For the second time this month Bloomberg has released a piece on economic data that stretches the bounds of not only the truth but journalistic integrity. The recent article on Los Angeles area port traffic claimed that February trade volumes were 46.6% higher in Los Angeles and 44.7% higher in Long Beach for the month on a year ago basis and that this was proof positive that not only trade was booming but so was the economy. Technically these statements are in fact true but as Mark Twain noted; “There’s Lies, dam lies and statistics”. February of 2015 saw container traffic in both of these ports disrupted by the dock workers strike that dramatically reduced trade volumes during the comparison month. This in turn enabled a huge jump in the data for this year. Not a booming economy or rapidly accelerating trade flows as the piece in Bloomberg would have its readers believe. At best this is sloppy journalism that displays a fundamental lack of understanding and failure to check facts as any 1st year statistics student knows that data series don’t blow out like this without a reason especially when the incoming related data is clearly weak. As such it’s an easy prediction that this series data will show substantial declines in the next few months as the year ago comparison data will be goosed by the ports playing catchup after the strike ended. Another example of why one month’s data means little as it’s the trends that count, meaning 3-months of data.
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