Inflation and Honest Data

’80s Flashback
Data from Afar
Not Theoretical
Some Thoughts on the Trump Tariffs
San Diego and the Strategic Investment Conference

I’m going to wrap up our series on the problems of collecting and analyzing data in the first half of this letter, and then I’ll quickly comment on the Trump tariffs. I think both topics will feature in this week’s Strategic Investment Conference. At the end of the letter there will be a link to our Virtual Pass, which will allow you to watch the conference live or at your leisure and to read the transcripts of the presentations.

I strongly urge you to follow me on Twitter, because I will be very active during and after the conference, sharing my real-time thoughts. My Twitter handle is @JohnFMauldin. Do it now! Now let’s look deeper at the problems with data.

Coming up with the right monetary and fiscal policies is hard even if you know the outcome you want, and even if everyone else agrees. Neither of those conditions is normal. We’re often unclear on our policy goals, and we certainly don’t even agree on them.

We could all argue less if we could trust and use the same data, but that’s not happening, either. I’ve been discussing this vexing problem in recent letters. It’s a multiplex challenge to define what data is relevant, to collect it accurately, and then to analyze it correctly. A weakness anywhere in that chain will compromise the whole effort.

Yet none of this means we should despair that the task is impossible. First, some folks out there will think it is possible, and ceding the choices to them could leave us with even worse results. We all contribute in one way or another to human progress, even if we don’t agree on what it looks like. Humans have spent millennia observing problems and finding ways to solve them. Some of us invent better tools and methods, and the rest of us either accept or reject them. Hence, you get to read this letter online today instead of on paper next week – and it’s free, to boot.

Economic analysis tools get better, too, though what “better” means is not always clear. But smart people are trying. Today we’ll look at some of these efforts and how they might help. Specifically, we’ll consider some alternative inflation measures that may be better than those I discussed in last week’s “State of Inflationary Confusion.”