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Andreas V Georgiou OPEN ACCESS: The Drivers Behind Corruption in Official Statistics
Author: Andreas V Georgiou
The manipulation of official statistics is grand corruption and political corruption. There is a mechanism that gives rise to phenomena of corruption in official statistics and has component parts: the drivers, the enabling conditions, the modalities and methods used to arrive at the phenomena, and the vectors or agents that execute or propagate the phenomena. The main focus of this article is the drivers, that is, the interests and incentives of those directly or indirectly involved in phenomena of corruption in official statistics, and without which these phenomena would not arise. To attenuate drivers (which will always be present) we propose to foster a culture of statistical ethics through specific steps of education and socialization, as well as laws and institutional setups supportive of statistical ethics.

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Shedding Light on the Shadow Economy

The shadow or informal economy covers all economic activities which are hidden from official authorities for monetary, regulatory and institutional reasons. Although widely used, multiple indicator-multiple cause (MIMIC) models have been criticised, and we develop a modified model and database covering 157 countries over the years 1991 to 2017. We tested our model using satellite data on nocturnal light intensity as a proxy for the size of countries’ economies, and compared our results with the figures of 23 countries’ national statistical offices, finding stable and similar results. The average over all countries and over the whole period is 30.9% of GDP. The shadow economy is large in some regions (Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa) and there is sizeable heterogeneity within regions. On average, from 1991 to 2017 the shadow economy declined by 6.8%. In the short term the shadow economy has a negative impact on the official one and in the long term it has a positive effect.

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Statistical Data Collection Challenges amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The importance of reliable statistical data is even more urgent in the context of the coronavirus crisis, in terms of managing the risks for public health, restarting the world economy and addressing the long-term economic and social impact of the pandemic. Government lockdowns, social distancing and work from home restrictions, imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19, pose important challenges to statistical data collection and analysis. The unavailability of data sources and the pausing of face-to-face interviews and surveys has had an adverse impact on data quality and processing. Innovation and coordination between all parties involved in the process is required in order to develop new ways of conducting less complex surveys and questionnaires, while keeping a direct and interactive communication with respondents.

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On Measuring Hyperinflation

Venezuela now exhibits the 57th historic episode of hyperinflation as measured in the Hanke–Krus World Hyperinflation Table. Entry to the hyperinflation dataset depends on three qualifying criteria: inflation rates greater than 50% per month; the persistence of this rate for at least 30 consecutive days; and full documentation so that inflation estimates are replicable. This paper measures Venezuela’s hyperinflation by transforming changes in the US dollar–Venezuelan bolivar exchange rate into implied inflation rates using the purchasing power parity doctrine. The purchasing power parity method is accurate during periods of hyperinflation. Venezuela’s hyperinflation peaked with a monthly inflation rate of 219.7% on 30 November 2016.

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Tackling the Undeclared Economy

Are participants in the undeclared economy rational economic actors who can be swayed by increasing the expected penalties and likelihood of detection? Or are they social actors who participate in reaction to a lack of vertical trust (in government) and horizontal trust (in others)? Evaluating a 2019 Eurobarometer survey, participation in undeclared work is weakly associated with the level of penalties, but there is a stronger, significantly greater likelihood of participation when there is a lower risk of detection and lower vertical and horizontal trust. The outcome is a call for the conventional repressive approach to be complemented with trust-building strategies.

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Climate Change and the Global Economy
Author: Julian Gough

Over the period 1998-2022 global temperatures remained generally unchanged despite a 14% rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus contradicting the IPCC's scientific theory of climate change. The IPPC's flawed theory, accepted by most governments, will inevitably lead to mistaken economic policies which will prove both costly and pointless. The UK has taken the most drastic actions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels; a series of misguided laws, taxes and subsidies have distorted the free operation of market forces in allocating resources. State intervention in the UK in the pursuit of the Net Zero emission target has resulted in an energy supply industry which is inefficient, expensive, unreliable and unsustainable in the long term - it has inflicted considerable costs on industries and consumers. The IPPC's exhortations for de-carbonisation have had a mixed response across the world - many Western nations have committed to Net Zero targets but most Eastern and developing countries have declined to do so.

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Cryptocurrency Challenges Sovereign Currency

All national and international monetary structures have evolved to assist in the creation and management of sovereign fiat currencies. This sovereign currency status quo was suddenly upended with the arrival of the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, in 2008 which introduced a peer-to-peer digital fiat currency without the need of a central banking system, through a trustless, fungible and tamper-resistant distributed accounting system known as blockchain. The response to the threat posed by cryptocurrency has ranged from declaring it illegal, attempting to regulate it, ignoring it, treating it as a commodity and/or like any other financial asset and regulating it as such; or more recently seriously considering state-backed digital currency. Presently the assessment appears to be that of ‘co-existence’ with central banks providing national/sovereign currency, primarily digital currency, and cryptocurrency vying with gold as a back-up or ‘insurance’ against the perils of a sovereign fiat currency.

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Was the Impact of COVID on UK GDP Real or Statistical?
Author: Colin Ellis

The COVID-19 pandemic, and measures to fight it such as lockdowns, took a significant toll on economic activity around the world. In many instances, declines in GDP were the steepest on record, with the UK standing out among advanced economies. However, the extent of the downturn reflected not just the impact of the pandemic, but also the way that economic activity is measured. In particular, different countries adopt different approaches to measuring real government spending and output, and those differences had a significant impact during the pandemic. This article describes those broad differences in approach, and illustrates what UK activity estimates could have looked like if ONS estimates had followed the approach used for other European economies. Far from being the hardest hit of the five major European economies, the UK would actually have fared better than most under alternative measurement practices for GDP. This highlights the importance of how statistics are calculated, particularly for important economic data series, and cautions against just taking them as given.

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Nigerian Statistical Data and their Trustworthiness

As at 2020, the population of Nigeria was said to be about 200 million (World Bank, 2020). However, the actual population of Nigeria remains a subject for national debates, since there are no databases for birth or death rates. To ascertain the trustworthiness of the statistical data in Nigeria, this study used various secondary data. Critical discourse analysis was used to analyse the information obtained. We find that most of the information supplied for usage are distorted; the Bureau of Statistics lacks skilled personnel; data for the same year may vary depending on which organisation supplied it; and obsolete techniques are used for generating economic data. The study suggests that providers acknowledging data limitations will help users during usage and application.

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Governments Manipulate Data
Author: Bruno S. Frey

Governments widely manipulate official economic and social data—but the public tends to disregard this fact. There is extensive empirical evidence that governments extensively manipulate official data. National statistical offices should be independent of their government to fight such manipulation, and alternative data producers should be supported. The public should be aware of data that government find difficult to control, such as those on the black market or light intensity captured by satellites as an indicator of income level.

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