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Economic comparisons

July 18, 2014

Every analytic comparison relies on some choice of what to include in the set of things being compared, and how to measure them. Here are two economic examples, interesting just because they show how much difference those choices can make. The recovery from the 2008 financial crisis looks laggardly, compared to US recessions of the last fifty years, but quite good, compared to other financial crises. And the “typical” American looks fairly well off, or fairly mediocre in wealth, depending on misuse of mean for median. Interestingly, if you look at the rankings in that last, Norway and Switzerland fare even worse. The important thing is to avoid selecting a comparison simply because it is convenient for your argument or point. And to watch for when others do that!

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