Ginning up the numbers

This must be coming into the vernacular – I have heard the term ‘ginning up’ on several ocassions lately.  That’s what I feel when I see stuff like this which was taken directly from a Statistics Canada report.

 

Now there is no doubt we are in a recession – I don’t question that but look at the y axis on this chart.  It starts at $36 billion.  That little trick is used to exaggerate the effect of the chart.  Consider this one below that I prepared – essentially the same as the one above.

Chart 1 Manufacturing sales continue sharp descent

 

Here is the exact same chart using a Y axis starting at zero which shows a true pciture of the change in sales relatively to the overall size of manufacturing. 

Chart 1 Manufacturing sales continue incremental declines

In fact, manufacturing sales less auto are only down 1.2% month- over-month which, again, is not a good thing but I think even Statistics Canada has fallen into the trap of tarting or ginning up the numbers.

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6 Responses to Ginning up the numbers

  1. Independent says:

    “tarting up the numbers” > “ginning up the numbers”

  2. Mike E says:

    Nice comparison. It just goes to show how easy it is to mislead with statistics, even unintentionally. Good work on keeping things in perspective.

  3. Anonymous says:

    On the other hand, everyone is very conservative about forecasts. It has been obvious for more than 5 months that the economy (global, U.S. Canadian, etc.) was going to deteriorate drastically, but everyone is still painting the picture with nice, soft colors… And we are not done yet. Expect forecasters revising down their projections for still a few months to come.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Talk about ginning up the numbers… (well, actually, ginning down the numbers…) 😛 Why “manufacturing sales LESS AUTO”? According to StatCan, “manufacturing sales decreased 5.4% to $41.7 billion in January, falling to the lowest level in almost 10 years.” Last time I checked, auto was still part of the Canadian economy.

  5. You can gin up or gin down – I guess. My only point is the Y axis trick is an old one to exaggerate the lines or bars on a graph.

  6. Anonymous says:

    So finally these people are becoming realistic about the short term (http://business.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090318.wmlforecast0318/BNStory/Business/home).

    Now they just need to make a good reality check about the mid-term (i.e. how long it will take for the recession to end). 2010? Do they actually do their homework??? Oh, well, these are the same people who were giving AAA ratings to Lehman Brothers, AIG, etc. (and the others were talking about economic growth in 2009…)

    At least it’s a half-step in the right direction. Recognizing the severity of the problem is fundamental so we can take the appropriate measures.

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