BUILDING UNIFORM DATA INTO NATIONAL ACCOUNTS

Dr. Pilat, he noted, had “started off on a somewhat sour note” by describing the picture across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), whose member countries have different methods of accounting, as “pretty chaotic.” But an OECD task force has delivered a report, and all the national statisticians have gone back to their home countries to mount surveys in the aim of beginning to build these data into their national accounts in the way that the BEA had built them into the U.S. national accounts beginning in 1999. This meant that international comparisons were in the offing, even if they were not to be expected right away. Their availability—that Dr. Jorgenson foresaw within 12 to 24 months—would make it possible “to supply the missing link: moving offshore.” It would then be possible to ascertain what was moving where. There had been unanimous agreement among the members of Panel IV that the starting point for any discussion had to be that data were not yet available. But the data were on the way, which meant that policy would not have to be debated without the illumination of careful economic measurement.

Dr. Jorgenson again thanked all participants for their contributions to what he called a “very clearly focused picture of the challenges that lie ahead of us, the opportunities, and the potential resolution of what has become a very, very tense and therefore a very interesting debate.”



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