Two months ago the US suddenly found itself "wealthier" by over $500 billion in Gross Domestic Product as a result of a simple definition revision that retroactively added trillions in cumulative gains from, wait for it, intangibles. More importantly, as Paul Singer explained, "As part of the revisions, the Bureau of Economic Analysis will change the way pension payments are counting in GDP. Previous to the change, when a company paid money into a pension plan, the money was counted as wages in the GDP calculation. After the change, what companies have promised to pay in the future, not what they are actually paying, will be added to GDP. This is fantastic. The bigger the unpayable promise made to unsuspecting retirees (promises that are not fully funded), the more GDP supposedly goes up!" As it turns out, it was not just economic "output" that benefited from this definition change. As today's release of the Fed's very much revised Flow of Funds report confirmed, US households as of this moment are wealthier by over $3 trillion, just because the re-definition of the Pension Fund line item, which is no longer counted as "Reserves" but the broader "Entitlements."
End result: whereas Americans last quarter had net worth of $70.3 trillion, as a result of this revision, they now have $73.5 trillion. Revisionist Definition wealth for everyone!
Unfortunately, "wealth" attained as a result of definition changes can't be spent at places like Wal Mart, which perhaps explains why, as reported earlier, it has just a bit too much inventory in backlog and has to cut orders due a pile up in merchandise.
And even though the Z.1 Flow of Funds statement has now become an utter joke and completely meaningless garbage data, here is how in an ideally centrally-planned world by Benny and the Inkjets, this is what the household balance sheet supposedly looks like.
The household balance sheet snapshot as of Q2.
And compared to Q1 - a $4.5 trillion jump, net of definition changes.