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Head in the sand: Moody’s economist ‘just doesn’t believe’ dismal December jobs report

Moody’s economist, Mark Zandi, told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that the depressing December jobs numbers released Friday by the Obama administration are flat wrong, saying “I just don’t believe them.”

Zandi appeared on the cable network Friday morning to dismiss the government’s claim that 74,000 jobs — the lowest in three years — were added in December, though he failed to explain what could account for such a gross miscalculation.

“I just don’t believe them, Chuck,” he began. “They were uniformly weak and the number was so low, it’s just not consistent with any of the other economic data that we’re getting. GDP has been a lot stronger — that’s the value of all the things we produce — that’s been growing a lot more strongly. All the surveys have been much stronger, retailing’s been good, vehicle sales — you know, it just doesn’t make any sense, so I’m not paying attention to it at all.”

Still a bit skeptical, Todd asked whether the sequester and the government shutdown could be to blame for the few jobs added. “No, I don’t think so. The timing is just all wrong,” Zandi replied. “You would’ve seen it in October or maybe November, not in December.”

“I just don’t believe it,” the economist continued. “I think these numbers will get revised — you know, every year we have a month when we get an outlier on the downside, an outlier on the upside. It usually gets revised away or gets reversed in subsequent months. This is one of those months.”

There have indeed been revisions to initial jobs reports — both Zandi and Todd recalled the famous “zero jobs” month in August 2011, which was later pushed upward — but most revisions tend to move job numbers down from an artificially high perch. Reports from June and July of 2013 were later slashed by a combined 74,000 jobs, and 2012 also saw initially rosy statistics pushed downwards.

Perhaps Zandi’s disbelief is due not to jobs, but to politics. The economist has close ties to the Obama administration — so close that the president was considering tapping Zandi to head the powerful Federal Housing Finance Authority last spring. That post eventually went to former Democratic Rep. Mel Watt.

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