Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The BBC statistically inept or biased against Israel?

The BBC report on the world's biggest arms exporters and show us that the top 5 arms exporters in 2007 are:
1. USA - $12.8bn
2. Russia - $7.4bn
3. France - $6.2bn
4. Israel - $4.4bn
5. UK - $4.1bn
Really? Let's take a look at the SIPRI's figures(in $m):
1. USA 7914
2. Russia 4559
3. Germany 3260
4. France 2639
5. Netherlands 1241
6. UK 1098
7. Ukraine 774
8. Italy 649
9. Spain 554
10. Israel 414

So why the discrepancy? It doesn't matter which way I run the figures Israel doesn't come fourth. So why are the BBC ignoring Germany, Netherlands, Ukraine, Italy & Spain and why are they boosting Israel's position? Maybe I am misreading the figures but I just don't see how they have got to this position. Perhaps someone at the BBC could explain...

Thanks to Biased-BBC contributor pounce_uk for the spot

UPDATE: I have logged a complaint with the BBC, not that they seem to bother replying any more: "Your report on the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute figures on arms exporters seems rather odd. You report the top 5 for 2007 as being 1. USA - $12.8bn, 2. Russia - $7.4bn
3. France - $6.2bn, 4. Israel - $4.4bn, 5. UK - $4.1bn. But if you look at SIPRI's site the figures don't seem to quite tally. SIPRI's 2007 figures show ($m): 1. USA 7914, 2. Russia 4559, 3. Germany 3260, 4. France 2639, 5. Netherlands 1241, 6. UK 1098, 7. Ukraine 774, 8. Italy 649, 9. Spain 554, 10. Israel 414.

I am sure there is a reasonable explanation, I just can't think of one."


pounce_uk said...

Do you mind if I use your post (word for word) on our blog. I just can't be asked to rewrite the whole subject which you have covered ever so well.
and I would give full credit to you and your blog?

Craig said...

Not a Sheep, Good work as always.

I hope this helps (though it's just confused me even more!!) The SIPRI figures used by the Beeb can be found here:

I can't make head nor tail of what they relate to, can you? Are they a ranking of the financial value to each country of the arms trade (as the appendix's headline says) or some measure of who were the largest arms exporters in 2007, "according to national data" (and what on earth does that mean?)? And why are they so different to the main rankings - which you quote (and which, with slight variations, also appear on Wikipedia) and which are obviously the official SIPRI rankings?

Something very odd is going on here, & the BBC looks to be up to no good with statistics, at Israel's expense.

Can you fathom it out?

Not a sheep said...

Thanks Craig, I am investigating that Appendix.

Thanks Pounce, please go ahead; I will keep an eyo of Eye on the World for it.

Pheon said...

I think it may depend on the meaning of the phrase "Trade Indicator Value" - the data you link to has the line "Figures are SIPRI Trend Indicator Values (TIVs) expressed in US$ m. at constant (1990) prices". I have no idea what this means, but it could be the explanation.

Not a sheep said...

Trade Indicator Value was the phrase that jumped out at me as well. We will see what SIPRI say.

analyst said...

Oh dear.

There is a reasonable explanation.

You have been looking at figures adapted to represent trends in arms transfers at 1990 prices. Good for assessing the relative shifts in volume.

The BBC were looking at cash values in 2007 - getting their info from the SIPRI Yearbook :

Meanwhile, Israeli sources are open about Israel being in the top 4, or even (as in 2003) third in arms exports by value. Google Israel High-tech & investment report March 2003 for details.