Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

“The State’s in a fiscal hole: will they raid their insurance trusts?” can be found here. Please bookmark my new site.


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The U.S. Census Bureau released the Advance Monthly Retail Trade and Food Services Survey late last week and on the face of it it seems like good news. By that I mean good news that IS good, whereas “less bad” has often been taken as being good in recent times. Seasonally adjusted retail sales were up 1.3% from the previous month and 1.9% year-on-year. Of course this is a survey of retail sales, with a reported error margin of ±0.5%, not a tally of actual data. So how reliable is it?

At the risk of sounding like I wear a tin-foil hat, should we believe government surveys? I figured that the best way to satisfy myself that this survey gives a credible picture of main street was to compare the survey data with states sales tax receipts. To do this I downloaded all the data via Mathematica and used Mathematica to analyze the data and make the plots shown below.

Quarterly sales tax data reported by the states is collected by the US Census bureau and can be found here. Historical survey data is available here.

The first step in making the comparison was to convert the monthly survey data into quarterly data. The next chart plots total quarterly sales taxes and quarterly retails sales survey data. Note that I’ve included items such as motor fuel sales taxes, and taxes on alcohol and tobacco, in the total sales tax number.


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While the Australian economy is doing better than most at the moment, it still has its problems — while unemployment is low, a large number of people were forced into part time work during the short recession, and has its concerns — economic growth is too heavily dependent on China.

Interesting coverage of a tour of Australia by a former member of the China Central Bank Committee can be found here:


On a related note an interesting article “China has now become the biggest risk to the world economy” from the UK:


Some valid points/concerns in both articles. I’ve never understood why we have a World Trade Organization that acts as a global policeman/adjudicator, why tariffs and subsidies are generally banned, why dumping of goods is banned, yet currency manipulation by countries is allowed. It doesn’t make sense … to me anyway.

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