I keep complaining to mainstream journos about their slavish devotion to the seasonally adjusted fictitious numbers put out in virtually all economic data releases. It does not matter that these releases also prominently report the ACTUAL, not seasonally adjusted data. The journos ignore it. Why? Because all their little journo friends ignore it. God forbid they should step out of lockstep formation and report actual facts. Somebody might get the real picture.
So it is with today’s retail sales report. Not that they were all that great. They were in line with the trend. But that’s not my point here. I’ll dig into the numbers a little more in a later post. But they certainly were not “DOWN SHARPLY” as Bloomberg and virtually all other media outlets hysterically reported.
Here are the facts.
December actual, not seasonally adjusted retail sales rose by $62.9 billion or 14.2% month to month. Obviously December is always an up month, so to get a feel for how good or how bad that number is, we merely need to compare it to December in years past. This December was better than both December 2012 and 2013, which both rose by 12.5%. It was not as strong as the economic bungee rebound years of December 2009, 2010, and 2011. The gains of those years were 18%, 16.6% and 15.5% respectively as consumers loosened their purse strings coming off a depressed 2008.
In total dollar terms the $62.9 billion gain was the largest since December 2004. Somehow, the biggest December gain in 11 years became “DOWN SHARPLY” due to faulty seasonal adjustments. Looking at the chart of the not seasonally adjusted ACTUAL numbers, it’s clear that there’s been no deviation from trend whatsoever.
Here again is more evidence that neither seasonally adjusted data nor mainstream financial journalists can be trusted. They steadfastly refuse to report the facts, singing only in the chorus. Depending on what day it is, it will be either a Hallelujah chorus or a Doomsday chorus. But one thing is certain. They’ll sing together, wrong notes and all.