The Next Regular Commentary: is scheduled for Thursday, September 25th, covering August new orders for durable goods and new- and existing-home sales, followed by one on Friday the 26th, covering the third-estimate of second-quarter 2014 GDP. For further detail on pending economic releases, see the schedule. (LAST UPDATED September 18th)
No. 660: Economic Review, August Housing Starts, Payroll Benchmark Revision
September 18th, 2014
• New Graphs Show Smoothed Housing Trends
• Housing Starts Stagnant at Low Level of Activity, Never Recovered, Not Recovering
• Payroll Employment Benchmark Revision Was Nil (Plus 7,000)
• Longer-Term Economic Detail Shows Ongoing Collapse, Shorter-Term, Pre-Election Fluff Has Been Mixed
• Why Is the Dollar Stronger and Gold Weaker More ...
No. 659: August CPI, Real Retail Sales and Earnings
September 17th, 2014
• With Some Double-Counting, Sharp Declines in Headline Inflation Boosted Monthly Real Retail Sales and Earnings
• An Issue with Consistent Measurement of Gasoline Prices?
• August Annual Inflation: 1.7% (CPI-U), 1.6% (CPI-W), 9.4% (ShadowStats)
• Outlook Weakened for 2015 Social Security COLA More ...
No. 658: Annual Income Survey, August PPI
September 16th, 2014
• Still No Relief Pending for the Economy or the Financial System
• Changes in 2013 Real Median Household Income and Income Dispersion Were Not Statistically Significant
• Stagnant Real Median Income Held at Post-Recession Low, Down 8.0% from Pre-Recession Peak, Lowest Since 1994, Below Levels of Late-1960s and Early-1970s
• Income Variance Held at Historic High, Suggestive of Still-Greater Economic and Financial Crises Ahead
• August Annual PPI Inflation Notched Higher More ...
No. 657: August Industrial Production
September 15th, 2014
• August Production Decline Was on Top of Downside Revisions to July Activity
• Plunge in Auto Manufacturing Highlighted Poor-Quality Seasonal Adjustments and Difficulties in Inventory Accounting More ...
No. 656: 2013 Consumer Expenditures, August Retail Sales, Gold
September 12th, 2014
• U.S. Economy Re-Entered Recession in 2013, Indicated by the BLS's Annual Consumer Expenditure Survey
• 2013 Total Money Income Fell Even Before Inflation Adjustment
• Physical Gold, a Life Preserver That Could See Action Soon
• Day-to-Day Timing of a Great Financial Disaster Is a Tough Call, But the Alarm Bells Are Sounding
• Strong Headline Retail Sales Gain Was Not Statistically Significant More ...
No. 655: August Payroll Employment and Unemployment, Money Supply M3
September 5th, 2014
• Payroll Jobs Growth Faltered in Context of Unusual Seasonal Factor Shifts
• August Unemployment Rate: 6.1% (U.3), 12.0% (U.6), 23.2% (ShadowStats)
• Downward Notch in Unemployment Rate Reflected Further Loss of Labor Force, Not the Unemployed Gaining Employment
• U.3 Rate Was Less than 979 Unemployed People Shy of Holding at 6.2%
• August 2014 Civilian Employment Still Shy of Pre-Recession Peak
• August Money Supply M3 at 4.6% Annual Growth More ...
No. 654: July Median Household Income, Trade Deficit, Construction Spending
September 4th, 2014
• Neither Economic Boom nor Recovery Is Underway; Fundamentals Are Not in Place to Fuel or to Support Such a Circumstance
• Latest Median Household Income Reading Confirmed Severely Impaired Consumer and Economy
• Trade Deficit Continued to Widen Year-to-Year Despite Prior-Period Revisions and Unusual Seasonal Factors
• Net of Inflation, Construction Spending Surge Was Stagnation More ...
No. 653: First Revision to Second-Quarter 2014 GDP
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
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 ...
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.
Primers on Government Economic Reports
What you've suspected but were afraid to ask. The story behind unemployment, the Federal Deficit, CPI, GDP.
Specialized Economic Consulting
Services include customized forecasts and analyses of the general economy, presentations and consultations in-house for clients. Contact us to discuss your needs.
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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