Indicators: Changing the Base

As any reader of the U.S. Government's good, grey statistics knows, 1947-49 equals 100. But last week the Budget Bureau announced that in January it plans to change the base period for a wide range of indices—most notably the Consumer Price Index—to 1957-59. According to the bureau, indicators lose meaning unless they are based on a period recent enough for most people to remember.

Though it may help jog memories, the changeover in the base period should not, the government promises, make any difference in the percentage fluctuations shown by the indices from year to year. Thus, the rise in...

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