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What a difference 0.1 percentage point makes

Business Times - 11 Aug 2009


What a difference 0.1 percentage point makes

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

KEEPING score in Washington, not unlike on Wall Street, is possible only if we recognise that 'winning' or 'losing' in political battle as in financial combat reflects one's success - or lack of - in beating the expectations game, in doing better than expected by the experts who compose the conventional wisdom.

So after economists had predicted that the July unemployment rate would be 0.1 or 0.2 of a percentage point higher than June's 9.5 per cent, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that unemployment fell to 9.4 per cent, the Obama administration seized on the news to produce a spin that made it look as though the White House's efforts to end the economic recession were making a real difference.

President Barack Obama's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, told reporters that the new unemployment report was 'more evidence th…