China's National Bureau of Statistics is capable of performing miracles: The much-discussed 6.1 % year-on-year growth in Q1 2009 was published on April 16, barely two weeks after the end of the quarter. No other major country even comes close to matching the speed of China's statisticians.
Ever wondered how they can aggregate all the required data from the various Chinese provinces in the space of two weeks? Surely they must use lots of statistical shortcuts and projections, many of which may be reasonably adequate in a "stable" situation, but hopelessly inappropriate in times of economic upheaval.
Why am I writing this?
Well, the BBC reports that British Q1 GDP statistics will be revised downwards because the initial estimate of a 2.4 % drop in construction activity turned out to be wrong, and construction activity dropped 9 % instead.
Just a minor estimation discrepancy, huh? I wonder how they came up with the initial 2.4 % estimate? Can preliminary GDP data have any meaning whatsoever if a major component such as construction activity can be utterly and totally misestimated?
And surely nobody thinks that China has an easier job of aggregating nationwide data than comparatively small and compact Britain?