What the flip is going on with global trade?

Similarly to many branches of statistics-gathering, the world’s trade statistics bureaux lack, in their communication style, a certain panache. The writings of such agencies are characterised by a complete absence of zing, lightness-of-touch and joie de vivre. I’ve blogged before about horrific diagrams like that shown here, and how the whole enterprise of gathering information about global trade is inaccessible and unpleasant.

So it gave me an extra tickle, to find a rare example of humour in a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research called “World Trade Flows: 1962-2000”.

In the paper, they present a number of databases of world trade flows from a series of years between 1962 and 2000. Blind or indifferent to the fears of the “Millenium Bug“, they use a two-digit code to represent the particular year. Let me recap: it’s a database of World Trade Flows at a given two-digit year we’ll generically call “??”.

The result can be seen here on p48 of the report. Fantastic stuff…
Feenstra et al 2005

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Author: Rob Levy

Economist at NEF. Former teaching Fellow in Economics at UCL and Bristol University. Recently submitted my PhD. We'll see what happens...

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