By Alasdair Macleod – Re-Blogged From http://www.Gold-Eagle.com
“I can prove anything by statistics except the truth” – George Canning
Canning’s aphorism is as valid today as when he was Britain’s Prime Minister in 1817. Unfortunately, his wisdom is ignored completely by mainstream economists. Nowhere is this error more important than in defining economic activity, where the abuse of statistics is taken to levels that would have even surprised Canning.
Today we describe the economy as being in one of two states, growth or recession. We arrive at a judgment of its condition by taking the sum total of the transactions selected by statisticians and then deflating this total by a rate of inflation devised by them under direct or indirect political direction. Nominal gross domestic product is created and thereby adjusted and termed real GDP.
The errors in the method encourage a bias towards a general increase in the GDP trend by under-recording the rate of price inflation. From here it is a short step to associate rising prices only with an increase in economic activity. It also follows, based on these assumptions, that falling prices are to be avoided at all costs.
Assumptions, assumptions, all are assumptions. They lead to a ridiculous conclusion, that falling prices are evidence of falling demand, recession or even depression. Another of Canning’s aphorisms was that there is nothing so sublime as the truth. There’s no sublimity here. If there was, the improvement in everyone’s standard of living through falling prices for communications, access to data, and the technology in our homes and everyday life could not possibly have happened.