Greece – Government Files Criminal Charges Against Statisiticians

You know things are getting surreal when statisticians are getting charged for criminal acts.

Like a sketch out of Monty Python the Greek government has decided to files charges against the senior management of Greece’s independent, national statistics authority.

What did they do?

The head of Greece’s statistics service, Andreas Georgiou, and two board members at the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) are to face felony charges regarding the alleged manipulation of the country’s deficit figure in 2009. Image Source:

Apparently they made the Greek government deficit look worse than it actually was and this resulted in the Troika imposing measures that were harsher than necessary.

So let me get this straight. The Troika thought the Greek government was in more trouble than it actually was so it said the Greek government had to cut spending by an overly large amount.

Sorry, I don’t see the problem.

The Greek government is saying to the Greek electorate that the measures are a good thing for the country, that they are putting the country in a sound position for the future and yet at the same time the Greek government is saying it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Apparently the “cooked” figures made the Greek government do things that made the government more sustainable than necessary.

I am writing this and wondering if I am doing a good job of explaining how stupid this course of action is.

What exactly is the Greek government saying?

That they need to cut spending like the Troika says but at the same time they are saying if they cut the deficit too much that is a bad thing?

What exactly does that mean?

That Greek government thinks that there is a fine balance to be struck and they want to hit it just right.

Okay, that’s fine, I don’t agree with it but you can understand the argument they are making.

There is a problem with this argument though and it is this.

Since 2009 (when the figures were allegedly cooked) the Greek government is constantly getting ragged upon by the Troika for failing to meet targets to cut spending.

So even though the Greek government was trying to cut spending more than required and even though the figures have now been revised to favour the government’s story the Greek government is still not on target.

Let me put it another way by using an analogy.

The figures were supposedly cooked and that meant the government had to cut spending by 10 Euros a year. But the actual figures according to the government should have said the spending should have only been cut by 8 Euros.

But the problem with this is even though the government is claiming spending should have only been cut by 8 Euros they still failed to meet this less ambitious target even though they were going for something larger.

And this means the statisticians are criminals?

Whichever way you cut it the Greek government is failing the Greek people but instead of acknowledging their mistakes they are lashing out and blaming the messenger.

But there is more to this story than this. There has long been friction between ELSTAT and the Greek government. Back in 2008/9 a spokeswoman from ELSTAT was quoted as saying the Greeks government finances are a disaster or words to that effect.

It seem ELSTAT has been “too” independent and it is now being reigned in, in the most shocking way possible.



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