Stephen Moore Lies and Lies and Lies (and Hence Belongs in the Trump NEC)

On CNN today, as Stephen Moore was trying to spin the point that presidents have always tried to pressure the Fed, he made the assertion (maybe not verbatim):

Obama never got us close to 3% growth…

Here are the actual GDP data. First q/q SAAR, and second y/y.

Figure 1: Quarter on quarter real GDP growth, SAAR (blue). Horizontal red line at 3% growth. Circles denote 3% or greater growth. Source: BEA, and author’s calculations.

Figure 2: Four quarter real GDP growth (blue). Horizontal red line at 3% growth. Source: BEA, and author’s calculations.

Stephen Moore is a liar (or statistical incompetent). He belongs on the Trump NEC.

61 thoughts on “Stephen Moore Lies and Lies and Lies (and Hence Belongs in the Trump NEC)

  1. sammy

    Maybe Moore was referring to GDP growth on an ANNUAL basis, not QUARTERLY as Menzie is. Indeed Obama while had some quarterly growth in excess of 3%, he never achieved annual growth of 3%.

  2. sammy

    Sorry, here are the BEA source data:

    GDP in billions of chained 2009 dollars

    2009 -2017 2.3

    2009 2.8
    2010 2.5
    2011 1.6
    2012 2.2
    2013 1.7
    2014 2.6
    2015 2.9
    2016 1.5
    2017 2.3

    Go to “Percent Change from Preceding Period”
    “Chained 2009 Dollars

    You say your numbers are based on “BEA and Author’s Calculations” What did you calculate?

    1. pgl

      “2015 2.9”

      2.9 is not close to 3? Where did you learn numbers? Oh wait – you haven’t.

  3. joseph

    Sammy, I’m sure Menzie Chinn will jump in and point out that annual growth doesn’t have to be a calendar year. Sammy is arbitrarily choosing to count only calendar years — January to December.

      1. pgl

        We propose you get all your spin in an email from Trump after he watches Fox and Friends. That is how CoRev does it.

        1. CoRev

          Komrad pgl, c’mon now. You can do better than that! I guess I’l stop watching the “View”, for my entertainment. Aren’t you too tired of the shows like the View? Do you have any suggestions for alternative viewing?

  4. sammy

    I just realized your Fig 2 is just 4Q GDP growth! Which is not the same as annual GDP growth. Careless me. You don’t have to validate your adjustments anymore. Obama never had >4% Gdp growth as far as I can ascertain.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      sammy: Well, some people would say q4 growth rate is an annual growth rate. Two observations: (1) see this post for why I prefer the definition I use; (2) even using your calculation, growth did “come close” to 3% (I consider 2.8% and 2.9% pretty close to 3%).

      So, I conclude, Stephen Moore lies and lies and lies.

    2. 2slugbaits

      sammy The BEA calculation that you’re using is done the following way:

      Step 1: Sum the GDP in levels for Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 for year “t”, then divide by 4

      Step 2: Sum the GDP in levels for Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 for year “t-1”, then divide by 4.

      Divide the value in Step 1 by the value in Step 2 and subtract 1.00.

      The intuition is that you’re comparing the average GDP level in year “t” to the average GDP level in year “t-1”.

      There’s nothing wrong with that approach, it’s just not how Menzie (and most economists) usually present GDP growth rates; however, there are times when it makes sense to use the BEA “annual” approach. Still, the usual convention is to use the quarterly numbers expressed as an annual rate because GDP is a flow variable and with flow variables you’re usually most interested in changes in the instantaneous flow rate, with quarterly rates being more “instantaneous” than changes in annual levels.

    3. pgl

      “I just realized your Fig 2 is just 4Q GDP growth! ”

      Right! Now I once used the numbers straight from BEA the way you did and we got a long lecture from CoRev how doing it that way was dishonest and how Menzie did it was the only correct way. But now CoRev has flip flopped. FYI – CoRev is our resident expert at flip flopping.

      1. CoRev

        Komrad pgl, yes you did use Calendar Year numbers straight from BEA while comparing them to Fiscal Years. The funniest part was you berated the commenter for not knowing Fiscal Years started October 31. Have you yet learned the fiscal year start & end dates?

        YUP! I well remember your lies and ignorance.

        1. pgl

          There is a point to this babbling? Oh yea – you woke up on the wrong side of the bed today just like every other day. Keep it coming grouchy old man.

        2. pgl

          What CoRev does not admit was this discussion started with PeakDishonesty’s assertion that the Trump tax cut actually led to higher Federal revenues. OK – Peaky found someone writing in June 2018 noting how nominal (not real) Federal revenues had increased by 1.3% for the 12-month period ending October 31, 2017. I trust both of these Trump cheerleaders realize that the tax cut was not passed until late December 2017.

          So how is data through October 31, 2017 at all informative whereas what happened during 2018QI is not? I guess PeakDishonesty and CoRev are preparing a sophisticated dynamic analysis for the American Economic Review that explains what otherwise would seem a bizarre position. We eagerly await reading this advanced analysis!

          1. CoRev

            And there’s Komrad pgl doubling down on a lie. ” OK – Peaky found someone writing in June 2018 noting how nominal (not real) Federal revenues had increased by 1.3% for the 12-month period ending October 31, 2017.” Actually Peak’s article was curtrent to end of June 2018, but pgl’s reading comprehension failed him again. This is at least the 3rd time he’s tried this lie.

            Then after being challenged on his BEA data being CY and Peak’s FY, pgl complained Peak didn’t even know the US Govt FY ended 10/31. Yup! That’s our pgl in action, trying to out smart the dumbest man on the planet, while forgetting he wears that distinction.

          2. pgl

            CoRev says I lied? No read again CoRev. You repeat what I said as fact and then you accuse me of lying?

            Me thinks you seriously need to go back on your meds.

            Unless you are the one lying which would surprise no one.

          3. CoRev

            Komrad pgl, show us the date in Peak’s comment. Otherwise you’re just continuing the lie and showing your own ignorance.

          4. baffling

            corev, considering the kremlin’s infiltration of the trump campaign and conservative institutions in general, it is ironic you would want to call pgl komrad. i hope you appreciate how much the kremlin has influenced the propaganda coming from the right wing echo chamber. recent pushes by the nativists, bigots, gun rights, etc in the right wing echo chamber now have a clear kremlin fingerprint on them. so corev, how does it feel to be a komrad?

          5. CoRev

            And up pops Baffled with even another useless and meaningless comment. Why do you even try?

    4. noneconomist

      Maybe what we have here is a semantics problem. After all, 2.9 is only 96.7% of 3. And 2.8 is only 93.3% of 3. Maybe “never got close” is subjective. Or silly.

  5. joseph

    Sammy: “Using the calendar year is “arbitrary”? What do you propose?”

    Year over year is an annual growth rate. Four consecutive quarters is a year. Is that difficult for you to understand?

    Sammy: “Obama never had >4% Gdp growth as far as I can ascertain.”

    And then when you fall flat on your face, for some reason you bring up greater than 4% growth out of the blue. By the way, since you are unable to read a graph, I will point out that Obama had 4.6% growth in 11Q4, 4.0% in 13Q4, 4.6% in 14Q2 and 5.2% in 14Q3.

    What is with the Trump sycophants that the repeatedly abase themselves defending Trump and his administration? Next thing you tell us that “would” means “wouldn’t”. Where’s Rick Stryker when you need him?

  6. pgl

    Have the Russians hacked

    Table 1.1.1. Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product

    Shows 4.6% in 2014Q2 followed by 5.2% in 2014Q3. Oh wait – that is not close to 3%. It is WAY over!

  7. pgl

    Trump slammed Yellen for keeping interest rates low even when we were below full employment. But then we had a Democrat in the White House so doing the right thing was very political.

    Now that we are closer to full employment, Trump is pressuring the FED not to raise interest rates. But a Republican is in the White House so this is now AOK. Go figure!

    1. noneconomist

      Well, with all those fiscal swamp drainers in charge, we’ve got a while–a few months, anyway– before we have to worry about trillion dollar deficits, increases in the debt, and rising interest rates on the debt. We just have to make sure the Chinese continue financing the debt.
      As our Leader once assured us, he’s the “King of Debt,” as well as a financial wizard.
      And, as the smiling philosopher Alfred E. Neumann often noted from the covers of “Mad” magazine: “What, me worry?”

  8. joseph

    Trump yesterday complaining about interest rate hikes: ““Now I’m just saying the same thing that I would have said as a private citizen,” he said. “So somebody would say, ‘Oh, maybe you shouldn’t say that as president.’ I couldn’t care less what they say, because my views haven’t changed.”

    Here is Trump in September right before the 2016 election: “Yellen should be “ashamed” of the low-interest-rate policy … She is obviously political, and she’s doing what Obama wants her to do.”

    Well, once again it seems that Trump is bald-faced lying to the public. He has changed his views. Under Obama, low interest is bad. Under Trump, low interest is good.

    Trump is never called out for his bald-faced lying by his devoted sycophants like Sammy and CoRev. They will dutifully swallow anything their Dear Leader says. It’s right out of Orwell’s 1984. They “disappear” what the leader said yesterday and embrace the completely opposite today.

    1. CoRev

      Joseph & pgl, lies? Which set is worse? “If you like your Dr you can keep your Dr! Benghazi was due to a movie! Tell Komrad Vladimir that i will be more flexible after the election.” There’s so much more it you want. We’re just starting to see what went on in Obama’s administration.

      Has anyone, other than the conservatives, noted the jobs/employment records being set by Trump’s administration? If not, why not? Why all the cheering for a recession?

  9. Alan Goldhammer

    Even better is to look at stock market performance of recent Democratic and Republican administrations: Bill McBride, author of the wonderful Calculated Risk blog updates these types of charts frequently and here is the post from last March: Clinton boom is impressive as well. I guess all the stock traders who comment here ought to vote Democratic if they want to see money in the pocketbook.

  10. Paul Mathis

    GOP Sabotage
    Throughout the Obama presidency, Republicans in Congress were deliberately sabotaging the economy with government shut downs, debt ceiling crises and austerity in fiscal policy. Their goal was stated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: make Obama a one-term president. Conservatives all hated the Fed because it thwarted their sabotage.

    Now Moore shamelessly lies about Obama’s GDP numbers and conveniently forgets that 11.9 million private sector jobs were created during Obama’s administration versus zero created during W’s. GOPer nonsense never stops.

    1. ilsm

      What is worse: sequestration or perennial Russiagate hearings and leaked innuendo and calling the president “traitor”.

      ODS has been outclassed, overmatched by TDS and acting out unresolved grief over Clinton losing her “e-mail leaking, highly qualified, deserved turn”..

  11. Steven Kopits

    FRED Graph Observations
    Federal Reserve Economic Data
    Economic Research Division
    Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

    CPGDPAI Percent Change of Gross Domestic Product, Percent Change, Annual, Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate
    2009-01-01 -0.2
    2010-01-01 2.7
    2011-01-01 1.7
    2012-01-01 1.3
    2013-01-01 2.7
    2014-01-01 2.7
    2015-01-01 2.0
    2016-01-01 1.9

    Ordinarily, we would use annual, not quarterly, monthly or hourly data for GDP over a multi-year period. By Fed’s calculation, annual growth never approached 3 percent during the Obama years.

    Moore is not the first to say this.

    Trump did:
    NY Post:
    The Hill:

    Obama’s record is all the worse considering the country was emerging from a deep recession. Whether the President is to blame is an open question. Other mature economies also disappointed during this period.

    Trump cannot, by the calendar year measure, yet claim 3% growth. Last year saw respectable, but not stellar, GDP growth of 2.6%.

    Through Q1, the last four quarters averaged 2.8% — good, but not great. To achieve 3%, Q2 would have to come in at 3.7% — not yet in the bag. Even if Q2 comes in at 4%, a weak Q1 means that growth would have to average 3% for the balance of the year.

    It’s not that Obama’s record was good. It wasn’t. But the Trump administration has yet to prove they can do better on a sustained basis — even as the Federal budget deficit has doubled.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Steven Kopits: A few observations.
      1. There is no rule for reporting long stretches of data in annual, quarterly, or 4q changes (speaking as someone who wrote numerous CEA memos).
      2. The data is not Federal Reserve data, it is BEA data, retrieved from a Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis database. As you know from using FRED, there is not “a” Fed calculation, there are just reporting methods the FRED website allows one to use.
      3. If you are going to condition your anticipated recovery growth rate on depth of trough, you should condition on other things as well, including the co-occurrence of a financial crisis. After all, I thought that was the point of Reinhart and Rogoff.

      1. Steven Kopits

        1. You can do GDP data for different periods, but to say Moore “lies and lies and lies” when both the BEA and FRED data back him up is egregious at a best and libel at worst.

        2. The annual FRED numbers from me and the BEA data from Sammy are not the same. Also, in my experience, FRED data is not always up to date. Hence my reference to the ‘FRED’s calculation’. I might have worded it better.

        3. As for growth from a depression, yes, I stated that. “Obama’s record is all the worse considering the country was emerging from a deep recession. Whether the President is to blame is an open question. Other mature economies also disappointed during this period.”

        And let me add, for the record, that I disagree with R&R’s definitions of some of their financial crises. For example, the 1991 recession in eastern Europe was not a financial crisis, but rather a complete restructuring of those economies from uncompetitive socialist systems (a la Ms. Ocasio’s preference) to open, market-driven ones. I was deeply involved with that process as a valuation, strategy, management and M&A consultant. It was nothing like either a normal recession or the China Depression (2008-2013).

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Steven Kopits: (1) I’ve just documented that GDP growth was close to 3.0% under Obama under one definition, and *exceeded* by a standard most economists use (q/q SAAR — also 4q change). So I still think “Stephen Moore lies and lies and lies” is very accurate. [By the way, when you “round off” 2.7%, what do you round it to…] (3) You disagree with R&R’s definition of crises. If you delete the cases you disagree with, do you think the statistical result would change? Maybe, maybe not – but from the papers that have been cited on Econbrowser and that I’m aware of, the financial crisis conditioning is pretty robust.

        2. pgl

          Menzie guilty of libel re Stephen Moore. Really? OK – have Moore hire you as his attorney and sue Menzie. I’m sure the judge will have an incredible laugh just before he disbars you.

          1. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Steven Kopits: Let’s say we take y/y using annual; growth rates reach 2.9%, which I think is close to 3%. We take your 2.7% — what do you round that to? I round to 3%. Let’s say we take q/q SAAR (we even have an acronym for doing that, so it tells you something it’s a common calculation); we have one instance of 4.6%. Say we take q4 changes on quarterly data? We have several instances of exceeding 3%. So, taking these all together, who do you think is more accurate — those who say we never “came close” to 3%, or those who say we did?


          2. Steven Kopits

            You’re missing the point. A Harvard-educated, tenured UW professor posts this title in a widely-read public forum:

            “Stephen Moore Lies and Lies and Lies”

            Based on the data available, you are way over the line, Menzie.

          3. pgl

            Princeton University does not agree with you. And they are demanding that you cease to use their good name in your weird comments.

          4. pgl

            “what do you round that to?”

            Menzie just opened the door for me to go off on some right wing troll’s claim a while back (so far back I do not recall the troll’s ID). The claim went like this. Pi = 3.14159 (etc.) which rounds to 3.

            The natural log similarly can be rounded to 3.

            So Pi = the natural log. QED!

            Of course there are a lot of brilliant mathematicians who were rolling in their graves!

        3. pgl

          “The annual FRED numbers from me and the BEA data from Sammy are not the same.”

          FRED cites its source of data if you take the time to check the details. When FRED is citing BEA data – they are the same. Unless you think the Russian hackers have taken over FRED.

        4. baffling

          “You can do GDP data for different periods, but to say Moore “lies and lies and lies” when both the BEA and FRED data back him up is egregious at a best and libel at worst.”
          steven, i take it that you are willing to stand up and argue that stephen moore provides truthful and accurate commentary?

  12. 2slugbaits

    FWIW, using the BEA annual option for table 1.1.1 the CY 2017 number under Trump was quite a long way from 3% as well, at 2.3%. And it’s hard to believe that CY 2018 will get to 3% either since the first quarter was only 2.0%, subject to later revisions. If the 2% number holds, then Trump would need three consecutive quarters of 3.3%. Not impossible, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, especially given the trade mess he’s created that will surely shave off a couple tenths of a point. Anyway, what ever happened to that 4% goal that Team Trump was promising not all that long ago?

  13. Not Trampis

    Dunno about Yankeeland but most other counties use both Annual data or 4q changes. Take a peek at either OECD or IMF for organisations and then countries budget figures.

    We have no idea which figures if any Mr Moore is alluding to or even the accursed annualised figures

  14. CoRev

    Now,sifg! Now after a couple of days of hair splitting we find Moore might have been correct. Menzie might have been correct. Moore might have been incorrect. Menzie might have been incorrect. It all depended on the message desired by the writer. And, we repeat, rinse, and do it again changing the subject.

    All the wile these biased dialogs continue while the Trump administration resets employment records that are ignored.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      CoRev: I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination “never got near 3%” could be right, except in the tortured imagination of a number of extreme ideologues.

      1. JBH

        Menzie 1.8% growth over the Obama 8 years, not close to 3% by any stretch of the imagination.

        1. pgl

          I see – we always take a long-term average. Cool. During the Reagan-Bush41 era, growth was only 3%. It was 3.5% for the period from 1951 to 1980 and 3.6% for the Clinton years.

          Of course Stephen Moore has often claimed we had a growth miracle under Reagan. By your standard – Moore clearly lied.

    2. 2slugbaits

      CoRev What employment records? I assume you mean the U-3 unemployment rate. That’s good, but it’s almost certainly not due to some sudden surge in monthly employment numbers that began during the Trump presidency. The labor market bottomed out in Sep 2010, or about 15 months after the recovery began. If you look at the long history, then you’ll see that this is pretty normal. Labor markets don’t begin to recover until some time after the recession ends. Again, this is easy to see with FRED data. I invite you to download the BLS or FRED data for non-farm establishment payroll numbers beginning in Oct 2010. Look at the data anyway you want…in levels, in logs, in log differences, whatever. Regress it or don’t. What you’ll see is that the rate at which the employed labor force has risen under Trump is the same as under Obama post-Sep 2010. As long as that happens and employment numbers continue to rise, we shouldn’t be too surprised that the unemployment rate will be low. What’s keeping the employment numbers growing is the fact that the Fed hasn’t seen convincing evidence of inflation, although that might change pretty soon. Unless and until the Fed sees inflation they will be very cautious about raising interest rates, which will prop up employment growth. And Trump knows this, which is why he made those comments about the Fed taking away the punch bowl just as the Trump party got really rocking. There’s nothing really mysterious here. No, it’s not some special “magic man” touch. And even though Trump fancies himself a king, he can’t magically create jobs by the sheer force of his personality anymore than a medieval king could cure scrofula. It’s just simple, intermediate macro in action.

      If you want to contribute original research worthy of AER publication, then explain why inflation has been so low for so long. And not just in the US, but across the OECD countries.

        1. pgl

          I’m sorry – the unemployment rate dipped to only 2.5% in 1953. So this 4% unemployment rate is not quite a record but it is very, very, very close to the rate we saw in 1953 – at least according to CoRev who might just be “right”.

      1. CoRev

        2slugs, we agree: “There’s nothing really mysterious here.” What Trump’s admin has been doing was possible for all of Obama’s administration. Some years the results wouldn’t have been as positive as Trump’s, but still possible.

        On this we disagree: “No, it’s not some special “magic man” touch.” The magic touch is better understanding what makes our economy purr, versus consistently blaming the few rich.

        1. pgl

          On your claim of record employment – we have shown by any measure that your claim was a blatant lie. Of course we expect you to dodge this too. You always do!

          1. pgl

            I often wonder if CoRev even knows what employment even means. Think about it – would any rational person pay him to write the stupid garbage he is infamous for?

    3. baffling

      we are simply happy that trump was able to continue the employment pattern established during the obama administration. obama put millions back to work and lowered unemployment to a very desirable level. trump has not yet screwed that up-bravo.

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