Yesterday saw a surprisingly strong GDP growth figure delivered by the ABS, which you would think would be welcomed by economics correspondents.
Peter Martin in the Sydney Morning Herald:
The figures suggest Australians bought 4 per cent more food during the quarter, 6 per cent more transport services and 3 per cent more health services, outcomes described by UBS economist Scott Haslem as “positively unbelievable”…
THERE’S an old saying among economists: if a figure looks wrong, it usually is
These figures strain credulity. If they are right, then the economy has far more strength than we suspected. If they are wrong, they will be revised down, or followed by a fall.
Wayne Swan wants us to take pride in these figures. I would if I could believe them.
So now the Australian Bureau of Statistics in unreliable? When you combine these responses with the way the figures were played down yesterday it certainly appears that there’s more interest in hard data when it plays to the story that you want to write.
There is an argument that the figures look very good compared to the 0.6% growth that had been predicted before the ABS announcement and deserve to be questioned, but I wonder if there would have been so much disbelief in the data if it had been over half a per cent below expectations? I suspect that there would have been a gleeful rush to report bad figures rather than introspection about their quality.