Politicizing Government Data

The Commerce Department published this euphoric assessment on Wednesday of this week:

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the third quarter of 2019 (table 1), according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 2.0 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “advance” estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was 1.9 percent. With the second estimate for the third quarter, upward revisions to private inventory investment, nonresidential fixed investment, and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) were partially offset by a downward revision to state and local government spending (see “Updates to GDP” on page 2). Source: https://www.bea.gov/news/2019/gross-domestic-product-third-quarter-2019-second-estimate-corporate-profits-third-quarter

What they eliminated from the report was the disclosure regarding standard error. In fact, there seems to be no statistical difference between the rates for the second and third quarter. The economy is basically flat. Nor is the 0.2% difference between the initial estimate and the 2nd estimate for the 3rd quarter statistically significant. The 3rd and final estimate when it appears may simply walk back these numbers, or not. However, it’s unlikely to show any certifiable improvement in the economy.

The also don’t reference the Administration’s promise of 3% growth. That’s simply not happening.

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