The Economics of Lying About GDP

China’s economic record is like Lance Armstrong’s cycling record: yes, the best, but with a big fat asterisk. There’s a paradox among cheaters: they usually are among the best in their field, because only when you get close to the top does breaking the rules make you the best in the world.

We have plenty of evidence for this:

  • Regional GDPs have been restated, sometimes significantly. (Even before the restatements, provincial GDP estimates literally didn’t add up to the reported national figure.)
  • Chinese sales tax numbers