All change at the Office for National Statistics

When Mark Carney got his feet under the BOE table, one of the first things he said he wanted to do was shake up the UK’s data delivery. Today the ONS announce they will be bringing us a new monthly GDP data point from Jul 2018.

From the horses mouth;

  • This consultation proposed an alternative model for the publications of GDP estimates; the full details of the model can be found in the consultation document.
  • In summary, this model would give two estimates of quarterly GDP using data from all three of the Output, Income and Expenditure approaches around six weeks and 13 weeks after the end of the preceding quarter. This would be a change from three estimates of quarterly GDP, published four, eight and 13 weeks after the end of the preceding quarter.
  • In addition, the Index of Services publication would be moved two weeks earlier to become part of the Short Term Economic Indicator theme day, enabling the publication of monthly GDP estimates that would include both a three-month rolling estimate and an estimate for the latest month.
  • The clear majority of respondents were in favour of the proposed changes to the GDP publication model, saying that the higher quality first estimate of GDP along with the early view of Income and Expenditure data will mean the figures are more reliable and helpful, and ultimately lead to greater confidence in the GDP estimates.
  • We will move to using the new GDP publishing model in 2018, with the first estimate of monthly GDP (for the reference month of May) being introduced in July 2018 and the first quarterly GDP estimate (for quarter 2 2018) under the new model being introduced in August 2018
  • We will develop a package of products to be released as part of the new monthly and quarterly publications under the new model in collaboration with users, with the aim of providing a clear and coherent picture of economic activity.
  • We will take a number of steps to ensure that any negative impact on data content in the first estimate of GDP is minimised. For example, we will be reviewing our survey and broader data processing timetables as well as our estimation and forecasting methods.
  • We will publish an article in Spring 2018 explaining the changes to the publication model in more detail, the products that we will produce under the new model and a clear schedule of publication dates from the date of implementation.

The long and short of it is that there will be less guess work for GDP from next year. In the first releases of quarterly GDP, only around 30% of it is made up from actual data, the rest is all estimated. It then takes a further two reports to detail all the revisions. It’s an archaic system. Now, if they also take another look at their delivery of the info via their website, I would be overjoyed. Currently it’s like navigating a maze in pitch blackness with a blindfold on. Read the full statement here.

Ryan Littlestone

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