Today, Peru's newspaper of record El Comercio (it's the paper of record because of style, not its mediocre substance) ran this feature which quoted both Matuk and Schuldt at length. The note is in Spanish but the content won't be novel for IKN readers. We've documented the ongoing BS spouted by President Twobreakfasts and company and the efforts of local critics on the subject to great length and the stench of doctored numbers is clear to anyone that bothers to scratch the surface. However, even the normally dormant and submissive Comercio is now picking up on the story, this because Peruvian econobloggers such as Schuldt and Matuk have managed to make so much noise that the official stats office, the INEI, has called a press conference on April 21st to explain (nay, reveal) how it makes its calculations.
That presser will be an interesting moment for local economists. Firstly, it'll be interesting to see if the conference actually takes place as the INEI are notorious date-breakers on this kind of thing. Secondly it will interesting to find out how the 69% of GDP calculations that are basically black box at the moment are made (Schuldt recently compared the methodology to the talents of a local star chef). Thirdly, it will surely be a lot of fun to find out how the INEI has managed to use exactly the same percentage growth figure for line items such as housing rentals for the last 26 months...to the hundredth, month after month. But perhaps what the INEI has in mind is a show'n'tell with no tricky questions afterwards.
It's all very reminiscent of Argentina and its laughably unaccountable INDEC stats office. Looking at the bigger picture for a second, that Peru is chosen by the World Bank as its latest poster child and then gets its clearly biased macroeconomic figures backed up by very same world bank is strange. That Peru runs a very similar economy to that of Chile and even though Chile's financial fundamentals are about a light year ahead of Peru's, Chile is now in recession and Peru growing...well that's strange too. That the whole raison d'etre of the Twobreakfasts administration is that of growth and growth and trickledown is under pressure and the best way to prop it up is to massage the headline number of all headline numbers is coincidentally strange.
But away from the local issues, the power of blogs is again demonstrated. In a previous age, the control of news dissemination was much easier for those who would prefer to give just one side of the story. But once again we witness today a mainstream media channel that is being forced to address an issue its bosses would rather ignore because of these pesky bloggers. Dissenters with solid arguments cannot simply be ignored until they go away in 2009, be that in Peru, Panama or Philadelphia. ¡Que Viven los Bloggers, carajo!