Often, I am on the hunt for ways to measure the economy that no one else has ever thought before. This is the result of that hunt.
Thinking about E=MC², I know that matter can convert into energy. And since matter can be quantified, I know that I can convert various kinds of matter to the same measure of energy. One such measure is kilowatthour (kWh) of electricity.
Conveniently, the EIA provides equations for kWh output gained from coal, natural gas and petroleum as fuels. Here are the equations:
Kilowatthour generated per unit of fuel used:
1,904 kWh per ton of coal
99 kWh per Mcf (1,000 cubic feet) of natural gas
570 kWh per barrel of petroleum
This graph resulted from converting the production data for coal, nat gas and oil into kWh, summing those kWh results and then putting the results in ratio with free Americans (civilian non-institutional population).
At first glance, the chart goes against what anyone might expect. Why should there be more potential kWh produced in bad times than in good times? And yet the chart tracks quite well how the American economy has done since 1980.
In boom times, with higher true prices, producers need less property in stuff to sell to get the same buying power. So they produce less per person.
The chart above shows actual electricity generation per free American. As anyone should expect, electricity usage peaks in summer months and peaked during good times. Today's electricity generation each free American is about the same as it was in October, 1990.
The chart above shows the difference between kWh potential and actual electricity generation, which comes mostly from coal, nat gas and oil.
No doubt there are doubters who suffer from the effects of indoctrination and thus they wrestle with cognitive dissonance over my True Dollars™ method and how it reveals the actual state of the economy. Even though I am right and many might doubt me, what they can't doubt is physics.
There has not been any recovery. Quantitative easing has papered over the Greatest Depression as prices measured in current dollars.