FULL OF SCRAP Crunching the numbers

Jul 01, 2007 | 11:09 AM |

My first experience collecting commodity prices for a trade publication was more than 30 years ago.

A thick skin has always been one of the requirements for such work. I still wince whenever I thumb through my copy of a 1977 transcript of a House of Representatives subcommittee grilling of the publisher of a livestock newsletter on his procedures for gathering prices. One of the topics from that session still resonates with me The more a price table influences the market, the thinner the "free market" information that's truly independent of the published numbers. Too much popularity degrades the information.

In the late 1970s, I became statistics editor of a newly formed weekly that covered industrial fuel and power. I got to watch the creation of the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Now I could learn how specialists with clout and serious training handled price disclosure, I felt.....

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