Beware of the Data Underlying the Economy

by: Jeff Miller

In the standard stuff they write about the monthly employment report, if the number is bad, it stands as reported. If it seems to be OK, it is time to look at the "internals" to find something that seems out of line. Worst of all, since the Fed and their 350 economists are too obtuse to see the truth, they will look at the erroneous data and make the wrong decisions about interest rates.

A bad number is bad -- and so is a good number.

This morning's WSJ provided an analysis by David Malpass, who has had a stellar multi-year record both predicting and explaining the economy:

Friday's solid report of the March labor environment showed more Americans working more hours at higher wages than ever before. Unemployment fell to 4.4%, instead of rising as many expected. The average hourly wage rose to $17.22. The strong jobs report, along with the January-February surge in spending, personal income and core inflation points to sturdy growth and an inflation problem -- not the recession and interest-rate cuts many predicted in early March.

Despite his performance and a superior grasp of the data underlying the economy, Malpass is accused of looking only at "recent" data.

Investors (and sports fans) should look carefully to find the real experts when making their decisions.

Reader Challenge: Find and report the last time that Abelson or Ritholtz took an employment report that seemed "weak" on the surface, but explored the internals to show hidden strength.