Retail Sales rose by 0.5% in December (month to month) and were up 4.7% annually, according to the Commerce Department's December Advance Retail Sales Report released last week. Those are seasonally adjusted idealized estimates. Neither figure is adjusted for inflation. The median forecast of economists was for a monthly increase of 0.2%. This continues the pattern of several months where economic data was better than expected. However, beneath the surface, the actual, unmanipulated data told a far different story.

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