John
Williams'
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 Friday, December 5th, covering November employment and unemployment, the October trade deficit and construction spending, and an update and review of financial-market conditions.  For further detail on pending economic releases, see the schedule. (LAST UPDATED November 26th)

No. 678: October Durable Goods Orders, New-Home Sales, November Consumer Conditions Subscription required November 26th, 2014
• No Economic Boom in Durable Goods Orders or Housing Activity • Real Durable Orders Goods Set Early Pace of Flat-to-Down Activity for Fourth-Quarter 2014 • New-Home Sales Revised Lower in Third-Quarter; October Broad Sales Activity Remained Stagnant • Consumer Confidence and Sentiment Remain at Levels Consistent with Historical Recessions More ...
No. 677: Third-Quarter 2014 GDP, First Revision November 25th, 2014
• Gross Domestic Product Upside Revision Was Nonsense • Initial Gross Domestic Income Reporting Suggested Major Revision Shenanigans that Boosted Headline GDP • Underlying Reality Remains Down-Trending Stagnation in Broad Economic Activity More ...
No. 676: October CPI, Real Retail Sales and Earnings, Existing-Home Sales Subscription required November 20th, 2014
• October Annual Inflation: 1.7% (CPI-U), 1.5% (CPI-W), 9.4% (ShadowStats) • Inflation Held at 1.7% for Third Month, Despite Tumbling Oil Prices That Reduced CPI-U by 0.5% • Annual Real Retail Sales Growth Fell Back to Recession Level, Amidst Suggestions of Much-Slower Fourth-Quarter Activity • Third-Quarter GDP Headline Growth of 3.5% Should Revise to Below 2.5%; Fourth-Quarter GDP Activity Fair Bet for Outright Contraction • Existing-Home Sales Gained 1.5% for the Month, 2.5% Year-to-Year, But Fell 3.7% in the Trailing 12 Months of Activity More ...
No. 675: October Housing Starts, PPI Subscription required November 19th, 2014

• October Housing Starts Indicated Fourth-Quarter Contraction • PPI Headline Inflation of 0.2% Reflected Peculiarities of New Reporting Approach • October PPI Will Dampen Real Growth in New Orders for Durable Goods and Construction Spending More ...
No. 674: October Industrial Production Subscription required November 17th, 2014
• Unexpected Production Decline Was on Top of Downside Revisions • Annual Growth Dropped to Six-Month Low • Implied Fourth-Quarter Production Pace Slowed Sharply • Continued Contractions in, and Downside Revisions to, Auto Production Should Hammer Inventory and Third- and Fourth-Quarter-GDP Estimates  More ...
No. 673: October Retail Sales, Consumer Liquidity, Updated Hyperinflation and DollarRisks Subscription required November 14th, 2014
• October Retail Sales Were Near Consensus, with Minimal Revisions and A Sharply-Slowing Pace of Fourth-Quarter 2014 Growth • Negative Surprises on the Economy and in the Political Arena Are Among Imminent Top Threats to U.S. Dollar More ...
No. 672: October Labor Data, Money Supply M3, Federal Deficit, Election 2014 Subscription required November 9th, 2014
• October's Labor Numbers Skewed by Seasonal-Factors Distorted by Last Year's Government Shutdown • Resulting Understated October 2014 Unemployment Rates:  5.8% (U.3), 11.5% (U.6), 23.0% (ShadowStats) • Election Polling Again Indicated No Economic Recovery, With Pocketbook Issues Dominating the Voting - New Proprietary Analyses • GAAP-Based 2014 Federal Deficit Was About $6 Trillion, Versus Headline Cash-Based $0.5 Trillion Shortfall • 2014 Net Federal Obligations Approached $100 Trillion, GAAP-Based, Net Present Value • Reporting Shenanigans: Headline Deficit Well Shy of Jump in Debt • Fed Monetized 78% of Headline 2014 Federal Deficit • Annual Money Supply M3 Growth Held at 4.2%  More ...
No. 671: September Trade Deficit and Construction Spending Subscription required November 4th, 2014
• The Happy News Begins to Falter • Third-Quarter GDP Growth Faces Downside Revision, Given Deteriorating September Trade and Construction Reporting • Trade Deficit Widened Sharply • Quarterly Construction Spending Growth Turned Negative from Positive • Risk of Unexpectedly Weak October Payrolls • Craziness in the Financial Markets Cannot Prevail, Assumed Underlying Reality Is Not There or Will Prove Fleeting More ...
No. 670: Third-Quarter 2014 GDP, Money Velocity Subscription required October 30th, 2014
• Happy Election-Eve Numbers! • GDP up by 3.5% (+/- 3.5% Range of Reporting-Confidence), Boosted by Guessed-At Trade Numbers and Resurgent Defense Spending • Significant Downside Revisions Loom for Third-Quarter Growth • End of Declining Velocity of Money • Disappointing October Jobs Growth?  More ...
No. 669: September Durable Goods Orders, New-Home Sales Subscription required October 28th, 2014
• Broad Weakness in September Durable Goods Orders • New-Home Sales Remained Stagnant, Despite Nonsensical Reporting Volatility • Expanding Scope of Data-Falsification Issues at the Census Bureau? More ...
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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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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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