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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. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters, in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly Princeton University Press.
  2. Heinemann, Frank & Illing, Gerhard, 2002. "Speculative attacks: unique equilibrium and transparency," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 429-450, December.
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  7. Sbracia, Massimo & Zaghini, Andrea, 2001. "Expectations and information in second generation currency crises models," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 203-222, April.
  8. 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.
  9. Roland Benabou & Guy Laroque, 1992. "Using Privileged Information to Manipulate Markets: Insiders, Gurus, and Credibility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 921-958.
  10. 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.
  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.
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  14. Gilles Stoltz & V. Rivoirard, 2009. "Statistique en action," Post-Print hal-00494905, HAL.
  15. 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.
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