Further Documentation on “Stephen Moore Is a Liar”

Or statistical incompetent, just for the record for the new year.

Since reader Rick Stryker is still busily trying to defend lying in the cause of a deeper truth, let me document fully the mendacity of Stephen Moore. On May 31st on CNN, he states the budget deficit is $1 trillion.

Here are actual data on actual budget deficit as reported by the Office of Management and Budget (bold blue).

Figure 1: Federal budget balance as reported by OMB (bold blue), and CBO projection (dark blue), and implied budget balance under HR 1 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (pink), in millions of dollars by fiscal year. Source: OMB via FRED, CBO.

Rick Stryker today leaps to Mr. Moore’s defense to write:

Menzie accused Steven Moore of being a liar or statistically incompetent (or both) since Moore said that the last time he checked the deficit was $1 trillion but in fact the budget deficit is on the order of $600 billion. Here, Menzie was making the incorrect assumption that the budget deficit is always an accurate estimate of the change in borrowing actually performed by the Treasury and that therefore the budget deficit is the only legitimate way to measure that change.

Since I was listening to CNN, I think I know what I heard (as opposed to mind reading Mr. Moore, and asserting he meant Federal borrowing) — he said budget deficit. For this, there is an official definition, one that OMB reports, CBO uses, etc. But if you doubt me, here is the exact quote from a transcript:

MOORE: Because, the reason is that the rest of the world wants our money. And that is all about financing a climate change industrial complex around the world, and we’re the ones who are going the fund it. And last time I checked, we have a trillion-dollar budget deficit and we don’t have the money to send to all of the countries.

Apparently Mr. Moore had not checked for some four years, if we are to take this statement at face value. (Of course, Rick Stryker will assert this transcript is “fake news” since it came from CNN). Do note, he says “budget deficit”, not Federal borrowing…if we are to believe CNN (and my recollection).

But let’s say borrowing is what he meant. Well, as of 2017Q3, the one year change in Federal debt held by the public (so matching FY2017) was $504 billion — still short of a trillion dollars. Let’s give Mr. Moore a break, and remember he made the comment on May 31st. As of the end of 1st quarter, the one year change was $445 billion. For me (I don’t know what kind of math other people use), that’s a lot less than $1 trillion.

So, prepare for more alternative facts, alternative definitions, mind-reading, general dissemblement and other mental gyrations in defense of lying in the new year. It’s already started.

Addendum: Rick Stryker writes I should apologize to Stephen Moore for misrepresenting his comments. He writes:

…I feel compelled to point out that on this New Year’s Day that a good New Year’s resolution for you would be to put up a (very long) special post apologizing to everyone you attacked with mistaken analysis over the previous year. You could start the post by apologizing to Stephen Moore. …

Let’s take a poll — how many agree with Rick Stryker?

57 thoughts on “Further Documentation on “Stephen Moore Is a Liar”

      1. Rick Stryker


        If you want a fair poll, you can’t be putting your thumbs on the scale by attacking people who don’t vote the way you want.

  1. Rick Stryker


    I’m not sure what the further documentation you have provided is. I did not deny that Moore said “budget deficit” during a short CNN roundtable debate. My point was that he obviously meant federal borrowing over the fiscal 2016 year, which was in fact $1 trillion. That’s neither statistical incompetence nor lying. The problem is that you start with the assumption that people you disagree with are either dishonest or incompetent or both. Rather than accept the obvious explanation, which is that Moore just meant federal borrowing and got the number right, you look for evidence that he is either stupid or dishonest. But you never apply that same standard to people that you agree with.

    My suggestion is that a good New Year’s resolution would be for you to rise above partisanship and apologize to Moore, as a start. That’s one vote in your poll for #ApologizetoStephenMoore.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Rick Stryker: Why “obviously”. That’s just you asserting that what he meant was not what he said. Obviously, standard operating procedure for Trumpinistas.

      1. Rick Stryker

        Well, if he didn’t mean federal borrowing it would be quite a coincidence that he got the number exactly right for 2016. It’s not obvious to you because you start with the assumption that Moore is either incompetent or lying and then look for evidence to confirm your view.

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Rick Stryker: Why FY2016? Just coincidence it was the biggest number, bigger than estimated FY2017 (which we were most of the way through when he made his comment)? Why not the year through March 2017, for which he had numbers. And why not just say borrowing instead of budget deficit?

          When I say budget deficit, I usually mean budget deficit.

          I think it a more defensible position to just say that Mr. Moore had not looked at the numbers for four years or so. I think that is plausible, actually.

        2. baffling

          rick i don’t know what your complaint is about. you have taken your position on this blog that lying is acceptable if it allows you to win. you made that bed, now you must sleep in it.

        3. Majorajam

          I don’t know where you get your fake news, but he was clearly referring to average daily forex trading volume.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      LE: Because in engaging and illustrating the lengths to which these people will go, we show the moral and intellectual rot that is Stephen Moore and the likes of the pseudonymous (and cowardly) Rick Stryker.

      I look forward to the day we find out who Rick Stryker actually is; let’s see if he/she would be so willing to say the outrageous and indefensible things he/she says when he has to do so under his/her own name.

      1. RIck Stryker


        As far as I can tell, all I’ve done is to make some conservative/libertarian arguments, which in your mind is outrageous, indefensible, cowardly, moral and intellectual rot. Wow.

        Moore doesn’t deserve to be called incompetent and a liar and I don’t deserve the epithets you’ve thrown at me. We can’t have a functioning democracy without civil discourse and tolerance for alternative opinions.


        1. baffling

          “We can’t have a functioning democracy without civil discourse and tolerance for alternative opinions.”
          i had to laugh and double check to make sure this was actually rick strykers words. this is a great expectation. one would particularly think it should apply to the president of the united states. and yet silence from rick stryker and the other trolls on the behavior of trump.

          and yes rick, you are the cherry picker.

        2. pgl

          “Moore doesn’t deserve to be called incompetent and a liar and I don’t deserve the epithets you’ve thrown at me. ”

          The last honest conservative – Bruce Bartlett – does not like it when people are called liars but he has emailed me a few times noting that Stephen Moore at least has to be considered incompetent if not stupid for him to actually believe the garbage he writes.

        3. Majorajam

          Menzie’s off his nut. All you’ve done is liberate the discussion from facts, logic and reason as needed to support a libertarian conservative viewpoint, just as the founders intended it. Menzie clearly can’t handle free speech.

    2. ottnott

      I vote with LE.

      Spend your time addressing the lies and misinformation spread by people like Moore, who already have a forum, rather than letting this forum be infested by Moore bobbleheads for you to swat.

      How about a piece quantifying how the GOP tax plan’s quiet switch to chained CPI will affect some typical persons or households in 10-20-30 years? I’d rather see that than time spent responding to the resident cherry-picker and that comically inept cut-and-paster assures us he is smart because he had some smart professors.

  2. Not Trampis

    It seems to me a person who wishes to talk about federal fiscal matters should know the difference between the budget deficit and federal borrowing. Clearly Mr Moore should not be talking on such matters as the whole quote shows

  3. pgl

    The New Year’s Resolution should come from Stephen Moore – apologize for a life time of dishonesty and promise to tell the truth from here on out. Of course this resolution would soon be broken.

  4. gregL

    I rarely post here. But I felt compelled to because of this post. It is heartening to see a well respected professional like Menzie Chinn likely wasting his time swatting at flies. If people like him gave up doing this yeoman task of policing ignorance, the rest of us would be living the Lord of the Flies.

    1. rtd

      The comments within this post provide a reassuring breath of optimism to start this new year. I’ve been calling out Menzie over his b.s. for years. Despite how much he disagrees and detests Trump & Co., Menzie has been doing much of the same as this administration (albeit less egregiously). Akin to Trump, Menzie displays the characteristics of a bully who is embarrassingly vain and neurotic, while acting overtly partisan/biased, who speaks in a highly subjective fashion. He’s almost like a less popular version of Krugman – could anyone imagine if PK engaged commenters like Menzie does?!?! As noted, the difference is that Menzie should be held to a higher standard than the he actually is and as such he lowers the respectability of this otherwise tremendous blog not to mention providing ammo for the recent fight against the dismal science.

      1. pgl

        “I’ve been calling out Menzie over his b.s. for years. Despite how much he disagrees and detests Trump & Co., Menzie has been doing much of the same as this administration (albeit less egregiously). ”

        Wow – you just called out host a liar. I’ll skip the rest of your absurd insults and just notes that I have never read a misrepresentation from Menzie. Not one. Sad to see the Trump trolls have lowered themselves to this level.

        1. rtd

          I don’t think I’m a “Trump troll”, but if you’d kindly provide your definition of a “Trump troll”, I’ll reassess.

          If you’re searching for a recent example of Menzie misrepresenting, the following is a brash blog post as a representation (with accompanying continued grave digging in the comment section as he’s soooo easy to get worked up and discombobulated):

          If he could just stick to objective blogging and not make everything so overtly political, I’d have little to no issues with his posts. Posts such as the above serve little purpose other than displaying the author’s partisanship and brashness. E.g. – look at how Furman & Summers have handled Holtz-Eaki, Barro, et alia. Menzie either doesn’t have the class or he doesn’t have the ability – in either case he’s causing further harm to the reputation of an increasingly marginalizaed field of study – he partially offsets the work done by Furman & Summers and so many others including his co-blogger.

          1. baffling

            i don’t think pgl meant to call you a trump troll specifically, rtd. i think he simply meant to call you a generic troll.

          2. pgl

            You raised THAT letter? No economist should have signed such an intellectual piece of garbage. But 137 did. Menzie was right to call this out in the way he did.

        2. rtd

          Also, where in my comment did I call “our host a liar”? It seems Menzie’s minions are about as bad as Menzie is at reading comprehension and/or distorting the words of others.

          1. Menzie Chinn Post author

            rtd: On September 29, 2016, 5:48PM (Pacific time) you wrote:

            The bigger issue was, as always, about your sloppy, partisan, and disingenuous commentary as someone who represents academics and particularly economists.

            This comment was addressed to me (Menzie Chinn). The word disingenous means: “insincere, dishonest, untruthful, false, deceitful, duplicitous, lying, mendacious; hypocritical”.

            Would you care to revise and extend your earlier comment/denial?

          2. rtd

            Nope – for 2 reasons:
            1) we’re talking about this post where I never said you were a liar
            2) you’re absolutely disingenuous which isn’t the same as a lying and I make a point to use one or the other. E.g. if asked the weather, one is lying if they say it isn’t not raining when it is raining conversely, one can be disingenuous in saying it’s cloudy while it’s raining – not a lie but not entirely truthful. The two are known two typically convey different meanings and for you to not understand this is hilarious.

          3. Menzie Chinn Post author

            rtd: (1) OK, so you only called my comments disingenuous in the past, and that makes all the difference. (2) Disingenuous doesn’t mean lying, in Hibbert space. Wow.

          4. rtd

            Also, Google suggests you’re referencing Oxford’s thesaurus with your “quoted”. This isn’t a great idea as a thesaurus won’t provide what the word “disingenuous means” (contra-your assertion) as a thesaurus will provide synonyms. These are related words. Here’s Oxford’s definition of synonym:
            “ A word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language“
            Note “nearly the same” is included.
            Now, here’s Oxford’s actual meaning for the word disingenuous:
            “Not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.”

            For anyone interested, this is Menzie misrepresenting things yet again!

            I certainly hope your GA reviews your work.
            You certainly make my random down time enetertaining!!!

          5. rtd

            To further assist Menzie with reading comprehension, here is the wry first example of “disingenuous” in a sentence as provided by Merriam-Webster:
            “It’s had nine murders since 1937—about the same as you would get in many small towns.” This was correct, but a wee disingenuous. The AT [Appalachian Trail] had no murders in its first thirty-six years and nine in the past twenty-two. —Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods, 1999

            (I feel as if i provided a prior lesson on reading comprehension… I’m certain you have it in your logbook of your favorite commenters… if so, the next on won’t be free of charge)

    2. pgl

      The only sad part is Stephen Moore is just one of the many supply-side liars and likely way down on that totem pole. Of course Brad DeLong has already destroyed Donald Luskin. So much dishonesty, so little time.

  5. 2slugbaits

    Rick Stryker In attempting to explain aware Stephen Moore’s incorrect statement, Rick Stryker said this:

    Rather than using the deficit as a proxy for actual borrowing, Moore was measuring actual borrowing as the change in public debt held by the public in the most recent fiscal year (Sept 30, 2015 to Sept 30, 2016), which was 1.05 trillion dollars. The Treasury actually borrowed $1.05 trillion dollars in fiscal 2016, not $600 billion as Menzie incorrectly implied.

    Please note that Rick Stryker carefully referred to the change in the “debt held by the public.” And he’s correct that the difference between 30 Sep 2016 and 30 Sep 2015 is $1.05T. But the Treasury actually borrowed more than that if you include the intra-governmental borrowing; i.e., the amount that the Treasury had to borrow from FICA revenues. If you include that figure, then total borrowing was $1.42T. For many purposes it’s quite appropriate to only look at the debt held by the public; but for other purposes it makes more sense to look at total public debt. That’s why the Treasury reports both figures. So not only does Rick Stryker have to explain away the supposed fact that Moore was referring to the change in debt, but Rick Stryker must also explain away why Stephen Moore supposedly only referred to the debt held by the public rather than the public debt. This is an especially difficult trick given that using the public debt would have made Moore’s point more forcefully. Frankly, all of this explaining away is getting a little ridiculous. No one should have to go through all those mental gymnastics simply to avoid having to admit a mistake.

    1. Rick Stryker


      Moore used debt held by the public, since that’s the measure that is commonly used in academic research, policy analysis, etc. That he chose the right measure rather than one that would have been considerably bigger, but not really appropriate, is more evidence that he had no intention of deceiving anyone and that he’s competent.

      1. 2slugbaits

        Rick Stryker

        Moore used debt held by the public

        No, you used “debt held by the public.” We have no idea what Moore used since he referred to budget deficit and not debt.

        that’s the measure that is commonly used in academic research, policy analysis, etc.

        That depends on what’s being analyzed, which is why Treasury reports both figures. If you’re interested in how the debt affects market interest rates, then debt held by the public is probably the number you’re interested in. If you’re looking at total taxpayer liabilities, then total public debt might be a better choice. Interestingly, your heroes Reinhart and Rogoff used total public debt rather than debt held by the public in their analyses.

        more evidence that he had no intention of deceiving anyone and that he’s competent.

        If he didn’t intend to deceive anyone, then why didn’t he post a clarifying statement on this blog? Are we to believe that he is completely unaware of this blog and that he didn’t know his comment was being discussed? And maybe we should ask the Kansas City Star about Moore’s willingness to be completely transparent and honest. As to Stephen Moore’s competence, on what grounds do you make this claim? Stephen Moore is no more of an economist than I am.

  6. joseph

    Here is further Trump lying:

    “Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news – it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!

    There hasn’t been a fatality involving a U.S. airline since 2009. Perhaps we should be thanking Obama.

    Oh, but wait 2017 was the first year without a fatality anywhere in the world. Is Trump taking credit for no fatalities in Europe, Russia, China and India?

    And when he says that he has been very strict on Commercial Aviation (sic) what is his actual record? He has publicly complained about “burdensome regulations” and an industry lobby group has suggested eliminating some safety regulations, but not one single FAA regulatory proposal, let alone regulatory change has occurred since Trump has been president. So how has he been strict? Not at all. It is just another blatant lie.

    But what is scarier is not just the lying, but the instigation of the lying. In this case, just as in many other lies, he tweets about something he has seen on morning Fox and Friends a few minutes after airing. What this means is we have a president who is so incurious, so lazy, that he gets his most important information of the day from a Fox talk show. And he accepts uncritically whatever garbage they put on the air. Fox has learned that it can easily manipulate the president, setting his agenda for the day, by what they put on the air at Fox and Friends.

    That is really scary.

    1. pgl

      “There hasn’t been a fatality involving a U.S. airline since 2009. Perhaps we should be thanking Obama.”

      This point was made to Sarah Huckabee Sanders during her daily appearance where she serially lies to reporters and then just insults them. Her reply to this point was her usual moving on and ignoring the point.

    2. baffling

      the lies are simply bait for the weak minded fools who follow the trumpster, i.e. rick stryker, corev, bottom trader et al. his comments are meant to upset his enemies, and play to the weaknesses of his followers. truth is not a concern with his agenda. his followers, such as stryker, have admitted as much in the past.

      1. pgl

        “the lies are simply bait for the weak minded fools”.

        Jedi mind tricks! Which reminds me – need to get to the theater to see the Last Jedi!

  7. joseph

    Kim Jong-un gave a speech a couple of days ago in which he mentioned his “nuclear button”. Nothing about this from Trump for two days. But Fox News just mentioned it and exactly 12 minutes later Trump tweets that he has a “bigger button.”

    Fox News is going to get us all killed. This is no way to run a country, with Fox News pipelining “intel” into Trumps head.

    1. pgl

      It is sad that Trump views the nuclear button as just another phallic symbol. Remember the grocery store scene from Animal House when the frat boy walked up to the hot wife of the Dean, picked up a cucumber as she was holding one as well as said “Mine’s bigger”!

  8. CoRev

    The arrogance and anger on display from the Dem/liberal commenters lately is amazingly intense. It far exceeds their last round of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Plus, it appears to have peaked since the successful passing of the tax reform bill. President Trump’s rapid deconstruction of the Obama policies’ edifices, Dem/liberal current policy dreamland, also appears to be feeding this anger. Their arrogance seems to blind them to any positives from Trump’s efforts.

    This conservative remains amazed that they are so unaware that these traits, arrogance and anger, were prime drivers of the “Deplorables” votes. Successful Trump results policies and highlighting them against those of President Obama’s success must be horribly painful as demonstrated by the level of Dem/liberal commentary.

    A successful President Trump is the last thing Dem/liberals expected because they were told their own policies were so successful, but the deplorables knew otherwise.

  9. PeakTrader

    It seems, liberals/socialists are frustrated their utopian ideas don’t work. The result is always the same: Everyone ends up in the gutter. Yet, they believe this time will be different and continue to dismiss the consequences. So, they keep trying and carry a big stack of negative labels for their opponents, who try to deal with their insanity.

  10. Tom

    I support Rick. Menzie, while you are technically correct, you are clearly suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. You have done nothing for the last year except attack, attack, attack. The American people do not like condescending, arrogant know-it-alls telling them how to live their lives. That in large part is why Trump won.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Tom: I’ll take “technically correct” as, yes, Mr. Moore is a liar. The rest is just a statement about how your Weltanschauung is better than mine.

  11. Erik Poole

    Menzie Chinn: Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.

    Ignorance is power. Misdirecting and manipulating fellow citizens is an admirable American characteristic.

    Capitalism is a zero-sum game. Free markets require an accomplished narcissistic bully to maintain order.

    What I truly admire


    Hei, when will James come back and comment oil markets? With or without a mea culpa for 2014. (The got it wrong club is huge and I also belong in it so….)

  12. Fair Economist

    Trumplings certainly need to be graded on a curve if they need people to ignore a 400 billion dollar error like that! Menzie, don’t lie and say things like that are OK.

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