January 21st, 2014

SKETCH: Why do Economists Cost So Much?

The chairman of National Statistics has a familiar smile. Clever. Knowing. Wonderfully pleased with itself. The smile on the mouth of a man who makes £100,000 for two days work a week.

It’s the same smile as Robert Chote’s – and of course they are related. Both economists, both sometime heads of the Institute of Fiscal Studies. Now both attached to the public service udder (Chote sucking £142,000 from the Office of Budget Responsibility).

Dilnot has just been in front of the Public Administration committee explaining himself on police crime figures. His National Statistician had recently described the crime statistics system as “one of the best in the world” but he has now “de-designated” them for being unreliable. Or in the words of the committee, dross. Fiddled. Fictitious. And as ex-Met chief Lord Stevens said, they always have been. And indeed, as the chair of the committee has said, every police officer he’s spoken to has agreed the figures are fantastical.

So why have Dilnot and his highly-paid office been so completely useless?

“There simply wasn’t the evidence,” Dilnot said, “the world has changed since 2011” when the figures and the system that produced them were given a clean bill of health. “The evidence wasn’t there.”

But of course it was there, had they felt inclined to look for it.

The group-think these seat-shining, back-scratchers operate under is highly professional and devoid of common sense. Bernard Jenkin asked Dilnot what the experience had taught him.

He didn’t say: “Any target-driven culture must be vulnerable to this sort of manipulation”.

When the chairman pushed his face into this observation, Dilnot found himself saying, “That is something we are seeking to understand more clearly.”

Such is the naivety of the professional men of numbers, charts and percentages, the people who “prioritise the hierarchy of administrative data in a risk-based matrix”.

Yes, they are going to be more “risk-based” in their assessments from now on. That means they’re going to decide which figures are most obviously fraudulent and try and find out why.

I can’t help thinking this sort of work is easily done, and for half the price.


68 Comments

  1. 1
    cep says:

    Cos they’re economic innit..

    Like

    • 5
      Mustapha Djinn says:

      It is always the economy that counts. One must be a walking two brains to understand it. I am a walking two brains. Ipso facto I must be paid enormous amounts from the public purse by the no brains that run the country. Hence the mantr it is the economy STUPID.

      Like

    • 28
      Black Swan says:

      Taleb advises that you should never trust those who have no “skin in the game”

      I have no idea how the whole of the political establishment were taken in by Gordon Brown – he is such an obvious passive agressive bullshitter.

      “no more boom an bust?” ffs

      Like

      • 47
        carlo gambino says:

        Black Swan says:
        January 21, 2014 at 2:46 pm
        Taleb advises that you should never trust those who have no “skin in the game”
        —————————————————————

        You need Taleb to tell you that !!!!!!

        Like

    • 35
      Psyche the Dog says:

      Tell me Simon, have heard of the old old saying in computing saying, “rubbish in rubbish out”, applies to statistics, a few wrong entries, a fiddle here,fiddled there, is magnified to something completely wrong , and which the little darlings known is politicians spout willy-nilly they have no idea if they are correct they just assume.

      Like

  2. 2
    so many questions, so many bastards says:

    Why is an economist looking at crime stats?

    Why does the government want to manipulate crime stats?

    Why do the police chiefs in the non-accountable ACPO issue non-accountable directives to ignore certain crimes?

    izzit coz we are being taken for a ride?

    Like

    • 10
      Mitch says:

      Dilnot thinks that every problem can be solved with numbers. He needs to get out more.

      Like

    • 40
      Psyche the Dog says:

      “Why does the government want to manipulate crime stats?” manipulate crime stats, tractor stats, and any other stats you care to mention, politics does not deal with truths but does a good line in porky pies. Anything to make themselves look good in the eyes of the voting public, is it any wonder the attendance at GE is falling, voters do not know what is the true and what is false, there are lies damn lies, statics and what the government tells us.

      Like

  3. 3
    LB says:

    That’s because they are paid to hide this little secret and stop the debts appearing on the books.

    http://www.if.org.uk/archives/2031/ons-reveals-full-uk-pension-liabilities

    The results showed the extraordinary sums that Britain has committed to pay its future retirees. In total, the UK is committed to paying £7.1 trillion in pensions to people who are currently either already retired or still in the workforce.

    ==============

    Add up all the debts, and you get 9,000 bn

    If you are a taxpayer, then your fair share is 270,000 pounds, growing rapidly.

    What’s 100K for a couple of days a week if it keeps the public from finding out about the debts?

    Cheap, particularly when the victims are paying to keep it a secret.

    Like

    • 13
      Mitch says:

      £7.1bn divided by a high estimated workforce of 40 million people is £175,000 each! That is clearly a massive amount and most people will get nothing like that figure. And it also assumes zero current pension funds.

      Somebody needs to go back to their calculator and try again. That figure is wrong.

      Like

  4. 4
    Did Dave view their Porn Stash? says:

    Like

  5. 7
    Lord Carrington's Binoculars says:

    ONS?

    ‘Mark Carney criticises quality of ONS data’

    ‘Bank of England Governor says “a lot of work” needs to be done to raise the standards of some of the data issued by the Office for National Statistics’

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/bank-of-england/10476050/Mark-Carney-criticises-quality-of-ONS-data.html

    No surprise. Much of the ONS was sent to the intellectual hotspot of Newport by Brown.

    Office for National Statistics
    Room 1.101
    Government Buildings
    Cardiff Road
    Newport
    South Wales
    NP10 8XG

    Like

    • 16
      Jack Ketch says:

      If statistics prove anything—-and I have statistics to prove that they do……….

      Like

    • 39
      moderate me would you? says:

      A previous boss of ONS quit under Blair/Brown because so much pressure was being brought to bear to produce flattering figures to justify ever more ludicrous spending.

      Like

    • 45
      Psyche the Dog says:

      You don’t think the later has a meaning connected to statistics?

      Like

    • 51
      NE Frontiersman says:

      Or rather, they chose not to relocate, though a lucky few who did found themselves living in the equivalent of Millionaires’ Row by comparison with their local bosses.

      However, it did create valuable retraining opportunities for miners.

      Like

  6. 9
    John Ward (Medway) says:

    Economist = “‘E cons – oh, missed’ the obvious…

    Like

  7. 12
    Marc de Nadiov says:

    The crime statistics prove that the United Kingdom is an overwhelmingly peaceful and law-abiding place. The best and most objective measure of public disorder is the number of its residents in any given year that the state finds to be so criminal and disorderly that they have to be executed.
    Execution Statistics from 2012:
    Malaysia (desperately disorderly and violent society) 60
    Japan (a bit more orderly but not safe to walk the streets in daylight) 3
    Singapore (dangerous urban jungle) 2
    United Kingdom (completely safe, evidently no serious crime ever) 0
    So there.

    Like

  8. 14

    G.O.M’s First Law. In matters of governance, the cost of an item is inversely proportional to it’s value or usefulness.
    G.O.M.’s Second Law. If the item is being paid for by socialised debt, the cost is immaterial to the procurer.

    Like

    • 46
      Psyche the Dog says:

      Maybe you could also include any cost estimates of future projects by any government which in fact turn out to be wildly out, say double or even triple the original estimates.

      Like

      • 60

        Covered by my Second Law.

        As an example. A major government project is costed at a sum which is politically acceptable, say 2 aircraft carriers without any aircraft or a railway to nowhere like HS2, bloody useless windmills or even a new pen for Sweaty troughers. Quietly but irresistibly the price rises, with lots of explanations and obscuration. by both the procurer and the MSM. This is known as the Planning Stage, when lots of well-connected people receive a daily stipend for sitting round large tables in comfortable chairs, equating to a month’s wages for those who will ultimately get the bill. More well-connected people get paid large sums of money for allowing the project to proceed, e.g. landowners of economically moribund peat moors who make a fortune out of wind turbines, paid for by those who cannot afford electricity bills (OK, but you get my point).

        Finally, the costs are amalgamated at several times, even as much as 10 times, the original published estimate and added to the government debt, This procedure is correctly is correctly known as Debt Socialisation, though referred to in the Left-dominated MSM as “crony capitalism”,

        Hence, If the item is being paid for by socialised debt, the cost is immaterial to the procurer. QED

        Like

  9. 15
    Engineer says:

    It’s a good job economists don’t build bridges or chemical plants.

    Still, at least if they did, they’d be quite good at telling you afterwards why it fell down or blew up.

    Like

    • 25
      Jack Ketch says:

      Three blokes went for a job, one trained in PR, one an Engineer and one trained in Economics.
      The recruitment panel asked the clincher question–Define the value of Pi.
      The PR bloke waffled for twenty minutes about population segmentation and the influence on the value perception of Pi by targeted communications and the paradigm shift in public aspirations.
      The physicist swiftly calculated that it was between 3.14 and 3.15.
      The Economist asked the board what they WANTED to the value to be.

      Like

    • 53
      SpAd says:

      A Chemist, an Engineer and an Economist were stranded on a desert island with only the clothes they stood up in. There was nothing to eat and they soon became very hungry.

      The next day a packing case full of tins of baked beans was washed up on the beach. They removed the tins and debated how to get the beans out of the tins.

      The Chemist said, “If we scrape the tin plate off the rim, salt water will react with the steel. The rust would then weaken the lid so we could remove it.”

      The Engineer said, “Too long-winded, we’re hungry now. But we could light a fire and place the tin on it – the heat would make the contents expand and burst the lid off, thereby opening the tin and cooking the beans at the same time.”

      The Economist said, “Let’s just assume for a moment that we have a tin opener.”

      Like

  10. 18
    Shouty* says:

    Just a smidgeon of peanut butter

    Like

  11. 24
    Aunt Duggan says:

    No justice, we’ll shoot you!

    Like

  12. 27
    Blowing Whistles says:

    Would being economic with the truth have anything to do with it?

    Like

  13. 30

    Don’t forget that the National Statistician was also involved in the review of the Retail Price Index measure of inflation. What was it about its usually higher inflation reading that made the National Statistician prefer the usually lower reading of the Consumer Price Index?

    Fortunately some of us stood firm against this gerrymandering as discussed in the article below.

    http://www.mindfulmoney.co.uk/wp/shaun-richards/victory-on-the-uk-retail-price-index-and-it-feels-good/

    Also there is the new Consumer Price Index including housing costs or CPIH. Perhaps with house prices rising faster than inflation as is common knowledge the National Statistician could explain how it gives a LOWER inflation reading than ordinary CPI.

    Some might think that there is something of a trend here…

    Like

    • 56
      Fly on the wall says:

      It is also a bit iffy that certain things that are bought only perhaps once a year by a few members of the public are on the list while other things that are bought daily seem to have been missed out.

      Clearly, these list drawer-uppers need to get out more.

      Like

  14. 32
  15. 34
    Anonymous says:

    I’m a cop, I “Crime” offences every day and it’s a pain in the arse to be honest and if I could avoid doing it I would but it’s effectively impossible to avoid it once a crime has been reported.Even if an assault victim say, decides on reflection, that they won’t proceed with their complaint, it still has to be crimped because we know it took place. This is because the Home Office reporting standards are so strict.
    My point here is that no-one I know in my Force believes that crime stats. are being manipulated downwards, and if it’s happening elsewhere then I can’t see how or why?

    Like

    • 41
      Innocent Face says:

      Hmmmm, well if it isn’t happening at your end of the procedure and it isn’t happening at the ONS then it must be happening somewhere in the middle of the procedure…..

      Presumably senior officers amalgamate all the crime figures before passing them onto the ONS?

      Like

      • 66
        Anonymous says:

        Surely if that were the case , they would want to make the case for more money, resources and officers, something a falling crime -rate wouldn’t support?
        I saw Bernard Jenkins on TV last night talking about crime stats and it was perfectly obvious to me that he hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about, he seems to believe that “the Sergeant” inputs crime reports and sometimes juggles them to achieve some sort of favourable outcome. I felt embarrassed listening to him frankly, it bears no relation to reality. Every incident reported to the police generates an Incident Log on computer and there is an un-erasable “trail” created. That log has to be dealt with in one way or another, and if a crime was committed the log can only be closed when a crime number is generated and added to to it. That crime report can then only be closed when one of about 14 or so ” outcomes” is authorised , based on objective criteria. Each force’s crime stats are open to inspection by HMIC and the Home Office so what is to be gained by even attempting to manipulate the I really don’t know?

        Like

    • 43
      moderate me would you? says:

      How about if an ‘assault’ is down-graded, at your recommendation form (say) attempted murder to assault.

      I don’t know the various categories and sub-categories but the government will want to ‘prove’ that ‘serious’ crime is going down so if they can ‘encourage’ plod to underbook everything then that will have the effect the govt wants.

      It’s the same with crime clear-up. Getting some scrote, whose going to get six months anyway (out in three) for a dozen break-ins to take responsibility for several hundred. Hey presto. Crime clear-up rates through the roof.

      Well done knacker.

      It’s the same reason the NHS covers up all its deaths.

      Like

      • 49
        Psyche the Dog says:

        “It’s the same reason the NHS covers up all its deaths” you do not mention sending folks too early to improve stats. Have you ever wondered why you hear ambulances wailng through town 7-10 am, 11.30am-1.30pm, 3.30-6.00 and 7.30-9.30 those of the times call

        Like

        • 65
          Anonymous says:

          What a stupid point ! you should get out more if you can sit around timing when you hear an ambulance, fire engine, Para medic or police car.You do know that its not only ambulances dont you genius ?

          Like

      • 67
        Anonymous says:

        More than a few misconceptions here I’m afraid. Why would an Attempt Murder be downgraded to an assault unless the facts of the incident didn’t fit the definition of attempt murder?the most serious assaults, GBH and GBH with intent, have sentencing guidelines allowing up to life imprisonment AFAIK anyway?
        The police will always look to prove and charge the more serious offence that is feasible in law , it is often the CPS, who actually have to prosecute the case, who decide to alter the charge downwards if they feel,they have a better chance of. Conviction.
        As for your naive belief that getting some scrote to cough offences he hasn’t committed, that might have been possible 30 years ago, but no longer. To have an offence “Taken into Consideration” now requires the same standard of proof as does a charge, so basically it’s a load more work digging through old C.R’s to match them to his admissions when all you really wanted to do was charge him with the one or two you’d nicked him for in the first place, put the court file in, and go home.

        Like

    • 55
  16. 44
    Anonymous says:

    The thing to understand about Economics is that it only works backwards. Stuff happens, then economists try to explain why. It’s not like proper science where a theory predicts what will happen and then it either does or doesn’t, proving or disproving the theory in the process.
    Economics is a bunch of bullshit after the fact. It has no predictive value or scientific rigour whatsoever.
    That being the case economists are obviously ideal people to talk about made up crime statistics. They are experts at making stuff up and talking complete bollocks.
    They get paid lots to talk shit and make up bullcrap because this service is highly valued by their government paymasters. The art of good government is lying BIG and getting away with it.

    Like

    • 57
      moderate me would you? says:

      It’s like the bollocks that the deficit will be zero by 2018. Just like Brown’s deficit was always going to be ’45bn this year, 38bn the following year, 24bn the year after then 18bn and surplus of 2bn in five years time..’ Every fucking budget. Break-even was always five years away.

      Looks like Dave has the same spreadsheet.

      Declare ‘break even’ in five years and then make up some numbers to go in between.

      Gissa job. I could do that.

      Like

  17. 50

    Front end of the ongoing incompetence process. Innit?

    Like

  18. 58
    Tosser Dave says:

    Don’t worry. When I get into power, I’m going to sort out all these quangos.

    Trust me — I’m a LibLabConner

    Like

  19. 61
    Bonar Law says:

    You mean, Mr Carr, “the chairman of the committee”. “Chair” is politically correct baloney.

    Like

  20. 62
    Anonymous says:

    Sack the lot of ‘em

    Like


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