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Blatant Data Error At The Federal Reserve

Tyler Durden's picture


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).


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Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:14 | 187909 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Tyler if I wasn't unemployed, I'd send your some Ben bucks for your work. As it is, I'm sending along some .45 ammo for the coming revolution.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:42 | 187937 Shortbus Bully
Shortbus Bully's picture

.45 acp is as good as gold round my parts.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:21 | 187916 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

They suck.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:21 | 187917 nopat
nopat's picture

BINGO BANGO!  Nice find!  To whom do we owe the hat-tip?

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 01:46 | 188101 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture


One of the great pleasures of ZH for me is the wonderful reporting we get.

Looks like employees at the Fed have the same "good enough for government" work ethic as all the rest of them at .gov.

Sun, 01/10/2010 - 04:57 | 188983 VegasBD
VegasBD's picture


they arent government

Mon, 01/11/2010 - 01:48 | 189639 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

They have an ambiguous relationship with the government. You can hear Bernanke say under questioning in the congressional committee, that the Fed is an "agent" of the government.

Mon, 01/11/2010 - 10:30 | 189829 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

no they are not, they are Goldman Fraternity ex-employees and or consultants. Why would anyone be amised by this when Goldman and company trades against its own clients! Why is America any different. These guys are countryless and care about no country, least of all this one.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 16:39 | 188637 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

You are welcome.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:22 | 187920 QuantTrader
QuantTrader's picture

sCommon Vlookup error.  Need to add the "false" parameter to get the exact match to include the year, not just the month.

The fed too busy these days to check their work on a late friday economic release

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 10:56 | 188318 nopat
nopat's picture

If I were to guess where the problem is, in a serendipetous twist of irony, it was probably the same intern that bungled the program trading reports back in May/June.  I doubt the formula was wrong (otherwise you would have seen the same problem all over the place), either the lazy bastard wasn't using it at all and opting to just copy-paste and got sloppy, or interrupted the calculation when it got hung up and eyeballed the results (a lot of IT depts use Friday as their scheduled virus-scan days, can wreak all kinds of havok on Excel). 

Not that I'm fishing for a job, but that's just fucking weak, especially on data that's going to be live and in the open. 

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:25 | 187921 bugs_
bugs_'s picture

Live by cut&paste, Die by cut&paste.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 01:42 | 188097 Cursive
Cursive's picture


Sat, 01/09/2010 - 09:06 | 188261 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Death by a thousand pastes?


Sat, 01/09/2010 - 16:40 | 188639 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

That is fucking hilarious.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 16:45 | 188644 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

He should have ended it with a comma... but yeah, funny.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 20:00 | 188786 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

A sharp eye for cutting irony.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:25 | 187922 suldog
suldog's picture

They suck.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:29 | 187924 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Someone was a lil schloppy with the Ctrl-C & Ctrl-V!

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:30 | 187925 glenlloyd
glenlloyd's picture

probably too much fret / fuss over how many banks Shiela might close tonight.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:37 | 187933 Mad Max
Mad Max's picture

Can fictitious numbers be wrong?

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 23:21 | 187983 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

max, your a madman !!

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 02:35 | 188127 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

Best comment.

They can be wrong if they tell an unintended story. Like this one.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 10:00 | 188284 Gordon_Gekko
Gordon_Gekko's picture

Well said MsCreant.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 09:59 | 188283 Gordon_Gekko
Gordon_Gekko's picture


Sat, 01/09/2010 - 16:42 | 188643 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

That's an interesting philosphic question.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:38 | 187934 10044
10044's picture


Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:48 | 187943 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

i lol'd

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:40 | 187935 SilverIsKing
SilverIsKing's picture

By looking at the spreadsheet capture(above) (I did not download the file from the Fed website), how does one arrive at $4 billion delta?  Wouldn't one need the actual data to determine by how much the inaccurate data varies from it.

Sun, 01/10/2010 - 01:16 | 188660 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

You are exactly right.  I am responsible for finding this mistake and reporting it to TD.  The $4 billion being thrown around is the approximate total in the subcategory reported for this month (Nov. 09).  But it is a repeat of the data in the Nov. 08 cell.   The last new data (not repeating the data of one year before) is May 09.  Thus, the last 'known' size of the subcategory was $3.73 billion; the current size is being reported, in an apparently eroneous fashion, as $4 billion; and we have no fucking idea what the real number is, until the Fed picks a new one. 

If the subcategory has fallen to $0, the $17.5 billion drop in spending would actually be a drop $21.5 billion.  Unlikely.

On the other hand, the subcategory may have grown by any reasonable number, meaning that the $17.5 DROP could be significantly smaller, by an open-ended amount.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:42 | 187936 Cursive
Cursive's picture

My thanks to the vigilant reader.  Man, Steve Liesman's head is going to explode on this one.  I'm sure he'll find some positive internals, though.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 17:06 | 188665 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

The vigilant reader bids you welcome.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:45 | 187940 anynonmous
anynonmous's picture

Ten minutes to Wapner

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:46 | 187942 deadhead
deadhead's picture

Echo the thanks to vigilant reader.

How does this impact the reported minus $17.5 billion number?  Anybody?

Thank you.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 01:52 | 188105 Cursive
Cursive's picture


TD says the impact is no more than $4B, but which way?  I'm not familiar with the data series and not sober enough to study up.  If it were to lower the number to $13.5B, that would still be an extremely negative surprise.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 09:44 | 188271 deadhead
deadhead's picture

which way is the question.

agreed that 13.5, if it were the case, is still horrendous.

I'm sober as a judge and I sure can't figure it out.  I don't even understand the column headings!

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 20:46 | 188787 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

You're not supposed to be able to understand the column headings.  That's how they put the "fun" in the "funhouse"!

Sun, 01/10/2010 - 14:44 | 189227 deadhead
deadhead's picture

Thanks for making the effort to report your findings to ZH Coyote.  Thanks as well for your comments above.  It will be fun to see how the Fed handles this, presumably next week.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 16:00 | 188599 Commander Cody
Commander Cody's picture

I think TD is pointing out that the 2009 data is the same as the 2008 data, therefore, it cannot be correct.  He ponders, as do I, what the true data is.  It probably doesn't matter anyway, since I do not believe anything our corrupt government says.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 17:42 | 188689 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

Commander Cody is correct.  

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We can't know the size or direction of the error until the Fed picks a new number, so that's not the point, and it doesn't matter anyway what gross consumer debt (ie spending) was back in November: it's old news and the deeper the drop was, the more bullish you should be come one day after the next earnings season.

I found this problem and tipped off Tyler, and the point is that the our employees at the Fed are sloppy and NEED to be auditied to provide Commander Cody with some reason to trust something with his money.  Currently, wisdom is in extreme skepticism. 

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 17:57 | 188704 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

Uhm...I didn't do that.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:48 | 187944 fiasco
fiasco's picture

ok tyler, explain you self

if the very notion of the fed is corruption, then we don't need to dwell on acts of the fed

unless of course the fed is not in itself an act of corruption

explain you self 

because socrates tell me that examples of something is not the definition of that thing

hey, socrates, is this ok to submit

what, i don't understand you with that drumstick in you mouth

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 00:02 | 188031 Mad Max
Mad Max's picture

Ah, drunk posting.  I guess it IS Friday night after all.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 07:01 | 188246 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Mad Max,

fiasco isn't drunk. This is how fiasco sounds all the time, like s/he is drunk.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 15:56 | 188597 Stink_Pickle
Stink_Pickle's picture

Sounds like Macke to me

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 20:08 | 188789 Goldtoothchimp09
Goldtoothchimp09's picture

ah, yes.  Macke riding the rails and trying hard to provide the voice of reason.  A Classic!

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 16:34 | 188631 Ripped Chunk
Ripped Chunk's picture

What happened to your accent fiascock?

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:53 | 187947 CheapKUNGFU
CheapKUNGFU's picture

pardon my ignorance here, but if the numbers were used twice in the calcs, wouldnt that make the release number of 17billion about nearly 5billion to high... and therefore a better reading than was earlier released?



Sat, 01/09/2010 - 01:55 | 188107 Cursive
Cursive's picture

The expectation was -$5B, so a reading of -12.5B or -13.5B would still be 2.5 times worse than expected, so, yeah, rally on for the bulltards.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 18:34 | 188702 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

The numbers are not getting used twice in the same month's calculation.  The numbers add across the page in this format.  The same old numbers are being re-used in new calcs, from month to month.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:54 | 187949 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Well, at least there aren't any crazy ideas floating around, like giving the Fed even more responsibilities. At least that's not happening. That would be crazy.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 22:57 | 187954 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Accidents happen?

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 23:18 | 187980 illyia
illyia's picture

Question: [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.?

Answer: Whatcha gonna do, let the bastards get away with it?

Great catch, more needed.


Fri, 01/08/2010 - 23:20 | 187982 GoldmanSux
GoldmanSux's picture

Decals? Kool. Where do you get 'em?

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 23:25 | 187986 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Just a random generator glitch. Call the vendor.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 23:26 | 187988 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Thats great. Now what. Do we bitch slap Bernanke?

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 23:31 | 187992 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

An unaccountable quasi government agency making errors of every conceivable magnitude is hardly a surprise. Why should they bother to get anything right?

More interesting would be a quick Benford's Law analysis to check for outright fraud.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 23:40 | 188004 john_connor
john_connor's picture

Great work TD and vigilant reader.  BTW, here are belated New Years Resolutions:

1) Move money out of TBTF bank into community bank or credit union

2) Sell all stock immediately

3) Related to 2, short all rips from here on out

4) Don't borrow or leverage yourself to buy inflated  property

Spread the word and let freedom ring!

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 09:47 | 188274 deadhead
deadhead's picture

the Move Your Money campaign is making an impact.  Being pushed by Arianna Huffington and Chris Whalen's company (IRA).

Was featured on ABC evening news last nite per HuffPo.

This is REALLY pissing the banks off because losing core deposits and core customers is a huge no no if you are a banker.....


Sat, 01/09/2010 - 10:05 | 188286 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Freaking excellent!
I moved the majority of my funds out of Bank of America months ago, and to a local, very solid credit union.

People need to realize they don't have to tolerate this kind of abuse by the banking cartels anymore--It's like we are being slapped in the face daily by these looting, heartless bastards and thanking them for it...

MOVE YOUR MONEY!!! Do business with companies that are not robbing you blind. What a CONCEPT!

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 11:36 | 188348 john_connor
john_connor's picture

It's really just a matter of transferring money from an unsafe part to a safer part of the banking system.  Holding money in any TBTF bank has led to a chain of events that are extremely detrimental to the public.  This is easily explained by the repeal of Glass Steagall and its aftermath.  Further, it is even worse now that bankers know they have unlimited backing from the government.

Therefore, if you are holding any kind of money in a TBTF, other than perhaps a pass thru checking account for monthly bills, you are promulgating the current system of boom and boost, massive inflation, moral hazard, and in the end, increased taxation AND the end of our government's ability to fund itself at a reasonable rate. 

This must end, here and now.  Our collective freedom is at stake.


Sat, 01/09/2010 - 15:47 | 188589 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

"other than perhaps a pass thru checking account for monthly bills,"

or for direct deposit & cash out next day

Sun, 01/10/2010 - 10:46 | 189074 Rick64
Rick64's picture

I love hearing this. The banks piss me off so much , nickel and diming everybody to death. I had 3 acc. and have closed 2 of them.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 20:52 | 188750 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

Be careful, people.

As an exercize in mass protest against the rabbit hole that the big banks have drawn us down, this movement is fantastic.

But, for the sake of comparison, let's look at another potential outcome.

The other side if the coin is that the Catcher in the Rye is leading a mob of irate activists over a cliff.  The Pied Piper of Populist groupthink is leading us into a trap.

What's the definition of "TBTF"?  I think it means "The gov't ain't gonna' let if fail".  The small banks don't have that protection.  Does anyone know, have any idea, what the small banks own and what its worth?  I guarantee you it's crap.  You think they're not gonna' get eviscerated like sheep?  Don't kid yourself. They're not getting off that easily.

The Fed is shoring up the big guys because they're gonna' need them to salvage the butchered remains.  And the big guys are licking their chops.

Pick your small banks wisely.  Or, think about currency etfs for nominal interest with some degree of liquidity.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 21:19 | 188825 john_connor
john_connor's picture

try a strong local credit union.  there are many out there.

Also, the only group think right now are idiots buying common stocks with the idea of selling them to the next sucker for a higher price.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 23:38 | 188006 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Anyone care to take a guess as to how many other little "bookkeeping errors" have been made at the Fed? The incompetence of our government is mind blowing at so many levels that it defies comprehension. I guess we should expect this by now. Maybe we can get the person responsible, along with their manager, both reassigned to the TSA-- one can watch the exits while the other ensures that the new X-Ray machines operate within the "safe" radiation margin while they take and store (you know they will) graphic images of our wives and children. Our founding fathers would surely be proud of how things have turned out.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 23:40 | 188008 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Anyone care to take a guess as to how many other little "bookkeeping errors" have been made at the Fed? The incompetence of our government is mind blowing at so many levels that it defies comprehension. I guess we should expect this by now. Maybe we can get the person responsible, along with their manager, both reassigned to the TSA-- one can watch the exits while the other ensures that the new X-Ray machines operate within the "safe" radiation margin while they take and store (you know they will) graphic images of our wives and children. Our founding fathers would surely be proud of how things have turned out.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 23:42 | 188012 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Steve Liesman was the vigilant reader. It was actually an accident. There was a reflection off his bowling ball and it inadvertantly caused him to notice the discrepency.

Fri, 01/08/2010 - 23:53 | 188022 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

5) Stop paying taxes.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 21:17 | 188827 john_connor
john_connor's picture

Nice.  I forgot to mention to claim up to 9 on your W-4.  If you claim "exempt" or higher than 9, some justicfication will be required.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 00:02 | 188030 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Whoever caught this is a beast.

Now, has anyone gone back to prior periods to see if they made the same mistake?

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 18:07 | 188712 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

That's the nicest metaphor I've ever received.  I found the error by accident; somebody else will have to backtest.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 00:09 | 188040 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Very well paid eh, where do I sign up?

I came make those kind of mistakes with the best of them.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 00:11 | 188042 Careless Whisper
Careless Whisper's picture

All documents coming out of the Fed should be clearly labelled "Unaudited".

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 09:47 | 188276 deadhead
deadhead's picture

wow....line of the day perhaps! 

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 13:33 | 188465 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Hokey smokes. Great, great idea. Every quote, every video, and all documents when and wherever they are mentioned should include the comment [Unaudited].

This is a seriously good grass roots campaign strategy.

In humor there is truth!

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 00:37 | 188054 monopoly
monopoly's picture

Washington state regulators close Horizon Bank Bellingham, Wash., bank 1st to fail in Washington Federal S&L will take over Horizon ops. Horizon failure to cost FDIC fund $539.1 millon.

Hey Tyler, heads up. Sheila must have been out late with the boys on FDIC Friday.

Not to worry, just 1/2 Billion. I will cover it.


Take care,


Sat, 01/09/2010 - 01:16 | 188077 Selah
Selah's picture



"Horizon Bank is the first FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the first in Washington. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Venture Bank, Lacey, on September 11, 2009."


Why did they put in the "first in Washington" part? I would have left that out...

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 01:11 | 188076 Jeff Cosford
Jeff Cosford's picture

The world is run by Crazy people

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 01:23 | 188089 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

in the name of national security, the preziden is issuing authority to Mr bean to cease publication of all data on the internet; such data could be used for subversive activities detrimental to the morale of the nation in times of war. - signed Mr Ob

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 01:24 | 188090 tom a taxpayer
tom a taxpayer's picture

TD - Can you sell the Fed the CAPTHCA program so that the Fed auditors will have to pass a simple math test before having access to a Fed spreadsheet?

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 01:34 | 188095 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I haven't seen ZH headline this yet? Howard Stearns sidekick, tried to kill himself. The Hoboken Police confirmed and the Associated Press reported that Howard Stern Show sidekick Artie Lange tried to commit suicide using a 13-inch Wolfgang Puck kitchen knife.

Read more:

Artie is a good guy.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 02:02 | 188112 Fielding Mellish
Fielding Mellish's picture

"pithy" should be "paltry"

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 04:06 | 188189 jeff montanye
jeff montanye's picture

true but the comparison is pithy.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 11:10 | 188332 swmnguy
swmnguy's picture

"Pithy?"  You got a lithp?

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 02:29 | 188124 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

or "pissy"

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 02:30 | 188126 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

"pithy" wath all right, it maketh senthe ...

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 02:40 | 188130 Rick64
Rick64's picture

You gotta be kidding, and this is the organization thats in charge of stabilizing the financial system.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 02:39 | 188131 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

Thank you reader. You are Marla Singer. You are Tyler Durden. You are fight club.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 02:51 | 188139 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture


Sat, 01/09/2010 - 02:47 | 188136 dnarby
dnarby's picture

Hmm...  I wonder...

What else might turn up if a pattern recognition program was run on ALL their spreadsheets.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 03:21 | 188159 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

credit is actually growing, securitized loans are shrinking (remember the charoff spike reported a few weeks ago???)

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 03:31 | 188167 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

but jethero

them there revenuers
are all book learned
right ...
they must know what
they be doing ..

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 03:59 | 188186 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Securitized consumer loans and revolving credit is shrinking, but new consumer credit is flat on the month, revolving credit is strongly up on the month.
So who is deleveraging? It seems that only loans that have already been securitized and 180 unserviced are shrinking. This is credit issued at least 8 months back if not more. It sounds alot like gradual loan loss recognition, not consumer deleveraging.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 12:47 | 188422 SDRII
SDRII's picture

yes securitized loans have been a key driver in the rolloff of consumer credit - stating the obvious.jumping to the conclusion that consumer credit is growing is a joke. master trust data screams credit constraction as the tbtf desperately try to jack back up rates / yield to compensate for shrinkage and debt revulsion. Then there is the whole dilemma over how to dal with payment holidays and other assorted programs to manage the 'performing' loans.

As you must know securitization (you know like the GSEs are to the mortgage market) was the  mechanism to ramp up consumer credit. So unless you are arguing that the banks are eager to load their balance sheet up with more consumer bad debt, your post is an epic fail.   

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 04:10 | 188190 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

a. what the heck is a Consumer Credit G.19 statement. And

b. there are decals? do tell.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 04:57 | 188211 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Is timmy helping ben with his turbotax again?

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 09:35 | 188268 Miyagi_san
Miyagi_san's picture

Hat-tip for vigilance in a sound bite world...I suspect it was better than expected Fudge, no audit needed. OMG 

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 10:01 | 188285 Green Sharts
Green Sharts's picture

Tyler, one didn't even have to be a particularly diligent reader to point out your blatant, flagrant and obvious error in writing an entire piece based on the nonsensical "simple calculation" that the Fed's MBS portfolio has a duration of 17 years.  

Nice double standard.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 10:11 | 188287 Cindy_Dies_In_T...
Cindy_Dies_In_The_End's picture

After I read Benny B's interview where he talked about how he went and refinanced his ARM loan, I did a facepalm, especially after comparing that to an article he wrote about the macroeconomics of the Great Depression.


Even by his own definition, he's an epic fail. I would love to see an article about how his PANIC model shows he is an epic fail. I honestly (ironically enough) am not good with numbers, or I would do it myself. It requires someone who can do financial models.


anyway its


The macroeconomics of the Great Depression: a comparative approach. Ben Bernanke.  in Journal of Money, Credit & Banking, Feb 1995 v27 n1



Oh and its just a few bucks worth of an error, whats the big deal? ;)

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 19:50 | 188780 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

1. Zero Hedge is not the government (or whatever the Fed is this week). Therefore there are necessarily two different standards here.

2. You're really being kindof petty by harping on this, don't you think? You had your say, now get past it.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 10:08 | 188288 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Thank you for all you do, Tyler to bring TRUTH back to financial news and to encourage those in high places to contribute on an anonymous basis--brilliant!!


It's all one giant ponzi scheme---

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 11:37 | 188351 Miyagi_san
Miyagi_san's picture

End first...then Audit, bcit becomes a process that will be politicised and delayed and watered down until you get Barney on TV spewing funk. 

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 18:21 | 188718 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

The vigilant reader who found this mistake by accident is not whistleblower situated in a high place, and is no longer anonymous.  He is an under-utilized residential construction manager, suffering from episoding major depressive episodes. He got into the habit of amassing financial data partly as an avoidance behavior, partly as a way of providing himself with a (false) sense of control in a chaotic world.

He trades his own meager account in the same spirit that we see old folks on dwindling (real) fixed incomes buying lottery tickets.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 18:22 | 188720 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

If he can do it, you can do it.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 19:53 | 188783 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

Under-utilized residential architect here. Medicated.

Good work, keep your chin up.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 10:37 | 188304 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Hey John Conner. Why would you move money out of tbtf banks into banks that are small enough to fail? Isn't the more stable bank in the short term the tbtf? Unless of course you are trying to cause the tbtf bank tf which is ok imhp.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 10:37 | 188305 waterdog
waterdog's picture

Ok, I downloaded the file. It takes about 3 seconds. The first thing I did was delete a block of data and then cut and paste a second block of data into the open space.

I have 25 years of anal auditing experience. I began when there were no copy machines. All my schedules were made on green paper and the copies came from carbon paper between the green paper sheets. I know, what the heck is carbon paper?

By mid-1990's IBM lap-tops came on the scene and eventually the software to download files from data bases.


Rule 1- never ever provide an excel data sheet that is not write protected. No matter who is receiving the file.

Rule-2- if the auditor did not access the data base to make the spreadsheet then the spread sheet is nonlegal.

Rule 3- never ever accept a downloaded excel spreadsheet as accurate without auditing the data base first.

Rule 4- do not accept reports of errors to a data base based on excel spreadsheets.

Rule 5- if you want to discredit an auditor's work, then provide them with an excel spreadsheet and state it is the truth.




Sat, 01/09/2010 - 10:53 | 188317 Verbal Kint
Verbal Kint's picture

nice catch!

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 11:17 | 188337 mbasham
mbasham's picture

that da*n copy, paste!

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 11:30 | 188345 mnzcme
mnzcme's picture

Don't let this error change focus from the main theme: household credit is imploding.  If consumer spending approximates 71% of GDP, then GDP must remain under pressure.  Census hiring may be the lipstick that makes this pig look presentable for a couple of more months.  Oh and perhaps Geithner's impending departure will allow the admin to claim a new direction.  But equity market levitation is no match for the overwhelming force of deleveraging.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 11:42 | 188357 Roscoe
Roscoe's picture

This might be a bit off topic, but it hit me after looking at the spreadsheet and then considering what the ramification could be if this is not an anomaly, and errors in these things are rife throughout the govt. Aren't there any MSM journalists willing to peel even a single layer of this entire economic disaster onion and have a look? Are there no Woodward and Bernsteins left, nor any editor willing to encourage a deeper look behind the curtain of the biggest financial calamity to strike the earth in generations?

A Reuters headline on my Yahoo homepage says "Wall St. hits new highs on recovery hopes". Really? On 'recovery hopes'? The article goes on to site a couple of economists comments and then a bunch of pap and happy talk. No mention of volume, timing, the possibility of machine trading influence, let alone any hint of manipulation, despite a cacophony of independent, intelligent and insightful bloggers, commenters and just-plain-folks across the country who have pieced together a more than plausible explanation for our travails.

Surely there is at least One Honorable Journalist and One Noble Editor who is following ZH and has the Intestinal Fortitude and Courage of Their Convictions to try to organize the information and begin a series of Watergate-style articles that can walk the rest of the nation through the morass of noise, to the Light and effect the kind of revolution that Mssrs. Woodward & Bernstein did after their honest journalistic fruits offered for mass consumption.

C'mon MSM Journalist Readers, we know you're there. How about it? Care to try and break The Story of the Century? Willing to risk everything simply to be true to the reasons you became a journalist? Afraid that The Fourth Estate really is just a pawn of The Establishment? Give some of those old guys from Watergate a call and ask them if it was worth it. Better yet, ask yourself what you really want to be remembered for.

Someone will write the story. It's either going to be an epitaph or a piece of investigative journalism that saved our country. Maybe it's too late, but then again, maybe it isn't... 

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 13:31 | 188464 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture


You mean well. I do too, though I may sound ugly with this. Ready? Quit looking to the mainstream press to make things okay, to be honest, or noble. This blog and blogs that try to do this (even Denninger, for those of you who knock on him) are it, they are the new nascent fourth estate you crave. When we stop looking to "them" for validation of knowledge, we are on our way to freedom. Part of that estate is you, and me, the reading public. We have to stay on their asses to make sure they don't turn into "tools" for the current system by selling out their integrity, or by simply getting lazy (which I think is what has happened to a lot of journalists, that and they are being told they don't have lots of money to spend time hunting down and refining the details on stories).

I guess what I am challenging you to do is to stop turning to the main stream press like mom and dad for validation. Support this one and others instead. Tell others about it. The truth may or may not appear in these stories, but the effort and intent are clear to me. BUT IT ISN'T GOING TO BE DONE FOR US. The mainstream press is not going to do it for us. They are not going to rescue us, wake up, or do their job. They are toast, another Zombified Ponzi institution.

Print media (a seperate issue) is toast.

Break free. This and other blogs are it. Virtual local communities of truth seekers. No "Mainstream" centralization. Give up the myth. The metanarrative of the free press is dead. What you see is what you get. Don't like it? Too small? Too far off the beaten path? Support it then. Live your conviction.

Hope I wasn't an asshole. Give up on them.


Sat, 01/09/2010 - 16:06 | 188608 deadhead
deadhead's picture

Very well said MsC.

You weren't (and are not) an asshole.

It is a daily and quite comical exercise for me to look at the mainstream media and compare the slants to other up and coming media outlets.  It's pretty funny to compare main stream to main stream because the reader can come away with two (or more) different perceptions, scratching one's head, so to speak. 

Irrespective, the USA has clearly proven that it will not address fundamental problems in an honest and forthright manner until a particular problem reaches the crisis point.  Then, the USA will pooh pooh it, lie, cover up, put on a few band aids, and proceed ahead to the next crisis and pretend that everything is "ok".  Unfortunately, at least from my financial/economic viewpoint, we are near to or possibly at the end of the line.  The shit will hit the fan again real bad and I fully suspect the USA will repeat the same old, same old. 


Sat, 01/09/2010 - 17:21 | 188673 merehuman
merehuman's picture

wepollock on utube and many other links there are informing the public. Hope is the 100d monkey rule will work, as exponentially more of us are informing others. Its working, at a minimum many of us are ready for the fall, mentally and in supplies of food and arms.

Best thing we can do now is help it to fall faster. Then we can rebuild and we will.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 18:08 | 188708 Roscoe
Roscoe's picture


I just read your comment, and I appreciate your advice. I don't consider yours, or any other regular posters' inisghts here at ZH as coming from an a$$hole. While I rarely post (only thrice now) I am a tireless zealot for the site and the whole Fight Club gang at large, both within my company (very large insurance brokerage), and amongst my social circle.

As an active child of the 60s (and former frequenter of many altered states), I realize the true hope for a solution is in the hands of the grass roots of the country, but it really wouldn't hurt for a few (even one?) journalist who's audience reaches those not jacked-in to the web to start assembling a few of the jigsaw pieces for the folks. All we need is one Deep Throat (I know that will stimulate some interesting replies) from The Inside to leak a few docs, give a little coaching, and the dominoes could begin to quiver. This isn't to discount anything all of us are doing here, it is simply to add another pressure point to the Fragile Establishment Dike.

Who knows where the tipping point will be? Why not try an enlist someone of principles in the MSM who may have missed a few koolaid doses?

Again MsC, thanks for the advice, I truly appreciate it, and understand exactly what you're telling me.

I'm just a simple Space Monkey clown. Pushing buttons, pulling levers...


Sat, 01/09/2010 - 18:22 | 188722 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

Ya see, I was worried about being an a$$hole for a reason. I was telling grandmother how to suck eggs. I get wrapped up in my particular world view sometimes. You didn't need me to tell you anything.

Just another Space Monkey Clown too.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 13:46 | 188479 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Well said. I second that!

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 14:41 | 188522 Waterfallsparkles
Waterfallsparkles's picture

Send the story to Matt Tabbi of the Rolling Stones Articles.  He will expose it for what it is.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 15:43 | 188583 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

No more Woodwards and bernsteins.
I spent 20 years in the media, and the
program directors/editors direct content
to the "lowest common denominator".
15 years ago, while working with America's
Doctor, (Edell) I told him I thought he
dumbed down his program too much and that it would
be much more interesting if he turned on the turbos.
His response was that New York programming office
wanted him to keep it dumbed down for ratings
(I believed, at the time, that they were wrong
and underestimated the country's intelligence)
Between this "programming to the LCD" attitude
and massive reporting budget cuts, we have lost
most of our good reporters.
Many have went on to other occupations due to
frustration with LCD thinking of brain dead programmers/

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 16:48 | 188646 Ripped Chunk
Ripped Chunk's picture

Now seeing the magnitude of corruption, lies and incompetance?



Sat, 01/09/2010 - 20:51 | 188813 feeb
feeb's picture

IMO, any journalist who really lays this out in a Woodward & Bernstein fashion runs the risk of being suicided. Furthermore, there is probably only a 50/50 chance of the public embracing the nuances of the dirty, complicated, underlying facts. Still, if you care about this nation - it's worth a shot.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 11:47 | 188365 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Washington manipulation in the market?

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 11:50 | 188370 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Barry Ritholz is an idiot. He means well but as an intellectual he rates just above John Belushi in Animal House. Barry, you better stick to servicing your clients rather than opining on stock market analysis. Leave that to someone more capable, like Charles Biderman.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 16:18 | 188618 jedwards
jedwards's picture

Awesome ZH, this is EXACTLY why you guys are so important.  Some nobody finding an error in the Fed's spreadsheet probably wouldn't have triggered anyone's interest, but ZH now has the critical mass of attention so that if you bring it up, they can't ignore it!  With the power of the Internet, we can organize a campaign to go through all of these government lies data and see if we as a collective can find more errors.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 16:36 | 188633 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

Actually, I found the error.  Not quite sure how I feel about the characterization as "some nobody", but, what the hell, who am I to stand in the way hyperbolic rhetoric in the service of a good cause?

On the other hand, your point is well taken, and is exactly why I brought the tip to Tyler.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 17:04 | 188663 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

Glad you decided to come out and mix at the party. Hey there. I like your screen name, can't see your avatar so well. We like our privacy, you some nobody you, but I'd love to hear a little about you.

Who the hell checks these kinds of details, for starters!!


Sat, 01/09/2010 - 22:08 | 188805 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

You're kind of saucy for an older gal, aren't you?  But then, it's only the older gals who we'll let get away with it...


Forgive me.  I was eavesdropping on a conversation the other day you were having with some jackass who needed to know everyone's age, degree status, and family unit demographic, that he might the better psychoanalyze the mental problems of people with opinions other than his own; gold bugs, in particular, as I recall.

C'est vrai?  Am I nuts?

Anyway, the avatar is a Van Gogh called "Skull with a Burning Cigarette" that, on some levels, seems like a pretty fair representation of me.

Who you got? Nancy Drew?

I disclosed some details about myself in a comment somewhere above, sufficiently lurid to keep a person daydreaming for a while.  I'd be happy to tell you whatever you want to know, as you seem to have reflected on and mastered to problems presented by anonymous internet chit-chat communication.  You don't fall into the trap that many of us do, of being lured into a vortex of rising tension when debating those with whom we disagree.   No, MsC, you know how to disarm them.

But as you say, we do like our privacy.  Got any ideas?

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 17:32 | 188684 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

Okay, so when was the last time this data was reported? If it's a monthly report, then maybe last month's report gives a better idea of the size of the error assuming the cut and paste wasn't in that report as well. No offense to the diligent reader, but seems like he was probably just graphing the series yoy change and saw it flatline. Not brain surgery or anything.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 22:11 | 188848 Coyote on Rocke...
Coyote on RocketSkates's picture

No offense taken, Mr. Anonymous,  and you are exactly correct in your forensic deconstruction of the circumstances under which the error was found.  And again, shockingly correct: I am not a brain surgeon.  To serendipity will amass all the credit.

My goal in pointing this error out to ZH wasn't to garner praise, but to provide facts, pertaining to the Fed's poor performance, beyond the reach of plausible deniability. 

But, hey, in the film BARFLY, after Micky Rourke stabs some guy in the gut, the guy hisses through his teeth

"That was just dumb luck!"  to which Micky Rourke, avatar of Charles Bukowski, replies:

"Yeah.  But luck counts, too!"

Still, something troubles me:  what is your goal of your last comment? 

Anyway, neither the size nor direction of the error are really that important, are they?  It's not going to affect your trading come Monday morning.  You appear to have plenty of experience working with data (you did hit the nail right on the head--year over year change). Here's an idea: why don't you answer your own question?  The link is right right at the top of the page.  In fact, THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION IS RIGHT AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE!

If not, don't worry: everything will be done for you by others (though maybe not to the level to which you had hoped).


Sat, 01/09/2010 - 22:16 | 188852 Takingbets
Takingbets's picture

I wouldn't worry too much about shims sarcastic comment. When I read it, it sounded like shim is jealous of the decals your getting for the great find!

Thanks for bringing this to the surface for us. :-D

Sun, 01/10/2010 - 02:24 | 188935 Anonymous
Anonymous's picture

I think you finding this and pointing it out is great, don't get me wrong. I guess I'm just saying that the actual dollar number doesn't seem like it could be meaningful in relation even to the decline reported.

I totally agree that neither the size nor the direction should matter, but unfortunately in reality the size most certainly does. If the error isn't big enough to make joe public take notice, then the facts behind it will be lost but to a few like minded folks on zerohedge.

I would love nothing more than to be wrong about this, but just trying to be a realist. No ulterior motives or snarkiness intended towards you.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 17:48 | 188696 bchbum
bchbum's picture

The internet is great.  No wonder the original data for the hockey stick graph was deleted.  Imagine a bunch of guys like this going over that!  Incredible find, cut 'n' paste on data this important.  Forget the audit, just end the fed.

Sat, 01/09/2010 - 19:48 | 188778 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

Is this something that sould normally be caught by the "external independent audits"


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