The Validity of International Gold Movement Statistics

By Oskar Morgenstern | Go to book overview
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V. Summary and Conclusions
Our findings can perhaps be summarized in a few points:
A. If the statistics agree for both sets (preferably according to a powerful test of significance for which, however, a theory is lacking), they may still both be wrong. This cannot be decided, as in most other cases. Either statistics may then be used.
B. If the available data disagree, the question is whether the differences are significant after giving full consideration to the reasons discussed above as to why they might differ. Unfortunately, no significance test is available that is specifically suited to the situation encountered here.
C. There is, at present, no objective way of choosing between the various ultimate sources. The insistence of an American investigator on American and of a British investigator on British sources--each decision leading to different results and interpretations--cannot be overcome by any scientific arguments.
D. If, in the light of common-sense, the statistics are significantly different, there seems to be no alternative but to reject them all, along with all the detailed series derived from them. All the other consequences of such a step must, of course, also be taken, including the doubts that must arise as to the value of much of past and present literature, including not only the writings using these statistics explicitly but also those concerned with the pure theory of international trade to the extent that they are based, implicitly or explicitly, on them.
E. If there is a significant common-sense difference in the data and both sets are used to corroborate the theory or to give new correlations with other time series (which turn out to be high), and one set agrees well with the theory of international trade or some other prima facie plausible model, the statistics, and thus their use, should still be rejected. The theory with which they may happen to agree is not strong enough, for it usually has no firm and clear other empirical foundation, where the data have been checked up to the present standards and are beyond doubt of a superior quality than those for gold. These foundations of the theories are in most cases too weak to allow the overriding of the other non-corresponding set of data.

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