Sunday, June 3, 2012

Summer in March Plays Tricks With Economic Trends

The “summer in March,” two or three weeks in March when the weather was just as warm as it is today in half of the United States, is still playing tricks with our economic data.

The biggest effect is seen in seasonally adjusted data. If March was better than you could ever expect, it makes April and May look like a disaster by comparison.

Even in measures that are not seasonally adjusted, though, a boost in March can turn into a lull by June or July. The people who shopped for a house or a car in March probably won’t be shopping for one now. The people who bought their summer clothes in April may not need any more clothes till September.

But we count on seasons being the same from year to year so we can see how we are doing economically. This year’s peculiar change of season has left us not knowing.