Greek GDP stats gaps prompt suspension of flash data

Greek GDP stats gaps prompt suspension of flash data

Greece's statistics service ELSTAT has suspended until further notice the release of flash quarterly estimates on the country's gross domestic product because of divergences with provisional estimates, an official at the statistics service said on Monday.

The move means that flash data will not be issued on August 14. Nationwide quarterly GDP data will be released on September 1, taking into account more information than the early indicator of the flash estimate.

That quarterly figure, known as provisional data, can also be subject to revisions over time.

The quality of Greek statistical data is under constant scrutiny by Brussels since the country plunged into crisis in 2010, requiring to date three international bailouts to stave off bankruptcy.

Discrepancies in the way the budget deficit was calculated before 2010 – which angry eurozone partners say concealed the extent of the deficit – helped trigger the financial crisis that engulfed Greece and the eurozone.

A senior ELSTAT official told Reuters the suspension of the flash data was necessary because flash data was issued on the basis of incomplete information, which subsequently needed revisions when more data came in.

"We will probably not publish flash estimates for the next coming quarters after recent divergences," the ELSTAT official said.

There have been considerable differences in the past two quarters between flash data, issued 45 days after the lapse of the reference period, and provisional data that follows and is released within a 60 day period.

On June 2, ELSTAT upwardly revised its first-quarter GDP estimate to an expansion of 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter on a provisional basis; flash data released 15 days earlier had estimated the economy had contracted by 0.1 percent.

Similarly in March, ELSTAT said Greece's economy shrank 1.2 percent in the last quarter of 2016, a considerable revision from a 0.4 percent crimp it gave a fortnight earlier.

"We don't have all the necessary data for the flash estimates on time. We just have data only for two months of the quarter on employment and not the final data for the current account balance," the official said.

"We want to explore the availability of the necessary data sources and improve the consistency of the flash estimates."

Many statistics services in the eurozone announce their flash estimates on GDP 45 days after the end of the previous quarter and provisional estimates 60 days later.

Ireland, Luxembourg and Sweden do not issue flash data. The release of flash estimates is not mandatory under European legislation.

The official said that Eurostat has been informed on the matter. [Reuters]

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