A vigilant reader, who combed through the backup of today's Consumer Credit G.19 statement points out a flagrant and obvious error in the Fed's data. While luckily the data impact is not major (at most $4 billion, which in our day and age is a pithy 50% of Goldman's FICC trading desk bonus), the implication that the Fed does not check its work in something as critical as one of the core data series (or at least it used to be until a few machines took over the market, to whom, as today indicated, a record credit contraction somehow ended up being a positive event) is very, very troubling.
The original, Fed-hosted excel file with the backing data of the actual G.19 statement can be found here. We welcome all readers to compare cells AC 804 through AC 809, which is the data for "Consumer Revolving Credit Owned by Nonfinancial Business, Not Seasonally Adjusted" for the months June through November of 2009, and to compare it with data in cells AC 792 through AC 797, which is comparable data for the months June through November of 2008. These are identical and very much wrong! So, dear Fed auditors, while you obviously are very highly overpaid for your error-proofing work, can you please tell us what the real Consumer Credit number for November is?
It is one thing for the broader population to speculate in what ways the Fed is screwing over the thinking public by allegedly ramping up the market day in and day out. It is something totally different to make such careless errors in critical economic releases and insult our intelligence. Should we not trust any data that comes out of the Fed in this case? Or should Americans spend gobs of time to triple check any and all Fed data, as apparently Bernanke's syndicate is unable to do so on its own. When the Fed was so very much against auditing, we thought it was merely to hide the fact that there is no value whatsoever to the collateral it accepts from banks for discount window and PDCF lendings; little did we realize that Bernanke is simply ashamed of independent auditors uncovering such rookie mistakes (which, however, amount to just a little more monetary damage than a first year banking analyst forgetting to carry the decimal comma).
The first reader to point out any additional such discrepancy either in this excel file, or in any other excel document, will win Zero Hedge decals (which we truly hope will not be subsequently used to deface the entrance of the Marriner Eccles building).