America’s Success Story is Due to a Little-Known Clause in the Constitution

Constitution

By Mark Skousen

 

Today is Constitution Day, the anniversary of the day members of the Continental Congress signed the US Constitution on September 17, 1787. 

There are several extremely important clauses in the Constitution that very few scholars recognize but which destined America to become the superpower that it is today. 

Here is my short column on this breakthrough principle in a recent Skousen CAFE:

 

Canada Closes Its Borders for No Good Reason

We received a call from a Canadian couple who said that they had to cancel coming to FreedomFest. They wanted to attend “the greatest libertarian show on earth,” but the Canadian authorities have decided to close the border to all “non-essential” travel.

Which raises an interesting question: Why were the Canadian and Mexican borders closed in 2020 and 2021, while the borders between states remained open?

Even now, while Americans can travel or move freely between states from coast to coast, they cannot travel to and from Canada and Mexico.

Did the pandemic suddenly stop at the borders?

The reason is simple to explain, but often involves a principle taken for granted by American citizens: The United States Constitution does not allow state governors to close their borders to adjacent states. Countries can do it, but not states.

None of the 50 states can keep you from visiting, moving or working in another state. They cannot keep you from transferring money, capital or goods to another state. They cannot require a passport for you to enter their state. They cannot impose any import or export duties between states.

The only exception is for the inspection of fruits and vegetables, something California does.

It’s All in The Constitution Section 9 and 10 of Article I of the U.S. Constitution is clear:

“No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

“No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

“No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws.”

And Article 4, section 2, states:

“The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”

Finally, the 14th Amendment states:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

 

Creating a Gigantic Free-Trade Zone from Coast to Coast

That’s why we are called the United States of America. The uniting of the 50 states economically is a major reason why America leads the world as an economic powerhouse.  It has created a gigantic free-trade zone from coast to coast. 

Ancient Rome had a similar arrangement.  There were no trade restrictions inside the Roman empire; it was one reason the Roman empire lasted so long. 

Recently, European nations have attempted to imitate our success with the creation of the European Union, sometimes called the “United States of Europe,” along with a single currency, the euro — to create a large free-trade zone of money, labor and capital.

Does the Constitution Limit or Expand State Powers? On the other hand, Article I, Section 8, grants extremely broad powers to Congress — to print money, expand credit, level taxes and import duties and declare war. You can drive a truck through section 8 of the Constitution.

As George Washington allegedly said, “Government is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

At this year’s FreedomFest, we had a big debate on “The Constitution: Conceived in Liberty or Conspiratorial Coup?”  We debated libertarian Murray Rothbard’s controversial contention that the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was a power grab to dramatically increase the state’s control of the new nation.  

Professor Patrick Newman, a fellow of the Mises Institute, argued in favor of Rothbard’s thesis, that James Madison called the Convention to secretly expand the power of the state. He was followed with commentary by legal authorities John Norton Moore (University of Virginia) and Anastasia Boden, senior attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, who defended the Constitution.  It was an electrifying debate. 

You can order this session for only $5 at https://miracleofamerica.com/products/21-023?_pos=2&_sid=6acae2641&_ss=r

All 200 plus sessions can be accessed at miracleofamerica.com.  Price is only $195.  

Happy Constitution Day! 

In liberty, AEIOU,

Mark Skousen

Are We Rome?

By Mark Skousen

Talk delivered on Saturday, September 11, 2021, Kimber Academy in Lehi, Utah and Liberty United Festival in Vineyard, Utah

“History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” – Mark Twain

“In the end, there was no money left to pay the army, build forts or ships, or protect the frontier. The barbarian invasions were the final blow to the Roman state in the fifth century, [caused] by three centuries of deterioration in fiscal capacity…”
— Bruce Barlett, “How Excessive Government Killed Ancient Rome,” Cato Journal (1994)

It was 20 years ago today that my wife and I arrived in New York, where I was installed as president of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), and witnessed first hand the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  It was an unforgettable day of infamy, and has so affected our culture, our liberties and our lives that we observe the date every year. 

Looking back, one thing I remember the most was that New Yorkers and Americans in general were completely unified in spirit at this time.  For months, residents posted pictures of family members who had died on 9/11.  Everyone was kind and friendly, like we were brothers and sisters in this together.  A few weeks later, I carried a large box of books downtown, and a New Yorker offered to help carry the box up the stairs from the train station. 

The other thing that I noticed is the street vendors in New York never displayed or sold post cards or pictures of airlines flying into the Twin Towers.  They respected the depth of sorrow after this event. 

The City was shut down for some time and everyone in the New York tried to access the damage and further threats to our security. Smoke filled the city, businesses closed and events were canceled. 

The first decision I had to make as the new president of FEE was to determine if we should cancel our annual Liberty dinner scheduled in October.  Our keynote speakers was Paul Gigot, the new editor of the Wall Street Journal, and I couldn’t even get a hold of him. (The Journal had moved their headquarters temporarily from Wall Street across the river to New Jersey.)

I gathered my staff the next day to make the decision.  Most staff members thought we should cancel or postpone the Liberty dinner. Our phones were quiet.  Nobody was calling in to sign up for the dinner.  I thought about it, and then said, “My first act as president of FEE is not going to cancel our annual dinner.  If that means just all of us sitting around the kitchen table, then so be it.” 

It was the right thing to do.  Within a week the phones started ringing again, and we had a full crowd of over 200 people at the Harvard Club in October, and Paul Gigot showed up and we had a big success. 

Since then, many friends of liberty have asked the question, “Are our freedoms in jeopardy?  Is America in decline like ancient Rome?”  I have a dozen books on ancient Rome in my library, and after Jake Oaks, the producer of the Liberty United Festival asked me to speak on this topic on 9/11, I read through these books, including Edward Gibbon’s classic 6-volume work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published in 1776. 

We decided to debate this question at FreedomFest in 2013. 

Are we Rome?

Our theme at FreedomFest was “Are We Rome?” to be held appropriately at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.  We had a record turnout that year.

To introduce the theme, we showed this 3-minute.  Watch it here:  Are We Rome? FreedomFest 2013 on Vimeo

We had quite a group of speakers on this topic: 

Steve Forbes, author, “Power Ambition Glory: The Stunning Parallels between the Ancient World and Today.”

Lawrence W. Reed, president of FEE, “The Fall of Rome and Modern Parallels.” (Afterwards, he spoke numerous times around the country on this question, and write a pamphlet, “Are We Rome?” published by FEE:  https://fee.org/resources/are-we-rome-by-lawrence-w-reed/)

Marc Eliot, Hollywood’s #1 biographer, on “Ben Hur, Spartacus, Cleopatra, Gladiator: Epic Films of Roman Times.”

Paul Cantor, University of Virginia professor of English literature, on “Empire and the Loss of Freedom: What Shakespeare’s Rome Can Tell About Us.”

Doug Casey (author and investment writer) vs. Harry Veryser (economist at the University of Detroit-Mercy and Catholic historian) will debate “Did Christianity Cause the Fall of Rome?”

Pat Heller, Liberty Coin Co., “The Rise and Fall of Rome’s Money — And What It Means for America Today.” He has samples of Roman coins to show attendees.

David Boaz, Cato Institute, “George Washington, a Modern-day Cincinnatus: The Man Who Would NOT be King.”

Jo Ann Skousen, professor of English literature at Mercy College and director of Anthem film festival, on “Greek and Roman Mythology in 50 Minutes.”

Jim Gwartney and Randy Holcomb (Florida State economists): “The Decline of Economic Freedom in America: Are We on the Path to Rome?”

Tom Palmer: “Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar” and “Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Citizen” — Tom is always knowledgeable on all things historical.

J. C. Bradbury, top sports economist (Kennesaw State University), on “Who Are The Modern-Day Gladiators? Sports as an Alternative to War.”

Valerie Durham, Isadora Duncan dance instructor, “Music and Dance in Roman Times.”

We are Different….

Of course, we are different from ancient Rome in a thousand ways.  Theirs was largely agrarian.  Our standard of living and technological advances are 100 times higher than the average Roman citizen of 2000 years ago.  Life expectancy was only 41 for Roman men and 29 for women.  Life was cheap.  Over half the population in the Roman empire were slaves.  Women could not vote.  Romans worshiped a plurality of gods, and only became Christian near the end.  They loved blood sports where for entertainment the masses enjoyed watching slaves and gladiators and even Christians die.  Dictators often killed their enemies (Cicero and Cato being prime examples.) 

There was virtually no middle class – only rich and poor.  After the republic, Rome was ruled mainly by tyrants and dictators.  And Roman leaders like Caesar and Augustus would be baffled by how the United States treated the conquered nations of Germany and Japan after World War II.  Finally, we are babes in the woods compared to Rome.  Our republic has lasted nearly 250 years; Rome lasted 1,000 years. 

…And We Are Alike

But in other ways, we are much like ancient Rome.  Both nations were born in a revolt against monarchy – the American colonies against a British sovereign, Rome against its own kings – and replaced it with a republic.  Like Rome of old, America dominates the world militarily, culturally, and economically.  American English is the language of commerce and science.  Like ancient Rome, we are a melting pot of ethnic groups.  Fifty states are united into a gigantic free-trade zone, and we’ve enjoyed decades without world war. 

As Adam Smith once said, “Little else is required for a nation to go from the lowest barbarism to the highest level of opulence but peace, easy taxes and a tolerable administration of justice.” 

Books and Speeches on Ancient Rome and Today

The question “Are We Rome?” remains a popular debate topic for Americans since we became a superpower in the 20th century.  Hollywood, in particular, has been fascinated with the story of ancient Rome, and many films with Roman themes have become classics, such as Ben Hur, Spartacus, and Gladiator. 

I have the first edition of a book, The New Deal in Old Rome, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1939, in which the author, H. J. Haskell, a reporter for the Kansas City Star, contends that the decline and fall of the Roman empire was being reenacted in the United States after we went off the gold standard, adopted a welfare state, and pursued world war. 

“The spending for non-productive public works, for the bureaucracy, and for the army, led to excessive taxation, inflation, and the ruin of the essential middle class and its leaders,” Haskell writes in the preface.

The book proved to be a bestseller at the beginning of World War II.

The latest book is Are We Rome?  The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America, by another journalist, Cullen Murphy, published in 2007 by Houghton Mufflin. 

He answered, “Are we Rome?  In important ways we just might be.  In important ways we’re clearly making some of the same mistakes” (p. 206). 

Benefiting from Roman Traditions

It’s worth pointing out that America has drawn upon many Roman traditions.  I have a book entitled “Why We’re All Romans,” by historian Carl J. Richard.  He notes the following:  We use the Roman alphabet (rather than Greek, Chinese or Arabic).  Our months of the year, from January to December, are Roman.  July is named after Julius Caesar, August from Caesar Augustus.  Christmas grew out of an ancient Roman pagan festival honoring the agricultural go Saturn.  Most of the most influential Christian philosophers, including St Paul and Augustine, were Roman citizens.  The Bible was translated in the Latin Vulgate, and Latin was the official language of the Catholic mass until the 1960s. 

Fortunately, the West rejected the cumbersome Roman numerals and replaced them gradually with the far more productive Arabic numerals.  Ah, the benefits of cultural appropriation! 

The founders adopted many aspects of Roman law and politics, and the early years of the Roman republic were an inspiration to the American Constitution.  We have a Senate representing an upper-class group of legislators, and an assembly elected by the people (House of Representatives).  Rome and the United States share the symbol of the eagle (but so did the Nazis).  Our government building and Capitol are often an imitation of Roman architecture. 

The Rome That We Admire

The founding fathers were familiar with the history of the Roman empire and often sought to imitate their good traits.   

There are aspects of Roman leadership that we greatly admire, such as their building of their roads, bridges and aqueducts.  At the height of the Roman Empire, they had 370 separate highways stretching 53,000 miles, about the length of the US interstate system.  The roads were built to last, paved of stone and iron, and 10 feet deep.  Can we say the same for America’s infrastructure?  Many Roman roads, bridges and aqueducts can still be seen today, an engineering wonder.  How many presidents can say, as Augustus Caesar did, “I found it brick and left it marble”?

We admire the Roman Empire as a gigantic free-trade zone, and even though Augustus Caesar was a dictator, he lived frugally and modestly, and focused on a competent and efficient administration.  

For a period of time, Rome allowed free speech.  Anyone could criticize the emperor as long as he spoke inside the Forum. 

It has been a tradition to write or speak on liberty when visiting the Forum.  In 1854, John Stuart Mill and his wife Harriet visited the Forum and Mill came up with the idea of writing his libertarian tract, On Liberty, published in 1860.  In 1954, Friedrich Hayek followed in Mill’s footsteps and at the Forum decided to write his book The Constitution of Liberty, published in 1960.  Continuing this tradition, in 2009 I wore a toga and spoke freely in favor of “persuasion over force” in the Roman forum. See Persuasion vs. Force – MSKOUSEN.COM

Rome depended on the rule of law based on the Twelve Tables.  The United States created a Constitution that drew upon the ideas of Roman statesmen, including the idea of representative government, checks and balances, a judiciary, and limits (veto power) on our leaders. 

The founders admired the great statesmen, military leaders, orators, and philosophers from ancient Greece and Rome.  George Washington admired Cincinnatus, the Roman general who twice rescued Rome from attack, and each time retired to his farm.  John Adams sought to imitate Cicero, the famous orator, and Cato, the Young, public servants who spent their career battling the likes of Julius Caesar.  “Pushed and injured and provoked as I am, I blush not to imitation the Roman [Cicero],” said Adams.    

King George III was compared to Julius Caesar.  “We will have no Caesars in this country!” declared Benjamin Rush. 

One of the purposes of the US Constitution was to contain the power of ambitious and avarice leaders.  Benjamin Franklin warned, “We see the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more.  I am apprehensive, perhaps too apprehensive, that the government of these states may in future times, end in a monarchy, and a King will sooner be set over us.” 

Lessons from Rome’s Mistakes

What lessons can we learn from Rome’s decline and fall? 

The founders saw that ancient Rome had no succession plan.  During the 2nd and 3rd centuries, 23 emperors were murdered.  It was always uncertain who would take their place.  The American founders provided a way to get rid of bad rulers through the impeachment process, and if a president died in office, to replace him with the vice president. 

Ancient Rome had a constitution based on a powerful devotion for centuries to custom, precedent and consensus, but which was not written.  That make it easier for an overzealous politician to bent the rules or simply disobey them.  For centuries Rome had two consuls running the government who were elected each year, and there were term limits.  But at the end of the Republic, ambitious generals ignored this tradition and sought to become dictators for life. 

This was one reason the founders insisted on a written constitution, although even then we know how easy it is to get around it. 

Historians point to over 200 reasons for Rome’s fall.  Rome destroyed itself internally and externally. Gradually its citizens became rich and decadent, demanding more free benefits from the government.  “Bread and circuses” were the rallying cry.  The welfare program offered free grain, olive oil and wine, and eventually eliminated a means test so that everyone qualified. 

Internally, the growing and expensive welfare state destroy not only destroyed the character of the Roman citizens, but its fiscal sanity.  The welfare state led to confiscatory taxation, excessive debt, inflation, and wage-price controls.  

We Americans are no fans of excessive government bureaucracy that Rome was famous for – tax collectors, administrators and soldiers were all a drain on the economy, and eventually leading to runaway inflation (coin clipping), and draconian wage and price controls edict under Diocletian in 301. 

Ancient Rome was also done in by costly foreign wars.  Just as Rome spread itself too thin around the ancient world, today the United States has 2.5 million troops stationed at over 700 bases in sixty countries. 

Will America split in two like Rome did into East (Constantinople) and West (Rome)? 

Mindful of these destructive policies in ancient Rome, our founders created the US Constitution to reduce the chances that America would follow the same fate.  Unfortunately, the Constitution can only do so much. 

As a student of history, I conclude that it is premature to say America is destined to collapse like the Roman empire.  But we are headed in that direction.  We are in many ways in decline.  Certainly China – the most serious threat to America’s dominance as the world’s #1 military and economic prowess – believes that the West is in decline and is doing everything in its military and economic power to take its place and achieve world domination by 1949, the 100th anniversary of the Communist takeover of China, what President Xi Jinping calls “the long game.” 

To summarize my view, I’m reminded of the story of a young man who approached Adam Smith, the venerable professor of moral philosophy at Glasgow University, and author of “The Wealth of Nations.”  The young man informed Dr. Smith that the British had lost to the Americans at Sarasota in 1777, a turning point in the War of Independence, and declared, “We are lost!”  To which Adam Smith replied, “There is much ruin in a nation.” 

There’s a great many good people residing her in America; let’s not sell America short. 

But let us not be blind to our growing problems.  We are in the early stages of decline, but there is no reason why we can turn things around.  All we need to for good men and women to fight for our rights and our liberties.  To quote a line from Shakespeare’s Caesar, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” 

Interestingly, the first Roman king was named Romulus.  Fittingly, a thousand years later, the last emperor of Rome was also named Romulus.  So beware if we have a future president by the name of Washington. 

While Inflation Threatens, the U.S. Economy is Firing on All Cylinders

  Washington, DC (Thursday, June 24, 2021): On June 24, 2021, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released data for the first quarter 2021 Gross Output (GO) – the most comprehensive measure of total spending in the economy, including the supply chain. The data reveled that Gross Output advanced significantly in the first quarter 2021 and dramatically outpaced GDP growth for the same period. Many economists feared a long economic downturn and marginal growth in the aftermath of the sharp economic decline in the second quarter 2020. However, it appears that the second-quarter downturn was just a short term reaction to the 2020 economic slowdown caused primarily by government restrictions and business shutdowns in responses to the COVID-19 epidemic. Another quarter of economic data indicates that the U.S. economy continues to fire on all cylinders and maintains a steady growth trend. After fourth-quarter expansions of 6.1% and 10.6% in nominal terms, GDP and GO expanded even faster in the first quarter 2021 at 10.5 and 16.1%, respectively. In real terms, GDP grew 6.4% and GO expanded 8.9% in the first quarter 2021. The nominal adjusted gross output, which includes an additional $9 trillion in gross retail and gross wholesale activity omitted from the official government’s GO figures, advanced nearly 20%, which is equivalent to an 11.5% expansion in real terms. While the rising GDP is still approximately 1% short of its all-time high from Q4 2019, both GO and Adjusted GO (GO*) reached new all-time highs in Q1 2021. Moreover, GO* broke above $48 trillion in real terms and above $42 trillion in real terms for the first time ever. The positive economic growth figures released today further solidify a steady economic recovery. As more states lift business restrictions and reopen their economies, economic stability appears more likely, which should translate to a continuation of the current economic expansion. At the end of May, the U.S. crossed the 50% mark in terms of population share that has received at least on dose of COVID vaccination. This is just another factor that will provide people with confidence to resume normal economic activities and fuel economic growth. While first quarter results paint a mostly positive picture, we are concerned that inflation will threaten the recovery. Based on the comparison of nominal and real GDP and GO figures, the annualized inflation in the first quarter 2021 exceeded 8%, which is significantly higher than reported annualized CPI inflation figure of 1.7%. Another indication that the economic pullback last year was only a temporary event is the relationship between the GO and GDP decline during that period. Earlier stages of production are generally more sensitive and more volatile in their response to economic disruptions. Therefore, during past recessions, GO commonly declined significantly more than GDP, which captures only final outputs in the economy. For instance, GO declined more than 26% during the last quarter 2008. In the same period, GDP pulled back less than 8%. The 2020 economic slowdown broke from this pattern and saw GO decline at similar rates as the GDP. Over the last two quarters, GO has been recovering and expanding faster than GDP. This anomaly from the established historical pattern, provides another indication that the underlying business fundamentals are significantly stronger than originally anticipated, that government shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 epidemic might have been unnecessary. Those responses might have even amplified the initial economic contraction in the second-quarter 2020. More importantly, as it did during the fourth quarter, business spending continued to outpace consumer spending in the first quarter 2021.  

Business – Not Consumers – Drives the Economy

Contrary to views of many academic economists and wide-spread media reports, consumer spending does not drive the economy, and does not represent two-thirds of the economy. Using GO as a better and a more accurate measure of total spending in the economy, the business sector (B2B spending) is almost twice the size of consumer spending. Consumer spending is the effect, not the cause, of prosperity (Say’s law). Therefore, our business-to-business (B2B) index is very useful for gauging the economy’s underlying health and the readiness to rebound after economic downturns. The B2B Index measures all the business spending in the supply chain and new private capital investment. In the first quarter 2021, nominal B2B activity expanded more than 23% to $28.3 trillion. At the same time, consumer spending grew 14.7% on an annualized basis to $14.1 trillion. In real terms, B2B activity expanded at an annualized rate of 18.7% to $24.5 trillion and consumer grew 7.2% to 13.3 trillion. Economy   “B2B spending is in fact a pretty good indicator of where the economy is headed, since it measures spending in the entire supply chain,” stated Skousen. “After recovering from the decline in the first half of 2020, business activity continued its expansion and followed of 39% and 12% real-term growth in last two quarters of 2020, with an 18.7% advancement in the first quarter 2021.”  

GO Increase Outpaces GDP Growth in Third Quarter to Indicate Potentially Accelerated Economic Recovery

Despite significant declines in the first two quarters of 2020, Gross Output indicates robust long-term growth. Prior to what appears to be merely a short-term pullback, GO delivered steady quarterly growth over the previous 42 consecutive periods. Gross Output growth slowed in late 2019, which could have been an early sign of economic slowdown even before the pandemic and government shutdowns in early 2020. However, GO’s quick recovery in the past three periods indicate that, barring any new “black swan” events, the robust economic growth is likely to continue for the remainder of 2021. Gross Output is a leading indicator of what GDP will do in the next quarter and beyond. As David Ranson, chief economist for the private forecasting firm HCWE & Co., states, “Movements in gross output serve as a leading indicator of movements in GDP.” The federal government will release the advance estimate for second-quarter 2021 GDP on July 29, 2021 and the full release of Gross Output, as well as the third estimate of GDP on September 30, 2021. Important Note:  We are hopeful that in the near future, the BEA will release GO at the same time as the first estimate of GDP for the quarter, not the third estimate.  

Report on Various Sectors of the Economy

After the general decline in the first two periods 2020 and a robust recovery in the second half of that year, almost all economic sectors continue to expand in the first quarter 2021. After reversing a down trend from the previous three-quarters and expanding at nearly 10% in Q4 2020, the mining sector cooled off and grew at an annualized rate of 0.5% in real terms for the first quarter 2021. The main driver for this tepid growth is a 13% decline in the Oil and gas extraction sub-segment, which expanded at more than 5% in the previous period. While expanding more than 20% in the first quarter, the other mining operations in this segment could not compensate for the decline in the oil and gas extraction, which accounts for more than 80% of the overall Mining segment. Despite accounting for just 1.7% of the overall economy, mining represents the earliest stages of production. Therefore, we watch the expansion and contraction of the Mining segment as early indicators of what other sectors further down the supply chain might do in subsequent periods. The Agriculture sector was 5.6% smaller than in the previous period and was one of just three the three segments that experienced contractions in Q1 2021. Manufacturing – which is the second largest segment of the economy with an 18% share – reversed its one one-quarter growth of 5.7% from the previous period and declined 3.7% in Q1. While accounting for approximately half of the segment, Nondurable goods contracted nearly 7% and Durable goods diminished 1%. The third declining segment this period was Educational services, health care, and social assistance. While 8.6% higher for the period, the Education sub-segment accounts only for 12.5% of the overall segment, so the 2.9% decline in healthcare and social assistance – 87.5% share of the category – drove the overall segment’s 1.5% contraction. On the positive side, the remaining 14 out of 17 industries expanded at least 5%. The largest segment of the economy, Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing, which accounts for one-fifth of GO, built on its 5% expansion in the previous period and grew 10.2% in Q1 2021. Real estate rental and leasing sub-segment contributed to that growth by expanding nearly 4%. However, the Finance and insurance sub-segment grew more than 18%. One point of caution amid positive results is that the sub-segment with the highest growth rate – 20.65% – in this industry segment was Federal Reserve banks, credit intermediation, and related activities. However, the largest sub-segment – Insurance carriers and related activities – grew at 20%, which should lessen some of the concerns from Federal Reserve activities. The Construction sector could not maintain its growth of nearly 12% from the previous period, bust still expanded 5.4% in Q1 2021. The Transportation and warehousing sector maintained its high growth rate and followed its 17.4% rate from Q4 2020 with a 17.7% expansion in the first period 2021. After nearly doubling in the prior period, Transit and ground passenger transportation sub-segment pulled back 20%. However, this pullback was offset by other modes of transportation that continued to expand at rates similar to the previous period. Water transportation volume improved 19.4%, trucking expanded 4.9% and Air transportation grew 63.2%. Unfortunately, after no expansion in Q4 2020, government spending kicked into high gear in the first quarter 2021. While State and local spending advanced at a modest 1.5%, Federal spending surged more than 15%. While the federal government’s growth rate is significantly higher, State and local government spending accounts for two thirds of total government spending. Therefore, the State and local government’s modest spending increase kept the combined government spending increase below 6%. Within Federal spending, Defense spending declined 4.4%. However, Nondefense spending was 51.4% higher than in the previous period. Economy   Gross output (GO) and GDP are complementary statistics in national income accounting. GO is an attempt to measure the “make” economy; i.e., total economic activity at all stages of production, similar to the “top line” (revenues/sales) of a financial accounting statement. In April 2014, the BEA began to measure GO on a quarterly basis along with GDP. Gross domestic product (GDP) is an attempt to measure the “use” economy, i.e., the value of finished goods and services ready to be used by consumers, business and government. GDP is not quite the same as the “bottom line” (profit, or net income) of an accounting statement, but rather the “value added” or the value of final use. GO tends to be more sensitive to the business cycle, and more volatile, than GDP. .

About GO and B2B Index

Skousen champions Gross Output as a more comprehensive measure of economic activity. “GDP leaves out the supply chain and business to business transactions in the production of intermediate inputs,” he notes. “That’s a big part of the economy, bigger than GDP itself. GO includes B2B activity that is vital to the production process. No one should ignore what is going on in the supply chain of the economy.” Skousen first introduced Gross Output as a macroeconomic tool in his work The Structure of Production (New York University Press, 1990). A new third edition was published in late 2015, and is now available on Amazon. Click here: Structure of Production on Amazon The BEA’s decision in 2014 to publish GO on a quarterly basis in its “GDP by Industry” data is a major achievement in national income accounting. GO is the first output statistic to be published on a quarterly basis since GDP was invented in the 1940s. The BEA now defines GDP in terms of GO. GDP is defined as “the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy [GO] less the value of the goods and services used up in production (Intermediate Inputs or II].” See definitions at https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/industry/gdpindustry/gdpindnewsrelease.htm With GO and GDP being produced on a timely basis, the federal government now offers a complete system of accounts. As Dale Jorgenson, Steve Landefeld, and William Nordhaus conclude in their book, A New Architecture for the U. S. National Accounts, “Gross output [GO] is the natural measure of the production sector, while net output [GDP] is appropriate as a measure of welfare. Both are required in a complete system of accounts.” Skousen adds, “Gross Output and GDP are complementary aspects of the economy, but GO does a better job of measuring total economic activity and the business cycle, and demonstrates that business spending is more significant than consumer spending,” he says. “By using GO data, we see that consumer spending is actually only about a third of economic activity, not two-thirds that is often reported by the media. As the chart above demonstrates, business spending is in fact almost twice the size of consumer spending in the US economy.”  

For More Information

Steve Forbes: What’s Ahead podcast. In this podcast, Steve Forbes discusses Gross Output with Mark Skousen on September 9, 2019:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/steveforbes/2019/09/09/were-using-the-wrong-measure-gdp-to-gauge-the-economys-real-health-mark-skousen/#35ff3d9a52fa GO-Day podcast discussion panel hosted Mark Skousen that included Steve Forbes, Sean Flynn, Steve Hanke, and David Ranson, September 30, 2020: https://chapman.zoom.us/rec/share/KJ17YjuR_6zthmgOA5fNprv2e65F-jICOsf430bJvnu8qWzdPYPfTohPC48qRLe9.Q8rmnlXynnTN74Tv?startTime=1601488807000 The GO data released by the BEA can be found at www.bea.gov under “Quarterly GDP by Industry.” Click on interactive tables “GDP by Industry” and go to “Gross Output by Industry.” Or go to this link directly: http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=51&step=1#reqid=51&step=3&isuri=1&5102=15 For more information on Gross Output (GO), the Skousen B2B Index, and their relationship to GDP, see the following: Mark Skousen, “If GDP Lags, Watch the Economy Grow,” Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2018:  https://www.grossoutput.com/2018/04/26/away-go-economy-growing-faster-expected/ Mark Skousen, “At Last, a Better Way to Economic Measure” lead editorial, Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2014: http://on.wsj.com/PsdoLM Steve Forbes, Forbes Magazine (April 14, 2014): “New, Revolutionary Way To Measure The Economy Is Coming — Believe Me, This Is A Big Deal”: http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveforbes/2014/03/26/this-may-save-the-economoy-from-keynesians-and-spend-happy-pols/ Mark Skousen, Forbes Magazine (December 16, 2013): “Beyond GDP: Get Ready For A New Way To Measure The Economy”: http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/11/29/beyond-gdp-get-ready-for-a-new-way-to-measure-the-economy/ Steve Hanke, Globe Asia (July 2014): “GO: J. M. Keynes Versus J.-B. Say,” http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/go-jm-keynes-versus-j-b-say David Ranson, “Output growth data that the economy generates months earlier than GDP,” Economy Watch, July 24, 2017. HCWE & Co. http://www.hcwe.com/guest/EW-0717.pdf Mark Skousen, “Linking Austrian Economics to Keynesian Economics,” Journal of Private Enterprise, Winter, 2015: http://journal.apee.org/index.php?title=Parte7_Journal_of_Private_Enterprise_vol_30_no_4.pdf To interview Dr. Mark Skousen on this press release, contact him at [email protected], or Ned Piplovic, Media Relations at [email protected]

# # #

________________________________________
[1] The BEA currently uses a limited measure of total sales of goods and services in the production process. Once products are fabricated and packaged at the manufacturing stage, the BEA’s GO only adds “net” sales at the wholesale and retail level. Its official GO for the 2021 1st quarter is $39.5 trillion. By including gross sales at the wholesale and retail level, the adjusted GO expands to $48.6 trillion in Q1 2021. Thus, the BEA omits more than $9 trillion in business-to-business (B2B) transactions in its GO statistics. We include them as a legitimate economic activity that should be accounted for in GO, which we call Adjusted GO. See the new introduction to Mark Skousen, The Structure of Production, 3rd ed. (New York University Press, 2015), pp. xv-xvi.

Fun Things to Do at FreedomFest This July

FreedomFest

We already have more than 2,000 registered attendees for FreedomFest next month. We could have a record this year. Over a hundred people are signing up every week.

Our line-up of speakers, panels and debates can’t be beaten. Our entire program has now been posted online. See 2021 Agenda — FreedomFest.

But there’s more! We always have a lot of fun events and activities for attendees and family members every July. I went through the entire program and made a list of all the unusual things going on.

They include:

  • South Dakota is offering some great excursions, including:

    • trips to the Mount Rushmore lighting ceremony,
    • Chief Crazy Horse Monument, Deadwood (where Wild Bill Hickok was murdered),
    • Custer State Park,
    • an 1880s-style train ride through the Black Hills and
    • incredible views of the Badlands.
  • Unique sessions at FreedomFest, such as:

    • “God is a Mathematician” by Daniele Struppa (president of Chapman University and a professional mathematician)…
    • “How to Make Your Book #1 on Amazon” with Marji Ross (former publisher of Regnery Books) and marketing genius Michael Beas…
    • “The Golden Age of Jazz: celebrating 100 Years of America’s Unique Art Form” by jazz enthusiast Gary Alexander
    • Professor Ken Elzinga on “Fifty Years and 50,000 Students at Mr. Jefferson’s University: A Professor’s Reflections on Academic Freedom”… and
    • Mark Skousen’s own Saturday breakfast topic, “Puzzles & Paradoxes in Money and the Economy” based on my popular college course at Chapman.
  • Special events and activities happening at FreedomFest events, such as:

    • Wednesday Evening Opening Cocktail Party and special activities in the exhibit hall
      • including our very own libertarian magician Peter Studebaker,
      • Mark Skousen’s “White Mates in Two” chess problem, and
      • Pablo and Hayley entertaining us with music and song…

Also don’t miss the #1 most popular Native American band “Brule” at the our Saturday Night Gala Banquet.

Our Wednesday Opening Cocktail Party is just four weeks away, but there is still time to register.

Go to www.freedomfest.com, or call Hayley at 1-855-850-3733, ext. 202, to register or get more information. Use Eagle50 code to get $50 off.

We just added a new group of hotel room blocks, so I recommend you act now to avoid being disappointed.

But, Wait there is more

We also have a special private reception reserved only for subscribers of my investment news letter — Forecasts & Strategies — and my other investing services.

Furthermore, subscribers to my newsletter and trading services get a 2021 American Eagle silver dollar and a signed copy of “The Maxims of Wall Street” at this  special Eagle private meeting  on Thursday, July 22.

But, hurry, The room at the historic Alex Johnson Hotel (where Ronald Reagan and five other presidents have stayed) is limited to 250 subscribers and we are almost full.

Gross Output (GO) Growth Outpaces GDP Again to Suggest Robust Recovery

Washington, DC (Thursday, March 25, 2021): On March 25, 2021, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released data for the fourth quarter 2020 gross output (GO) – the most comprehensive measure of total spending in the economy, including the supply chain. The data revealed that GO advanced significantly faster than GDP in the last period of 2020, a good sign that strong economic growth will continue into 2021. While fourth-quarter GDP expanded 6.1% in nominal terms, GO surged 10.6% in comparable terms. Similarly, GO growth of 6.6% in real terms exceeded the real-term GDP growth of 4.3%. Furthermore, on an annualized basis, fourth-quarter GO and GDP exceeded their values from before the 2020 pullback and have risen near their respective highest levels ever – lagging slightly only behind Q3 2019 results in nominal terms. After a minor dip in the first quarter 2020 and the sharp decline in the second quarter, the economy rallied back in the third quarter to recover most of the second-quarter losses. That growth trend continued in the fourth quarter 2020 at growth rates that exceed recent averages by a significant margin. Many economists feared that the sharp economic decline in the second quarter would have negative effects on long-term economic growth.  To the extent that major sectors of the economy are still struggling (entertainment, sports, cruise ships, etc.), the US economy is still underperforming and is in many ways, a “K”-shaped recovery rather than a “V”-shaped recovery. The report released today is based on fourth-quarter 2020 data, when we still did not have complete information on the implementation of Operation Warp Speed – whether vaccines will be effective or how soon we would have enough doses to vaccinate the population to the point of herd immunity. However, with more than one-third of the adult population already vaccinated, easing of government business restrictions and more states going back to business as usual will provide further support necessary to maintain the current economic growth trend. A positive outlook can also be seen in the relationship between the GO and GDP decline during 2020. Earlier stages of production are generally more sensitive and more volatile in their response to economic disruptions. Therefore, during past recessions, GO commonly declined significantly more than GDP, which captures only final outputs in the economy. For instance, GO declined more than 26% during the last quarter 2008. In the same period, GDP pulled back less than 8%. But the 2020 economic slowdown broke from this pattern and saw GO decline at similar rates as the GDP. This anomaly from the established historical pattern, provides another indication that the underlying business fundamentals are significantly stronger than originally anticipated, that government shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 epidemic might have been unnecessary and that those responses might have even amplified the initial economic contraction in the second-quarter 2020. More importantly, as it did during the third quarter, business spending continued to outpace consumer spending in the last quarter 2020.  

Business – Not Consumers – Drives the Economy

Contrary to views of many academic economists and wide-spread media reports, consumer spending does not drive the economy, and does not represent two-thirds of the economy. Using GO as a better and a more accurate measure of total spending in the economy, the business sector (B2B spending) is almost twice the size of consumer spending. Consumer spending is the effect, not the cause, of prosperity (Say’s law). Therefore, our business-to-business (B2B) index is very useful for gauging the economy’s underlying health and the readiness to rebound after economic downturns. The B2B Index measures all the business spending in the supply chain and new private capital investment. In the fourth quarter, nominal B2B activity expanded more than 14% to $26.6 trillion. At the same time, consumer spending grew less than 4% on an annualized basis to $14.5 trillion. In real terms, B2B activity expanded at an annualized rate of 12% to $23.25 trillion and consumer spending remained flat at the same level as in the previous period of $13 trillion.  

Gross Output

“B2B spending is in fact a pretty good indicator of where the economy is headed, since it measures spending in the entire supply chain,” stated Skousen. “After declining 5.4% and 44% in the first and second quarters, respectively, business activity expanded at an annualized rate of 39% and 12% in real terms in last two quarters of last year.”  

GO Continues to Grow Faster than GDP in Fourth Quarter to Suggest Strong Economic Recovery at least in the First Half of 2021

Despite significant declines in the first two quarters of 2020, Gross Output indicates robust long-term growth. Prior to what appears to be merely a short-term pullback, GO delivered steady quarterly growth over the previous 42 consecutive periods. Gross Output growth slowed in late 2019, which could have been an early sign of economic slowdown even before the pandemic and government shutdowns in early 2020. However, GO’s renewed growth in the third and fourth quarter 2020 could set the tone for the overall direction of the economy for the entire 2021 and beyond. Gross Output is a leading indicator of what GDP will do in the next quarter and beyond. As David Ranson, chief economist for the private forecasting firm HCWE & Co., states, “Movements in gross output serve as a leading indicator of movements in GDP.” The federal government will release the advance estimate for first-quarter 2021 GDP on April 29, 2021 and the full release of Gross Output, as well as the third estimate of GDP on June 24, 2021. Important Note:  We are hopeful that in the near future, the BEA will release GO at the same time as the first estimate of GDP for the quarter, not the third estimate.  

Report on Various Sectors of the Economy

After two periods of contraction and a robust rebound in the third quarter, all but a few of the individual economic sectors continue to expand. After declining in the previous three quarters, the mining sector expanded nearly 10% in real terms during the fourth-quarter 2020. The Oil and gas extraction sub-segment, which accounts for more than 60% of the overall mining sector, expanded 5.3% in the previous quarter. While exhibiting significant growth, the mining sector’s share of only 1.7% of the economy contributes very little to the overall GO. However, since mining represents the earliest stages of production, we watch its expansion and contraction as an early indicator of what other sectors further down the supply chain might do in subsequent periods. The Agriculture sector expanded slower in the last quarter than in the third quarter 2020, but still grew 3.3% on an annualized basis. Furthermore, Manufacturing grew 5.7% after spiking more than 40% in the previous period. The two manufacturing sub-segments with highest growth in the most recent periods were Computer and electronic products with 18% and the Fabricated metal products sub-segment with a 16.2% expansion. More importantly Manufacturing of durable goods expanded at 10% versus the growth of only 1% for Nondurable goods. All these results suggest that, while short-term consumer spending is still lagging, businesses and consumers are confident about the long-term outlook for the economy. The largest segment of the economy, Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing, which accounts for one-fifth of GO, grew nearly 5%. The finance and insurance sub-segment expanded 7.6% and the Real estate rental and leasing sub-segment contributed to the growth with an annualized expansion of nearly 3% in the fourth quarter. The Construction sector delivered a strong growth of nearly 12% – its highest expansion rate last year. However, the Transportation and warehousing sector advanced even faster at 17.4% in real terms. Except for the Pipeline transportation sub-segment, which contracted 8.2%, most other transportation sub-sectors expanded at double-digit percentages. The Transit and ground passenger transportation sub-segment nearly doubled compared to the third quarter, Air transportation grew more than 60%, Rail transportation increased 27.4%, Water transportation volume improved 23% and trucking expanded 5.2%. Government spending was a mixed bag of results. Federal spending fell 1.2%, but government spending at the state and local level rose 0.5%. While the federal government’s decline rate is higher, State and local government spending accounts for two thirds of total government spending. Therefore, State and local government spending increase erased all spending reductions at the federal level. On the upside, the offset was almost exact and total government spending was flat compared to the previous period.   Gross Output Gross output (GO) and GDP are complementary statistics in national income accounting. GO is an attempt to measure the “make” economy; i.e., total economic activity at all stages of production, similar to the “top line” (revenues/sales) of a financial accounting statement. In April 2014, the BEA began to measure GO on a quarterly basis along with GDP. Gross domestic product (GDP) is an attempt to measure the “use” economy, i.e., the value of finished goods and services ready to be used by consumers, business and government. GDP is not quite the same as the “bottom line” (profit, or net income) of an accounting statement, but rather the “value added” or the value of final use. GO tends to be more sensitive to the business cycle, and more volatile, than GDP.

About GO and B2B Index

Skousen champions Gross Output as a more comprehensive measure of economic activity. “GDP leaves out the supply chain and business to business transactions in the production of intermediate inputs,” he notes. “That’s a big part of the economy, bigger than GDP itself. GO includes B2B activity that is vital to the production process. No one should ignore what is going on in the supply chain of the economy.” Skousen first introduced Gross Output as a macroeconomic tool in his work The Structure of Production (New York University Press, 1990). A new third edition was published in late 2015, and is now available on Amazon. Click here: Structure of Production on Amazon The BEA’s decision in 2014 to publish GO on a quarterly basis in its “GDP by Industry” data is a major achievement in national income accounting. GO is the first output statistic to be published on a quarterly basis since GDP was invented in the 1940s. The BEA now defines GDP in terms of GO. GDP is defined as “the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy [GO] less the value of the goods and services used up in production (Intermediate Inputs or II].” See definitions at https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/industry/gdpindustry/gdpindnewsrelease.htm With GO and GDP being produced on a timely basis, the federal government now offers a complete system of accounts. As Dale Jorgenson, Steve Landefeld, and William Nordhaus conclude in their book, A New Architecture for the U. S. National Accounts, “Gross output [GO] is the natural measure of the production sector, while net output [GDP] is appropriate as a measure of welfare. Both are required in a complete system of accounts.” Skousen adds, “Gross Output and GDP are complementary aspects of the economy, but GO does a better job of measuring total economic activity and the business cycle, and demonstrates that business spending is more significant than consumer spending,” he says. “By using GO data, we see that consumer spending is actually only about a third of economic activity, not two-thirds that is often reported by the media. As the chart above demonstrates, business spending is in fact almost twice the size of consumer spending in the US economy.”  

For More Information

Steve Forbes: What’s Ahead podcast. In this podcast, Steve Forbes discusses Gross Output with Mark Skousen on September 9, 2019:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/steveforbes/2019/09/09/were-using-the-wrong-measure-gdp-to-gauge-the-economys-real-health-mark-skousen/#35ff3d9a52fa GO-Day podcast discussion panel hosted Mark Skousen that included Steve Forbes, Sean Flynn, Steve Hanke, and David Ranson, September 30, 2020: https://chapman.zoom.us/rec/share/KJ17YjuR_6zthmgOA5fNprv2e65F-jICOsf430bJvnu8qWzdPYPfTohPC48qRLe9.Q8rmnlXynnTN74Tv?startTime=1601488807000 The GO data released by the BEA can be found at www.bea.gov under “Quarterly GDP by Industry.” Click on interactive tables “GDP by Industry” and go to “Gross Output by Industry.” Or go to this link directly: http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=51&step=1#reqid=51&step=3&isuri=1&5102=15 For more information on Gross Output (GO), the Skousen B2B Index, and their relationship to GDP, see the following: Mark Skousen, “If GDP Lags, Watch the Economy Grow,” Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2018:  https://www.grossoutput.com/2018/04/26/away-go-economy-growing-faster-expected/ Mark Skousen, “At Last, a Better Way to Economic Measure” lead editorial, Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2014: http://on.wsj.com/PsdoLM Steve Forbes, Forbes Magazine (April 14, 2014): “New, Revolutionary Way To Measure The Economy Is Coming — Believe Me, This Is A Big Deal”: http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveforbes/2014/03/26/this-may-save-the-economoy-from-keynesians-and-spend-happy-pols/ Mark Skousen, Forbes Magazine (December 16, 2013): “Beyond GDP: Get Ready For A New Way To Measure The Economy”: http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/11/29/beyond-gdp-get-ready-for-a-new-way-to-measure-the-economy/ Steve Hanke, Globe Asia (July 2014): “GO: J. M. Keynes Versus J.-B. Say,” http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/go-jm-keynes-versus-j-b-say David Ranson, “Output growth data that the economy generates months earlier than GDP,” Economy Watch, July 24, 2017. HCWE & Co. http://www.hcwe.com/guest/EW-0717.pdf Mark Skousen, “Linking Austrian Economics to Keynesian Economics,” Journal of Private Enterprise, Winter, 2015: http://journal.apee.org/index.php?title=Parte7_Journal_of_Private_Enterprise_vol_30_no_4.pdf To interview Dr. Mark Skousen on this press release, contact him at [email protected], or Ned Piplovic, Media Relations at [email protected]

# # #

________________________________________
[1] The BEA currently uses a limited measure of total sales of goods and services in the production process. Once products are fabricated and packaged at the manufacturing stage, the BEA’s GO only adds “net” sales at the wholesale and retail level. Its official GO for the 2020 3rd quarter is $36.94 trillion. By including gross sales at the wholesale and retail level, the adjusted GO expands to $45.11 trillion in Q3 2020. Thus, the BEA omits nearly $8.2 trillion in business-to-business (B2B) transactions in its GO statistics. We include them as a legitimate economic activity that should be accounted for in GO, which we call Adjusted GO. See the new introduction to Mark Skousen, The Structure of Production, 3rd ed. (New York University Press, 2015), pp. xv-xvi.

Business-to-Business (B2B) Spending Grows Faster Than GDP!

Washington, DC (Tuesday, December 22, 2020): On December 22, 2020, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced that gross output (GO) – the most comprehensive measure of total spending in the economy, including the supply chain – rose dramatically in the 3rd quarter 2020. In the aftermath of a sharp economic decline reported in the second quarter 2020, Gross Output reversed its downtrend over the past two periods and soared in the third quarter 2020. While still not recovered fully to its past highs, third-quarter 2020 Gross Output rebounded to within 2.8% of its level one year ago. This rapid rebound offers supporting evidence that we might indeed see a brisk v-shaped recovery of the economy supported by positive news on new vaccines availability as we enter 2021. During past recessions, GO generally declined significantly more than GDP. In the fourth-quarter 2008 GO dropped more than 26% while GDP declined less than 8%. Alternatively, GO also bounced back at faster rate than the GDP during past recoveries.  However, the 2020 economic slowdown does not follow the same pattern. Rather than dropping significantly more than the GDP, GO has maintained decline rates parallel with the GDP. This break from historical recession patterns suggests that business and supply chain spending has remained relatively robust during this economic pullback. Therefore, third quarter economic rebound indicates strong economic fundamentals that could support rapid recovery as soon as economic shutdowns are lifted with widespread availability of vaccinations. More importantly, business spending outpaced consumer spending during the third quarter.  

Business – Not Consumers – Drives the Economy

Contrary to views of many academic economists and wide-spread media reports, consumer spending does not drive the economy, and does not represent two-thirds of the economy. Using GO as a better and a more accurate measure of total spending in the economy, the business sector (B2B spending) is almost twice the size of consumer spending. Consumer spending is the effect, not the cause, of prosperity (Say’s law). Therefore, our business-to-business (B2B) index is very useful for gauging the economy’s underlying health and the readiness to rebound after economic downturns. The B2B Index measures all the business spending in the supply chain and new private capital investment. In the third quarter, nominal B2B activity soared nearly 43% to $25.7 trillion. At the same time, consumer spending grew less than 40% on an annualized basis to $14.4 trillion. In real terms, B2B activity expanded at an annualized rate of 39% to $22.6 trillion and consumer spending reached $13 trillion after expanding 34.5%. Gross Output “B2B spending is in fact a pretty good indicator of where the economy is headed, since it measures spending in the entire supply chain,” stated Skousen. “After declining 5.4% and 44% in the first and second quarters, respectively, business activity expanded at an annualized rate of 39% in real terms in the third quarter 2020.  

GO Increase Outpaces GDP Growth in Third Quarter to Indicate Potentially Accelerated Economic Recovery

Gross Output suffered significant declines in the first two quarters of this year. However, prior to these pullbacks, GO increased steadily for 42 consecutive quarters. Even before the pandemic and government shutdowns in early 2020, GO began to show weaker growth in late 2019 falling from nearly 2.5% in the third-quarter 2019 to just 1.1% in the final period of last year. However, GO growth in the third quarter could set the tone for the overall direction of the economy going into next year. GO is a leading indicator of what GDP will do in the next quarter and beyond. As David Ranson, chief economist for the private forecasting firm HCWE & Co., states, “Movements in gross output serve as a leading indicator of movements in GDP.” After the first-half 2020 pullback, both GDP and GO roared back in the third quarter. However, with a third-quarter annualized growth rate of nearly 40%, Adjusted Gross Output (GO*)[1] outpaced the 33.8 % GDP growth rate in the same period by more than 6%. In real terms, the variance between the growth rates of 30.6% for GO* and 29.9% for GDP was slightly lower at 2.3%. The federal government will release the fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 advance estimate for GDP of for on January 28, 2021 and the full release of Gross Output and third estimate of GDP on March 25, 2021. Important Note:  We are hopeful that in the near future, the BEA will release GO at the same time as the first estimate of GDP for the quarter, not the third estimate.  

Report on Various Sectors of the Economy

After two periods of contraction, all major sectors of the economy expanded in the third quarter 2020. All but one if the 21 sectors expanded at double-digit percentages. The mining sector delivered a significant expansion of 56% after contracting 35% in the previous period. However, while important to the economy as an early stage of production, the Mining sector accounts for only 1% of the overall GO and does not contribute to the overall GO as much as some of the larger sectors. After contracting for four consecutive quarters, the Manufacturing segment expanded 51% in the third quarter. However, since manufacturing is the second largest segment and accounts for 16% of GO, its impact on the overall growth of the overall GO is substantially higher than that of the Mining sector. Furthermore, another indication of the economy’s strong fundamentals and a positive outlook for continued growth is that the Durable goods sub-segment, which has a larger impact on long-term economic expansion, grew nearly 74%. At the same time, the Nondurable goods sub-segment expanded 27.6%. The largest segment of the economy, Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing, which accounts for one-fifth of GO, grew nearly 12%. The finance and insurance sub-segment expanded more than 8% and the Real estate rental and leasing sub-segment performed even better with a 14.8% expansion that follows a 14.7% contraction in the previous period. The Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector expanded 32%. Spending in the Utilities sector advanced 11.4%. The Construction sector was the only sector that did not achieve a double-digit growth rate in the third period. This sector still expanded at 9.6%. Transportation and warehousing, as well as the Retail trade and the Wholesale trade, grew in excess of 50%. Because of the devastating decline in the second quarter, the Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services rebounded nearly 160% in the third period. After pulling back slightly in the second quarter, overall government spending increased 5% in the third quarter. State and local government spending expanded nearly 11%, which drove the expansion of the overall government segment. Federal government spending contracted nearly 7% compared to the previous period. However, that contraction is slightly misleading. The reason for this contraction is that federal government spending spiked 16% in the previous period, which was the first double-digit increase for this segment in more than a decade. Gross Output Gross output (GO) and GDP are complementary statistics in national income accounting. GO is an attempt to measure the “make” economy; i.e., total economic activity at all stages of production, similar to the “top line” (revenues/sales) of a financial accounting statement. In April 2014, the BEA began to measure GO on a quarterly basis along with GDP. Gross domestic product (GDP) is an attempt to measure the “use” economy, i.e., the value of finished goods and services ready to be used by consumers, business and government. GDP is not quite the same as the “bottom line” (profit, or net income) of an accounting statement, but rather the “value added” or the value of final use. GO tends to be more sensitive to the business cycle, and more volatile, than GDP.

About GO and B2B Index

Skousen champions Gross Output as a more comprehensive measure of economic activity. “GDP leaves out the supply chain and business to business transactions in the production of intermediate inputs,” he notes. “That’s a big part of the economy, bigger than GDP itself. GO includes B2B activity that is vital to the production process. No one should ignore what is going on in the supply chain of the economy.” Skousen first introduced Gross Output as a macroeconomic tool in his work The Structure of Production (New York University Press, 1990). A new third edition was published in late 2015, and is now available on Amazon. Click here: Structure of Production on Amazon The BEA’s decision in 2014 to publish GO on a quarterly basis in its “GDP by Industry” data is a major achievement in national income accounting. GO is the first output statistic to be published on a quarterly basis since GDP was invented in the 1940s. The BEA now defines GDP in terms of GO. GDP is defined as “the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy [GO] less the value of the goods and services used up in production (Intermediate Inputs or II].” See definitions at https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/industry/gdpindustry/gdpindnewsrelease.htm With GO and GDP being produced on a timely basis, the federal government now offers a complete system of accounts. As Dale Jorgenson, Steve Landefeld, and William Nordhaus conclude in their book, A New Architecture for the U. S. National Accounts, “Gross output [GO] is the natural measure of the production sector, while net output [GDP] is appropriate as a measure of welfare. Both are required in a complete system of accounts.” Skousen adds, “Gross Output and GDP are complementary aspects of the economy, but GO does a better job of measuring total economic activity and the business cycle, and demonstrates that business spending is more significant than consumer spending,” he says. “By using GO data, we see that consumer spending is actually only about a third of economic activity, not two-thirds that is often reported by the media. As the chart above demonstrates, business spending is in fact almost twice the size of consumer spending in the US economy.”  

For More Information

Steve Forbes: What’s Ahead podcast. In this podcast, Steve Forbes discusses Gross Output with Mark Skousen on September 9, 2019:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/steveforbes/2019/09/09/were-using-the-wrong-measure-gdp-to-gauge-the-economys-real-health-mark-skousen/#35ff3d9a52fa GO-Day podcast discussion panel hosted Mark Skousen that included Steve Forbes, Sean Flynn, Steve Hanke, and David Ranson, September 30, 2020: https://chapman.zoom.us/rec/share/KJ17YjuR_6zthmgOA5fNprv2e65F-jICOsf430bJvnu8qWzdPYPfTohPC48qRLe9.Q8rmnlXynnTN74Tv?startTime=1601488807000 The GO data released by the BEA can be found at www.bea.gov under “Quarterly GDP by Industry.” Click on interactive tables “GDP by Industry” and go to “Gross Output by Industry.” Or go to this link directly: http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=51&step=1#reqid=51&step=3&isuri=1&5102=15 For more information on Gross Output (GO), the Skousen B2B Index, and their relationship to GDP, see the following: Mark Skousen, “If GDP Lags, Watch the Economy Grow,” Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2018:  https://www.grossoutput.com/2018/04/26/away-go-economy-growing-faster-expected/ Mark Skousen, “At Last, a Better Way to Economic Measure” lead editorial, Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2014: http://on.wsj.com/PsdoLM Steve Forbes, Forbes Magazine (April 14, 2014): “New, Revolutionary Way To Measure The Economy Is Coming — Believe Me, This Is A Big Deal”: http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveforbes/2014/03/26/this-may-save-the-economoy-from-keynesians-and-spend-happy-pols/ Mark Skousen, Forbes Magazine (December 16, 2013): “Beyond GDP: Get Ready For A New Way To Measure The Economy”: http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/11/29/beyond-gdp-get-ready-for-a-new-way-to-measure-the-economy/ Steve Hanke, Globe Asia (July 2014): “GO: J. M. Keynes Versus J.-B. Say,” http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/go-jm-keynes-versus-j-b-say David Ranson, “Output growth data that the economy generates months earlier than GDP,” Economy Watch, July 24, 2017. HCWE & Co. http://www.hcwe.com/guest/EW-0717.pdf Mark Skousen, “Linking Austrian Economics to Keynesian Economics,” Journal of Private Enterprise, Winter, 2015: http://journal.apee.org/index.php?title=Parte7_Journal_of_Private_Enterprise_vol_30_no_4.pdf To interview Dr. Mark Skousen on this press release, contact him at [email protected], or Ned Piplovic, Media Relations at [email protected]

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[1] The BEA currently uses a limited measure of total sales of goods and services in the production process. Once products are fabricated and packaged at the manufacturing stage, the BEA’s GO only adds “net” sales at the wholesale and retail level. Its official GO for the 2020 3rd quarter is $36.94 trillion. By including gross sales at the wholesale and retail level, the adjusted GO expands to $45.11 trillion in Q3 2020. Thus, the BEA omits nearly $8.2 trillion in business-to-business (B2B) transactions in its GO statistics. We include them as a legitimate economic activity that should be accounted for in GO, which we call Adjusted GO. See the new introduction to Mark Skousen, The Structure of Production, 3rd ed. (New York University Press, 2015), pp. xv-xvi.

Elder Ezra Taft Benson Speaks in Communist Russia

Elder Ezra Taft Benson

 Elder Ezra Taft Benson Speaks at the Central Baptist Church in Communist Russia, October, 1959

 

“It was the most heart-rending and most inspiring scene I’ve witnessed.”  –News reporter

From the time he arrived, Ezra Taft Benson repeatedly requested that he be taken to visit one of the two Protestant churches in Moscow.  Finally, as his party was taken to the airport for their departure, he again asked to stop at a church.  Reluctantly, his driver swung into a narrow alley behind an old stucco building – the Central Baptist Church.  It was raining, but the chill left as the Secretary’s party entered the church which was filled to overflowing with mostly middle-aged and elderly people.  Ezra understood that Soviet citizens attended these services at some risk; anyone who looked to a career of any kind avoided the slightest suspicion of belief in Christianity.

The American group caused an immediate stir in the old church.  A newsman present described the scene: “Every face in the old sanctuary gaped incredulously as our obviously American group was led down the aisle.  They grabbed for our hands as we proceeded to our pews which were gladly vacated…Their wrinkled old faces looked at us pleadingly.  They reached out to touch us almost as one would reach out for the last final caress of one’s most-beloved just before the casket is lowered.  They were in misery and yet a light shone through the misery.  They gripped our hands like frightened children.”

Surprisingly, the minister invited Secretary Benson to speak.  Knowing there was some danger, Ezra turned to Flora and asked if she thought he should do it.  Without pause she answered, “You bet, T!”  And he made his way to the pulpit.

Never had he stood before an audience like this.  As he scanned the crowd of anxious faces, it took some moments for him to control his emotions.  These were good people, he felt immediately, subjected to a society that deprived them of unrestricted worship.  The emotional impact was almost more than he could bear.  Then he began to speak about hope and truth and love.  As he talked about the Savior and the hope of life after death, tears flowed freely throughout the church.

 

“Our Heavenly Father is not far away,” the Secretary promised.  “He is our Father.  Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the World, watches over this earth…Be unafraid, keep His commandments, love one another, pray for peace, and all will be well.”

Women took out their handkerchiefs and nodded vigorously as they moaned “Ja, ja, ja!”  He looked down at one elderly woman, her head covered by a scarf and with a shawl about her shoulders, and spoke as though directly to her: “This life is only a part of eternity.  We lived before we cam here…We will live again after we leave this life…I believe very firmly in prayer.  I know it is possible to reach out and tap the Unseen Power which gives us strength and such an anchor in time of need.”  He concluded, “I leave you my witness as a church servant for many years that the truth will endure.  Time is on the side of truth.  God bless you and keep you all the days of your life.”

By this time teams were streaming down Ezra’s face.  When his entourage finally filed down the aisle, men and women waved handkerchiefs and grasped the visitors’ hands in an action that spoke more than words.  Spontaneously they began to sing “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.”  The language was foreign, but the tune and meaning were unmistakable.  The Americans entered their cars with not a dry eye among them.  Finally, a newsman broke the silence, commenting, “I believe they were the only really happy people we saw in Russia.”

“I shall never forget that evening as long as I live,” Elder Benson later wrote.  “Seldom, if ever, have I felt the oneness of mankind and the unquenchable yearning of the human heart for freedom.”  Others felt similarly.  Cynical newsmen who had complained about “going to church with Ezra” (and who had skipped out on LDS services in West Berlin) stood and wept openly.

Tom Anderson, editor of Farm and Ranch magazine, wrote, “Imagine getting your greatest spiritual experience in atheistic Russia!….The Communist plan is that when these ‘last believers’ die off, religion will die with them.  What the atheists don’t know is that God can’t be stamped out by legislated atheism….This Methodist backslider who occasionally grumbles about having to go to church, stood crying unashamedly, throat lumped, and chills running from spine to toes.  It was the most heart-rending and most inspiring scene I’ve witnessed.”

When they reached the airport, nearly all of the newsmen traveling with Ezra told him it had been the greatest spiritual experience they had ever had.

–“Ezra Taft Benson, A Biography,” by Sheri Dew (Deseret Book, 1987), pp. 342-344

Macroeconomics on the GO: How Wall Street Economic Analysts Use Gross Output (GO)

Here are two examples of how private economic research firms are using gross output (GO) to analyze and predict the future of the economy, growth and the markets.

 

1. David Ranson, chief economist, HCWE, Inc. (formerly H. C. Wainwright Economics). www.hcwe.com

Gross output (GO) is a potent but widely-neglected source of information about the national economy whose potential value has been championed and pioneered over many years by economist Mark Skousen in many professional contributions, including his book, The Structure of Production. Thanks to his efforts to bring it to the attention of the economics profession, GO is finally beginning to receive the attention it deserves. GO is a much more comprehensive measure of the size of the economy than GDP. Since GDP includes only ‘final’ goods and services, it leaves out a huge segment of the economy that consists of transactions among businesses that buy and sell intermediate goods to one another in the course of the supply chain of which GDP is the ultimate outcome.

This left-out segment, which might be called the ‘intermediate economy,’ is larger than GDP itself, and dwarfs personal consumption. Its most important feature is that it reflects economic vitality at an earlier stage in the supply chain. As a result it leads GDP by at least three months. It has more credibility than the many leading indicators of GDP for several reasons. Its quarterly growth is very highly correlated with GDP growth, and it’s a direct measure of economic activity rather than a mere indicator that tends to rise and fall in advance of GDP. Historically, GO is better correlated than GDP with financial prices in the capital markets, such as stocks.

GO portrays an economy that is substantially more cyclical than GDP portrays it. According to GO data, the recession of 2008-09 was much deeper than generally thought, and the recovery was slower.

The chief obstacle to using GO as a forecasting tool remains the delay in publishing it. Although the Bureau of Economic Analysis now gives GO more priority than it had in the past, the earliest estimate for any particular quarter is published three months after the quarter has ended – at the time that the third monthly estimate of GDP is released.

 

2. Jerry Bowyer, (Bowyer Research) publisher of Affluent Investor Daily (www.affluentinvestor.com), columnist at Town Hall Finance and contributor to Forbes.com and Forbes magazine

I was an early adopter of the idea of Gross Output after interviewing Mark Skousen over past two decades about economic theory. I’ve had a chance to watch and see how the idea developed and eventually became an official government aggregate.

I believe economists who use GO can enjoy a competitive edge over those who rely solely on GDP, which is only a slice of aggregate spending. My friend, Steve Forbes likes to call GDP the X-ray of the economy and GO as the CAT Scan. I would use a different analogy. GDP is like

Flatland in the eponymous Victorian novel, a place with only two dimensions. The Flatlanders only see a circle, not a sphere.  They see a square, not a cube.  GDP is of Flatland whereas GO is of Sphereland.  It shows an extra dimension ignored by virtually the entire economic commentariat.

I found GO particularly helpful in seeing how the pandemic and subsequent lockdown would affect the economy, by looking at various industries in terms of order of magnitude of their respective slice of GO as opposed to GDP.

The lockdown was focused on sectors which were skewed towards final stage consumption, such as retail, entertainment and travel.  Large swaths of consumption were temporarily suppressed, which cause GDP to collapse.

What is surprising is what happened to GO. In past recessions, GO and the supply chain fell far more than GDP, but in the latest GO/GDP data, we discovered that GO fell slightly less that GDP.  Thus, the supply chain was more resilient than the demand step.

In sum, GO showed how the economy is more resilient in bouncing back then many anticipated.

The supply chain in GO is a high volatility, high signal metric which tells us much more than the flatline of consumer spending.

As a citizen, I hope GO is widely adopted. But as an entrepreneur, I hope my competitors never hear of it.

 

For more information on GO, go to www.grossoutput.com.

Despite First Decline in More Than a Decade for Q1, Gross Output (GO) Might Still Offer Hope for a Robust Recovery in Late 2020

Washington, DC (Tuesday, July 7, 2020):  On July 6, 2020, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced that gross output (GO) – the most comprehensive measure of total spending in the economy, including the supply chain – slowed dramatically in the 1st quarter 2020.

Gross Output declined in the aftermath of current political unrests, as well as negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and government shutdown of the economy in response to the pandemic. However, GO might offer still some promise for a strong recovery, even over the short term. Business spending, which is a better indicator of economic recovery, declined significantly less than consumer spending. This might be an indication that the economy is more fundamentally sound than currently anticipated.

While some of the business spending was to fight the current epidemic, businesses also used a significant portion of that spending to transform and set up their operations for opening after government closing mandates are lifted. If that is correct, the economy might recover quicker than expected. The most recent jobs report also offered an indication that a relatively fast recovery is certainly a strong possibility.

After delivering steady increases over the past 42 consecutive quarters, first quarter 2020 Gross Output declined 4% in real-terms. Last time real GO declined — in the second quarter 2009 — was in the aftermath of the 2008 economic pullback. While still growing, GO had already slowed its growth rate to 1.1% in the fourth quarter 2019 from nearly 2.5% in the previous period.

This growth slowdown in the last period last year, and a decline in the first period 2020 offered a leading indication that the overall economy was already cooling. GO appears to have anticipated the pullback already in the first quarter even before the economy experienced the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and government-mandated shutdowns.

However, while gross output generally declines more than GDP during economic pullbacks, this period’s data presents an anomaly. Despite declining 4% on annualized basis, GO fell less than real GDP, which pulled back 5.1% in the same period.

One reason for this anomaly – and potential s positive sign pointing to a faster-than-expected recovery – is that business spending decreased at a slower rate than consumer spending. Businesses generally anticipate economic contractions and begin spending cuts earlier than consumers. Therefore, Gross Output, which includes business-to business transactions, generally offers earlier signs of pending economic contractions than GDP, which measures only final output.

While consumer spending fell 5.9% in the first quarter 2020, business spending contracted only 5.4%. Despite a relatively small magnitude, this is a significant margin as back-tested date indicates that business spending tends to decline at significantly higher rates than consumer spending during periods of “normal” economic contractions. The margin is even more significant in nominal terms where business spending fell just 4% compared to the 5.7% consumer spending decline. It appears that businesses anticipated the full impact of the COVID-19 epidemic based on just one month of information and adjusted their economic activity by reducing buying activities.

The disruptions in the domestic and global supply chain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as civic unrest in the U.S., have been in the news lately.  GO is the only macro statistic that includes the value of B2B spending and supply chain. “It deserves to be watched closely and updated frequently,” said Dr. Mark Skousen, presidential fellow at Chapman University and a leading advocate of GO as a better, more comprehensive indicator of economic performance.

 

Business — Not Consumers — Drives the Economy

Note:  Contrary to what the media says, consumer spending does not drive the economy, and does not represent two-thirds of the economy. Using GO as a better, more accurate measure of total spending in the economy, the business sector (B2B spending) is almost twice the size as consumer spending. Consumer spending is the effect, not the cause, of prosperity (Say’s law).

The continued business spending decline suggests that the economy began slowing down as a response to early signs that the COVID-19 epidemic’s impact could be significantly more serious than initially anticipated in December 2019. The U.S.–China Phase One trade agreement — signed on January 15, 2020, in Washington D.C. by China’s Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. President Donald Trump – went into effect on July 1, 2002.  However, there are accusations from both sides regarding the origin of the COVID-19 virus and new information that suggests Chinese government officials might have been aware that the epidemic began in China much earlier than they disclosed it in December 2019. Therefore this agreement might not have the intended economic impact as originally anticipated. Furthermore, protests and civil unrests in the U.S. create additional headwinds that the economy will have to overcome even after the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.

GO is a leading indicator of what GDP will do in the next quarter and beyond. As David Ranson, chief economist for the private forecasting firm HCWE & Co., states, “Movements in gross output serve as a leading indicator of movements in GDP.”

Whenever GO is growing faster than GDP, as it did in most of 2018, it’s a positive sign that the economy is still robust and growing.  However, GO has grown at a slower pace than the GDP in the last three quarters, a sign that the economy was slowing down as it entered 2020.

The federal government will release the advance estimate for second-quarter GDP on July 30, 2020 and a full release of second-quarter GO on September 30, 2020.

 

Report on Various Sectors of the Economy

In the first quarter 2020, 17 of 22 industry sectors groups contracted to drive the overall GO contraction. The second largest sector – Manufacturing – contracted 7.1% on an annualized basis. This pullback marked a third consecutive contraction after the sector declined 1.2% and 1.5% in the previous two periods of 2019. However, a bigger concern is that manufacturing of Durable goods declined nearly 10%. Durable goods, which include capital expense items by businesses and have bigger impact on long-term economic activity, declined considerably more than Nondurable goods, which contracted just 4.5%, less than half the rate for Durable goods.

Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing – the largest segment that accounts for nearly one-fifth of total Gross Output – was one of just few bright spots in the first quarter. After expanding 1.3% in Q4 2019, this sector more than doubled its growth to 3.2% in the first quarter 2020. The Finance and insurance sub-segment advanced 3.5% and Real estate rental and leasing still grew at a respectable 3.0%.

After briefly breaking a streak of declining for three consecutive periods in Q4 2019, the Mining sector posted a 42% drop in the first quarter 2020. While an important sector among the leading indicators in the early stages of production, the Mining sector only accounts for approximately 1.3% of the overall GO, which minimizes the impact of the decline on the economy overall.

Similarly to the Mining sector, the Utilities sector delivered a single-period increase in Q4 after two negative periods. However, in Q1 2020, the Utilities sector pulled back more than 21%. The Transportation and warehousing sector also suffered a large decline of nearly 16% after expanding 4.7% in the previous period.

Another positive contributor was the Construction sector. After increasing its expansion rate from 2.5% in Q3 to 4.4% Q4 2020, this sector expanded nearly 14% in the first period 2020.

Several other sectors, such as professional, business, educational, health care and social assistance, contracted between 1% and 5%. Under the lockdown directives, the    Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services sector declined more than 40%.

Another sector that continued its steady expansion was Government spending, albeit at a slightly slower pace. After expanding more than 4% in the last period of 2019, overall government spending rose 1.8% in the first quarter 2020. The main driver was a 3.7% growth of Federal government spending. State and local government spending increased at relatively small 1%.

 

Gross Output

Gross output (GO) and GDP are complementary statistics in national income accounting. GO is an attempt to measure the “make” economy; i.e., total economic activity at all stages of production, similar to the “top line” (revenues/sales) of a financial accounting statement. In April 2014, the BEA began to measure GO on a quarterly basis along with GDP.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is an attempt to measure the “use” economy, i.e., the value of finished goods and services ready to be used by consumers, business and government. GDP is similar to the “bottom line” (gross profits) of an accounting statement, which determined the “value added” or the value of final use.

GO tends to be more sensitive to the business cycle, and more volatile, than GDP. During the financial crisis of 2008-09, GO fell much faster than GDP, and afterwards, recovered more quickly than GDP. Still, it wasn’t until late 2013 that GO fully recovered from its peak in 2007. Until mid-2018, GO outpaced GDP, suggesting a growing economy.  However, since then GO has slowed dramatically, threatening the economic boom.

Consumer Spending Declined Significantly More Than Business Spending in Q1 2020, Which Could Indicate That the Economy Has Solid Fundamentals and is Ready to Bounce Back as Soon as the COVID-19 Pandemic is Under Control and Government Restrictions Mandates Are Lifted

Our business-to-business (B2B) index is also useful. It measures all the business spending in the supply chain and new private capital investment. Nominal B2B activity contracted 4% in the fourth quarter to $26.3 trillion. Meanwhile, consumer spending contracted 5.7% on an annualized basis to $14.6 trillion. In real terms, B2B activity decreased at an annualized rate of 5.4% and consumer spending declined 5.9%.

 

Gross Output

“B2B spending is in fact a pretty good indicator of where the economy is headed, since it measures spending in the entire supply chain,” stated Skousen. “After slowing its growth in the fourth quarter at the end of 2019, business activity declined 5.4% in real terms during the first-quarter 2020.

After the initial decline in early-2020, the stock market continues to experience volatility. However, since the mid-March lows, the markets have rebounded strongly and recovered most of those losses. The S&P 500 has risen 40% and has already recovered nearly 90% of its losses between the beginning of 2020 and its year-to-date low on March 23.

While lower than in the previous period, total business spending indicates that the overall economy might surge back in the second half of the year. One stumbling block for the economic recovery might be renewed and continued interference by government officials, such as Governor Sisolak’s (D-NV) decision to extend the current shutdown phase through the end of July in Las Vegas, which forced a cancellation of our FreedomFest conference for the first time since it began in 2007. Similar decisions might put additional pressure on businesses across the country and suppress economic recovery deeper into the year.”

 

For More Information

The GO data released by the BEA can be found at www.bea.gov under “Quarterly GDP by Industry.” Click on interactive tables “GDP by Industry” and go to “Gross Output by Industry.” Or go to this link directly: BEA – Gross Output by Industry

For more information on Gross Output (GO), the Skousen B2B Index, and their relationship to GDP, see the following:

 

To interview Dr. Mark Skousen on this press release, contact him at [email protected], or Ned Piplovic, Media Relations at [email protected]

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1] The BEA currently uses a limited measure of total sales of goods and services in the production process. Once products are fabricated and packaged at the manufacturing stage, the BEA’s GO only adds “net” sales at the wholesale and retail level. Its official GO for the 2020 1st quarter is $37.8 trillion. By including gross sales at the wholesale and retail level, the adjusted GO increases to nearly $46.1 trillion in Q1 2020. Thus, the BEA omits more than $8.2 trillion in business-to-business (B2B) transactions in its GO statistics. We include them as a legitimate economic activity that should be accounted for in GO, which we call Adjusted GO. See the new introduction to Mark Skousen, The Structure of Production, 3rd ed. (New York University Press, 2015), pp. xv-xvi.

My Schedule at FreedomFest 2020

by Mark Skousen
Editor, Forecasts & Strategies

FreedomFest

 

Dear FreedomFest friends,

Welcome to the most HISTORIC FreedomFest ever.  The challenges have never been greater, even to put on “the world’s largest gathering of free minds.” 

Those of you who choose to attend are in for a never-to-forget experience. 

This year we have moved over to Caesars Palace. 

Every FreedomFest, the first thing I do is get the printed program and circle all the breakout sessions I want to attend.  You should do the same.  You can get started now by going online to https://event.crowdcompass.com/ff20, and see the entire up-to-date program.  There are over 200 sessions to choose from, including my wife’s Anthem film festival.

Order the thumb drive recordings!  Since I can only attend about 10% of all the sessions, the first thing I do is buy the recordings of the entire conference — contact Harold at 1-866-254-2057. 

Here are the sessions I have chosen to attend this year: 

 

MONDAY, JULY 13 — PRE-CONFERENCE EVENTS

12:30 – 1:20 pm. Milano.  “Who Has 20-20 Vision?  History, Science & Art of Forecasting, From Oracle of Delphi to Modern Times.”   This is a wide-ranging discussion of the science and art of forecasting over time, from the Greeks, the Biblical prophets, Nostradamus, to modern times.  I’ve had a life-long interest in predicting the future since starting my newsletter, Forecasts & Strategies, now in its 40th year.  My talk will include lots of stories about predictions that have come true, and others gone astray. 

1:30 – 2:25 pm.  Milano.  “Murray Rothbard as Historian:  Should ‘Conceived in Liberty’ be Aborted?”  Murray Rothbard wrote a controversial history of the United States, especially his volume 4 on the American Revolution and his just published volume 5 on the Constitution.  Panels include Patrick Newman, and legal expert Randy Barnett (I’ll be moderating). 

2:40 – 3:30 pm.  Milano.  “100 Years of the Socialist Calculation Debate:  Was Mises Right?” with George Gilder, Barbara Kolm, and Steve Forbes (with me as moderator). 

 

MONDAY — OPENING CEREMONIES AND COCKTAIL RECEPTION

5 – 7 pm.  Opening Ceremonies in Main Stage #1 (Julius 25)Dave Smith, libertarian comedian extraordinaire and our emcee, will kick out our “emergency meeting” followed by Steve Forbes speaking on “The Two Biggest Threats to Our Prosperity Today.”  Steve will then moderate a panel on “The New Normal: How the World Has Permanently Changed” with George Gilder, Dr. Drew (Pinsky), Elan Journo (Ayn Rand Institute), and Kerry McDonald (FEE).  We will then have a second panel on “The Pandemic Election” led by Grover Norquist, with David McIntosh (Club for Growth), Rob Arnott (Research Affiliates), John Fund (National Review), and Tim Phillips (Americans for Prosperity).  Lastly, Wayne Root will introduce our final speaker, Donald J. Trump Jr. on “Rage Against the Swamp: A Pro-Freedom Agenda to Defeat Washington’s Est abolishment.” A tall order! 

7-8 pm.  Gala Opening Cocktail Party in the Exhibit Hall. I look forward to greeting each other and the exhibitors, what John Mackey calls “The Trade Show for Liberty,” and join in the autograph sessions at the FreedomFest bookstore.  Here’s a chance to buy one or more American eagle silver dollars from our coin dealers…and see if you can solve my daily “white mates in two” chess problem and win a silver dollar!  Hopefully you will encounter our libertarian card magician, Peter Studebaker.  What fun!

I’m always amazed at the buzz you feel entering the opening cocktail party as friends see old friends and make new ones.  There’s nothing like it.

As the late Nathaniel Brandon said at his first FreedomFest, “I feel an electricity here I haven’t felt in years.”

 

TUESDAY, JULY 14

After breakfast, we’ll start the day’s session at 9 am with three main sessions (due to social distancing requirements).  The MC in main stage #1 is Dave Smith; in main stage #2 Monica Perez; and in main stage #3, Angela McArdle

9:10 – 10:10 am. Main stage #1 (Julius 25).  Dr. Drew will speak on “What’s in a Virus:  Understanding the History and Future of Pandemic Responses.”  I’ll be asking questions after his address, and taking questions from the audience. 

11:10 – 12 noon.  Verona.  “Bob Dylan, the Voice of a Generation.”  Jo Ann Skousen brings to live the lyrics and music of Bob Dylan, winner of the Nobel prize in literature.  This is what I love about FreedomFest.  It’s more than politics and money. 

12:10 – 1:10 pm. Florentine Ballroom.  Luncheon.  “Ask Dr. Drew!  America’s Doctor Answers Your Questions.”  Moderated by Michael Shermer, publisher, Skeptic magazine.  Ticket required.

1:20 – 2:10 pm. Verona. “The Golden Age of Jazz:  Celebrating 100 Years of a Unique American Artform,” with jazz drummer Luke Durham, and music aficionados Alex Green and Sean Malone.  This room is dedicated to Elis Marsalis Sr. and Jr.

2:30 – 3:30 pm.  Main stage #2 (Palace 1/2).  “Who Will Win in November? My Surprise Prediction,” by Allan Lichtman, professor at American University and author of “Keys to the White House” (via satellite).  Interviewed by Grover Norquist.  Prof. Lichtman has accurately predicted every presidential election from Reagan to Trump.

4:20 – 5:10 pm. Main stage #3 (Julius 24).  Tal Tsfany on “Ayn Rand and the Key to Happiness.”  The new president of the Ayn Rand Institute is an entertainment and spell-binding speaker. 

5:30 – 6:00 pm. Main stage #2 (Palace 1/2).  Jo Jorgensen, “With Liberty and Justice for All.”  Jorgensen is the Libertarian candidate for President.   

6:30 – 7:00 pm.  Main stage #3 (Julius 24) “The Five Arguments That Won’t Go Away,” with Tom Woods. 

7:00 – 8:30 pm.  Florentine Ballroom.  “Anthem VIP Masterclass and Reception.”  Ticket required. 

 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 15.

9 – 9:30 am.  Milano.  “The Great Inflation vs Deflation Debate” between Louis Navellier, Rob Arnott, and Steve Moore, moderated by Alex Green.  Will super easy money policies reignite inflation and higher interest rates? 

9:45 – 10:30 am. Main stage #1 (Julius 25).  “Pitch Tank Finale:  Your First Hand Experience to be a Shark!” with Jeff Barnes, Steve Forbes, and other judges.  Always a popular session.

11:10 – 12:00 pm. Augustus I/II.  “God Must be a Mathematician: The Beauty and Mystery of Math Revealed.” Daniele Struppa, president of Chapman University and a professor of mathematics, reveals the universal beauty of numbers.  Daniele is a practicing Catholic. 

Lunch

1:20 – 2:10 pm. Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett on “100 Supreme Court Cases Everyone Should Know.”  100 seems a stretch, how about a dozen? 

2:30 – 3:00 pm.  Milano.  Professor Harry Veryser talks about his book, “It’s Didn’t Have to be This Way: Why Boom & Bust in Unnecessary & How the Austrians Break the Cycle.”

3:00-3:30 pm.  Milano.  I update my book, “A Viennese Waltz Down Wall Street” with a Eureka moment in Austrian Economics in my financial economics class at Chapman. 

4:20 – 5:10 pm. Roman 1/3.  Professor Mark J. Perry (AEI and U of Michigan) defends his passion, “Civil Rights for All – A Look at How Title IX is Being Abused Across College Campuses.”     Perry is one of the most brilliant economists I know. 

Or

4:20 – 5:10 pm.  Hawaii Pacific Prof. Ken Schoolland on “How to Make US Shipping Great Again: The Case Against the 100-Year Jones Act.”  Ken is the author of the great book, “The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible.”  Pick up a copy at the FreedomFest bookstore. 

6 – 7:15 pm. Main stage #1 (Julius 25)  “The Response to the Pandemic on Trial.”  The mock trial is our most popular event each year.  This year we are putting the pandemic/lockdown on trial, with Tom Woods as judge, Catherine Bernard as prosecuting attorney, Michael Shermer as defending attorney, and star witnesses Joel Hay, Steve Moore, and Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly.  The sparks will fly!  Both entertaining and educational.

8 – 9:30 pm. Florentine Ballroom.  40th Anniversary Celebration of Forecasts & Strategies.  A roast and toast with Louis Navellier, Alex Green, Steve Forbes, Adrian Day, Roger Michalski, and Jo Ann Skousen. Response by Mark Skousen.  Limited to 200 subscribers. 

 

THURSDAY, JULY 16

8 – 8:50 am. Florentine Ballroom. A Breakfast with Steve Forbes and Mark Skousen“We Mean Business:  How Adam Smith’s Model of Enlightened Capitalism Can Save Us!” based on Steve Forbes’s book “How Capitalism Can Save Us.” 

9 – 9:45 am. Milano.  “10 Stocks to Buy Now,” with Mark Skousen, Alex Green, Hilary Kramer, and Jim Woods.  Moderated by Roger Michalski. I will have to leave early for the next session. 

9:30 – 10:30 am. Main stage #2 (Palace 1/2).  My wife Jo Ann Skousen and I discuss “What’s Better than Democratic Socialism?  Democratic Capitalism!”  A unique approach that converts many socialists to capitalists! 

11:10 – 12:00 noon. Main stage #1 (Julius 25).  I interview Senator Rand Paul and his wife Kelley on their co-authored book “The Case Against Socialism.”  During this session, I will present them with the annual Leonard E. Read Book Award.  Read this book!

12:10 – 1:10 pm. Florentine Ballroom.  Lunch with Senator Rand Paul and Kelley Paul.  “Behind the Scenes in Washington.”  Time to ask questions. 

1:20 – 2:20 pm.  Main stage #1 (Julius 25).  Closing Panel:  What Have We Learned?  How Do We Go Forward?  With Steve Forbes and others TBD.  Plus announcing next year’s theme and celebrity speaker (you’ll be amazed). 

2:40 – 3:30 pm. Main stage #3 (Julius 24).  “Self-Reliance:  Are You Prepared to Survive the Next Global Crisis?” with Van Simmons, Gary Collins, and Captain Jim Green. 

3:50 – 4:40 pm. Main stage #2 (Palace 1/2).  “Modern Times Turns 200:  The Truth about the Robber Barons and the Industrial Revolution.” Steve Forbes and I take a revisionist approach about the Gilded Age of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan, and Ford. 

6 – 7 pm. Main stage #1.  Reception and gala banquet, “The Roaring 20s: FreedomFest Farewell Banquet.”  MC by Dave Smith.  Anthem film festival hosted by Jo Ann Skousen. Tribute to Ed Crane.  Music and entertainment by The Moonshiners.

 

After a long four-day event, it feels great to get out on the dance floor.  See you there!

This is also my opportunity to thank everyone who has worked so hard and put in countless hours or work and creativity to make this year’s FreedomFest and Anthem Film Festival an incredible success — Valerie Durham, our conference director; Matt Day, Autumn Bennett, Nathan WilliamsHarold Skousen, our registration team, and of course my wife Jo Ann. 

And see you next year!  Dates are July 14-17, 2021, at the Paris Resort, Las Vegas.  Both John Mackey and Steve Forbes will be there.  Details to be announced soon at www.freedomfest.com.

Yours for peace, prosperity and liberty, AEIOU,

Mark Skousen

Producer