Sunday, August 11, 2013

Don't Like Them Dismal Numbers? Change 'Em!

Trey Smith

A while back I presented to you another miniseries featuring George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, as a backdrop to what is going on in the US today. If you will remember, one of the posts had to do with the Ministry of Truth. That's where the story's protagonist, Winston Smith, worked. His job was to rewrite history so that it matched up perfectly with Big Brother's current political agenda. For example, if a few years back Big Brother had predicted x and instead y occurred, all references to x were scrubbed from history and replaced with y. In this way, Big Brother's prognostications always turned out to be right on the nose.

Keep this theme in mind as you read the following snippet by Dr. jack Rasmus posted at CounterPunch.
Facing the prospect of a 2nd quarter GDP report showing economic growth less than 1% (some professional forecasting services predict as low as 0.5%), and a year to year growth of the US economy likely to come in at barely 1% – compared to a 2011-12 already tepid 1.7% – today [July 31] the Obama administration will announce a major revision of how it calculates GDP which will bump up GDP numbers by as much as 3% according to some estimates. That’s one way to make it appear the US economy is finally recovering again, when all other fiscal-monetary policies since 2009 have actually failed to produce a sustained recovery.

Today’s GDP definition revision is not the first time that politicians, failing in their policies, have simply rewritten the numbers to make the failure ‘go away’. But this time, the GDP revisions will be made going all the way back to 1929. So watch for the slowing US economy GDP numbers from last October 2012 onward to be significantly revised upward.

Instead of an actual, paltry 0.4% GDP growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2012, a weak 1.6% in the first quarter 2013, and the projected 0.5%-1% for the 2nd quarter 2013 — all the numbers will be revised higher in the coming GDP estimate for the 2nd quarter 2013. The true GDP growth rate of the most recent April-June 2013 period, projected as low as 0.5% by some professional macroeconmic forecasters, might not thus get reported.
Did you notice the truly Orwellian aspect to this change? Not only is the Obama administration changing the numbers so today's picture magically will appear rosier, but they concurrently are rewriting 84 years of history at the same time!  Before we know it, the old calculations will disappear as if they never existed in the first place.

We've been down a similar road before. Unemployment used to be calculated one way -- a far more accurate way -- but the new formula hides a lot of the actual depressing numbers. This is why, in some months, the creation of jobs doesn't keep up with population growth and yet the unemployment rate magically decreases.

For a long time, people have said that the truth is in the numbers. Sadly, this is not accurate. When you know how to cook the calculations and formulations, you can turn numbers on their heads and most people will be none the wiser!

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