Some Numbers Just Don’t Make Sense

Posted on November 16, 2012


Does that ever happen to you? You see some numbers reported the news; maybe reported by the government that don’t make sense to you because you are experiencing something quite different. I don’t like it when that happens. I am a big fan of logic. When things happen that don’t seem logical to me, I am uncomfortable and is hard to understand something that isn’t logical. In real life, in nature things do happen that are out of the ordinary, illogical. It doesn’t happen often and for that reason those events are called anomalies. So, maybe the numbers that are bothering me are the result of anomalies. You can be the judge.

One  set of numbers that are bothering me are what the government reports about our economy. Candidate, president Obama, during the recent campaign was consistent in making his case that for forty months there had been private sector job growth. (He never mentioned public sector job losses, did he?) And, the president admitted that although the economy was not growing as fast as we would like, it was growing. The statistics reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistic and other agencies backed up the president’s story.  But, I am curious if from what you all are experiencing in your daily lives and what you know about that your family members or friends are experiencing, do you think the numbers reported by the government make sense to you? I have to ask because where I live I am not experiencing the same things that you all back home are experiencing. Although I spend hours every day on the internet trying to keep informed on what is going on back home, it is not the same as actually living through it. Now, let me raise the question to a different level.

Do you all think it is possible that the United States is already in recession and we just don’t know it?  Now, I am privileged to have at least to followers of my humble blog who are far better arm chair economists than I am. As they read the question I just posed, I can hear them saying: “Hang on there, Jim. We have a concrete definition of what constitutes a recession. A recession is defined as being two consecutive quarters of negative GDP. And, we haven’t even had one quarter of negative GDP.” Well, I could not argue with them. My friends are right. However, in this Hussman Fund report, written by John P. Hussman, Ph.D., the Doctor tells us that is not uncommon for the US economy to be in recession for a while before the reported numbers indicate it. He gives several examples of past recession that America didn’t learn about until three or four months after the recessions had started. [The article is copyrighted so I can not share any quotes with you. Sorry!] The reason for this, Hussman explains, is the BLS does sampling, sort of like an auditor would do, of a few thousand data points and then enters this data into their model to produce a projection for the nation as a whole. Months later, when the BLS has more concrete data, they announce adjustments to previously reported numbers. The Hussman report goes on to say that their group of analyst believe the United States is already in recession and we will learn about it in a few months. Hussman claims that his analyst use a much broder base of indicators than other analyst typically use. He supports his group’s position with a another group of respected analyst who use a similar methodology and who have come to the same conclusion. So, what do you think. Does it feel to you that the US may already be in recession?

There are some other numbers that aren’t making sense to me. This number, 59.9 million, when compared to this number, 57.8 million, do not make sense to me. They seem to defy logic. The first number is the number of votes the Republican candidate, John McCain, received in the 2008 presidential election. As I noted yesterday, there was no way the Republican candidate was going to win in 2008. America was tired of George Bush for many reasons and whether you belive Bush was responsible for the housing and financial bubbles bursting, it happened on the Republican President’s watch and in America that means he gets the blame. So, for the voters who normally vote for the Republican candidate, there was not much hope that the Republicans had any chance of winning in 2008. Further more, the conservative base was less than enthusiastic about the candidate, John McCain. So, McCain received 59.9 million votes and he lost, as predicted,  by a wide margine. Now let’s look at the 2012 presidential election that occurred eleven days ago. This election took place in a very different environment than the 2008 election. After four disasteous years of an inept Obama amdinistration and a hrrible scandal comining out of Benghazi, libya, Americans seemed ready to put an end to the presidency of Barack Obama. Although for conservatives, Romney wasn’t our first choice, by the time the election came around we had reason to be more enthusiastic about Romney. His choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate was positive. I noted at the time that the choice of Ryan was a classic executive management decision. Romney could have picked someone who could have been more helpful in winning key swing states; such as, Portman in Ohio ir Rubio in Florida. Instead Romney choose someone he thought could help him once he was president. From the Republican National Convention, we learned from Mitt’s wife Ann and some friends something few of us were aware of. We learned that Mitt Romney was a very decent man; a man of principle, a man of faith, a family man, a compassionate man who loved America. And so, our enthusiasm for Romney went up a notch or two. The polls leading into the election showed an enthusiasm advantage for the Republican candidate. So, what happened? How under those circumstances was Mitt Romney held to winning only 57.8 million votes. That is over two million votes  less than John McCain got when he was running just for show because there was no way the Republican, whoever it was, could win in 2008. How do we explain that? It seems to defy logic. I don’t like it when logic is defied. I have no explanation for what happened. There is no doubt that there was election fraud in favor of the Democrats. There is always election fraud in favor of the Democrats. But, the order of magnitude of voter fraud that it would take to hold Romney to two million votes less than what McCain got does not seem like a plausible explanation. In spite of all the pundit’s analysis of voting blocks and turnout, the results do not make sense to me. How about you?

Well, now you know what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

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