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Do Countries Falsify Economic Data Strategically? Some Evidence That They Might

Listed author(s):
  • Tomasz Michalski

    (HEC Paris)

  • Gilles Stoltz

    (Ecole Normale Supérieure,CNRS, INRIA and HEC Paris, CNRS)

Using Benford's law, we find evidence supporting the hypothesis that countries at times misreport their economic data strategically. We group countries with similar economic conditions and find that for countries with fixed exchange rate regimes, high negative net foreign asset positions, negative current account balances, or more vulnerable to capital flow reversals, we reject the first-digit law for the balance-of-payments data. This corroborates the intuition of a simple economic model. The main results do not seem to be driven by countries in sub-Saharan Africa or those with low institutional quality ratings. © 2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/REST_a_00274
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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 591-616

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:95:y:2013:i:2:p:591-616
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  1. Michalski, Tomasz & Stoltz, Gilles, 2010. "Do countries falsify economic date strategically? Some evidence that they do," Les Cahiers de Recherche 930, HEC Paris.
  2. Maurice Obstfeld, 1984. "Rational and Self-Fulfilling Balance-of-Payments Crises," NBER Working Papers 1486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gilles Stoltz & V. Rivoirard, 2009. "Statistique en action," Post-Print hal-00494905, HAL.
  4. George-Marios Angeletos & Christian Hellwig & Alessandro Pavan, 2005. "Signaling in a Global Game: Coordination and Policy Traps," Discussion Papers 1400, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Guido Sandleris, 2008. "Sovereign Defaults: Information, Investment and Credit," Business School Working Papers 2008-04, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
  6. Massimo Sbracia & Andrea Zaghini, 2000. "Expectations and information in second generation currency crises models," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 391, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  7. Benabou, R. & Laroque, G., 1989. "Using Privileged Information To Manipulate Markets: Insiders, Gurus, And Credibility," Working papers 513, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Reinhart, Carmen, 2009. "The Second Great Contraction," MPRA Paper 21485, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Heinemann, Frank & Illing, Gerhard, 2002. "Speculative attacks: Unique equilibrium and transparency," Munich Reprints in Economics 19430, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  10. Tomasz Michalski & Gilles Stoltz, 2013. "Do countries falsify economic data strategically? Some evidence that they might," Post-Print halshs-00482106, HAL.
  11. Krugman, Paul, 1979. "A Model of Balance-of-Payments Crises," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 11(3), pages 311-325, August.
  12. Nye John & Moul Charles, 2007. "The Political Economy of Numbers: On the Application of Benford's Law to International Macroeconomic Statistics," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-14, July.
  13. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
  14. Nikola A. Tarashev, 2007. "Speculative Attacks and the Information Role of the Interest Rate," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(1), pages 1-36, 03.
  15. Robert J. Aumann, 1995. "Repeated Games with Incomplete Information," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262011476, December.
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