John
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Shadow Government Statistics
Analysis Behind and Beyond Government Economic Reporting
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Latest Commentaries Subscription required Subscription

The Next Regular Commentary: is scheduled for Thursday, September 4th, covering the July trade deficit and construction spending, with a subsequent Commentary on September 5th, covering August employment and unemployment.  For detail on pending economic releases, see the schedule. (LAST UPDATED August 28th)

No. 653: First Revision to Second-Quarter 2014 GDP Subscription required August 28th, 2014
• Economic Bluff and Bluster versus Reality, Politics and Elections • Minimal Upside Revision to Second-Quarter GDP Left Gimmicked Growth Even More Heavily Overstated • Underlying Reality Remains a Severely Impaired Consumer and Economy • Monthly Economic Series to Turn Increasingly Negative  More ...
No. 652: July 2014 Durable Goods Orders, New- and Existing-Home Sales Subscription required August 26th, 2014
• 22.6% Gain in July Durable Goods Orders Was Just 0.8%, Net of an Irregular 318.0% Surge in Commercial-Aircraft Orders • Booked Years in Advance, Commercial-Aircraft Orders Have Negligible Impact on Near-Term Economic Activity • July Existing-Home Sales in Ninth Month of Annual Decline • July New-Home Sales Held in Pattern of Stagnation, Amidst Ongoing Reporting Instabilities More ...
No. 651: July 2014 CPI, Housing Starts, Real Retail Sales and Earnings, Monetary Base Subscription required August 19th, 2014
• Real Retail Sales Contracted for Second Month, Signaled Deepening Recession • Real Earnings and Retail Sales Both Fell Below Second-Quarter Levels • July Annual Inflation: 2.0% (CPI-U), 1.9%% (CPI-W), 9.7% (ShadowStats) • Monetary Base Explodes to Record High • Quality of Housing-Starts Reporting Sinks to New Low More ...
No. 650: July 2014 Industrial Production, Producer Price Index (PPI) Subscription required August 18th, 2014
• Production Report Showed Somewhat Weaker Second-Quarter Activity Amidst Unusual Revision Patterns • Construction Inflation Surged in the July More ...
No. 649: July 2014 Retail Sales, Consumer Liquidity Subscription required August 13th, 2014
• Headline July Retail Sales Were Boosted to “Unchanged,” Thanks to Downside Prior-Period Revisions • Net of Inflation, Real July Sales Likely Fell for Second Month • Real July Sales Were Below Second-Quarter Average • Consumer Liquidity Remains Structurally Impaired More ...
No. 648: June 2014 Trade Balance, Monetary Conditions Subscription required August 6th, 2014
• Despite Narrowing in June Trade Deficit GDP Growth Remains Subject to Trade-Related Downside Revision • Monetary Base at All-Time High • Pace of Fed Monetization at 91% Year-to-Date 2014 • July M3 Annual Growth at Five-Year High of 4.7% More ...
No. 647: July Employment and Unemployment, June Construction Spending Subscription required August 1st, 2014
• Minimally Weaker-Than-Consensus Labor Numbers— Unremarkable Except for the Regular, Horrendous Reporting Quality • July Unemployment: 6.2% (U.3), 12.2% (U.6), 23.2% (ShadowStats) • Real Construction Spending—Stagnation with a Recent Downside Bias • Economy Remains in Serious Trouble  More ...
No. 646: Second-Quarter 2014 GDP, GDP Benchmark Revisions, Household Income Subscription required July 30th, 2014
• Second-Quarter GDP Surge Not Credible, Significant Downside Revisions Remain in Offing • Actual Economic Activity Remains in Serious Trouble • Historical GDP Revised Lower Where Better Data Were Available and Revised Higher Where Better Numbers Were Not More ...
No. 645: June Durable Goods Orders, New-Home Sales Subscription required July 25th, 2014
• Despite Durable Goods Orders Turning Lower Year-to-Year, General Pattern Showed Ongoing Stagnation • In Context of Sharp Downside Revisions to Prior Months, June 2014 New-Homes Sales Fell Month-to-Month, Quarter-to-Quarter and Year-to-Year More ...
No. 644: Pending GDP Reporting and Revisions Subscription required July 23rd, 2014
• Unhappy Surprises in Pending GDP Numbers • Look for Downside Revisions to GDP Growth of Recent Years, Including First-Quarter 2014 • Initial Estimate of Second-Quarter GDP Growth Should Surprise Market Expectations Sharply on the Downside • Headline Second-Quarter Contraction Likely by September 26th Revision More ...
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Have you ever wondered why the CPI, GDP and employment numbers run counter to your personal and business experiences? The problem lies in biased and often-manipulated government reporting.
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John Williams'
"Shadow Government Statistics"

johnwilliams@shadowstats.com
Tel: (415) 512-7701

American Business Analytics & Research LLC
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5 Third Street, Suite 1301
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Some Biographical & Additional Background Information

Walter J. "John" Williams was born in 1949. He received an A.B. in Economics, cum laude, from Dartmouth College in 1971, and was awarded a M.B.A. from Dartmouth's Amos Tuck School of Business Administration in 1972, where he was named an Edward Tuck Scholar. During his career as a consulting economist, John has worked with individuals as well as Fortune 500 companies.

Although I am known formally as Walter J. Williams, my friends call me “John.” For 30 years, I have been a private consulting economist and, out of necessity, had to become a specialist in government economic reporting.

One of my early clients was a large manufacturer of commercial airplanes, who had developed an econometric model for predicting revenue passenger miles. The level of revenue passenger miles was their primary sales forecasting tool, and the model was heavily dependent on the GNP (now GDP) as reported by the Department of Commerce.  Suddenly, their model stopped working, and they asked me if I could fix it. I realized the GNP numbers were faulty, corrected them for my client (official reporting was similarly revised a couple of years later) and the model worked again, at least for a while, until GNP methodological changes eventually made the underlying data worthless.

That began a lengthy process of exploring the history and nature of economic reporting and in interviewing key people involved in the process from the early days of government reporting through the present. For a number of years I conducted surveys among business economists as to the quality of government statistics (the vast majority thought it was pretty bad), and my results led to front page stories in 1989 in the New York Times and Investors Daily (now Investors Business Daily), considerable coverage in the broadcast media and a joint meeting with representatives of all the government's statistical agencies.  

Nonetheless, the quality of government reporting has deteriorated sharply in the last couple of decades. Reporting problems have included methodological changes to economic reporting that have pushed headline economic and inflation results out of the realm of real-world or common experience.

Over the decades, well in excess of 1,000 presentations have been given on the economic outlook, or on approaches to analyzing economic data, to clients—large and small—including talks with members of the business, banking, government, press, academic, brokerage and investment communities. I also have provided testimony before Congress (details here).

An old friend—the late-Doug Gillespie—asked me some years back to write a series of articles on the quality of government statistics.  The response to those writings (the Primer Series available at the top-center of this page) was so strong that we started ShadowStats.com (Shadow Government Statistics) in 2004.  The newsletter is published as part of my economic consulting services. — John Williams

 


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