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GDP Data Fudge Vs. BoP: Recent Differences?


On popular demand, I post a graph of the difference between the GDP data and the RBI Balance of Payments (BoP) data. This is referencing my posts on how the Q4 data has been ‘fudged’ and India is likely to have seen GDP contraction (in real terms, that is, accounting for inflation). Read: Has India Plunged Into Recession? GDP Data Fudge Reveals Details and India *HAS* Seen Negative GDP Growth, BoP Confirms Data Fudge


(Click for a larger picture)

As you can see the March 2012 quarter is very strange – Exports are larger in the MOSPI figure than the BoP figure tells us, and GDP imports are much smaller than BoP data.

But there’s an important takeaway.

Exports may have been understated in GDP figures in the first three quarters of this year, by about 65,000 cr. The discrepancy in Q4 is about 87,000 cr. So the difference, for the whole year, is a manageable 22,000 cr. You might be able to explain that by saying that they’ve stuffed the corrections into the last quarter. (I don’t believe that – they keep revising earlier quarter numbers with every GDP release – so if you update the past figures, you’re not allowed the excuse that you stuff corrections into the last quarter).

But Imports remain a mystery. Even if you account for stuffing (Imports have been overstated in the GDP in the Sep and Dec quarters) the difference for the full year, between the MOSPI GDP Data and the RBI BoP, is about 120,000 cr., which is a fairly large number to miss.

The difference in imports is so large that even if you rejig for past quarter misses, it will still result in much lower GDP growth. Reworking the numbers for a (-120,000 cr.) net export figure – negative because we imported more than we exported – we still get a nominal growth number of about 4.5%. Subtracting inflation of 7% and, like we’ve talked about, a GDP contraction. Even if we eke out positive growth for the year, It’s not looking good for the last quarter.

I’ve also been told that I’m being silly for believing any of the numbers in the GDP releases, since they are largely figments of people’s imagination. While I hope that is not true, it’s not a theory that can be written off, so please use appropriate pinches of salt.


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