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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 late-in-the day, Wednesday, July 30th due to amount of new detail to be assessed, covering the initial reporting of second-quarter 2014 GDP and the annual GDP benchmark revisions.This will be followed by a Commentary on Friday, August 1st, covering July employment and unemployment data and June construction spending. For detail on pending economic releases, see the schedule. (LAST UPDATED July 25th)

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 ...
No. 643: June CPI, Real Retail Sales and Earnings, Existing-Home Sales Subscription required July 22nd, 2014
• Quarterly Consumer Inflation of 3.0% at Three-Year High • Inflation Wiped Out Headline Gain in June Retail Sales • Real Earnings Fell for Third Straight Month • June Annual Inflation: 2.1% (CPI-U), 2.0% (CPI-W), 9.8% (ShadowStats) • Existing-Home Sales Fell Year-to-Year for 8th Straight Month • Negative Surprises Likely in Next Week’s GDP Reporting and Revisions More ...
No. 642: June Housing Starts Subscription required July 17th, 2014
• Second-Quarter 2014 Housing Starts Fell Below Fourth-Quarter Activity, With a June Contraction and Downside Revisions to April and May More ...
No. 641: June Industrial Production, Producer Price Index Subscription required July 16th, 2014
• Shifting Production Detail Indicated Still Weaker First-Quarter GDP, Suggested Slowing Second-Quarter Inventory Growth (a GDP Negative) • Volatile PPI Resumed Upswing in Inflation Reporting  More ...
No. 640: June Retail Sales Subscription required July 15th, 2014
• Net of Inflation, Headline Real June Retail Sales Likely Contracted • Although Real Retail Sales Appear to Have Gained in Second Quarter; Contracting Second-Quarter GDP Outlook Remains Intact More ...
No. 639: Review of the Deepening Economic and Pending U.S. Dollar and HyperinflationCrises Subscription required July 11th, 2014
• Outlook Continues for Massive U.S. Dollar Sell-Off, Pending Hyperinflation • U.S. Economy on Track for Downside Shocks that Could Roil Markets and Provide Political Cover for Reinvigorated Quantitative Easing • Fed Has Monetized 76% of Net Issuance of Publicly Held Treasury Debt, Since January 2013 Expansion of QE3; Pace of Fed Monetization at 88% Year-to-Date 2014 More ...
No. 638: June Labor Data, May Trade Deficit, Construction and Median Household Income Subscription required July 3rd, 2014
• Payroll Gains Were Bloated by Seasonal-Factor Shenanigans; Unemployment Numbers Remained Inconsistent, Not Comparable Month-to-Month • June Unemployment: 6.1% (U.3), 12.1% (U.6), 23.1% (ShadowStats) • Economy Remains in Serious Trouble • Trade Deficit Should Hammer Second-Quarter 2014 GDP, Subtracting In Excess of 1.0% from Initial Headline Growth Estimate • Revisions to Real Construction Spending Showed Further Downside to First-Quarter GDP; May Detail Suggested a Negative Contribution to Second-Quarter GDP Growth More ...
No. 637: GDP Revision, Durable Goods Orders, New- and Existing-Home Sales Subscription required June 25th, 2014
• Collapsing First-Quarter 2014 Economic Activity (GDP, GNP and GDI) Fell Below Third-Quarter 2013 Levels • GDP Activity Fell, Even Before Adjusting for Slowing Inventory Growth • Quarterly GDP Activity Contracted, Even Before Adjusting for Inflation • Looming Second-Quarter Economic Contraction Likely to Formalize “Renewed” Recession and to Hit Markets Hard • Durable Goods Orders Turned Down in Otherwise Stagnant Activity • Despite Monthly Gain, Existing-Homes Sales Continued in Annual Contraction • Neither Monthly nor Annual New-Home Sales Gain Was Statistically-Significant More ...
No. 636: May CPI, Real Retail Sales and Earnings, Housing Starts Subscription required June 17th, 2014
• When Understated Headline Inflation Generates Contracting Activity, the Economy Is in Serious Trouble, • Inflation More Than Wiped Out the Headline Gain in May Retail Sales • Inflation-Adjusted Earnings Fell for Second Month • May Annual Inflation: 2.1% (CPI-U), 2.1% (CPI-W), 9.9% (ShadowStats) • Housing Starts in a State of Volatile Stagnation • Second-Quarter GDP Contraction Should Follow in Wake of Continuing Downgrades of First-Quarter GDP Growth 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

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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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