Shooting the Messenger, Greek Style

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Say what you will about technocrats, but if there’s one place where you really do want one it’s in your statistical agency. But that hasn’t worked out so well for Andreas Georgiou, who was appointed to run the newly established Hellenic Statistical Authority in 2010 after years of egregious misreporting of Greece’s official economic figures:

Greece has won strong endorsements in the past year for shoring up its economic statistics after years of fudging data to conceal its deficits and financial mismanagement, but the man who’s responsible for restoring the country’s reputation is now the target of possible prosecution. He’s been accused of exaggerating Greece’s deficits in a conspiracy to strengthen the hand of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

….A Greek government official called the case “outrageous.” Visiting European Union officials are said to be “speechless” over the dispute. But to an outside observer, the most disconcerting aspect of the case is that Georgiou couldn’t name a top political figure who’s publicly thrown his support behind him.

….A Greek government official, who said he wasn’t authorized to be quoted by name, called the notion of a conspiracy outlandish. “It’s as if ELSTAT, Eurostat” — the Luxembourg-based Statistical Office of the European Communities — “the Department of State and the planet Mars conspired to change the deficit numbers so that Greece would have to turn to the IMF for more help,” the official said. “It’s crazy. It’s even crazier that we are devoting part of our time” to responding to the charges.

No good deed goes unpunished, I guess. More here from Felix Salmon on why Greece is doomed.

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