What the textbooks get wrong when they explain GDP

What the textbooks get wrong when they explain GDP

Most economics textbooks don’t devote a lot of space to explaining economic statistics, but they usually provide a short discussion of gross domestic product, or GDP. In limited space, they typically are able to explain some of the important features of GDP—that it’s a comprehensive measure of income and expenditure, that it measures transactions at …

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Reading between the lines: What Trump’s Budget Blueprint may mean for funding statistics

Reading between the lines: What Trump’s Budget Blueprint may mean for funding statistics

This morning, the Trump Administration released a “Blueprint” for its first Budget, which proposes dramatic cuts and restructuring of non-defense discretionary spending. Of course, I immediately searched the document for the impact on federal statistics. Although the document runs 62 pages, it’s really just a CliffsNotes version of the full budget, which will run hundreds …

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How reliable are the employment/unemployment data? Standard errors and mean absolute revisions

How reliable are the employment/unemployment data? Standard errors and mean absolute revisions

At 8:30 am tomorrow (March 10), BLS will release the “Employment Situation” for February. I expect most of the media attention will focus on whether U.S. employment growth accelerated or decelerated in the first month of the Trump administration—Trump has already tweeted about an ADP jobs report that was above expections. (ADP is a private-sector payroll services …

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How Globalization Could Change GDP and the National Accounts

How Globalization Could Change GDP and the National Accounts

National accounts statistics, such as GDP, are designed to measure economic activity taking place in a country. Multinational corporations, on the other hand, operate across many countries. In pursuing global profits, the affiliates of these multinationals often engage in transactions intended to reduce the multinational’s overall tax burden, and some of those transactions arguably distort …

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Statistics for Forecasters: BEA’s Underlying and Key Source Data

Statistics for Forecasters: BEA’s Underlying and Key Source Data

At 8:30 this morning, BEA released the December personal income and outlays report, and we learned that personal income increased 0.3 percent and real consumer spending (or personal consumption expenditures (PCE)) increased 0.3 percent in the final month of 2016. These estimates were prominently reported by the news media. Less than a half hour later, …

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How Early GDP Estimates Have Become More Accurate

Tomorrow morning’s advance GDP report is likely more accurate than similar reports released a couple years ago. Why is that? This morning the Census Bureau released the advance economic indicators report, which showed that the goods trade deficit had decreased and wholesale inventories had increased in December. We can expect BEA to incorporate these statistics …

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Why I’m Concerned About the Independence of U.S. Statistical Agencies

Why I’m Concerned About the Independence of U.S. Statistical Agencies

Are the White House and the Bureau of Labor Statistics headed for a train wreck? The most recent BLS statistics for December showed 7.5 million unemployed persons and an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent. But throughout his campaign, President Trump repeatedly described the official BLS unemployment statistics as “phony numbers,” saying that the “real” unemployment …

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Confidential Statistical Data Are Still Secure

Confidential Statistical Data Are Still Secure

As the new Trump administration assumes control of the federal government, there’s uncertainty about how well it will maintain the integrity of official statistics. Can we be assured that the government will protect the confidentiality of the data it collects from us for statistical purposes? Can we be assured that the reported statistics will be prepared independently and …

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