Numbers and Narrative

Two economic numbers have come out in the last few days. The first was that the economy grew at an “unexpected” 2.8% rate in the third quarter. The second was that October jobs came in at 204,000, which is almost … not unhealthy? 60,000 jobs were added to previous months. U-6 was up a bit but is still several point down from its peak and labor force participation continues to fall.

Caveat time: even the good numbers will be revised and the smart money is that both will be revised downward. The job numbers, in particular, are very shaky because of the BLS was closed during the shutdown.

That having been said, I am having too much fun watching the Keynesians scramble to explain this. The combination of sequester and government shut down is supposed to be plunging us into a recession. Now maybe they will have effects that are felt months out from here (the last debt ceiling showdown produced a dip in the job creation numbers of a few hundred thousand over several months). But you know that if the GDP and jobs numbers were bad, assholes like Mark Zandi would be running around saying that this proved their theories. Now that the numbers — wrong though they may be — show the opposite of what they predicted, they are going full Dean Chambers on us, claiming that the numbers are skewed for one reason or another.

Because no matter what, we can never question the validity of tax-and-spend economics.

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