Economics for One

Shadow Stats

John Williams has developed a great site that publishes unadulterated versions of many of the standard economic statistics.  You can find it at www.shadowstats.com.

From his web site:

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.

The government has a vested interest in misrepresenting key economic data, such as the unemployment rate and the rate of inflation.  Basic economics, and common sense, suggest that they will likely follow their self interest.

As it turns out, the government has been gradually changing definitions and methodologies for political and financial purposes.  These changes have distorted the data.  So over time, the published numbers have strayed farther and farther from their original definitions.  This makes it hard to compare the unemployment rate today with the rate from, say, 1960.  Or to look at the accumulated effects of inflation over the past decade.

Fortunately, John Williams has adjusted for this, and publishes the same statistics using definitions that are closer to the original intent, and consistent over time.  You need to buy a subscription to get the actual numbers, but he freely publishes charts showing the multi-year data.  So you can visually see the difference.  I find the GDP numbers particularly interesting, as they suggest that the US has been in stagnant or negative GDP for most of the past decade.  This certainly seems to fit my observations and experience more closely than do the “official” numbers.

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