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

The Next Regular Commentary: is scheduled for Wednesday, October 22nd, covering the September CPI, real retail sales and earnings, existing home sales.  For further detail on pending economic releases, see the  schedule. (LAST UPDATED October 17th)

No. 667: September Housing Starts, Prospective Third-Quarter GDP Subscription required October 17th, 2014

• Third-Quarter 2014 Economic Growth Slowed Sharply • Long-Term Stagnation in Housing Starts Continued at Low Level of Activity • Social Security COLA Should Notch Slightly Higher from Last Year's Adjustment, Remaining Far Shy of Common Experience More ...
No. 666: September Industrial Production Subscription required October 16th, 2014
• Third-Quarter Production Growth Slowed Sharply • Falling Auto Production in September More than Offset by Defense Industry Output, Oil and Gas Production and Weather-Related Utility Surge More ...
No. 665: September Retail Sales, PPI Subscription required October 15th, 2014
• September Retail Sales Declined, August and September Activity Revised Lower and Third-Quarter Broad Growth Slowed Sharply • Unstable Seasonal Factors Helped Push Headline PPI Lower More ...
No. 664: Market and Economic Instabilities Subscription required October 10th, 2014
• Broad U.S. Economy Is Not Growing • Sharp Deterioration Likely Will Continue in Domestic and Global Financial-Market, Economic and Political Stability • Confluence of Crises: U.S. Economy, Stocks and Dollar More ...
No. 663: September Labor and Monetary Conditions, August Trade Deficit & Construction Spending Subscription required October 3rd, 2014
• No Recovery in Actual Business Activity • Pre-Election Nonsense in Labor Numbers • Congress Addresses Data Falsification in Unemployment Survey • September Unemployment Rates: 5.9% (U.3), 11.8% (U.6), 23.1% (ShadowStats) • Fed's Monetary Policy Propped Stocks • Annual Money Supply M3 Growth Fell to 4.3% in September • Trade Data Were Positive, Construction Spending Was Neutral for Third-Quarter GDP More ...
No. 662: Second-Quarter 2014 GDP — Third Estimate Subscription required September 26th, 2014
• GDP Has Fully Reestablished Itself as the Most Worthless of Economic Series • Fluff and Guesstimates Dominated the Upside GDP Revision • Monthly Economic Reporting Should Turn Increasingly Negative More ...
No. 661: “False Dawn,” Hyperinflation, Durable Goods Orders, Home Sales Subscription required September 25th, 2014
• A "False Dawn" It Is • Hyperinflation Forecast Remains in Play • Stock Crashes versus October Residual-Squirrelling Instincts • Durable Goods Orders Crashed 18.0% (-18.0%), Reversing July's 22.2% Surge, Dominated Again by Irregular Commercial-Aircraft Orders • Down for the Month, August Existing-Home Sales Were in Tenth Month of Annual Decline • August New-Home Sales Surge of 18.0% Was Statistically-Insignificant More ...
No. 660: Economic Review, August Housing Starts, Payroll Benchmark Revision Subscription required 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 Subscription required 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 Subscription required 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 ...
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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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