Watch Your Statistics or Face Lempert

By Francis, David R. | The Christian Science Monitor, June 4, 1993 | Go to article overview

Watch Your Statistics or Face Lempert


Francis, David R., The Christian Science Monitor


LEONARD LEMPERT is an agreeable fellow - until it comes to journalistic mistakes in economic statistics.

When those are made, as he acknowledges, he has become "more and more cantankerous."

Mr. Lempert has the background to criticize. He started publishing a newsletter on the latest economic statistics in 1954 from his home in North Egremont, Mass., a town of about 1,200 people. In those days, many statistics on the economy were not "seasonally adjusted"; they did not take account of seasonal trends, such as the upswing in retail sales before Christmas and the slump in construction during the winter. Lempert pioneered seasonally adjusting the numbers and delighted even then in taking verbal pokes at the foibles of the financial press.

His work was used by economists Geoffrey Moore with the National Bureau of Economic Research and Julius Shiskin of the Bureau of Labor Statistics when they were working more than three decades ago on the modern versions of the leading indicators, coincident indicators, and lagging indicators.

When the Commerce Department published the leading indicators for April on Wednesday, the miniscule rise of 0.1 percent in this chief forecasting gauge of the government was no surprise to Lempert. He has been writing about the "lackadaisical" pace of the recovery in his weekly newsletter for some time.

In his May 26 letter, after reviewing the various leading indicators (such as common stock prices, length of the work week, vendor delivery performance, plant and equipment contracts, and unfilled orders), Lempert concludes that despite the sluggishness, "the thrust of economic activity is still up."

Lempert has a nothing-but-the-facts attitude. He does not offer economic policy prescriptions. But he loves taking shots at widespread economic assumptions that the statistics indicate are incorrect. In a May assessment of the economy he notes:

"Political rhetoric had convinced the public the 1980s were good economic years. The fact is the 1980s and early 1990s lacked the growth of earlier years." Lempert provides some charts showing the clear slowdown in growth in the past decade. He says the Reagan era "claims of economic rescue from the pre-1980 catastrophe of high interest rates, unbridled inflation, etc. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Watch Your Statistics or Face Lempert
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.