A candidate to the French presidency tweeted

The fall in industrial production in Spain, Italy and France of course has a link with the euro.

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However I have a couple of doubts on its accuracy because of its source and the arbitrary use of gauges and percentages.

Is the data accurate? The graph shows an "euro effect" according to the OP. Is this an artifact of the way the graph is made? What happened to countries outside of the euro?

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    Does the graph show an "euro effect"? I don't actually see it. I see that France, Spain and Italy failed to rebound from the 2008 crisis the way Germany has, that's about it... – DevSolar Mar 21 '17 at 9:22
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    So the "euro effect" did not happen until 10 years after the "creation of the euro"? – hdhondt Mar 21 '17 at 9:23
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    A "link" means it's correlated, but en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation – Sklivvz Mar 21 '17 at 11:08
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    @Sklivvz: What I'm saying is that I'm pretty confident that she (Le Pen) implies causation. Otherwise the tweet wouldn't make much sense. – Scrontch Mar 21 '17 at 15:04
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    As @Scrontch is saying, the tweet includes "of course has a link". If it were merely noting a correlation without implying causation, then the fact that there is a correlation wouldn't be obvious, so "of course" doesn't make sense. The inclusion of "of course" fairly explicitly asserts causation. – Nat Mar 21 '17 at 16:18

The raw statistics can be mined from http://stats.oecd.org which I have done using the following parameters (Sorry, it doesnt appear to be linkable!)

  • Selection: Production of total Industry
  • Frequency: Annual, last 30 years
  • Countries: France, Germany, Italy & Spain

The oecd stats system seems to put the datum point at 2010, which differs from the original question, but as all are compared equally this should not make too much of a difference.

The resulting data looks like this:

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Producing the following chart

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Which differs from your original, but not vastly. I suspect there is some cherry-picking of data.

As for the second part, how non-Euro nations compare, there are nine member states who do not use the Euro (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom). Not all of these countries are included in the OECD data, but most are and they can be compared to the wider Euro-zone. The chart looks as below, which does not look materially different between euro-zone and non-euro-zone nations.

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    The graph in the question uses as y the percentage of production relative to that in year 2001 (that's the meaning of "indice 100 en 2001" on the third line of the screenshot). This explains some of the discrepancy. – fgrieu Mar 21 '17 at 11:46
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    @fgrieu yes, the current oecd site only allows you to use 100 relative to 2010`. So perhaps the OP chart was from outdated data. – Jamiec Mar 21 '17 at 11:49
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    It looks like they equalized the euro nations in 2000 so germany comes out ahead in the article's graph because it was substantially lower in absolute numbers (~90 range vs ~115 range) at the time. – ratchet freak Mar 21 '17 at 14:16
  • You can probably get similar linkable data from e.g. fred.stlouisfed.org/series/FRAPROINDMISMEI – Adrian Mar 21 '17 at 16:09
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    The first chart is kind of misleading. It looks like Germany performed much worse before 2005-10 than the others and better after. I know that's not what it says, but it is what it looks like. And while it shouldn't, that is what matters. Index graphs only work well when equalized the left end of the x-axis. I know the original graph set a precedent, but I think this needs to be addressed in this answer, otherwise it just looks like it verifies not only the original graph, but also the probably incorrect deduction of the "euro effect". – imsodin Mar 22 '17 at 11:48

Managing Expectations: U.K. Industrial Production gives many more countries and 3 different equalization points:


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and another source added the total EMU:

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Within the Euro zone, Germany has increased production more than the other countries, even though Germany was the worst performer up to 2001.

For data back to 1955 (1919 for the USA) for numerous countries see the following link: https://data.oecd.org/industry/industrial-production.htm Make sure to check "total" under the "perspectives" pull-down, uncheck "compare variables" and use the slider to expand the time window as desired.

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    These are nice graphs, but I think your answer needs to have text explaining how these graphs prove, or disprove, the claim. – Jack Aidley Mar 21 '17 at 12:34
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    @JackAidley Germany was the worst performer up to 2001, then it rose to the top of the Euro zone by 2011 and stayed there. I think I answered two of the OP's questions 1. "The graph shows an 'euro effect' according to the OP. Is this an artifact of the way the graph is made? " and 2. "What happened to countries outside of the euro?" – DavePhD Mar 21 '17 at 12:40
  • Crucially, though, none of them show other Euro countries. – Sklivvz Mar 21 '17 at 13:33
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    @Sklivvz Ok, I added another graph with the total EMU – DavePhD Mar 21 '17 at 13:56
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    "even though Germany was the worst performer up to 2001" ? I would suggest "because Germany was the worst performer up to 2001" would be closer. It's easier to improve if you start from a low base. – Martin Bonner Mar 22 '17 at 10:54

Remark: my previous answer having been deleted, I rewrote it completely in order to address the issues. I hope that's fine.

The OP asks three questions:

  1. Is the data accurate?
  2. The graph shows an "euro effect" according to the OP. Is this an artifact of the way the graph is made?
  3. What happened to countries outside of the euro?

The first two questions have been addressed in the French media (sorry for posting links in French, but obviously the topic is covered mostly by french news). Here are the analyses I'm aware of, together with a short summary:

  • lemonde.fr accuses Le Pen of manipulating data by cherry-picking the year 2001 as reference year. They interpret the difference in industrial production as a consequence that Germany recovered faster after the 2008 crisis.
  • L'Obs says that the graph is accurate but misleading. The article acknowledges that Euro plays a significant role in the observed difference, because countries cannot devaluate their currency anymore. But it also emphasizes that other factors explain the difference.
  • arretsurimage.net (paywall) agrees with the two previous studies for the most part, insisting on the questionable causation link between the graph and the claim.
  • les-crises.fr criticizes (vehemently) the above-mentioned analysis given in lemonde.fr, explaining in particular why the choice of the reference year is appropriate. The article also points out some mistakes in this analysis.

Question 1: is the data accurate?

All the sources agree that the data is accurate.

Question 2: The graph shows an "euro effect" according to the OP. Is this an artifact of the way the graph is made?

The sources disagree about this point. Most emphasize the fact that it's easy to misinterpret this kind of graph, at least. In detail:

  • For lemonde.fr, it is an artifact caused by the choice of the reference year.
  • The article in L'Obs is much more nuanced, and explains why Euro has indeed a beneficial impact on Germany's industrial production and a negative one on the three other countries. However the article also details other factors which are likely to have an impact as well (my understanding is that the direct causation link is rejected).
  • arretsurimage.net (paywall) also questions the causation link between Euro and the fall in industrial production.
  • les-crises.fr considers that Euro has clearly an impact, but mentions it would be a simplification to say that Euro is the only cause.

Underlying question: does Euro benefits to Germany at the expense of other countries ?

It's not very clear in the OP's question, but given that the question is tagged "economics" and "Europe", I will assume that the OP is also interested in evidence showing whether the claim is true or not (since the fact that the presented graph is inconclusive does not imply that the claim itself is wrong).

L'Obs explains that the main impact of Euro is on the price of imports and exports,so one can look at this indicator instead of industrial production. The graph below shows the current balance account expressed as percentage of GDP (no need for a reference year):

current balance account expressed as percentage of GDP, OECD

This graph is from the OECD website again (you need to select the parameters). It does not show any clear sign of decline caused by Euro for France, Spain or Italy (in particular France and UK perform similarly, although the latter is not part of Euro). However Germany starts to improve dramatically around the time where Euro is introduced, and keeps on improving later on.

  • See also How to proceed when implicit and explicit claims diverge -- I think this OP is only interested in whether the graph is accurate, and doesn't want to read about any "implied" claim (e.g. that there's a causal link, nor that it's bad for France, etc.). – ChrisW Mar 24 '17 at 10:28
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    @ChrisW thanks for the link, it kind of helped me understand my own frustration with the question ;) To me the question of the existence of an artifact or not calls for studying alternative evidence: if it corroborates the conclusion then the artifact is unlikely. – Erwan Mar 25 '17 at 2:21
  • You're welcome, and welcome to this site. This site has defined a lot of rules; many questions are closed (by users) and answers deleted (by moderators), even popular answers. This chat room helps to explain the moderator's dissatisfaction with answers to "implicit claims". – ChrisW Mar 25 '17 at 2:33

The data seems accurate. I re-calculated the OECD data to 2001 = 100 but didn't truncate the y-axis (truncating the y-axis overemphasizes any relative increase or decrease):


I also created a second sheet by removing Spain and Italy and adding Switzerland (non-Euro/non-EU) with a similar development as Germany and the UK (non-Euro/EU) with a similar development as France:


If you want to create your own charts use two Excel sheets: one with the OECD industry production data of all OECD and some others countries downloaded from OECD.Stats and the "chart maker".

If you want to replace a country in the chart maker, change the country name and copy the respective column of the country in the OECD industry production data sheet to one of the columns on the left (e.g. replacing Italy). The chart as well as the re-indexed data on the right will be changed automatically.

If you want to choose another base year, choose one year on the right and set it to 100. You have to modify the functions of all other years manually though (takes two minutes).

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This answer is based on original data analysis or non-verifiable data. It is up to the answerer to provide valid, verifiable and potentially replicable evidence. Answers which are wholly based on "original research" are generally downvoted and may be deleted. See FAQ: What constitutes original research?

  • Upvoted for not truncating the zero. That always makes shifts seem more dramatic, and is a known way to bias change into something that seems more dramatic. – Edwin Buck Mar 23 '17 at 17:01

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