by John Rubino
Pretend you’re running a corrupt government and something big and scary happens in another part of the world. Brexit, for instance. You’re quite naturally worried about the impact on your local economy and political system. What do you do?
Well, one obvious thing would be to call the statisticians who compile your economic reports and tell them to fudge the next batch of numbers. Since you already do this prior to most major elections, they’re neither surprised by the request nor concerned with how to comply. They simply go into the black boxes that control seasonal adjustments or fabricate things like “hedonic quality” or “imputed rent,” and bump up the near-term levels. Later revisions will lower them to their true range but by that time, hopefully, the danger will have passed and no one will be paying attention.