Wednesday, 1 May 2013

But they're only numbers

For some time it has been apparent that the numbers don't add up. Política, the political science journal I edit, published a paper a couple of years ago indicating that the unemployment numbers published by the Piñera government were, at least, problematic. Since then issues have popped up in other statistics, such as poverty. The ECLAC, which together with the University of Chile participated in the design and implementation of tools for measuring poverty in Chile, pulled out after accusing the government of political interference.

And now, last week, officials from the National Statistics Institute accused the government of having totally bungled the census. So we really don't know how many people live in the country, or where. Whether they are poor, or unemployed. And we don't know what the real inflation rate is. So we do not know whether the Central Bank is doing a good job or not with interest rates. So we don't know if our exchange rate is accurate or not.

But wait, it gets better!

The minister in charge of the census is the Economy Minister, Pablo Longueira. But he is now the ex Economy Minister, because he resigned to run as the UDI's candidate for president. The reason the UDI needed a candidate is that its previous candidate had to step down for, among other things, having millions of dollars in offshore accounts in the Virgin Islands.

One of the reasons that post-authoritarian Chile signed so many free trade deals, joined every regional group there was, tried to become an active member of the Pacific Rim, and, most recently, joined the OECD, was to prove that it was in the big leagues. The consolidation of strong, politically independent, and uncorrupt political institutions would be the basis for this integration, but would also be bolstered by it. In three years, however, that has all been thrown away. Again, the Economist has taken notice.

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