Archive for statistics

20090522 – Doubts grow about accuracy of Peru GDP numbers

Posted in 3 Cables with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2009 by Farid Matuk

By Terry Wade

LIMA, May 22 (Reuters) – Official statistics on economic growth in Peru may be too optimistic and painting a picture showing economic expansion when in fact the Andean country is in a recession, two Peruvian academics said.

Peru’s statistics agency, the INEI, started working with a new methodology for calculating gross domestic product in 2007, and its results sharply diverge from the previous model.

Bruno Seminario, an economics professor at the Universidad del Pacifico in Lima who has taken current data and run them threw the old model, says Peru’s economy is in fact shrinking at a time when President Alan Garcia says his country is largely sidestepping fallout from the global downturn.

“This change (to a new methodology) has generated so many distortions that nobody knows what’s going on,” Seminario told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

INEI director Renan Quispe, who declined to comment for this article but in the past has insisted he has “improved” the method for calculating GDP, has measured growth at 3.14 percent in January, 0.19 percent in February, and 3.05 percent in March using his new methodology.

But Seminario said that when the INEI’s previous model is used, the numbers look much worse and show economic contraction of 0.51 percent, 1.38 percent, and 1.71 percent in each of the first three months of this year.

He said Peru is suffering a recession similar to the one it fell into after the 1997-8 Asian financial crisis, and that Peru’s economy has ground to a halt after surging nearly 10 percent each of the last two years on a boom in commodities prices.

Seminario said the results produced by the new methodology the INEI is using are counterintuitive at a time when other indicators and countries that rely on commodities exports are suffering sharper declines.

The current slowdown has caused critics to take a closer look at official GDP numbers.

Economists also complain that the new methodology is a bit of a black box, wasn’t subjected to a public comment period by independent statisticians before being introduced, and that the official results suggest a series of flimsy assumptions were put into the new model.

“Nobody’s seen the survey or the deflators,” Seminario said. “The only sensible thing to do is for the INEI to publish both series of numbers.”

He isn’t the only critic.

Farid Matuk, the former head of the INEI who was fired from his job after Garcia took office, has also written that he thinks the numbers are inflated.

He has even gone so far to say that the government has filed several lawsuits against him in retaliation for criticizing the GDP numbers.

Garcia’s chief of staff, Yehude Simon, denied that the lawsuits were politically motivated, local radio reported on Friday.

Critics say the INEI is being imprudent by deriving some key numbers from estimates, instead of actual surveys.

Still other critics have compared Garcia’s administration to the Kirchner governments in Argentina, which private economists have criticized for manipulating official statistics for political ends.

“The strategy to alter part of the measurement of GDP is misguided because the sectors ‘other services,’ commerce, construction, among others, are measured between the four walls of the INEI,” Matuk has said.


20090324 – Hunger intensifies despite economic growth in Peru

Posted in 3 Cables with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2009 by Farid Matuk

32 percent of Peruvians get inadequate food

Slower economic growth likely to push up hunger rates

By Dana Ford

LIMA, March 24 (Reuters) – More Peruvians went hungry last year despite blazing economic growth, a sign that President Alan Garcia is stumbling in efforts to direct benefits of an impressive expansion to the poor.

The percentage of people in Peru with inadequate nutrition rose by more than 11 percent in 2008, faster than the economy’s 9.8 percent surge, according to the national statistics agency.

Now, 32 percent of Peruvians do not get enough to eat.

The results suggest the poor did not make gains during Peru’s economic boom last year. They also explain in part why the government is so unpopular in rural areas, where hunger rates are highest and leftist politicians like Ollanta Humala, who plans to run for office in 2011, draw support.

“The benefits of the economic boom have not been distributed equally,” said Federico Arnillas, president of a network of civic groups that works on poverty issues with the health and finance ministries.

Garcia, who embraced mainstream economic policies after his first term in the 1980s ended in runaway inflation that made adequate food too costly for millions of people, has said he wants to reduce poverty to 30 percent by the time he leaves office.

When he was re-elected in 2006, Garcia fervently pushed investment and free trade and his recipe to lift incomes seemed to work. Prices for Peru’s metal exports surged and domestic demand rose, contributing to rapid economic growth.

The national poverty rate fell 5 percent in 2007 to 39 percent, a year when inflation was low and public spending on food programs was relatively high.

But in 2008, hunger crept up, as inflation spiked on a global run up in food prices and aid spending fell. Peru’s poverty rate for last year is not yet available, but experts say the government may have lost ground. That could hurt Garcia’s approval rating, now at 34 percent.

“The numbers tell us there is a percentage of the population that is, quite literally, dying of hunger,” said Farid Matuk, a former director of the national statistics agency and a government critic.

In rural areas, where Garcia’s support is weak, the number of people not eating enough rose to 42.5 percent in 2008.

Arnillas said the increase stems from political decisions and pointed to cuts in social spending.

“It’s not a simple resource problem. It’s a political one,” he said of hunger in Peru.


Advocates say slower economic growth this year will likely push hunger rates higher and are urging the government to adopt policies that prioritize food security.

Peru’s government is rolling out a $3 billion stimulus package meant to maintain investment and employment levels and increase public work projects. The plan, which aims for economic growth of at least 5 percent, also includes agricultural incentives to boost local food production.

Matuk, the former statistics agency head, said the government is too focused on high macroeconomic growth figures and should have paid more attention to the poor before the global economy entered a crisis.

Arnillas said Peru needs a bigger safety net as private economists forecast growth of less than 1 percent this year.

“We are worried the poor will wind up paying the cost of the crisis,” he said. “This is what happened in the past and we are working to make sure it does not happen again.” (Editing by Terry Wade and Vicki Allen)

20090317 – Peru economy slows, growing by 3.1 pct in January

Posted in 3 Cables with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2009 by Farid Matuk

Peru’s boom sputtering? Economic growth slows to 3.1 pct in January
Associated Press Writer

LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Peru posted its lowest economic growth rate in years on Monday, saying it expanded by just 3.1 percent year-to-year in January amid signs that a three-year economic boom fueled by soaring metals prices could be sputtering.

The Andean nation’s economy grew by 9.8 percent last year, faster than China’s, but has slowed as the global financial crisis drives down prices and demand for its main mineral exports.

Peru’s statistics institute reported Monday that the economy grew by 3.1 percent in January over the same period a year earlier, the lowest monthly rate of President Alan Garcia’s term, which began in 2006.

 The report said exports fell 38.6 percent in January over the same period the year before.

The government is projecting 5 percent growth in 2009, which would be one of the highest in the world amid the global downturn. But analysts are already questioning the figure.

The government is implementing a $3 billion anti-crisis package aimed at infrastructure and public works to combat the effects of falling export prices.

The former head of the statistics institute, Farid Matuk, says the formal growth figure only represents reality for Peru’s upper crust. Despite soaring commodity prices that prompted growth rates of 8 percent in 2006, 8.9 percent in 2007 and 9.8 percent in 2008, job growth in Peru as a whole was stagnant, Matuk said.

Monday’s report said that overall employment from December 2008 through February 2009 fell by 0.7 percent in metropolitan Lima compared to the same period the year before, although it said that formal sector employment grew by 5.1 percent.

Matuk said statistics institute figures show that the number of employed Peruvians in metropolitan Lima who lack a college education has actually fallen by 3 percent since February 2007.

“In the past two years there have not been substantial improvements in household living standards and employment is basically stagnant because growth has been based on raw materials” like mining and other non-labor intensive industries, Matuk told the Associated Press.

La dolce vita: Is Peru’s feelgood factor spreading?

Posted in 3 Cables with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2009 by Farid Matuk

By Jude Webber

PACHACUTEC, Peru, Nov 29 (Reuters) – President Alejandro Toledo boasts that more Peruvians are going to the movies — a sure sign, he says, that improving gross domestic product statistics mean la dolce vita (the sweet life) is spreading. Economists call it the trickle down effect — and trickle is the word, say residents in Pachacutec, a sprawling shanty town of straw and wood huts on the sandy hills sloping up from the Pacific Ocean at the northern fringe of Peru’s capital. “Things are gradually getting better. Two months ago I didn’t have a job. Now I have some work … It’s not great but I can pay for my daughter’s school,” said construction worker Emerson Reategui, 42, on his way with a sheaf of documents to apply for official property rights to his shanty town home.

“We’ve got to give Toledo more time to work. He’s made a lot of promises. In Pachacutec we feel he’s keeping them slowly — but he is keeping them in things like property rights, which he’s starting to give, and job projects,” said Carlos Ricaldi, 28, in his small but well-stocked store. “I see progress.” Toledo, who took office in July 2001 promising more jobs and prosperity, hails Latin America’s No. 7 economy as the region’s darling this year, saying international markets made their feelings plain by clamoring for a $500 million bond that Peru sold this week to raise cash to plug its budget deficit. Although the issue meant Peru beefing up its borrowing just as Argentina’s multiple debt defaults and Brazil’s ability to manage its $260 billion public debt have worried markets, economists were cheered by the relatively cheap interest rates it won. Peru expects its 2003 debt servicing costs to rise to $2.2 billion from around $2 billion now, but trumpets its nearly $10 billion in international reserves as a sign of solidity.

Indeed, the government is so delighted with the health of the economy — illustrated by ever rosier performance reports, including an official September growth figure of 7.3 percent — that it has jacked up its 2002 GDP growth target to 4.2 percent from a previous 3.7 percent. The acceleration comes after four years of economic woes and political strife. GDP grew just 0.2 percent last year. And the head of the government’s National Statistics Institute said this week even those glowing figures were still too low. Farid Matuk said methodology problems meant Peru had been “systematically underestimating” its data for years. Peru is hoping to parlay the good news into closer trade ties when U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans visits next week.


Toledo never tires of telling voters — many of whom are underwhelmed by his progress in creating jobs in a nation where more than half the people live on $1.25 a day — that he has sacrificed his popularity for the sake of economic prudence. The U.S.-trained business school professor, whose approval rating has climbed nearly 10 points recently but is still only around the mid-20s in polls, told reporters this week that rises in the numbers of moviegoers, cellphone users and supermarket sales showed an increasing feelgood factor. “You may ask what (the economy) has got to do with the cinema? Well, if you’ve got a job, you can go to the movies more,” he said. “The economy is becoming more dynamic, people are buying more. It’s slow but things are improving.”

At Peru’s top business forum this week, a partner at a headhunting firm said trade was picking up, and executives said the labor intensive construction sector was in full recovery. But Peru is a country of big contrasts — only one in five people in Lima do their shopping in supermarkets, as opposed to local markets, and the gap between rich and poor still yawns. “The levels of inequality have increased. There is more, but notmore for everyone,” Matuk said. Elmer Cuba, economist at private consultancy Macroconsult, said things were picking up slowly “but we still need stronger and more sustained growth for real salaries to grow, and that process is going to take years.”

Back in Pachacutec, one measure of quality of life is whether residents still have plastic drums outside their homes and have to wait for the water truck to trundle past or whether they can hook up to new standpipes on their dirt streets. Residents said European aid agencies or American evangelists, not the government, had brought the water. But they credit the government — which says it has created 160,000 jobs in state temporary work schemes — with giving them jobs as street cleaners and park builders.

“I feel a bit better. Not that much, but I’m less afraid of where I’m going to get food from than I was before,” said Angelica Azteca, a 28-year-old housewife and mother-of-three, who spends 15 soles ($4.30) a day on food for her family. But others were gloomier. “I feel just the same — it seems my pockets are full of holes. Money goes in and out like water,” said Luz Malaga, 54. “I think Toledo has good intentions, and that he’s trying to do something. But don’t they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions?”

(Additional reporting by Tania Mellado, Eduardo Orozco)
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New throughout

Posted in 3 Cables with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2009 by Farid Matuk

By Jude Webber
LIMA, Peru, Nov 12 (Reuters) – Peru’s National Statistics Institute published sector-by-sector production figures for September on Tuesday that analysts said proved Latin  America’s No. 7 economy was growing faster than expected — for now. The government agency, INEI, said in a report production in the manufacturing sector — vital for much-needed jobs growth – rose 7.43 percent in September compared with the same 2001 month, while output in the nation’s traditional mainstays of fisheries and mining grew 18.31 and 2.8 percent respectively. Agriculture output rose 3.69 percent, it said. The agency gave no comparisons for the data. INEI said last month that the gross domestic product data it had been releasing monthly for the past 15 years were faulty, and said the new-look sector-by-sector figures would be the only indication of monthly economic performance until it had corrected its methodology and rebased its index next year. One of the main problems with the old data was how the services sector was calculated, and INEI had planned to strip that out and issue an aggregate figure for the primary and secondary sectors — chiefly mining, fishing and industry – that make up around half the economy.
But in a U-turn on Tuesday, INEI said it had changed its mind on issuing monthly GDP data because it had been impossible to work out an accurate new aggregate methodology in time, and would still issue an old-style September GDP figure next week. One economist at a large bank in Lima, who declined to be named, said the sector-by-sector numbers signaled another month of strong growth for Peru, which the government boasts is a beacon amid the battered economies of Latin America. “This (sector-by-sector data) would have given a September GDP growth number of around 6 percent,” the economist said. Asked if he agreed, INEI’s new chief Farid Matuk told Reuters the 6 percent growth estimate was “totally sensible –(perhaps) half a point up, half a point down.” The Economy Ministry last week forecast September GDP growth of 6.7 percent and 5.3 percent in October. The economist said his own forecast for September was for 5 percent growth.

Guillermo Arbe, chief analyst at the private Apoyo consultancy, said the figures were upbeat. “We have indicators that show the economy, above all that linked to internal demand, non-primary sectors, is growing …more than we expected … It’s encouraging,” he said. Peru is targeting 2002 growth of 3.7 percent after 0.2 percent last year. But the government admits the economy needs to grow faster yet to translate growth into jobs — Peruvians’ No. 1 concern and one of the reasons why President Alejandro Toledo’s popularity is down to around 20 percent in polls. But asked whether the big growth rates would continue at this clip, the bank economist said: “I think it’s over. We’ll still show growth but it won’t be as high in the last quarter. “A lot of the growth up until now has been because of a statistical bounce. September 2001 was one of the worst months there was,” he said. In September last year, the economy grew 2.7 percent. The economist said the positive effects of tax measures during the year, and of the giant Antamina copper and gold mine which began operations last year and gave the economy a push, were winding up. “I think we should end the year with growth of 3.5 to 4 percent. But next year’s a bit more complicated,” the analyst said. “There will have to be a lot of fiscal belt tightening.”

Matuk told Reuters the September GDP data would consist of a single figure without a sector-by-sector breakdown, and would be based on the same faulty methodology used for the past 15 years because there was no time to work out a new method. From 2003, INEI will issue a new-style aggregate figure –not the old GDP based on the faulty sums — while it works on improving the math and rebasing the index in order to provide more accurate, quarterly GDP numbers from mid-2003. Another senior INEI official said the agency would release the sector-wide data weekly from now on. INEI gave the following data:

Sectors Sept 2002 Jan-Sept 2002
Agriculture and farming 3.69 5.26
Fisheries 18.31 -2.04
Mining 2.80 14.97
Manufacturing industry 7.43 3.09
– primary industry -1.90 -2.50
– non-primary industry 9.75 4.65
Electricity and water 5.06 5.45
Financial services 9.65 15.57

(Additional reporting by Missy Ryan)
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Peru To Scrap `Fictional’ Monthly GDP Numbers

Posted in 3 Cables with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2009 by Farid Matuk

29 October 2002 13:15
Dow Jones International News English (Copyright (c) 2002, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

By Virginia Rey-Sanchez

LIMA -(Dow Jones)- Peru will scrap its monthly gross domestic product indicator and instead release a monthly indicator of output in various sectors, Farid Matuk, the head of the National Statistics Institute, or INEI, said late Monday. Matuk told journalists that the monthly GDP number had been distorted by unreliable data, especially in the heavily weighted “other services” sector and in the retail sector.

Recently named as head of the INEI, Matuk said Peru had released “fictional information” since 1987 based on the way the GDP number was constructed. “We either continue with the fiction or we make the information realistic,” he said. A new monthly indicator known as “gross value added goods” will be released from next month, when the output for September is reported, he said. “What we will be giving out can’t be called GDP,” he added.

The new indicator will include a primary sector, taking into account agriculture, fishing and mining, and a secondary sector, including manufacturing, construction, electricity and water. Those sectors can also have sub-sectors, he said. But the new indicator won’t measure services contained in the “other” sector, nor growth in the retail sector.
Separate Data On Tax Intake; Move Welcomed

The INEI will also simultaneously but separately release information on movements in tax collections. Matuk said that a newly revised quarterly GDP number will be released after the agency updates the base year used for GDP calculations using data from 2001.

“Investors are going to have much more confidence in this statistic than in fictional information,” Matuk said. He added that the Finance Ministry and the Central Reserve Bank of Peru may give their own estimates for GDP.

INEI recently reported that GDP rose 3.8% in August from the year- earlier month, with the economy expanding 4.1% in the first eight months. President Alejandro Toledo recently predicted that Peru’s GDP will expand 4.0% this year, despite negative growth in Latin America overall. Private sector economists aren’t predicting yet how the statistical overhaul will affect INEI’s bottom-line numbers going forward, but some do think the move by the agency was overdue.

“The main problem with the old GDP numbers is that there wasn’t any exact way to calculate the `other services’ and retail, which meant they had to be estimated indirectly by taking percentages from other sectors,” said Elmer Cuba, an economist with Macroconsult, a local consultancy. Macroconsult said the new indicator will be a better barometer of the economy, as it won’t include calculations using tax collections, which are influenced by factors not tied to the economic cycle. “Until they (the INEI) give out the new GDP, the private sector will have to calculate one each month on the basis of leading indicators,” he added. The Finance Ministry has recently started to release a growth estimate based on a basket of leading indicators.

-By Virginia Rey-Sanchez, Dow Jones Newswires; 511-221-7050;

Peru says got GDP math wrong for 15 years

Posted in 3 Cables with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2009 by Farid Matuk

By Jude Webber

LIMA, Peru, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Peru has admitted it has been reporting its key economic indicator, gross domestic product growth, wrongly for the past 15 years and will publish only partial data from now on until it can correct its sums.  Farid Matuk, who took over as head of the government’s  National Statistics Institute (INEI) in August, told reporters late on Monday it had been a mistake to publish GDP data on a monthly basis since 1987, when every other country in the world except Canada and Finland published quarterly, because monthly figures contained a wide margin of error. Furthermore, he said the way the monthly figures were calculated had also factored in a “false illusion” of the performance of the service sector, meaning that the official data “was not solid” and could not be trusted.

INEI will therefore strip the service and trade segments out of its GDP numbers for the next few months, leaving a snapshot of the performance of only around half of Latin America’s No. 7 economy, which is worth around $54 billion on current reckoning and leans heavily on mining and fishing. “I can’t produce erroneous information. I’d rather partial data that is clear than full data that is murky,” Matuk said. While it rebases its index and sorts out its methodology, INEI will publish only what Matuk called “hard figures” on the detailed monthly output of goods in the primary and secondary sectors — agriculture, fishing, mining, manufacturing, utilities and construction — plus tax data. Data for trade and “other services,” which covers mainly transport, financial and public sector services will go.The first set of new-look figures, called “gross value added production,” is due out next week, for September. The government of unpopular President Alejandro Toledo says Peru’s economic performance is stellar in a crisis-wracked region, and is forecasting growth of at least 3.7 percent this year, compared with 0.2 percent in 2001. According to current calculations, GDP grew 3.8 percent in August and 4.1 percent in the first eight months compared with the same 2001 periods.



Once INEI has sorted out its sums, it will switch to reporting complete GDP numbers, but on a quarterly basis. Matuk said INEI would revise its 2001 GDP data in the next few weeks, according to the current 1994 base year and method of reckoning. But it will not publish full 2002 GDP data – that will be up to the economy ministry and central bank.  He hoped that by July 2003, INEI would be ready to publish the total value of Peru’s economy, in dollar terms, according to a new 2001 base, followed by quarterly GDP data. That was likely to have a delay of six months to begin with. “There was a lot of resistance within INEI (to the new method of calculation),” Matuk said. “But either we perpetuate the fiction or we sort out the information, and I think sorting out the information is the right thing to do.”

Current GDP data uses information provided voluntarily by some 30,000 companies, but Matuk said INEI also had extensive data from household and employment surveys from nearly 40,000 homes nationwide that would help complete the picture. France’s national statistics agency is providing the software for the new calculations, and is sending a team of experts to Peru next month to help INEI get to work. Matuk said Peru was also working with other countries on a World Bank project to harmonize calculation of purchasing power parity by 2005 based on a basket of 4,000 universal goods.



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