idle and fond bondage

Electricity demand growth: A good way of tracking Peru’s economic expansion

The thing with GDP stats is that they tend to be bullshit, especially when newly minted, because there are all sorts of revisions and adjustments still left in the pipeline quite apart from the party political bias that’s placed upon the numbers by whatever government is in charge. Now some countries are better than others in having reasonably independent statistics offices and official beancounters, with those in LatAm that can be normally trusted to do a fair job including DANE in Colombia and Chile’s Central Bank. 
But what to do about the countries where bullshit competes with facts when it’s time to publish macro stats? Offenders in the LatAm include Argentina, Venezuela and Peru (add your own fave to the list, for example I hear Panama’s numbers are of the laughable type but I’ve never really looked much) and in the case of your author, up to his veritable neck in mining whatnots and malarkeys, getting some sort of handle on the state of play in Peru has always been a problem.
So that’s the blahblah preamble, here’s a method used Chez Otto that offers a decent gauge. Electricity demand in a country is a good one, because you can’t store it (easily), it (normally) gets used in the types of things that add directly to economic activity and as long as the generation is kept in mostly private or semi-private hands, the datadumps offered are tough to fake on a global scale. Here are a couple of charts that show the growth in demand for electricity in Peru (NB: not peak demand nor generation figures, what we care most about is total monthly demand for the stuff in GWh). 
This first chart shows total monthly demand and the quickest eye-scan will tell you “Peru growing”:
This second one crunches the figures down a bit further and gives the Year-over-Year (YoY) percentage change. This is the one I personally like the most, because it’s the one that gives me my proxy to the GDP numbers often faked by governments (Alan Twobreakfasts García is a great politico, but he’s a lying tart as well).
What we see here is that apart from the dip caused by the late 08 financial crisis (that hit Peru via the dumpage in commods prices more than anything else, specifically copper and other metals) and then the kneejerk rebound you’d expect from the trailing figures, Peru has done very well in recent years. Pre ’08 things clipped along fast with an 8% to 10% YoY growth in demand for electricity, then after the kneejerk had worked its way through we saw perhaps 8% as the standard benchmark
But hey folks, look at recent numbers. For sure there are heaps of countries that would dream of a 6% annual growth in power demand, but there’s little doubt that from perhaps mid 2011 things have started to trail off. Data from here, if you care enough

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