisticians…
The latest chapter in the complex saga begins in June 2010, a month after Greece signed its first loan agreement with the so-called troika — the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — when the former finance minister, George Papaconstantinou, appointed Mr. Georgiou to run the Hellenic Statistical Authority, known as Elstat.
A year earlier, Greece had been plunged into crisis when the newly elected Socialists announced that the 2009 budget deficit would be 12.4 percent of gross domestic product, twice the previous estimate. In April 2010, the European Union’s statistics agency, Eurostat, revised Greece’s deficit upward again, to 13.6 percent, which forced Greece to seek a bailout. And in November 2010 Eurostat, working with Elstat and Mr. Georgiou, revised the deficit for 2009 upward a final time to 15.4 percent, leading the troika to demand additional budget cuts of $7.65 billion.
How that final calculation was conducted is now the subject of intense debate. Mr. Georgiou has said that it reflects Greece’s first-ever adherence to accepted European procedures. Yet some critics, including some who were on Elstat’s since-disbanded six-person board, said that Mr. Georgiou had actually applied standards that were stiffer than European norms, then tried to thwart them when they raised questions about the process.
Zoe Georganta, a professor of applied econometrics and productivity at Macedonia University of Economic and Social Sciences and Mr. Georgiou’s fiercest critic, said that the statistics czar, guided by two foreign experts hired by Eurostat, added the country’s money-losing public utilities to the government’s accounts, raising the budget deficits by three-quarters of a percentage point. This had been done before in other European countries, financial experts said, but usually to bring the deficit down, not pump it up.
Sighs..and this lack of transparency helps the stupid politicians no end.
In a telephone interview, Walter Radermacher, the director of Eurostat, acknowledged that it was not always clear how to classify public utilities, but said the larger issue was that Greece did not have accurate records. “The borderline of this general government is not something which is fixed forever, it changes more or less each year,” he said. “Our request is that all these companies are maintained in a statistics register. This register simply did not exist in Greece.”
We are in deep doo doo and the governments is frantically raising money through debt and taxes but it has no idea where the money is going. Its useless.