(Formally known as Walter J. Williams, his friends call him John … )
John Williams aka Walter J. “John” Williams was born in 1949. He received an A.B. in Economics, cum laude, from Dartmouth College in 1971, and was awarded a M.B.A. from Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School of Business Administration in 1972, where he was named an Edward Tuck Scholar. During his career as a consulting economist, John has worked with individuals as well as Fortune 500 companies … (Financial Sense Editorials).
NEW RECORD MONEY GROWTH THREATENS MONETARY INFLATION, by John Williams, Executive Editor of SHADOW GOVERNMENT STATISTICS, January 14, 2008.
… But now a man has come out of the woodwork who’s done the real math and properly crunched all the numbers. His conclusion: “If the numbers don’t seem real to the man in the street … they probably aren’t” … (Shadow Statistics, by Doug Hornig).
Federal Deficit Reality, Sept, 7, 2004.
He says: … These overstatements have become such a serious problem that there is a little bit of a disconnect today between what a person on Main Street thinks is happening and the economic numbers you see coming out of the federal government. If you go back, I’m guessing it was five to ten years ago, the Kaiser Foundation conducted a survey of the public’s views on the levels of the CPI, unemployment, GDP growth and such, which was reported in the Washington Post. The gist of all the article was, “Ho, ho, ho, ho. Look how stupid the American people are. They don’t realize that inflation is so low and that unemployment is so low.”
sorry, I found no photo of Walter J.”John” Williams, USA
Gross Domestic Product, Oct. 6, 2004.
… John Williams joins a growing list of guest contributors who have provided some terrific material in the short time the GRA website has been in existence. When you have a moment, go to the website’s “Guest Contributions” section on the home page, lower right-hand column) and peruse some of the other work available there. Incidentally, if you did not read the earlier installments of John’s series, you will find them posted in the “Guest Contributions” section … (full text).
Washington’s Great “No Inflation” Hoax, May 8, 2008. … According to Williams, government realized as long ago as the Kennedy administration that Americans would rather hear good news even if it’s false, and so the manipulation of data began. Unemployment was easy. First they created the “discouraged worker” category (those who’ve given up on finding a job) and counted them separately. Then, under Clinton, they quit counting them at all. Upwards of five million out-of-work people were suddenly no longer “unemployed” … (full text).
GOVERNMENT ECONOMIC REPORTS: THINGS YOU’VE SUSPECTED BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK.
He writes: … Inflation, as reported by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is understated by roughly 7% per year. This is due to recent redefinitions of the series as well as to flawed methodologies, particularly adjustments to price measures for quality changes. The concentration of this installment on the quality of government economic reports will be first on CPI series redefinition and the damages done to those dependent on accurate cost-of-living estimates, and on pending further redefinition and economic damage. The CPI was designed to help businesses, individuals and the government adjust their financial planning and considerations for the impact of inflation. The CPI worked reasonably well for those purposes into the early-1980s. In recent decades, however, the reporting system increasingly succumbed to pressures from miscreant politicians, who were and are intent upon stealing income from social security recipients, without ever taking the issue of reduced entitlement payments before the public or Congress for approval … (full text).
But the joke was really on the guys doing the survey, because the average person has a pretty good sense of
where prices and things are. If the numbers don’t seem real to the man in the street, they probably aren’t. Real unemployment right now—figured the way that the average person thinks of unemployment, meaning figured the way it was estimated back during the Great Depression—is running about 12%. Real CPI right now is running at about 8%. And the real GDP probably is in contraction. I venture that if you talked about those
numbers now with the average person, they would say that they seem reasonable. If you tell them that people are playing with the official numbers, they say, “Yep, I figured that. There are no great surprises there.” I guess what I am saying is that my work shows that the economic perceptions of non-professionals actually have some real validity; there are in fact reasons for the disconnect between official statistics and what the populous is feeling … (full interview text).
He writes also: For more than 25 years, I have been a private consulting economist and, out of necessity, had to become a specialist in government economic reporting.
One of my early clients was a large manufacturer of commercial airplanes, who had developed an econometric model for predicting revenue passenger miles. The level of revenue passenger miles was their primary sales forecasting tool, and the model was heavily dependent on the GNP (now GDP) as reported by the Department of Commerce. Suddenly, their model stopped working, and they asked me if I could fix it.
I realized the GNP numbers were faulty, corrected them for my client (official reporting was similarly revised a couple of years later) and the model worked again, at least for a while, until GNP methodological changes eventually made the underlying data worthless.
That began a lengthy process of exploring the history and nature of economic reporting and in interviewing key people involved in the process from the early days of government reporting through the present.
For a number of years I conducted surveys among business economists as to the quality of government statistics (the vast majority thought it was pretty bad), and my results led to front page stories in the New York Times and Investors Business Daily, considerable coverage in the broadcast media and a joint meeting with representatives of all the government’s statistical agencies.
Despite minor changes to the system, government reporting has deteriorated sharply in the last decade or so. (John Williams, on ‘Some Biographical & Additional Background Information’, (on his Homepage – scroll down).
The Mega Manipulations, Juiced Numbers IV, 6 October 2006;
Market Intervention, Data Manipulation – Consequences for Gold, Crude Oil & Equities and The Cartel End Game;
Straussian Economics? Sept. 27, 2007;
Inflation, as reported by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is understated by roughly 7% per year;