The Fed’s Whipped Inflation!

Touch off the rockets! Light the sparklers! Raise a joyous toast!

That is because May’s inflation data came issuing this morning. And it disappointed expectations — or rather exceeded expectations.

A Dow Jones survey of economists had divined a 3.4% inflation rate. Yet the United States Department of Labor reported a mere 3.3% inflation rate.

We can only assume you are as gleeful as us. Media outlets are. They appear to believe it represents a triumph.

Does it? We are far from convinced that it truly represents a triumph. CNBC:

Excluding volatile food and energy prices, core CPI increased 0.2% on the month and 3.4% from a year ago..

Though the top-line inflation numbers were lower for both the all-items and core measures, shelter inflation increased 0.4% on the month and was up 5.4% from a year ago…

Let Them Eat Cake

The price of eating — meantime — squeezed 0.1% higher last month.

A fresh report has surfaced claiming that 27% of Americans are passing over meals.

Is it because they have taken up reducing regimens? It is not.

Twenty-seven percent of Americans are passing over meals due to rising eating costs.

An additional 18% of Americans claim they have considered applying for assistance — that is, food stamps.


Intuit Credit Karma, which provides information about financial products, says that more than one-quarter of the people it surveyed said they have skipped meals or sacrificed other spending due to rising costs…

According to the survey, 28% said they are putting off paying for necessities, such as rent or other bills, to afford groceries — while 27% say they are occasionally skipping meals. Another 18% have applied for or have considered applying for food stamps and other types of assistance, and 15% rely on or have considered visiting food banks for their groceries.


Yet we are informed that inflation has undergone a cooling.

We are informed so because the inflation data is “core” inflation data. That is, inflation data that deletes food prices.

“You, American, are skipping meals because of inflation. Your sheltering costs are likewise 5.4% greater since last May. Yet we are pleased to inform you that inflation cooled in May.”

This is the message of the United States Department of Labor.

We remind you that numbers can conceal more than they reveal. They often spin wondrous tales… and tell fantastic lies.

Like a Hollywood film set… a false set of teeth… or a toupee… the numbers are often not as they appear.

We trust them no more than we would trust a dog with our dinner.


As we have argued before:

Government statisticians collect, sort, worry, goon, torture and weaponize economic data.

It is they who stretch the numbers upon the torture rack and proceed against them in truly barbarous fashion — until the numbers confess.

It is they who throw false weights upon scales in support of government policy x or government policy y.

If the government adds one cup of inflationary water to one cup of whole milk… do you have two cups of milk?

Government statisticians will say you do. Yet two cups of watered milk do not constitute two cups of whole milk.

They instead constitute a vast fiction.

We’ll Say Whatever You Want Us to Say

Yet if the administration requests a vastly exaggerated GDP reading, they will torment the numbers into compliance.

If the administration requests a vastly reduced inflation reading, they will torment the numbers into compliance.

If the administration requests a vastly reduced unemployment reading… they will torment the numbers into compliance.

They would tell you twice two is not four — that it is five, 11 or 343 trillion — if it advanced their interests.

How can they make such heavy weather of the numbers?

This they accomplish through the aggressive use of “seasonal adjustments” and other such implements of numerical torture.

Not Light, but Fog

Seasonal adjustments are intended to clarify… to distinguish true signal from distracting noise… to flatten seasonal bumps and variations.

Yet in the hands of government number-torturers, they do not clarify. They obfuscate and mislead.

They distribute not light but fog.

A seasonal adjustment is — after all — a statistical technique. And statistics in the wrong hands is a gun in the wrong hands.

As we have argued previously: That is precisely why the government statistician constitutes a vast menace.

For without statistics the government is nothing but thumbs, a plodding doofus.

It is a fumbling cyclops speared through its one and only eye.

Statistics guide and steer it.

The Eyes and Ears of Government

Statistics constitute the “eyes and ears” of government:

Explains the late libertarian economist Murray Rothbard:

Certainly, only by statistics, can the federal government make even a fitful attempt to plan, regulate, control or reform various industries — or impose central planning… on the entire economic system. If the government received no railroad statistics, for example, how in the world could it even start to regulate railroad rates, finances and other affairs? How could the government impose price controls if it didn’t even know what goods have been sold on the market, and what prices were prevailing?


Statistics… are the eyes and ears of the interventionists: of the intellectual reformer, the politician and the government bureaucrat. Cut off those eyes and ears, destroy those crucial guidelines to knowledge and the whole threat of government intervention is almost completely eliminated.

Indeed… in the absence of labor statistics, how would the government know when to “stimulate” the economy?

And how would its central bank plot the famously false Phillips curve?

That is, without statistics the government could not “govern” us as it would.

What Being Governed Really Means

And to be governed, noted 19th-century philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon:

Is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded… registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished… drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed… repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored.

We might file additional torts… yet we operate on a rather strict word count.

Thus we conclude our reflections on the government statistician. As we have concluded before:

This fellow is largely a scoundrel, a traitor to truth, a menace to American peace and happiness.

There are lies, damn lies and statistics, as runs the common expression.

We request that government merely confine itself to lies and to damned lies.

These we can suffer.

Its statistical lies we cannot suffer…

The Daily Reckoning