Magazine article Public Finance

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Magazine article Public Finance

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Article excerpt

* Man reached the moon on the shoulders of Newton's Principia. For Rob Whiteman, the moon is a fi nancial management model that casts a light (http://bit.ly/2c8lQN5).

It can do that, however, only if it observes the soft-science analogues of Newtonian principles. Department of Health accountants failed to do this when they, understandably, just accepted health economists' assurance that a huge account-styled formula (plus or minus for this or that) is a principled way of measuring healthcare need in small areas; the maths was wrong.

Was the UK Statistics Authority's Ed Humpherson aware of this as he wondered why government statistics and fi nance were so disconnected (http://bit.ly/2bBCact)? Probably not, since it is beyond his remit to comment on any application calling for principled statistical reasoning.

It is heartening that Humpherson says he wants to strengthen the statistics/fi nance connection without mentioning the intrusive econometricians who purport to have 'policy-making' expertise.

Mervyn Stone

Emeritus professor of statistics, UCL

All claim victory in EU standoff

* If we have a referendum on an arrangement with Europe, the steadfast Europhiles will vote against any break with the EU, while hardline Eurosceptics may vote against because it doesn't make a big enough break (Defi ning Brexit, September, page 21)? …

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