How more accurate data help to explain the relatively large fall in UK GDP

Plain-speaking Economics

There is a lively debate among economists about the way in which UK statisticians are estimating the impact of the pandemic on the output of the public sector. This is a relatively arcane topic and the mainstream media can be forgiven for not yet covering it. But it is important, not least because other countries do things differently.

If everyone used the same method, the reported fall in UK GDP in the first half of the year would actually be similar to that in France and Italy, rather than the outlier that the headlines suggest. On the other hand, the UK method, which is more accurate, will also show an even stronger recovery in the third quarter and beyond.

These issues have also led to some confusion about an alternative measure of inflation known as the implied GDP deflator, prompting the economist Shaun Richards to ask “Has nobody else…

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