America’s economy has been progressing steadily. First quarter real GDP growth came in 2.2%. The official unemployment rate is 3.8%. Inflation, according to the Fed’s preferred measure is 2%.
But how accurate are those numbers?
“Nonsensical,” says John Williams, founder of Shadow Government Statistics, who has been tracking U.S. government data for more than three decades.
Williams reckons that, using traditional calculation methodologies, true inflation is likely running above 6% and the unemployment rate over 20%.
Most importantly, Williams’ calculations suggest that the US economy has been in a two decade-long depression. His line of reasoning is worth a look.
Williams argues that U.S. statistical agencies overestimate GDP data by underestimating the inflation deflator they use in the calculation.
Manipulating the inflation rate, Williams argues in Public Comment on Inflation Measurement , also enables the US government to pay out pensioners less than they were promised, by fudging cost of living adjustments.
This manipulation has ironically taken place quite openly over decades, as successive Republican and Democratic administrations made “improvements” in the way they calculated the data.