Abstract

Using Benford's law, we find evidence supporting the hypothesis that countries at times misreport their economic data strategically. We group countries with similar economic conditions and find that for countries with fixed exchange rate regimes, high negative net foreign asset positions, negative current account balances, or more vulnerable to capital flow reversals, we reject the first-digit law for the balance-of-payments data. This corroborates the intuition of a simple economic model. The main results do not seem to be driven by countries in sub-Saharan Africa or those with low institutional quality ratings.

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