Obama Administration Tweaked the GDP Data

On December 23, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the Commerce Department issued its latest revision of U.S. economic growth for the third quarter period (July through September). According to the BEA, the U.S. economy grew at a 5.0% annual rate during that quarter.

A more accurate estimate of the U.S. growth rate can be found by comparing each quarter with the quarter one year earlier. If the third quarter of 2014 is compared with the third quarter of 2013, the growth rate was 2.7%, not 5.0%, as shown in the graph below.

Unfortunately, the once honorable Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Census Bureau tweaked the quarterly GDP numbers in order to achieve the 5% growth rate. This tweaking was predicted by Tyler Durden of zerohedge.com.

When Durden analyzed the final revision for the first quarter back on June 25 (Here's the reason for the total collapse in Q1 GDP), he discovered that Obamacare payments had been removed by the BEA from the already dismal results for the first quarter. He predicted that they would be added to later quarters in order to achieve 5% growth during a quarter. Specifically, he wrote:

Stated otherwise, some $40 billion in PCE that was supposed to boost Q1 GDP will now be added to Q2-Q4.

And now, we all await as the US department of truth says, with a straight face, that in Q2 the US GDP "grew" by over 5% (no really: you'll see).

That is exactly what happened. Durden concluded his December 23 posting (Here's the reason for the "surge" in Q3 GDP):

In short, two-thirds of the "boost" to final Q3 personal consumption came from, drumroll, the same Obamacare which initially was supposed to boost Q1 GDP until the "polar vortex" crashed the number so badly, the BEA decided to pull it completely and leave this "growth dry powder" for another quarter. That quarter was Q3.

Under the Obama administration, the U.S. has been moving in the direction of China, where government officials set statistical goals and government statisticians tweak the data in order to achieve those goals. 


Howard Richman with his father and son co-authored the 2014 book Balanced Trade, published by Lexington Books.


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