It's not as hindsight as you might think. They have been changing the rules and definitions over the years so there is no way to compare this recession with past ones.
Does anyone think the 11% unemployment of 1981 was almost twice as bad as the 6% we have now? That's because they changed the definition of unemployed. If you are discouraged and haven't looked for a job in the last few weeks you might not be listed as unemployed. Then there is the stock broker who is now working at K-Mart. Isn't he really unemployed?
By the old rules I think deep recession would have been here a year ago and we would have known it the day it showed up. Now the rules are all tilted so the middle class could all go unemployed and hardly anyone would notice as long as Wall Street stayed inflated. It pops so oops, guess it is time to have a recession.
Is it changing the rules? Or is it flavor of the month denial? It seems no one is ever prepared or willing to call it a duck until there's duck poop all over everyone's shoes. And, of course, pity the poor schmuck that does try to warn.
Is it changing the rules? Or is it flavor of the month denial?
Absolutely. All the rule changes have tended toward making the numbers look rosier and rosier. Each change large and small add up to making the numbers completely meaningless when comparing even just five years back.
It's like the "corrected for inflation" numbers. Easy to comprehend but really easy to screw up if the correction is not completely consistent. Depending on what time period you grab you can make the numbers say anything you want. This is why people do not believe in statistics and data. I love data. Data never lie. But liars can make numbers lie for them very easily.
It's not so much the numbers lying, but the press releases simplifying the details for a fear provoking headline. news.bbc.co.uk had an author publish a series of how numbers work and how headlines skew the numbers meaning over this last summer. He had another last week on "Record Bad Situation" headlines...
_________________________ I used to think it was terrible that life was unfair. Then I thought what if life were fair and all of the terrible things that happen came because we really deserved them? Now I take comfort in the general unfairness and hostility of the universe.
I'm gonna try that. I've gained nearly 15 pounds since moving to Dayton. My own personal inflation. But I'm going to base this all on the ambulatory differences between Boston and Dayton. Hey, I'm not fat, I just have to drive everywhere now! Brilliant!
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