THE FACTS ABOUT: THE ECONOMY
Posted by Tim Bryce on August 15, 2012
BRYCE ON POLITICS
- Don’t trust the media, here’s how to look it up yourself.
This is the second installment of my series regarding how to research the facts about America in order to make an intelligent voting decision in the fall (my first section discussed Unemployment). Basically, this is a recognition the press and politicians cannot be trusted to present the facts fairly or without spin to the public. The intent, therefore, is to provide voters with the best available tools to discover the truth for themselves.
The national economy is a rather large and complex issue. Even respected economists argue over what is good or bad. There are many dimensions to it: Gross Domestic Product (which measures our output), exports, manufacturing, the Consumer Price Index (which gauges inflation), the federal debt and deficit, government spending, and more. Consequently, there is no single graph to accurately depict the state of the economy. However, the responsibility for assembling data for the government falls primarily upon the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The links provided herein are the same ones the press and politicians use to accumulate data.
There is a ton of data to wade through here and the site is not the most user-friendly to navigate, but with a little patience, and the following links, there is no need to be intimidated.
BEA BLOG – a simple blog used to distribute news. There is a “Follow” button which provides you with an e-mail notification whenever the blog is updated. I suggest you use it.
BEA NEWS RELEASES includes more news, along with contact information for inquiries.
BEA U.S. ECONOMY AT A GLANCE – handy economic summaries including graphs.
BEA NATIONAL INCOME AND PRODUCT ACCOUNTS TABLE – an extensive listing of data for viewing or downloading. (Be sure to see “Table 1.1.1. Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product”)
BEA INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN GOODS AND SERVICES – summarizes imports and exports.
BEA CONSUMER PRICE INDEX (CPI) – monthly data used to compute inflation.
BEA MANUFACTURING – an extensive listing of reports and data pertaining to the manufacturing sector.
As useful as the Bureau of Economic Analysis is, it can be overwhelming to the average person. Fortunately, there are other handy resources available on the Internet:
GOVERNMENT REVENUE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – Christopher Chantrill’s compilation of government data which is perhaps easier to wade through.
Be sure to see his CHART WIZARD which is handy for analyzing data, either specific reports or do-it-yourself.
GOVERNMENT DEBT – is similar to “Government Revenue” with reports and tools for producing graphs.
GOVERNMENT DEFICIT – a subset of “Government Debt.”
DEBT AND DEFICIT HISTORY – also a subset of “Government Debt” – includes important historical insight about this subject.
SPENDING – another subset of “Government Debt” and includes additional historical background.
EXPORTS – from the “CIA FactBook,” a ranking of the chief exporters in the world. That’s right, it is the CIA’s job to monitor such activity (go figure).
INFLATION – provided by Capital Professional Services, LLC. – tracks the inflation rate since January 2000.
CONSTRUCTION – from the National Association for Home Builders – includes considerable statistics.
EXISTING HOME SALES – from the National Association for Realtors who is responsible for such reporting.
And in case you need a simple snapshot of what is going on in total, there is the U.S. DEBT CLOCK.
Yes, our economy is a large and complicated behemoth which can intimidate the best of economists. Such data resources are extremely useful for telling us where we’ve been, but not necessarily where we are going. I find it rather amusing that despite the intelligence of our economists and the sophisticated computer software available today, we still cannot accurately predict what it will do next.
As I said in my first installment, don’t wait for the media or politicians to make up your mind for you. Look it up yourself.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
NEXT UP: THE GOOD NEIGHBOR – The joy and benefits of a little cooperation.
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