Friday, May 20, 2011

Statistical Notes Friday May 20

BACKGROUND: From now on, I will publish posts that briefly surveys and comments various statistics that are interesting for various reasons from a wide variety of countries. Often, the individual statistics haven't appeared significant enough to merit a post, but together they will be significant, even though they aren't necessarily related. Particularly important statistics that demands deeper analysis will however even in the future get individual posts.

The frequency of these updates will vary somewhat depending primarily on how many interesting numbers are published but also on how busy I am, but usually it will be at least once a week. Since I will publish many updates per month, the date appears in the name of the post. Here is then the first post:

-Portugal has progress in reducing its current account deficit, from €4.12 billion the first quarter of 2010 to €2.94 billion the latest quarter. As a percentage of GDP it is almost down by half since 2008-but as it is still about 6.5% of GDP, it is still too high.

-The story is in many ways similar with regard to unemployment in Latvia. It fell by 0.3 percentage points from the previous quarter and 3.9 percentage points from the previous year, but at 16.6% it is still unacceptably high.

- In Hong Kong,unemployment increased slightly, but at 3.5% it is still really low. Furthermore, the increase in unemployment was entirely due to a big increase in labor force participation that was slightly higher than employment growth.

-Swedish credit growth slowed in terms of SEK to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2005 in the first quarter, and in percentage terms credit growth was the lowest since 1996.

-Mixed signals from the British economy as both retail sales growth and jobless claims increased. The increase in retail sales could to some extent be related to the royal wedding

-Also mixed, but mostly weak, signals from the U.S. economy as not only did jobless claims fall, but leading indicators, Philly Fed index and existing home sales fell too. The fact that other indicators suggest weakness means that the drop in jobless claims could be related to seasonal adjustment problems.

-Israel's economy had continued fast growth, 1.2% (4.9% at an annualized rate) compared to Q4 2010 and 5.6% compared to Q1 2010. Adjusted for terms of trade growth is less impressive, 3.8%, but that is still higher than most other countries, especially considering that almost all net commodity importers have also seen their terms of trade weaken.