“Implausible Numbers”: A new paper, plus charts

I’ve been busy putting together a new paper titled “Implausible Numbers: How our current measures of economic competitiveness are misleading us and why we need new ones” It’s accompanied by a Competitiveness chartbook. The two should be read together.

These are draft work-in-progress, so I’d be very interested in getting comments.


  1. Excellent. My OCD would compel me add a chart on total world trade so that you could put our share in better context, but that is probably superfluous. Query- Is no one else in the world tracking data as you have suggested? Given the importance of exports to the germans, do they follow any of your suggestions?


  2. May I suggest that you try to get numbers for physician / health casre provider productivity. I am still using numbers that I collected and analyzed several years ago. There is hardly any data out there for example, on #patients seen per hour, #surgeries per hour, patient contact hours per diagnosis etc.

  3. Your hypothesis about double counting of imported parts in our national manufacturing statistical trends is intriging. But, not being a national statistics wonk, I need more backup detail on exactly how price comparisions, etc. make such a difference as they work through the rollups. I read your statements and macro comparisons that might make sense, but need the cause-effect detail, rather than taking it on faith.

    I don’t understand how USA value-added calculations does not take imported purchased components (even from integrated supply chain subsidiaries) into account as a counter cost?

    I also don’t see how your “discount” could be accurately measured – Who is to decide that a tangelo is not a orange or a tangerine?

    I hope you’ll consider a future article with this detail and clarifications.

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