Now HERE'S Some Government Manipulated Economic Data

A recent tweet by Jack Welch alleging that Friday’s jobs report was manipulated has sparked a ton of interest government data, and whether or not it is manipulated, or can be.

In a recent Fiscal Times piece (via Reuters), economist Mark Thoma makes a good defence of US data quality, while noting at the end that there are countries where manipulation does in fact happen.

That reminded us of something we’ve written before, about inflation and how easily debunkable the official data is in some countries.

PriceStats is a project from State Street that used to be the old MIT Billion Prices Project, and it uses online pricing data to conduct a real-time inflation index of goods.

Anyway, the method is pretty reliable. Here for example is the PriceStats US inflation index. Sorry tinfoil hatters, but an independent gauge of prices shows the US CPI is spot on.


But in a country like Argentina, where it’s widely believed that the government is not forthright about data, the chart looks totally different.

Inflation, as measured by online prices, is massively different than the official number.


Photo: State Street Global Markets

Bottom line. Government manipulated data does exist. It’s hard to find fault with US data quality.

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