9/30: Back to the Statistical Drawing Board

By Barbara Carvalho

I couldn’t help but notice that, according to the NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research), the economic recession is over.  This caught me off guard because I was under the impression that the economy was still teetering, mired in a slump comparable to the Chicago Cubs qualifying for post-season play.

carvalho-caricature-430So, I took a closer look and was even more astonished that NBER’s September 20th release was based on data dating back to June 2009.  Clearly, the problems that Americans are experiencing as they try to make ends meet are far more immediate than this report.   And, to add to my cognitive dissonance, according to the latest McClatchy-Marist national survey, 80% of the nation thinks the U.S. economy is currently in an economic recession.   Go figure!

Now, President Obama, donning his “politician-in-chief” hat, quickly pointed out how the economists are off-base matched up against people struggling to pay their daily bills.   But, the economists have their tried and failed models which calibrate the relative health of the economy even if they don’t jive with public realities.  The ol’ “perfessor” Casey Stengel might be instructive to these financial forecasters.  “Can’t anybody here play this game?” Step up to the plate and revise your statistical models.  If not, run the risk of being cast aside in the public dialogue.