Data revisions

Forecasting Trend Growth: Living with Uncertainty

“Negative capability … is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason…” John Keats, 1817.

Will growth be high in the future?  Or, will it be low? Everyone is preoccupied with this question in one way or another. Individuals worry about whether their real incomes will grow. Fiscal policymakers wonder what will happen to tax revenues and required expenditures. And central bankers are trying to figure out whether they should ease or tighten monetary policy...

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GDP: Seasons and revisions

Growth from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014, originally thought to have been about +0.1% in April, was revised last week to –2.9%. That’s at a seasonally-adjusted, annualized rate (SAAR) – the way the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) usually reports real GDP growth. News reports varied between shock and concern. Was the anemic recovery over?Or, was it just that this winter was especially harsh?

In reality, these headline growth numbers simply don’t contain all that much information for real-time business cycle analysis...

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