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Tag Archives: statistics

Cooking Official Statistics Is Not Easy, for Now

After the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced a drop in the unemployment rate—from 14.7% in April to “only” 13.3% in May—a friend emailed me to share his suspicion that the unexpectedly low figure was a propagandist lie. The probability of that is not zero, I explained to him, but it is extremely low. These data are gathered (through a monthly survey of 70,000 households), assembled, analyzed, and summarized by bureaucrats from the Census Bureau and the BLS, many of...

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The Monty Hall probability puzzle – Publications – AEI

AEI The Monty Hall probability puzzle From the Wikipedia page devoted to the “Monty Hall problem“: Suppose you’re on a game show like “Let’s Make a Deal,” and you’re given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a new car; behind the others doors are goats. You pick a door, say Door No. 1, and the host, who knows what’s behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, “Do you want to switch...

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Data rock star, statistician, visionary Dr. Hans Rosling, ‘antidote to pessimism’ dies at 68. ‘He made data sing’

News is coming out today that Hans Rosling (pictured above with his special extra-long pointer), global health expert, physician, statistician, development champion, TED lecturer, myth-buster, professor, data rock star, and data visionary, has died today at age 68, after a year-long illness, surrounded by his family in Uppsala, Sweden. Hans Rosling’s gift was “making data sing” according to his TED Talk bio page and a news report today from The Guardian. Here’s more...

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Inside The June Payroll Report——-More Of The Same, And Not In A Good Way

As it currently stands in the headline BLS figures, the Establishment Survey greatly rebounded to + 287k from a downward revised +11k in May. There is this month, just as last month, too much emphasis on the monthly payroll figure as it is more often than not noise. We can only hope the drastic extremes of the past two months may have finally injected a more cautious approach to what has always been a statistical process. Two payroll reports ago, one that was taken as “ugly”, I wrote: There...

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Mind The Seasonal Maladjustments And Other Statistical Shennanigans—Investment Risk These Days Includes The Census Bureau

When I started in this business more than twenty years ago, I fully expected to be a profession investor in the purest sense of the term. I envisioned spending my days tearing apart corporate financials, especially balance sheets, and matching them to common sense expectations of new products and imaginative advances. It was the 1990’s, after all, and everything seemed new even if it was all suddenly devoid of healthy skepticism. That was investing as almost everybody understood it. The...

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Ugly Payrolls——–Nothing’s Changed, It’s Mostly BLS Noise

Wall Street is predictably overreacting to the unpleasant payroll report. It is understandable in a way since, as noted yesterday, the Establishment Survey and the unemployment rate are all that is left to suggest the economy remains on track and any weakness would be temporary. It was a strained position to begin with, especially since the economy shifted lower almost two years ago and really took “temporary” off the table. Still, there is great emotion attached to the BLS’s headline...

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March Jobs Report—–More Ridiculous Than Ever

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, layoffs in the US were up 32% in March 2016 over March 2015. Compared to both January and February this year, March was somewhat better but overall for Q1 published layoffs were also 32% more on a year-over-year basis. It wasn’t a very good quarter. Some of that is expected given the death of “transitory” as an effect on oil production which can no longer deny reality. While it is easy to chalk up this potential economic setback to that...

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Canada Hits The Skids Again

Despite everything that happened in July and August throughout the financial world, there remained a tendency to simply dismiss it as anomalous. That was curious in and of itself, but that the global liquidations then were not isolated but rather the latest in a continuing string of “odd” events strains such determined dimness. We have arrived at a point in time where even direct and widespread observations are no longer afforded much significance, to be shadowed and replaced instead by the...

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