Tuesday 17 January 2017

Brendan Keenan: The trouble with statistics

There was more fog than light in the figures for the first three months of this year

Published 26/06/2011 | 05:00

AS NO doubt you know, if an object approaches the speed of light, the normal laws of physics start to break down. I learnt last week that, as economic growth approaches zero, the laws of statistics, if not exactly breaking down, become more difficult.

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There was certainly more fog than light in the figures for the economy for the first three months of the year. The confusion is mostly to do with the multi-national companies, which have become far more difficult to observe since the selling of relatively simple things like computers began to be be replaced with. . . well, what exactly does Google sell?

Even worse are the companies that don't really sell anything at all, but have set up their headquarters in Ireland; often for reason of pure tax avoidance.

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