Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Half Full Economy

By: Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital

The marginal economic strength that was described in the most recent GDP release from Washington has caused many to double down on their belief that the Federal Reserve will begin tapering Quantitative Easing sometime later this year. While I believe that is a fantasy given our economy's extreme dependence on QE, market observers should have learned long ago that the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) initial GDP estimates can't be trusted. A perusal of their subsequent GDP revisions in the last five years reveals a clear trend: They are almost twice as likely to revise initial estimates down rather than up, and the downward adjustments have been much larger on average.

As a result of this phenomenon, an overall optimism has pervaded the economic discussion that has consistently been unfulfilled by actual performance. The government is continuously over promising and under delivering. Unfortunately, no one seems to care.

Measuring the size of the economy accurately in anything close to real time is difficult, inexact, and messy. That is why the BEA has long pursued a policy of initial quarterly estimates (known as the "advanced estimate"), followed by two or three subsequent revisions as more thorough analysis comes to bear. The first estimates come out about a month after the conclusion of a particular quarter. The second and third revisions then come in monthly intervals thereafter. But in the minds of the media, the public and the politicians, the initial report carries much more weight than the revisions. It is the initial report that attracts the screaming headlines and sets the tone. The revisions are typically buried and ignored. This creates an unfortunate situation where the initial estimates are both the most important and the least reliable.

Peter schiff

Peter Schiff is a well-known commentator appearing regularly on CNBC, TechTicker and FoxNews. He is often referred to as "Doctor Doom" because of his bearish outlook on the economy and the U.S. Dollar in particular. Peter was one of the first from within the professional investment field to call the housing market a bubble. Peter has written a book called "Crash Proof" and a follow-on called "The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets". He is the President of EuroPacific Capital, which is a brokerage specializing in finding dividend-yielding, value-based foreign stocks.

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