Misleading implications of statistical numeracy

When some-one releases quarterly result or data, why is it then multiplied by four to give a year-on-year result, when i8t is not that at all. RGE, for all its merits, does this constantly. Here, in the headline, is just the latest instance of this frankly dishonest act. Why behave in this way? Economists, however specialised, deserve little enough regard: why mislead in this way?

Nor does it stop with them. The parallel is government publications, such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics providing reams of percentages, not a hard number present. Finding real data telling of events makes for a challenge. It’s there, but you must hunt seriously for it. Governments really do not want people to use the data which they are obliged by law to provide. Always, they prefer intervening figures possessing some sort of authority, not least journalists (illiterate perhaps), to provide a useful slant and keep people distant from the source.

Some years ago, quite a few actually, I read a specific issue of the  Australian Financial Review with a view to reading the statement from the Board of the Reserve Bank regarding their decision regarding interest rates. The paper devoted innumerable pages to interpretation yet the statement itself, of just a few hundred words, was nowhere to be found.

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One Response

  1. […] What does “Poland’s GDP grows 4.4% in Q1″ actually mean. Does it tell of economic growth cumulatively? Or is it rather the quarterly figure multiplied by four? Well? Why do economists treat the public this way? Sometimes it is as if they begged for contempt; goodness knows, most deserve it. There are exceptions but they too, demur to demand, properly, a higher quality of language from their peers, government and other sources. […]

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