Who is spin doctoring the numbers?

“German economy is growing strongly again”! Who says? According to Handelsblatt so says German Economy minister Rösler. In order to be fair the BMWI is more careful in its press release. So never mind who says that we are growing strongly again: which data could possibly make us think so? The German Production index below! After the German production index lost 14.9 points from March to April it gained 4.9 points from April to May.

This hardly qualifies as strong growth.It looks like a sawtooth pattern would make Handelsblatt happy half the time independently of whether it is tilted this way or the other. Spinning numbers can send you straight to hell with a smile on your face. Lets see what the entire series looks like since say 2007 shall we?

Yes I know not many people can see the bad news in this picture. Let us look at two different series derived from this one. First the percentage of year on year change looks like this:

Can you see the bad news now? We are doing worse year on year. The sawtooth series is tilted the wrong way and we may be headed to hell with a Handelsblatt smile on our face! Another prudent way to look at the series is to plot the 12 month moving average. It looks like this:

This graph says after almost (but not quite) reaching the pre-crisis levels the German Production Index is turning the wrong way again. If you are a data analyst, a Handelsblatt reporter or the Economy Minister you can’t miss that. We all need you to be on your toes and wide awake here. Stop spinning the numbers!

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