Greece is downgrading itself

On December 19 Standard and Poor’s raised its rating of Greek sovereign debt by six notches, to B-minus from selective default. The government’s decision to prosecute a statistician indicates that the upgrade was premature. According to S&P, the ratings change “balances our view of euro-zone member states’ determination to support Greece’s euro-zone membership and the … Read moreGreece is downgrading itself

Unfortunately, in Greece statistics is a combat sport

The Financial Times reports that Andreas Georgiou, the head of the independent Greek statistical agency Elstat, is facing a criminal investigation for allegedly inflating the scale of the country’s fiscal crisis and “acting against the Greek national interest.” Georgiou, who worked at the International Monetary Fund for 20 years, was appointed in 2010 by agreement … Read moreUnfortunately, in Greece statistics is a combat sport

Send in the technocrats!

Winston Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried. The financial crisis has tested Churchill’s assertion. In Greece, the austerity measures imposed on the country by the EU and the ensuing domestic unrest led Prime Minister George Papandreou to call for a referendum to … Read moreSend in the technocrats!

Prize (for a) failure

British clothing retailer Simon Wolfson (known to his friends in the House of Lords as Baron Wolfson of Aspley Guise) announced several days ago the establishment of the Wolfson Economics Prize (read the press release here).   The prize, worth a cool £250,000 (about $400,000)–second only to the Nobel Prize in Economics, in terms of … Read morePrize (for a) failure

Nostalgia for gold

The Wall Street Journal has demonstrated nostalgia for the gold standard by publishing two pro-gold standard opinion pieces this week. Both are long on nostalgia and short on analytical content. On Tuesday, long-time gold enthusiast Lewis Lehrman made his pitch, arguing that a return to the gold standard was necessary to restore fiscal balance.  I … Read moreNostalgia for gold