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

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  • Tomasz Michalski

    (HEC Paris)

  • Gilles Stoltz

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Tomasz Michalski & Gilles Stoltz, 2013. "Do Countries Falsify Economic Data Strategically? Some Evidence That They Might," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 591-616, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:95:y:2013:i:2:p:591-616
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    capital flows; public information provision; misinformation; Benford’s Law; transparency;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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