Thursday, February 25, 2010

Reading Comprehension 101

Welcome a a new class at the Bonddad Blog. It's called reading comprehension -- a skill shortly lacking in the blogsphere. Consider the argument advanced by many that US economic statistics are horribly off -- it's proof I tell you of a massive conspiracy to quell the masses! The proof is supposedly contained in a NY Times article from November 9:

A widening gap between data and reality is distorting the government’s picture of the country’s economic health, overstating growth and productivity in ways that could affect the political debate on issues like trade, wages and job creation.

The shortcomings of the data-gathering system came through loud and clear here Friday and Saturday at a first-of-its-kind gathering of economists from academia and government determined to come up with a more accurate statistical picture.

This is proof -- IMHO -- of how rigged the data is.

Except for one point -- also contained in the article and usually not quoted:

The statistical distortions can be significant. At worst, the gross domestic product would have risen at only a 3.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter instead of the 3.5 percent actually reported, according to some experts at the conference. The same gap applies to productivity. And the spread is growing as imports do.

The very worst that would happen with the data is a .2% alteration in the GDP number -- and that is assuming the worst possible outcome.

This is the Ann Coulter school of footnotes -- the article sort of says what I want it to say, so I'll cite it as a source and hope no one notices.

People notice. This argument is an epic fail. Try again.