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Why I Will Not Use U.S. Government Data for Three More Years

I have reluctantly concluded that I cannot believe any numbers emanating from the U.S. government. The purpose of this article is to explain why I will not use U.S. government data for three more years. The exception is long-term historical data that is harder to fudge. I remain hopeful that the next occupant of the executive branch will restore integrity to the data. … I am personally heartbroken speaking as someone who has used and relied on this data since 1971.
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The Current State of the Government Debt

The debt-to-GDP ratio is too high. The U.S. is not Greece or Italy — yet. But if we stay on the current path, at some point an auction of Treasury securities will fail in the sense that there will be no bidders from the private sector. The Fed could bail out Treasury by purchasing the entire new issue. But that is a policy choice that the Fed must make. The really scary part of all this is that nobody knows the debt-to-GDP ratio at which an auction will fail. There will be warnings, however. Watch for rising interest rates on TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities).
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U.S. Retail Sales: Moving Markets by Ignoring Error Margins

“Retail sales up 0.3% in February” is what you read in the headlines. In response, U.S. stock markets moved higher. … The press release clearly states the margin of error is ±0.5%. In other words, the 0.3% estimate is meaningless. All we know with any confidence is that the actual growth rate is likely between –0.2% and +0.8%. Don’t bet the ranch on this estimate. Continue Reading →