Sunday, September 29, 2013

Having it both ways

I looked at one of Marcus Nunes' graphs earlier today:

Graph #1: Employment 1979-1989 (Marcus Nunes)

Marcus said the graph shows how lucky you would have been to graduate in 1982 (where the dotted line appears). I couldn't see it. To me, the dotted line comes at a low point in employment, an absolute bottom, the worst time to be looking for work. Employment was getting worse before the dotted line, and better after the dotted line. But all of 1982 and '83 was a bad time to be looking for work, to my way of thinking.

In my earlier post I said the graph makes it look like employment was running flat at a low level before the dotted line, and things suddenly got better after the dotted line. The graph creates a false impression, I said.

Marcus's graph shows only ten years -- only three or four of them before the dotted line. That is the source of the false impression, I said.

Marcus replied, saying the discussion was about "a very specific period of time. Why should I bring into the argument the distant past?"

In that reply, Marcus said the dotted line on his graph marks "the very beginning of a long boom."

So I got thinking about that, and how there is that boom there after the dotted line, and how there was a boom earlier, too, but it got cut off. Bobbitted. So I reattached it:

Graph #2: Employment 1975-1989
When I looked at this graph, it seemed strangely familiar. Suddenly, I knew why. So I eyeballed-in a trend line, in red:

Graph #3: Employment 1975-1989 & Trend Line
Graph #3 seems to show the employment trend (red) and an employment gap (blue). But Marcus assures us that what we're looking at is not an employment gap, but "the very beginning of a long boom."

I never looked at it that way. But perhaps that solves a problem that Marcus himself has been having. Here's a graph of NGDP and a brief remark from Marcus's WeaK Signals:

NGDP is “content” to remain on a “flight plan” far below any reasonable trend level.

Do you see it? This is exciting stuff! Marcus is worried about nothing! It's not that NGDP is running "far below any reasonable trend level." It's that we're at "the very beginning of a long boom."

Did I get it right, Marcus?


Jazzbumpa said...

This is some of the most elegant snark I have ever seen.


The Arthurian said...

Why thank you, sir!

João Marcus said...

I should 'charge' some money for the fun you guys seem to be having at my expense!
By now Art knows his 'snark' was way off! (That´s if he received my e-mail)