The Government reported its “advance” estimate of first quarter 2017 GDP today. The data-monkeys at the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that the economy grew at just 0.7% annualized in Q1. This is down from the alleged 2.1% annualized growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2016. It was also 36% below the 1.1% forecast of the average Wall Street
Next to the monthly employment report, the GDP report is subjected to the highest degree of statistical manipulation in order to make the reported reality look better than reality itself. If the Government was willing to release a report showing a 67% decline in economic growth from Q4 2016 to Q1 2017, imagine how bad the real numbers would show the economy to be.
The report itself, like the employment report, serves no purpose other than as tool for political goal-seeking and propaganda. The consumer spending component of the report fell to a .23% annualized growth rate. It was the worst level of consumer spending since 2009. If the Government were to apply a realistic GDP deflator (price change index) to its numbers, rather than the 2% used to calculate the final number, consumer spending would have been negative.
Worse, the various Government agencies are reporting inconsistent numbers. The Census Bureau’s monthly retail sales report showed a .4% gain in retail sales for January followed by .3% and .2% declines in February and March, respectively. To be sure, retail sales do not encompass the entirety of the “consumer spending” category. But, with average real disposable income declining, it’s difficult to believe that consumers were spending money on anything other than necessities in Q1.
The problem with the phony economic reports is that eventually the public begins to see and feel the truth. Fake economic news does not create real economic activity or real jobs. The economic separation between the “haves” and “have nots” has never been wider, both in the size of each cohort and the degree of separation.
When someone who is working two menial part-time jobs to make ends meet and reads that 200k jobs were allegedly created in a given month, that person knows and feels the truth. That person also begins to get angry. In fact, the general level of anger across the U.S. population is rising at an alarming rate. When 2x part-time jobber is driving in a high-mileage vehicle in need of repairs next to a brand new Ferrari with “FLIPPER” on the license plate, it foments anger. When this occurs daily across the country, it foments civil unrest.
If the economy were producing real growth in employment and wealth, as purported by the Government, not many people would care which person or political party occupies the White House. In fact, the party in power would get credit. But the growing political discord among the population is a reflection of a middle and lower class that is rapidly transitioning to lower and poverty class – and they are getting pissed. The stock market bubble, which is another form of propaganda, is only serving to intensify the anger.
The Shadow of Truth discusses the idea that the increasing civil discord is seeded in a collapsing economy in today’s podcast, along with a brief conversation about developments in the precious metals market.