Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bloomberg: "Surviving the Slowdown"

Bloomberg recently aired a one-hour television special on the current economic environment entitled, "Surviving the Slowdown" (Click link to watch).

Here's a quick rundown of the program guest list, from Bloomberg.

"April 30 (Bloomberg) -- Former U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, Roger Altman, co-founder of Evercore Partners, former Federal Reserve Governor Susan Bies, former St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President William Poole, Charles "Wick" Moorman, chief executive officer of Norfolk Southern, Marc Faber, managing director of Marc Faber Ltd., Laszlo Birinyi, president of Birinyi Associates, and Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Asset Management, talk with Bloomberg's Kathleen Hays about the U.S. economy, Federal Reserve monetary policy and investment strategy."

I'm watching the opening of this video, and it strikes me again how ridiculous this reliance on government economic statistics is. Why?

Kathleen Hays notes that recession in the US is typically defined by the NBER once they've identified two consecutive quarters of negative GDP numbers. And so far the "official recession-dating committee" at the NBER hasn't called one.

Which is hysterical, when you really get down to it. A seven person committee is going to tell you when the country is in a recession or not? A government-sanctioned committee, no less. Oh, and they're using data that's probably just a little bit corrupted, given the whole smoke-and-mirrors show that is government's reporting of economic statistics.

And those economic numbers and findings are being constantly revised to make things seem more palatable anyway, pushing events back in time or forward to a more convenient reporting date, in a manner befitting the storyline of George Orwell's novel, 1984.

But I digress. Let's just watch the program and see what we can learn.

Related articles and posts:

"Why the economy is worse than we know" - Kevin Phillips.

"Congratulations! It's a recession" - The Big Picture.

"Recession in real terms" - Finance Trends Matter.

"Roubini: US in recession" - Finance Trends Matter.

"Buffett: Recession has hit Main Street" - CNBC.

"Backwards Economics" - Bob Hoye via HoweStreet.com