2012: The year in graphs - as picked by the Washington Post Wonkblog's favorite economists, political scientist, politicians and other wonkys.
Last night, author and farmer Wendell Berry delivered a powerful lecture [video; full text here includes portions not delivered verbally] to a full house on the occasion of his accepting the National Endowment of the Humanities' Jefferson Award. The famous PC holdout has appeared previously in the blue, but this lecture is not to be missed. Here is soul nourishment for the long-time Berry follower, and for the newcomer a superb introduction to one of our time's greatest intellects. [more inside]
“I bought into this idea for a long time that it was superior labor productivity that caused most manufacturing job losses,” said Rob Atkinson, of Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank. “Then I began to dig into the numbers.” An upcoming report argues that the price savings that U.S. factories have realized from outsourcing have incorrectly shown up as gains in U.S. output and productivity. This bias may have accounted for as much as half of the growth of U.S. manufacturing output from 1997 to 2007. (sl Wash. Post link to print version so everyone can read it.)
"Hard Numbers: The Economy is Worse than You Know" [full article for Harper's subscribers, a different abridged version] discusses how the Consumer Price Index and other US economic statistics have been manipulated over time. Among other things, the article claims, these changes make Social Security checks 70% lower than they would otherwise be. [more inside]
TheDataWeb - a network of online data libraries on topics including census data, economic data, health data, income and unemployment data, population data, labor data, cancer data, crime and transportation data, family dynamics, vital statistics data
"Real unemployment right now -- figured the way that the average person thinks of unemployment, meaning figured the way it was estimated back during the Great Depression -- is running about 12%. Real CPI right now is running at about 8%. And the real GDP probably is in contraction." Bill Fleckenstein, writing at MSN Money, provides a summary of an interview with economist John Williams on government number crunching. The full interview, with Kate Welling can be found here (PDF link) . More from John Williams at Shadow Stats.
Euro diffusion: "On January 2002 twelve European countries [plus San Marino, the Vatican and Monaco] have welcomed the euro as their new coin. The euro coins have a national side, which is different for every country... So there are fifteen different euro coins that can be used in every one of those 15 countries. Therefore, unlike in the past, the coins will not be collected and brought back to their home country. The coins will slowly but surely be spreaded over the 15 countries. This is the diffusion of the euro, the euro diffusion[.pdf file]." A statistician's playground, this unique historical opportunity, is leading to interesting collaborative internet projects