Can economic statistics lie? And what about poll surveys?

Here’s a view from Prof. Habito.

I believe statistics are just numbers with properties that give headaches to students of applied math.  Numbers have no personality or will to concoct a falsehood.

For example, I’ve wondered how statisticians can confidently say that their sample surveys have a 3% error rate?  How did they get so confident?  A prize awaits any of my current and former students who can enlighten me on this one.

Economic performance – what do the experts say?

In a major newspaper, three economic experts gave their reviews of the Philippine economy since 2001. Supposedly, this is to educate ourselves ahead of the annual ritual called SONA.

ECONOMYcartoon2One, Tomas Africa, said that the government did well in sending Filipinos to jobs abroad, but failed to provide good-quality or high-paying jobs in the local economy.

Another, Cielito Habito, said that a fiscal crisis was avoided by a substantial increase in the value added tax in 2005.  Still, the “efficiency” by which the government collects tax has reportedly not improved.  The end result was an inability not only to pare down foreign debts of the government but also to fund crucial expenditures for education, health, agriculture, and infrastructure.

A third, Cayetano Paderanga, Jr., said that economic performance was good in terms of GDP growth (because of OFW remittances), a lowering of the inflation rate, and a relatively strong peso.  But the record in job creation and reduction of poverty was not as good.

Continue reading “Economic performance – what do the experts say?”

Cielito Habito on the “recession” and how we measure happiness

Just saw this.  Prof. Habito says in effect that GDP is “just a number.”  All the fans of Nassim Taleb agree, including yours truly.

Filipinos can also be inventive.  Perhaps we can make a new statistic, unique to the Philippines.  Call it Fine Domestic Breath, or FDB.  Why?  In Pilipino, it would be Mainam na Ginhawang Sariling Bayan, or MGSB (courtesy of entries in Leo English’s Dictionary).

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