The revised GDP growth figures are bad news for New Zealand, unless you inhabit the same fantasy world as government Ministers.
Yesterday I posted about the way the government is massaging / contorting the quarterly GDP growth figures to make its performance appear better than it actually is. But as soon as I posted that article, Stats New Zealand came out with some revised GDP growth figures.
The revised figures show that GDP growth through National’s first twelve full quarters in office averaged a disappointing 0.5% per year. The previous figures showed a 0.8% average annual growth rate. Over the same period, facing the same international conditions, Australia grew at 2.4% per year, and the US and Canada each grew at about 1.3% per year. (Figures are from the OECD, cited in yesterday's post.)
The revised figures show New Zealand as the second worst OECD-23 performer outside of the embattled EuroZone, beating only the UK. Australia has outperformed us by nearly five to one since National took office, and the US and Canada have outperformed us by more than 2.5 to one.
In any reasonable universe, this would be treated as really bad news. But as we saw yesterday, Mssrs Key, English, and Joyce do not inhabit a reasonable universe when it comes to making conclusions from data.
There was one tiny bright spark in the revised Statistics New Zealand figures – the September 2010 quarter has been revised to show +0.1% growth, a slight change from its previous estimate of -0.1%. But the change does cross the supposedly-all-important zero line, meaning I can make a prediction…
Given the government’s predilection for self-congratulation-no-matter-the-appropriateness, I predict that Ministers will seize on this news about the September 2010 quarter, shift the start point of their self-analysis from Q2/2009 to Q3/2009, and declare ideological victory because, wait for it, “the economy has grown for the last ten consecutive quarters. Ten in a row, Mr Speaker!” Etc.
Please let me be wrong, surely they do not think we are that dumb. Surely they have more respect for us than that. Surely.