KNOW NUMBERS GAME

September 16, 2008
Michael Sheehan

Physician's Money Digest, January15 2003, Volume 10, Issue 1

Listen to financial news longenough and you'll drown in a sea ofnumbers—like the gross domesticproduct (GDP), consumer priceindex (CPI), unemployment data,and job growth rate—along with avariety of takes on what the datamean. So what if the facts are contradictory,as they recently were whenfirst-time jobless claims fell as theunemployment rate rose? Financialnewscasters are paid to have a glibexplanation at the ready, especiallywhen the government revises its figures,as it often does.What you rarelyhear is how small revisions can meanbig dollars when they're applied tobig numbers like the GDP or CPI.A GDP that's revised downward by0.1 percentage point, for instance,means a deficit that will be $234 billionbigger in 10 years.