Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Unknown Region Exports & Hidden GDP

A very quick post to clear up the latest "the statisticians are hiding Scotland's true wealth" myth.

This stems from the likes of these tweets;

There are loads more along similar lines (many from people who've blocked me funnily enough) which all suggest that the issue of "unknown region" in  HMRC regional export stats must be hiding the true extent of Scottish GDP and/or by implication exaggerating our deficit.

Frankly the idea that the Scottish Government might have missed such an obvious trick when calculating the value of Scotland's GDP is ridiculousness enough to let us know this is highly likely to be yet another calculated attempt at spreading misinformation - something independence supporters are very adept at.

Sure enough as we'll see it's very similar to the "whisky export duty" and "VAT revenue attributed at head office" myths already covered by this blog (see "Stop Getting GERS wrong" or Appendix A of "The Price of Independence")

So the source of that graph is this publication: Export Statistics Scotland 2014

That document has nothing to do with GERS figures or GDP calculations and in fact it explicitly excludes North sea oil and gas

The graph in question is included only within the context of comparing these Scottish Government export statistics with HMRC regional export stats

So the Scottish Export Statistics explicitly exclude Oil & gas anyway and as the document states clearly:  "The estimates in this publication are based on the completed survey returns from 1,664 businesses in Scotland to the 2014 Global Connections Survey".

So this "unknown region" issue has no impact on the Scottish Government's published export statistics.

But surely it means our GDP is understated?  Well no, because the HMRC regional export figures are not used in our GDP calculation (see Scottish Government "How is GDP calculated"). You can view the full list of data sources here and regional export data is not among them. 

What about our fiscal balance? Well similarly the way oil tax revenues are allocated in GERS has nothing to do with the HMRC regional data (see GERS Revenue Methodology)

I could go on but this just gets silly. Some idiots on Twitter and Facebook have found a graph and leapt to a ridiculous conclusion in an effort to stoke a grievance.

Plus ca change.


John Silver said...

I loved your bit about folk blocking you. You blocked me because I tweeted "boo" not to you but to History Woman. literally ... that was the entirety of my tweet .. & it was in no way offensive ----it was a very bad joke. She blocked me & you followed suit. I'm an old git. i don't do insults on twitter any more than I would in real life. So it always amuses me when folk get on their
moral high horse about offensive interactions on social media. I'll not be upset if you don't publish this - just seemed the easiest way to make a point.

Kevin Hague said...

What's your Twitter @ John?

I'll have a look and see if I think I over-reacted (I sometime scan a timeline as well)