Posts filed under “Current Affairs”

If Information Is Power, What Is Lack Of Information?

I’m going to take the charitable (though probably mistaken) view and say that Representative Daniel Webster was not deliberately trying to turn out the lights on Americans’ access to critical data when he proposed an amendment to defund the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS).

I tried (unsuccessfully) last year (here, here) to salvage the Statistical Abstract of the United States, a vital source of data since 1878. In fact, the book Fundamentals of Government Information – Mining, Finding, Evaluating and Using Government Resources says (emphasis mine):

The following chapters in Part 2 are arranged by broad topic area, starting with Statistical Information (Chapter 8), and the simple becomes multifaceted as we show the many ways in which government documents librarians utilize their most essential reference work, the Statistical Abstract of the United States.

So the “most essential reference work” utilized by government documents librarians is now gone, for a savings of about $2.9 million, not even a rounding error on a rounding error.

And the ACS is apparently next. As the NY Times points out, Representative Webster has a link on his page for those interested in “Census Data for the 8th District.” Where does the link go? To the ACS, of course. The same ACS that Representative Webster now wants to defund. Amazing.

The effort to kill the ACS is opposed by even the right-leaning Wall St. Journal, as well the New York Times and the Washington Post (see also here).

Here is a comment from the Census Director regarding the consequences of losing the ACS (though I confess he wasn’t quite as worked up about losing the Stat Ab). Finally, here is a series of videos about the importance of the ACS to various target audiences, among which I include myself.

The charitable view is that it’s all about cost savings. The not-so-charitable view is that it’s about death by a thousand cuts to the vital information that informs us as to where we’ve been, where we are, and helps us plan where we’re going and craft a better future for all Americans. “Operating in the Dark,” as the Times puts it. This must not stand.



Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Markets, Politics

Hey, Big Spender

I’ve written about this before, but since Paul Krugman just posted about it, perhaps it’s time to revisit the issue. Professor Krugman’s chart, in my opinion, doesn’t go far enough in that it does not provide sufficient context. While the chart does show the YoY percent decline in Real Government Expenditures & Investment, it does…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Markets, Politics

Merrill’s Heroes

Invictus here. BR’s comments yesterday, plus some unfortunate softball media coverage, led me to today’s rant. There are few things in the world that annoy me more than revisionist history, especially when it’s done to burnish one’s own damaged legacy. To make a George Bush/Osama bin Laden analogy,  I don’t think that much about Merrill…Read More

Category: Corporate Management, Current Affairs, Really, really bad calls

A Quick (and Belated) Look at Flow of Funds

Though the data are always a bit dated, the Fed’s Flow of Funds report is always of interest to me, as it paints fairly comprehensive pictures.  My favorite part of the release is Table B.100: Balance Sheet of Households and Nonprofit Organizations, in which much can be gleaned about the health of households in the…Read More

Category: Credit, Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Research

Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool…

…than to open it and remove all doubt. Invictus here.  I usually know exactly where I’m going when I sit down to write a post — some numbers tell me a story that I think would be interesting to be share. Not so this time. I’ve wondered often and aloud what it takes these days…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Media, Politics, Think Tank

Invictus here. Interested parties were treated to a fascinating debate on the evening of November 14, as the Munk Debates assembled four estimable economic minds to debate the following resolution: Be it resolved North America faces a Japan-style era of high unemployment and slow growth Arguing the pro side of the resolution were David Rosenberg…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Cycles, Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Federal Reserve, Wages & Income

11/11/11 11:11:11

Today has been called a one-derful day. At eleven seconds past 11:11 am, on this, the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year, we have an unusual date and time: 11/11/11 11:11:11 This is not going to happen again for a while. And 1000 900 years ago, in the year 1111, we…Read More

Category: Current Affairs

Is Occupy Wall Street: Just Noise?

According to a Global Investment Strategy Special Report, the Occupy Wall Street movement symbolizes the fact that political extremism is rapidly becoming mainstream. But is it really extremism? Consider the following, from BCA: The Occupy Wall Street movement is rooted in the secular decline of the American middle class. Judging from the GINI coefficient, the…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Politics

Demand Question for Charlie Rose/GOP Candidates

If I could get one question posed to the candidates at the next debate (Tuesday night), which is to focus solely on the economy, it would be this: “We repeatedly hear about taxes, regulations, and uncertainty standing in the way of job creation. However, the National Federation of Independent Business (“The Voice of Small Business”)…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Politics

Holders of Sovereign Debt

Here’s a great chart just released by the International Monetary Fund.   Note that almost half — 47 percent –  of the US$14.7 trillion U.S. federal government debt is held by the Federal Reserve and the government itself, such as the Social Security trust fund. Add to that the 22 percent foreign official holdings (mainly central…Read More

Category: Bailouts, Credit, Current Affairs