Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bernanke Doubts Seasonal Factors Distorting Economy
At his press conference today, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke observed:
There has been a certain tendency for a spring slump that we have seen a few times. One possible explanation for that, besides some freaky things, some weather events and so on, one possible explanation is seasonality. Because of the severity of the recession in 2007 to 2009, the seasonals got distorted, and they may have led--and I say ‘may’ because the statistical experts, many of them, deny it--but it is possible they led job creation and GDP to be exaggerated to some extent earlier in the year. Our assessment is though, at this point, that we are far enough away from the recession that those seasonal factors ought to be pretty much washing out by now.
As Mr. Bernanke noted, many statistical experts deny that there has been a distortion at all. For example, two economists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzed the problem in an article appearing in the October 2012 issue of Monthly Labor Review. After a careful and thorough analysis of the data, they concluded: “Removing the declines due to the 2007-2009 recession prior to seasonal adjustment in a number of experimental data series reveals that the recession did not create any bias causing a pattern of stronger increases in employment in the winter months of the fourth through the first quarter versus weaker increases from the second to the third quarter.”

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