New data to 'rewrite economic history'

Well, that's a relief. For a while there I thought our economy was tanking while growing at a rate of less than 2%.

Never fear. The government is about to wave a magic wand and add 3% to our GDP growth.

Financial Times:

The US economy will officially become 3 per cent bigger in July as part of a shake-up that will see government statistics take into account 21st century components such as film royalties and spending on research and development.

Billions of dollars of intangible assets will enter the gross domestic product of the world's largest economy in a revision aimed at capturing the changing nature of US output.

Brent Moulton, who manages the national accounts at the Bureau of Economic Analysis, told the Financial Times that the update was the biggest since computer software was added to the accounts in 1999.

"We are carrying these major changes all the way back in time - which for us means to 1929 - so we are essentially rewriting economic history," said Mr Moulton.

The changes will affect everything from the measured GDP of different US states to the stability of the inflation measure targeted by the Federal Reserve. They will force economists to revisit policy debates about everything from corporate profits to the causes of economic growth.

The revision, equivalent to adding a country as big as Belgium to the estimated size of the world economy, will make the US one of the first adopters of a new international standard for GDP accounting.

"We're capitalising research and development and also this category referred to as entertainment, literary and artistic originals, which would be things like motion picture originals, long-lasting television programmes, books and sound recordings," said Mr Moulton.

At present, R&D counts as a cost of doing business, so the final output of Apple iPads is included in GDP but the research done to create them is not. R&D will now count as an investment, adding a bit more than 2 per cent to the measured size of the economy.

In truth, the motives of the economists are benign. They are only striving for accuracy, wanting to give the total picture of the economy to policy makers. And since the new way to measure the economy grew out of international standards that are being adopted by other countries. I think we can safely put to bed any conspiracy theories about Obama jacking up the GDP to make the economy look better.

It isn't so much that the administration is goosing the numbers, it's that their defenders won't mention the changed measurements and use the increase as proof that Obama's policies are "working."

We will make sure to remind them when the time comes of the real reason for any increase.

Well, that's a relief. For a while there I thought our economy was tanking while growing at a rate of less than 2%.

Never fear. The government is about to wave a magic wand and add 3% to our GDP growth.

Financial Times:

The US economy will officially become 3 per cent bigger in July as part of a shake-up that will see government statistics take into account 21st century components such as film royalties and spending on research and development.

Billions of dollars of intangible assets will enter the gross domestic product of the world's largest economy in a revision aimed at capturing the changing nature of US output.

Brent Moulton, who manages the national accounts at the Bureau of Economic Analysis, told the Financial Times that the update was the biggest since computer software was added to the accounts in 1999.

"We are carrying these major changes all the way back in time - which for us means to 1929 - so we are essentially rewriting economic history," said Mr Moulton.

The changes will affect everything from the measured GDP of different US states to the stability of the inflation measure targeted by the Federal Reserve. They will force economists to revisit policy debates about everything from corporate profits to the causes of economic growth.

The revision, equivalent to adding a country as big as Belgium to the estimated size of the world economy, will make the US one of the first adopters of a new international standard for GDP accounting.

"We're capitalising research and development and also this category referred to as entertainment, literary and artistic originals, which would be things like motion picture originals, long-lasting television programmes, books and sound recordings," said Mr Moulton.

At present, R&D counts as a cost of doing business, so the final output of Apple iPads is included in GDP but the research done to create them is not. R&D will now count as an investment, adding a bit more than 2 per cent to the measured size of the economy.

In truth, the motives of the economists are benign. They are only striving for accuracy, wanting to give the total picture of the economy to policy makers. And since the new way to measure the economy grew out of international standards that are being adopted by other countries. I think we can safely put to bed any conspiracy theories about Obama jacking up the GDP to make the economy look better.

It isn't so much that the administration is goosing the numbers, it's that their defenders won't mention the changed measurements and use the increase as proof that Obama's policies are "working."

We will make sure to remind them when the time comes of the real reason for any increase.

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