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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

'Niall, Babe, I Got One Word for You: Census'

Niall Ferguson doesn't know what he is talking about:

Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Going Viral?, by Invictus: I had barely finished reading Niall Ferguson’s takedown of President Obama when a flood of  takedowns of Mr. Ferguson started hitting the web. This post, then, will not be about his Newsweek piece, but instead about his recent Bloomberg TV interview with Erik Schatzker and Sara Eisen. And, in particular, one very specific part of that interview where Ferguson makes what is well beyond what I could even charitably refer to as a rookie mistake. ...

At 3:55 into the clip, Sara asks Ferguson about the private sector job gains versus the massive public sector job losses we’ve seen under Obama. (I’d add, as Sara alluded to, that this private sector recovery continues to exceed what we saw in the last two recessions...)

Here’s what, by my transcription, Ferguson had to say (emphasis mine):

Well, that’s not really a part of the argument I made in the piece. The point I made in the piece was that the stimulus had a very short-term effect, which is very clear if you look , for example, at the Federal employment numbers there’s a huge spike in early 2010 and then it falls back down.

Bloomberg went on to show the following graphic...:


Niall, babe, I got one word for you: Census.

The spike in the graphic above – which Ferguson claims is stimulus-related – is actually Census-related. ... In May 2010, for example, there were – referring to the above-linked document – 564,000 temporary Census workers on the Fed’s payroll that Ferguson seems to think were related to Obama’s stimulus package. As one would expect, as the Census was completed, the government just “shut that whole thing down”...

As I recently discussed with BR, and as he has written about countless times, this is the risk one runs when letting one’s ideology run wild – that one twists, contorts, and distorts the facts (in extreme cases, perhaps, without even realizing it) to fit one’s narrative.

A mistake regarding such a fundamental matter is inexcusable...

    Posted by on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 01:52 PM in Economics | Permalink  Comments (29)


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