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On revisions, episode VII

January 24, 2010

Via The Big Picture comes news of a rather substantial revision of numbers from last November: You may recall that consensus for November’s Durable Goods had been +0.5%.  The reported data was lighter than expected at +0.2%. Looking at the revisions the Census Bureau has now incorporated into the data, we see that November actually […]

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On revisions, episode V

October 2, 2009

This is a huge revision: The so-called “benchmark revision” that was announced today will not formally be incorporated into the job figures until February, and could be revised. But the figures indicate that last March the government overestimated the total number of jobs by 824,000, or 0.6 percent. Its overestimate of private-sector employment was even […]

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On revisions, episode IV (A New Hope?)

May 28, 2009

Durable goods +1.9% vs 0.5%! Durables ex-transportation +0.8% vs -0.3%! Initial jobless claims 5k under expectations! The headlines looked pretty good at 8:30 am, until you took a look at the revisions. Indeed, today's economic numbers serve as yet more examples of creating the false perception of growth by changing the past. Durable goods orders were […]

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The case of the missing auto sales

May 13, 2009

April advance retail sales were announced much lower than expected, coming in at -0.4% vs the anticipated 0% month-over-month change. Auto sales constitute a large part of retail sales (around 20%, in fact), and so it can be informative to look at the retail number excluding autos to see the real trend in consumer behavior. […]

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On revisions, episode III

April 6, 2009

Or: Yet More Ways to Lie With Statistics. Last Thursday, the month-over-month percent change in factory orders for February was announced at 1.8%.  The expected number was 1.5%.  Sounds like good news, right?  Unfortunately, the January number was revised from -1.9% to -3.5% in the same release. The easiest way to make a month-over-month change […]

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On revisions, episode II

April 4, 2009

It occurs to me in looking at the revised payroll numbers that each month's revision creates the illusion of a bottom having occurred in that month, since the revisions to past months are almost always below the reported number of the most recent month. But it is widely accepted that the employment bottom will lag other indicators, […]

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On revisions

April 3, 2009

A lot of headlines this morning are noting that the jobs report is "in line with expectations", with a change of 663,000 vs the survey median of 660,000. What gets ignored is the revised number. For 13 straight months, the prior month's number has been revised lower by a significant amount after the fact - […]

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