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Crunching all the numbers | BenefitsPro

Opinion

Crunching all the numbers

Let's talk about the revised (revised) GDP report. (Image courtesy nuchylee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net) Let's talk about the revised (revised) GDP report. (Image courtesy nuchylee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

I need your help with a something.

But first, I figured we should talk about the revised (revised) GDP report. (So try to make it to the end of the post this time…)

It’s the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ third shot at lining the numbers up, and according to their press release, real gross domestic product fell 2.9 percent in the first quarter of 2014. This after jumping 2.6 percent in the previous quarter while representing the biggest drop in GDP in half a decade. And the biggest first-quarter performance since this seemingly endless recession began.

But maybe, most importantly, as someone else pointed out somewhere else on the Interwebs, it represents the biggest revision in one of these reports in something like 30 years.

The story, according to the BEA geeks, is “The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the ‘second’ estimate issued last month. In the second estimate, real GDP was estimated to have decreased 1.0 percent.”

This begs two questions – or maybe three.

Why the poor performance? Blame it on the rain – or at least the winter, the vortex or tornadoes or whatever. Either way, we should all break out the Farmer’s Almanac because it’s the weather’s fault.

So why the big revision? Well, as fate would have it, the biggest contributor to the revised number is a huge correction in the estimated health care spending. Let me quote Brett LoGiurato over at Business Insider, who’s no doubt much better at math than I am.

“In the BEA’s first estimate of first-quarter growth, health care spending was projected to explode by 9.9 percent,” LoGiurato writes. “It was subsequently revised to 9.1 percent. But the latest estimate had health care spending plunging to -1.4 percent.”

So the big brains believed the hype and thought the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would drive health care spending through the roof – never mind there was no subsequent spike in the health care jobs market. So they guessed for the first two reports? And when that rush to the waiting room never materialized, they had to revise their numbers.

(Of course, the alternate theory is that the administration is cooking the books – as many suspect they do with the monthly jobs numbers. But I just don’t see how that would help them here.)

And, finally, should we be worried? Again, I’m no expert, but I listen to a lot of them. And most are saying that, for starters, these numbers are pretty stale by now, revisions notwithstanding. In fact, second quarter numbers will be coming along pretty soon – well, at least the first version of them.

Besides, the weather’s great where I am. The roof’s off the Jeep and the doors are next.

Or, who knows, maybe we’ll get another revision…

Now, about that favor. We’re about to launch a year-long project here at BenefitsPro.com called the Broker Innovation Lab, our hybrid, multimedia platform highlighting brokers committed to survival and success in a post-reform world.

This effort will muster the assets of Benefits Selling, BenefitsPro and Benefit Selling Expo. And that’s just for starters. We’re also looking at in-depth research projects and, well, I don’t wanna give everything away.

In short, we will highlight and celebrate brokers who have embraced the changing benefits marketplace to position themselves and their practices for future success.

Simply put, we want to unite and educate the broker community by providing new ideas and emerging business models they can use to adapt to the marketplace changes and grow their business.

So I need to hear from you. Whether you’re one of these innovators – whether you’re a broker, a vendor, a TPA or whatever – or whether you work with one. This your chance to tell me what – or who – we should be talking about. So, put away the troll hats and help me out.

Thanks in advance.

About the Author
Denis Storey

Denis Storey

Denis Storey is editor for BenefitsPro.com and Benefits Selling magazine. He can be reached at dstorey@benefitspro.com.

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