Richard Nixon to Arthur Burns
Arthur Burns. Born April 27, 1904. Died June 6, 1987. Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1970 to 1978. Nominated to the post of Fed Chairman by a criminal, Dick Nixon. Birds of a feather flock together. After Burns was sworn in, Dick Nixon told the assembled crowd of leering, drooling pigmen "I respect his independence. However, I hope that independently he will conclude that my views are the ones that should be followed." The crowd of pigmen then cheered "You see, Dr. Burns, that is a standing vote for lower interest rates and more money."
Back in the early 1970s, when both energy and food prices were soaring, Burns needed a lower measure of inflation so that he could justify not pushing interest rates as high as they should have been. When oil prices surged in 1973-74, Burns asked the Fed's economists to strip out energy from the consumer-price index (CPI). to get a “less distorted measure of inflation.” Unfortunately, they couldn’t stop with just oil - food prices were stripped out too, Burns claimed the disappearance of anchovies off the coast of Peru was the cause of food inflation, and beyond the Fed’s jurisdiction, followed by used cars, children's toys, jewelry, housing and so on, until about half the costs consumers battled in their daily struggle with rising prices.
Subsequent administrations continued to tinker with inflation calculations, in ever more creative ways. In 1983, the BLS decided that “owner equivalent rent” was a better way to measure the housing-cost component of the Consumer Price Index, replacing the actual cost of owning a home with an estimate of what the house might cost to rent. Their justification being: "The owner's equivalent rent index measures the change in the rental income foregone by a household that chooses to occupy a dwelling that it owns. This measure is used because the alternative of measuring acquisition costs of residences is conceptually inappropriate for the CPI. The CPI tracks the change in the cost of living, that is, in the cost of current consumption. Yet investment considerations play a large role in acquisitions of residences. Moreover, unlike money spent on items that do not hold their value, money that is spent to acquire a residence is not "gone" in the sense that it cannot be reclaimed. Money spent on a residence usually can be recovered - often with a profit - by selling".
A full rebuttal can be found at http://caps.fool.com/blogs/the-bea-pretends-stupider-than/35057
Sentence #1. The owner's equivalent rent index measures the change in the rental income foregone by a household that chooses to occupy a dwelling that it owns. This sentence, restated in plain English, takes us to the never-never land of would-be incomes and would-be economic activities - things that a statistician worth his salt should never even consider. The world of lost opportunities is always endless.
The manipulation of statistics, numbers and data to serve political ends is non-partisan. This is used to enhance GDP and mask inflation among other ends. The masking of inflation is then used not only as Burns did and Bernanke is doing now by keeping rates artificially low, but also for not raising cost of living allowances to retirees and others. For the second year in a row, there won’t be a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security. So seniors, savers earning 1% on their CD's will now see another year of no COLA. But the banks are healthy borrowing taxpayer money at zero, buying US debt for a few percent more then selling that same debt back to the Federal Reserve for another loan at 0% to buy more US debt. Wash, rinse and repeat. No job growth. No wage growth.