Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Once I Built A Railroad

So, this guy argues that the economy is worse off than we know, and shows how the various stats have been fudged over the years.

I think there's a lot of truth to that, but isn't the economy what we think it is, ultimately? I mean, there's a little bit of black magic there that what we think about it determines how we act which has actual effect which tends to reinforce what we think.

Some theorize that, for example, the constant negative drumbeat of the press during a Republican administration results in actual economic suppression. (The good thing about a Dem winning the election is that all our economic news will have a positive spin and all our wars will become just.)

But, for example, removing food and energy from the inflation index is something I have mixed feelings about. At some point it matters but, for example, we didn't have 100% inflation because fuel prices doubled, and we didn't have 50% deflation because they've now dropped. I realize it's only one factor, but I can see why it would skew things unreasonably.

Actually, if you were really going to measure inflation in an important way, you'd measure based on how it actually affected people. You know, take a person's actual daily/weekly/monthly costs and compare those items, put them in a sample that reflected the composition of the country, and that people could drill down to see what it is for their particular bracket.

Then when yacht prices went through the roof, we could see that rampant inflation was affecting only the very wealthy.

Then there's this allergy to deflation. I realize deflation is bad if you're in debt, but it seems to me that deflation ought to be part of financial cycles just as much as inflation. I mean, a roughly stable currency seems like a good thing to me, but I could be wrong. Certainly, that's not popular thought.

I dunno. It's a lot nicer thinking that we have record unemployment lows than the numbers are just being fudged--but they do that in all the socialist states as well, to avoid the awful truth, so maybe we should try to keep our noses clean.

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