I smell a big, dirty, dead rat in the IMF report on Australia

Fri, 14 Mar 2014  |  

I smell a big, dirty, dead rat in the IMF report on Australia that the ABC Fact Checking Unit used as its source to verify the basis of Treasurer Hockey's claim that "Of the 17 top surveyed IMF countries, Labor left us with the fastest growth in spending of anyone in the world... and they left us with the third highest growth in debt of anyone in the top 17."

The IMF report has some curious inclusions and omissions in that "top 17".

The IMF's charts which Mr Hockey bases his claim have Japan, the Czech Republic, Iceland and Finland included in the one covering "Change in Real Expenditure, 2012-2018" (and all are "better" than Australia); but then drops those countries to include Greece, Portugal, Great Britain and Ireland in the chart on "Change in Net Debt 2012-2018" (again those four countries are "better" than Australia).

What is going on?

This is intellectual fraud, no?

In other words, there is no indication how Net Debt is changing in Japan, the Czech Republic, Iceland and Finland nor how Real Expenditure is changing in Greece, Portugal, Great Britain and Ireland.

Italy, Sweden, Singapore, Taiwan, Israel and Slovenia, to name a few, are not in either comparison although some may suggest they should be.

I have no idea what the government spending patterns and net debt levels are for most of these "top" countries, but I do smell a fishy rat when they are excluded from the comparisons and there is a switch from one chart to the next.

It must be noted the IMF reports are vetted by Treasury and the Treasurer's Office before they are released. Not for a moment am I suggesting there is anything untoward in the way the IMF compiled this report, but if it looks like a dead rat, smells like a dead rat, is it safe to call it a dead rat?

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