Argentina’s Dreadful Poverty Statistics – Depends Who Is Counting And How

A report today that poverty has increased dreadfully under Macri in Argentina. The correct answer really being, well, who is counting and how? It being worth noting that no poverty statistics were published for the last three years under Christina Kirchner. For the very good reason that her government was lying through its teeth about the inflation number. To the point that they actually tried to jail people who were calculating the correct one.

When they’re jailing people who report that reality isn’t meeting the plan then perhaps we shouldn’t be trusting the statistics, eh?

Plunging peso, grinding poverty: Argentina hears echoes of 2001 crisis

It’s not actually the 2001 crisis that this is an echo of. More like the appalling misrule under Kirchner:

Following a sustained reduction in poverty during Kirchner’s years in office, from 2007 to 2015, some 2 million people have fallen below the breadline since Macri took office, statistics from Argentina’s Catholic University show, jumping from 29% to 35% of the population.

That’s one of those statements we should take to be a flat out lie.

The reason being:

The INDEC estimates poverty rates by cross-referencing data on incomes taken from a sample group that is surveyed along with the value of a basket of goods deemed necessary to satisfy basic needs.

The Argentine poverty rate being an absolute one. It measures a particular and specific level of consumption, not some relative measure like 60% of median income or some such. Further:

“We’re on the right path. Since the return of reliable statistics 2.7 million people have left poverty behind and close to 610,000 are no longer destitute” said the president. The INDEC at the end of the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration stopped publishing poverty statistics.

And:

Nearly one-third of Argentina’s population lives in poverty, the government said Wednesday in the first official poverty data published in three years, underscoring the difficulty of reaching President Mauricio Macri’s “zero poverty” goal. In a survey of 27.2 million people in 31 urban areas, 8.8 million people, or 32.2 percent, were below the poverty line.

That was the first set of statistics when normality returned, in 2016.

So why stop publishing those statistics? Because no one would have believed a word of them. That being because they were lying about the inflation rate.

Think this through for a moment. If we have a relative poverty measure then inflation isn’t all that important in calculating. But if we’ve an absolute measure then it’s vital. And what was the different between actual and reported inflation?

Although nominally independent, INDEC is subject to strong political pressure from the government, and its statistics are no longer considered trustworthy.Because INDEC’s statistics have been reported as being manipulated by the Kirchner government, it is considered “discredited”.

Oh. And how discredited?

Argentina inflation

Ah, that’s discredited a lot, isn’t it? And the reason for insisting upon no poverty numbers is that by an absolute reporting standard you will, if you understate inflation that badly, have no poor in Argentina. And no one was going to believe that with shanty towns springing up in the centre of Buenos Aires. So, don’t report the numbers. Simples.

And yes, they really did try to jail the economists who calculated the correct numbers.

So, now let us run the story again. Lefty kleptocrat takes power, inflation and absolute poverty soar. Figures are cheated and then not published. Rightie comes to power, starts publishing the real numbers. Blame is attached to Mr. Rightie.

Aren’t we all so glad we’ve an unbiased press in this country?

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