Up is Down

UP IS DOWN….I know I complain about this all the time, and I’ll probably keep right on doing it. Here’s Catherine Rampell in the New York Times today:

Higher Prices Outpace June Spending by Consumers

Consumer spending increased in June, but those gains were outpaced by rising prices, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Monday.

The increase in spending was $57.1 billion, or 0.6 percent, from May, but prices rose 0.8 percent in the month. It was the highest inflation level in the monthly report since September 2005.

The decrease in consumer spending after accounting for inflation reversed the trend in May, when stimulus checks from the federal government helped produce a real increase in spending.

Look: the right way to write this headline is: “Consumer Spending Drops in June.” The right way to write the lead is: “Consumer spending decreased in June by 0.2%, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Monday.”

Real dollars are the only real kind of dollars and should always come first — with the explanatory phrase “when adjusted for inflation” if the writer thinks it necessary. Nominal dollars should come later. Why is this so hard?

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation