February 4, 2012 (TSR) – On January 27, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis announced its advance estimate that in the last quarter of 2011 the economy grew at an annual rate of 2.8% in real inflation-adjusted terms, an increase from the annual rate of growth in the third quarter.
Good news, right?
Wrong. If you want to know what is really happening, you must turn to John Williams at www.shadowstats.com.
What the presstitute media did not tell us is that almost the entire gain In GDP growth was due to “involuntary inventory build-up,” that is, more goods were produced than were sold.
Net of the unsold goods, the annualized real growth rate was eight-tenths of one percent.
And even that tiny growth rate is an exaggeration, because it is deflated with a measure of inflation that understates inflation. The US government’s measure of inflation no longer measures a constant standard of living. Instead, the government’s inflation measure relies on substitution of cheaper goods for those that rise in price. In other words, the government holds the measure of inflation down by measuring a declining standard of living. This permits our rulers to divert cost-of-living-adjustments that should be paid to Social Security recipients to wars of aggression, police state, and banker bailouts.
When the methodology that measures a constant standard of living is used to deflate nominal GDP, the result is a shrinking US economy. It becomes clear that the US economy has had no recovery and has now been in deep recession for four years despite the proclamation by the National Bureau of Economic Research of a recovery based on the rigged official numbers.
A government can always produce the illusion of economic growth by underestimating the rate of inflation. There is no question that a substitution-based measure of inflation understates the inflation that people experience. More proof that there has been no economic recovery is available from those data series that are unaffected by inflation. If the economy were in fact recovering, these date series would be picking up. Instead, they are flat or declining, as John Williams demonstrates.
For example, according to the government’s own data, payroll employment in December 2011 is less than in 2001. Meanwhile, there has been a decade of population growth. The presstitute media calls the alleged economic recovery a “jobless recovery,” which is a contradiction in terms. There can be no recovery without a growth in employment and consumer income.
Real average weekly earnings (deflated by the government’s CPI-W) have never recovered their 1973 peak. Real median household income (deflated by the government’s CPI-U) has not recovered its 2001 peak and is below the 1969 level. If earnings were deflated by the original methodology instead of by the new substitution-based methodology, the picture would be bleaker.
Consumer confidence shows no recovery and is far below the level of a decade ago. How does an economy recover without a recovery in consumer confidence?
Housing starts have remained flat since 2009 and are below their previous peak.
Retail sales are below the index level of January 2000.
Industrial production remains below the index level of January 2000.
To repeat, the only indicator of economic recovery is the GDP deflated with an understated measure of inflation.
The US economy cannot recover, because the US economy depends on consumer expenditures for more than 70% of its activity. The offshoring of middle class jobs has stopped the rise in middle class income and caused a drop in consumer spending power.
The Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan compensated for the absence of US consumer income growth with a policy of easy credit and a policy of driving up home prices with low interest rates. This policy allowed people to refinance their homes and to spend the inflated equity in their homes that Greenspan’s policy created.
In other words, an increase in consumer indebtedness and dissavings drove the economy in the place of the missing growth in consumer incomes.
Today, consumers are too indebted to borrow, and banks are too insolvent to lend. Therefore, there is no possibility of further debt expansion as a substitute for real income growth. An offshored economy is a dead and exhausted economy.
The consequences of a dead economy when the government is wasting trillions of dollars in wars of naked aggression and in bailouts of fraudulent financial institutions is a government budget that can only be financed by printing money.
The consequence of printing money when jobs have been moved offshore is an inflationary depression. This catastrophe could begin to unfold this year or in 2013. If Europe’s problems worsen, flight into dollars could delay sharp rises in US inflation until 2014.
THE REAL ECONOMIC PICTURE
If you have any money and you want to understand the lies that “your” government tells you with statistics, subscribe to John Williams shadowstats.com.
John Williams is the best and utterly truthful statistician that we the people have.
The charts below come from John Williams Hyperinflation Report, January 25, 2012. The commentary is supplied by me.
Here is the chart of real average weekly earnings deflated by the US government’s own measure of inflation, which as I pointed out in my recent column, Economics Lesson 1, understates true inflation.
This chart (below) shows the behavior of inflation as measured by “our” government’s official measure, CPI-U (bottom line) and John Williams measure which uses the official methodology of when I was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury. The gap between the top and bottom lines represents the amount of money that was due to Social Security recipients and others whose income was indexed to inflation that was diverted by the government to wars, police state, and bankers’ bailouts.
This next chart shows the gains that gold and the Swiss franc have made against the US dollar. The Swiss franc is the top line and gold is the bottom. When gold and the Swiss franc rise, the dollar is falling. Notice that during President Reagan’s first term, when I was in the Treasury, gold and the Swiss franc dropped, that is, the dollar rose in purchasing power. Obviously, the supply-side policy that Reagan implemented strengthened the US dollar. It was only with the advent of the Bush policy of endless trillion dollar wars, reaffirmed by Obama, that the US dollar and economy collapsed relative to gold and hard currencies.
The recent drop in the Swiss franc is due to the Swiss government announcing that the country’s exports could not tolerate any further run up in the franc’s value, and that the Swiss central bank would print new francs to accommodate future inflows of dollars and euros. In other words, Switzerland was forced to import US inflation in order to protect its exports.
Here is nonfarm payroll employment. As you can see, the US economy has been in recession for four years despite the easiest monetary policy and largest government deficits in US history.
Here is consumer confidence. Do you see a recovery despite all the recovery hype from politicians and the financial media?
Here is housing starts. Do you see a recovery?
Here is real GDP deflated according to the methodology used when I was in the US Treasury.
Here is real retail sales deflated by the traditional, as contrasted with the current, substitution-based, measure of inflation.
These graphs courtesy of John Williams make it completely clear that there is no economic recovery. In place of recovery, we have hype from politicians, Wall Street, and the presstitute media. The “recovery” is no more real than Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” or Iranian “nukes” or the Obama regime’s phony story of assassinating last year an undefended Osama bin Laden, allegedly the mastermind of Islamic terrorism, left by al Qaeda to the mercy of a US Seal team, a man who was widely reported to have died from renal failure in December 2001, a man who denied any responsibility for 9/11.
A government and media that will deceive you about simple things such as inflation, unemployment, and GDP growth, will lie to you about everything.
The emperor has no clothes, and sooner or later this will be recognized.
AUTHOR: Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts has had careers in scholarship and academia, journalism, public service, and business. He is chairman of The Institute for Political Economy.
Dr. Roberts has held academic appointments at Virginia Tech, Tulane University, University of New Mexico, Stanford University where he was Senior Research Fellow in the Hoover Institution, George Mason University where he had a joint appointment as professor of economics and professor of business administration, and Georgetown University where he held the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy in the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
He has contributed chapters to numerous books and has published many articles in journals of scholarship, including the Journal of Political Economy, Oxford Economic Papers, Journal of Law and Economics, Studies in Banking and Finance, Journal of Monetary Economics, Public Choice, Classica et Mediaevalia, Ethics, Slavic Review, Soviet Studies, Cardoza Law Review, Rivista de Political Economica, and Zeitschrift fur Wirtschafspolitik. He has entries in the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Economics and the New Palgrave Dictionary of Money and Finance.
He has contributed to Commentary, The Public Interest, The National Interest, Policy Review, National Review, The Independent Review, Harper’s, the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Fortune, London Times, The Financial Times, TLS, The Spectator, The International Economy, Il Sole 24 Ore, Le Figaro, Liberation, and the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. He has testified before committees of Congress on 30 occasions.
Dr. Roberts was associate editor and columnist for The Wall Street Journal and columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He was a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate in Los Angeles. In 1992 he received the Warren Brookes Award for Excellence in Journalism. In 1993 the Forbes Media Guide ranked him as one of the top seven journalists in the United States.
President Reagan appointed Dr. Roberts Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and he was confirmed in office by the U.S. Senate. From 1975 to 1978, Dr. Roberts served on the congressional staff where he drafted the Kemp-Roth bill and played a leading role in developing bipartisan support for a supply-side economic policy. After leaving the Treasury, he served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Dr. Roberts was awarded the Treasury Department’s Meritorious Service Award for “his outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States economic policy.”
In 1987 the French government recognized him as “the artisan of a renewal in economic science and policy after half a century of state interventionism” and inducted him into the Legion of Honor.
He is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World.
His website: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org