GDP data is taken as a sign for investors and some consumers. When news comes out that the economy has nosedived, few people stop to ask if the reports are accurate. They just start to worry, which can in itself deter investment and put the brakes on growth. That’s why we expect the statistical authorities to take extreme care to ensure the data are reliable.

In practice, however, since 2015 SA’s quarterly — but not annual — GDP data has gone haywire. The problem is a proudly new SA tradition of economic downturns reported in nearly every first quarter, followed as regularly by recovery in the rest of the year. This kind of quarterly cycle should be eliminated by the seasonal adjustment process; its emergence suggests that process needs urgent review.

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.