Reviewing Economic Data
One of the benefits of writing a blog is the feedback from readers. Here at “A Dash” we certainly do not have a “boo-yah” society. Readers feel free to swing freely and offer arguments and links. Great! And thanks!
Sometimes we write an article with a mission related to our book, one geared to individual investors and including a chapter on Internet traps. Yesterday we tried a somewhat whimsical approach and it seems like we missed the mark. It is often difficult in print. Sports Illustrated, in April, 1985, wrote about a rookie pitcher, Sidd Finch. This was quite a find for the Mets, since he had a 168 MPH fastball. Many readers did not understand the April Fool’s joke.
And this was a fairly obvious situation, not like what we do in blogs.
There are only so many ways to escape from a pedantic mode. Since we do not embrace the colorful language of other sites, we occasionally try for humor in other ways, hoping that some appreciate.
Revisiting Economic Data
Taking the cue from our excellent reader comments, let us merely state a few observations, as follows:
- Intelligent people can look at the same data and reach different conclusions. If you think that yesterday’s data had a clear-cut message, you missed the point. Take a step back and look again.
- Those with a mission use inconsistent rules for interpreting data. Do we really care about revisions to data from eight months ago? Market pundits on a mission usually dismiss such information. It is relevant only to the academic and historical question of when the recession began.
- Those with a mission pick the adjustment that fits the viewpoint. Sometimes it is inventories, which can be viewed in different ways. Astute businesses build up inventories in anticipation of sales. Or inventory build-up can be involuntary. It is subject to spin. That was the point.
- New and creative methods. This is the realm of inflation adjustments. Those who prefer to reject the official data have dredged up (yet another) method of objecting. There are various methods of adjusting price changes, each geared to the particular economic problem. The recessionistas did not get the negative GDP number they wanted, so they object to the methodology.
Just think about this. Would it not be nice for those debating the economic issues to agree on the measures — in advance, before they come out. Instead, we find data that supports a particular viewpoint is readily endorsed, while any contradictory information gets the hatchet job.
Please note that none of the above reflects any argument that we have a strong economy or some perma-bull philosophy. Regular readers of “A Dash” know that we have been quite flexible in our approach to the market.
Having said this, we try to warn the average investor about those who are determined to find the worst in any economic report, especially those pundits who have done so for many consecutive years.