It’s a common excuse proffered by arithmetically challenged schoolchildren: “I got the number right, but the sign wrong.” On Monday, the government was guilty of a similar error in its factory output data. Till it corrected the number pertaining to capital goods output, analysts were left scrambling for explanations as to how this had grown 25.5% while overall factory growth had shrunk 5.1%. (The answer: it hadn’t, and had actually shrunk by 25.5%).
The error, even if it is only a typo, is galling because it is in an important data release, and also comes in the wake of Friday’s admission by the government that another mathematical error made it overstate the country’s export data by $9.4 billion. Mint’s resident wag sees a disturbing trend in this that doesn’t bode well for the next release of economic data: “Sorry guys, the dog ate the GDP data.”