Friday, August 07, 2015

Who are you going to believe?

The Commerce Department or your lying eyes?

//So what does Commerce now think about the economy? It says growth has averaged just 2 percent annually over the last six years, and not the 2.3 percent it previously reported.

But you know what? Both those levels of growth are lousy by historical standards. But with the correction, the worst economic recovery in 70 years is now officially even weaker.

The revision made to the GDP in the third quarter of 2012 is worth special attention that nobody else has given it. Remember, 2012 was the year of the last presidential election. And the third quarter — July, August and September, with the GDP number announced in October — was smack in the middle of all the action.

Commerce said in that October, just weeks before the election, that the economy was growing at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent.

Now Commerce has corrected the third quarter of 2012 to just 0.5 percent. So Commerce overstated growth in this very important period, as Americans were about to go vote — by a magnitude of five. Commerce said the mistake was caused by changes in “methodology,” especially in the way it deals with defense spending. Seasonal adjustment changes also had an impact.

Growth in the fourth quarter of 2012 was just 0.1 percent. So when you put the third and fourth quarters together, the country was alarmingly close to officially being in a recession — a point that no president would want to brush up against when trying to get reelected.

I’m not saying that anyone was screwing around with the numbers just to help President Obama. I’m just saying this is pretty bizarre and, well, funny.

You might also recall that the unemployment rate was enjoying a suspiciously sharp drop in the third quarter of 2012, which also helped out the president.

And as I’ve already documented in a number of columns, at the Census Bureau’s Philadelphia region, a bunch of data-collecting computers — laptops that collect data used to calculate the unemployment rate — suddenly went missing in September of 2012.//

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