Via Paul Krugman, I’m led to this WaPo piece about the imminent demise of the Statistical Abstract of the United States, which is an invaluable resource for all manner of at-a-glance data.  Regardless of one’s ideology or political leanings, I think we can all agree that more information is better, less information not as good, and the Abstract is a veritable treasure trove.  This decision should not stand.  A grassroots effort is needed here to petition the powers that be.  Also, let them hear from you at the Census Bureau:  ACSD.US.Data(AT)  Thanks.

Category: Data Analysis, Economy, Research

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

19 Responses to “Save the Statistical Abstract”

  1. BusSchDean says:

    The successful expansion of Sears — transforming a major mail order house to the largest retailer in the world — began in the late 1920s and continued for the next thirty years largely because of the leadership of General Robert E. Wood. His secret to success? He read the Statistical Abstract nightly.

    He also had what in the current environment may seem a novel approach to leadership, “The price of leadership is unceasing effort; we cannot get smug and self-satisfied, we must always keep learning, we must keep improving our methods, our organization, if we are to retain our leadership.” (1950) [source: Sears Archives}

  2. Desi Erasmus says:

    Like Invictus, I love the Statistical Abstract. In fact I’ve saved all the copies available online, which go back several decades. It will be a nuisance to do without it, an intolerable nuisance except for the fact that virtually all of the tables in it, and many more, are available online in one public database or another, and available with considerable “drill-down” capabilities.

    Perhaps better than nagging the Census Bureau to preserve the function which turns this out each year, interested contributors could build a “wiki Statistical Abstract” which has not only the tables traditionally captured by the US Stat Abstract, but links to far deeper drill-downs into the data, such as the various Fed branches, the Census, the BLS, the BEA, and numerous other sources provide.

    provides the spine for fleshing out just such a project. It is already far advanced with pages for every state, county, and many cities across the country.

    As I said at the start: I love the USSA, and like a 14th century scribes bemoaning the decline of the scribal profession as the new-fangled ‘printed documents’ proliferated around them, I’m made very uncomfortable by the changes in how information is recorded, preserved, and diffused. But I don’t think we’re on the road to perdition when some of our old favorites fall by the wayside. We will have to learn how to replace them with even better ‘canonical sources” and learn well how the new mediums and information archiving and retrieval technologies can be used to produce false images (e.g., variations on the many techniques common to the older mediums), but along with learning new ways to filter out the lies and test proposed truths, we will be able to craft truer images with acknowledgement of the limits on our resolving power to see the details.

  3. hammerandtong2001 says:

    I just read that S&P fired Sharma and replaced him with Peterson, COO of Citi ?!?!

    This can’t be true.


  4. Arequipa01 says:

    Re: Sharma…Reuters is reporting:

    “Reuters) – Deven Sharma will step down as president of ratings agency Standard & Poor’s to work on the company’s strategic portfolio review before leaving the company at the end of the year.

    Sharma will be replaced as president of the ratings agency by Douglas Peterson, chief operating officer of Citibank effective September 12, S&P’s parent company McGraw-Hill Companies Inc said in a statement.

    The company said it began a search for a new president for S&P after the company split S&P into two separate organizations at the end of last year.

    The Financial Times, which first reported news of Sharma’s resignation, said his resignation is not related to S&P’s downgrade of the United States’ credit rating or reports that the agency is being probed by the U.S. Justice Department in connection with its ratings of mortgage securities.

    S&P has been under fire from lawmakers, market players and the U.S. Treasury Department since its decision to cut the U.S. credit rating earlier this month, and just last week, news emerged that the Justice Department is investigating the firm over its actions on mortgages leading up to the financial crisis.

    The board of McGraw-Hill Companies made the decision to replace Sharma at a meeting where it also discussed its ongoing strategic review on Monday, the Financial Times said.

    McGraw-Hill directors and executives met on Monday with Jana Partners LLC, a hedge fund, and the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Fund to hear their arguments that the company should be broken up.

    (Reporting by Abhishek Takle in Bangalore; Editing by Gary Hill)

    Read more:

  5. hammerandtong2001 says:

    Arequipa01 @ 10:02pm


    And that is truly unbelieveable.


  6. Arequipa01 says:


    General Wood was able to look into the future and overcame the institutionalized bigotry that plagued Sears organization in the form of two-tier wage scales [not unique to Sears], one for ‘whites’ and another for ‘blacks/negroes’ (standard practice throughout the US-another reason to have a sober view of American Exceptionalism). In the late forties (shortly after WWII) my grandfather, then working as personnel manager in the mail order plant in Minneapolis, eliminated unilaterally the two-tier system. This caused a lot of problems, complaints from other operations, etc. Consequently, my grandfather was ‘summoned’ to Chicago to explain himself. He stated his reasons and said he was happy to hand in his resignation but that he would not reverse course. The only one in that boardroom who backed my grandfather was General Wood. The system was eliminated throughout the company shortly after. It’s little wonder that Sears reached its apogee under his leadership.

    Maybe somebody should teach that anecdote to the 23 yr old bottle blondes named Ashley or Megan, who cheerfully enact the sociopathy that is current SOP in the Human Resources Department of US Corporations. Haha, as they blithely while away their time alt-tabbing between FB and their latest TPS reports, they are rapidly being replaced by automated intranet ‘hub’ systems. Haha, they’ll soon have to ask their Daddy for a loan (handout)- he’s got it, along with their future- it’s how he funds the vacay house…

  7. Arequipa01 says:

    No need to thank me.

    I guess when I see something like the Sharma deal and this data suppression the clear parallel with the behavior of the Fernandez govt in Argentina is unmistakable. The behavior is the same.

    1) Deny reality/deceive
    2) Punish those who speak the truth
    3) And reward the criminals- case in point- the idiots/murder accomplices from the ATF who ran the Fast Furious program (just the name reveals the dimension of their a$$holery) – lateral move, ha

    Read it and weep:

    “Three supervisors in the controversial “Fast and Furious” gun-trafficking investigation were transferred to lateral jobs — and not promoted. That’s the official word from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who addressed the issue last week. “They did not receive salary or grade increases, nor did they assume positions with greater responsibility,” the agency said in a short statement. Of course, there are many who disagree with the official story as the matter receives increased scrutiny from a concerned public.”

    This comment brought to by the Committee to Encourage the Consumption of Guinea Pigs and the Promotion of Arequipa-centric Awareness.

  8. franklin411 says:

    Is this move really very surprising? The GOP’s entire agenda is based on the privatization of education and information, in order to allow a ruling minority of the ultra-rich to enslave society. It’s hard to fight back when you’re denied fundamentals such as an education and basic information.

  9. monne says:

    That is truly unbelieveable.



  10. UncleMilty says:

    Per the Samuelson article, it cost the gov’t $2.9 million to produce the abstract. I agree it’s a strange place to start cutting, but ft it’s such a valuable resource, and one of the most popular items at many libraries, why can’t the private sector compile the same (or more?) data and charge a modest fee. It wouldn’t cost much for each subscription if the cost was spread among all the libraries and universities and researchers in the US. In fact, I’m guessing CCH or Thomson could do it cheaper and better.

  11. ga082003 says:

    QE2 : Then and Now


  12. number2son says:

    Hate to be cynical, but wake me when our current government actually does something sensible.

    As for Samuelson: you reap what you sow, pal. How’s it feel?

  13. SOP says:

    Just add this to the growing list of “What??? – why would they do that/-that will never happen.”

    Who needs M3, who needs the EIA, who needs their eyeballs ?

    Collapse is a Process.

  14. gordo365 says:

    @UncleMilty — good idea to have the private sector take over this huge expense. They could become pay-to-play businesses like tech analysts or ratings agencies. Maybe the firm that gets this contract could get a special designation like the ratings agencies, or have explicit backing of the Gov like Fannie/Freddie.

    What cloud go wrong. Idea = FAIL.

  15. BusSchDean says:

    Arequipa01 We are indebted to your grandfather and people like him.

  16. bear_in_mind says:

    @UncleMilty: The private sector could do it better and cheaper. You’re right — instead of taxing multinational corprorations to pay their fair share ($2.9 million is ‘chump change’ for Warren Buffett alone) to keep our society running, let’s just outsource it to the lowest labor pool on the planet. That’s a brilliant idea.

  17. MikeDonnelly says:

    Can’t they just charge more for it and make an actual profit? We need this and use it.

  18. [...] second is about the plan to shut down the “Statistical Abstract of the United States.” This is produced by the Census Board and is an [...]

  19. [...] posted here about the government’s plan to discontinue the 133-year-old Statistical Abstract, an [...]