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Maybe it is a characteristic of my generation, but I am naïve or dumb enough to give the benefit of the doubt to experts and people in authority to tell the truth. People have been lying since the Garden of Eden. But it has been my experience that people lie to serve their own self-interests. Only people with mythomania tell lies ‘just because’ and it is rare.

Therefore, rather than start with the information, start with the motivation that a person might have for telling the truth or lying. And I usually assume someone is not lying.

A doctor will probably tell you the truth about your health because he wants to heal you. On the other hand, how do we judge the motivation (and truthfulness) of someone, even a licensed physician, who recommends a new treatment that will grow hair to cover your bald head?

And where do we go when that physician says “maybe” about the treatment for baldness? Is that a clever strategy just to create credibility for the lie?

People lie to make money. That is a reasonable motivation. But people also lie so that they can continue to earn. Government officials, both elected and salaried, are notorious for saying anything to keep their jobs. That is what campaign promises can be about.

We all know someone who has lied to uphold a reputation. That seems strange, as there might not be any direct financial reward as with many other lies. But then again, most people plead “Not Guilty” for the same reason and to stay out of jail.

The most insidious lies though are those that follow a twisted path of truth to arrive at a conclusion that does not make sense and treats the listener like a fool.

A US expert, at least by his Prize in Economics, said last week: “So underlying inflation is probably less than 4 percent, vs 2 percent target; headline is 7.” Except that “headline inflation” was reported at 8.3 percent, but what is one percent or so among friends.

He goes on to say that “Right now we have 7 percent inflation (last three months on PCE deflator, annualized).” Of course, you might not know what the ‘PCE deflator’ is. It is a way of calculating inflation that uses Personal Consumption Expenditure to calculate price increases versus the CPI—Consumer price index.

The PCE inflation rate is always lower because it is not measuring individual goods price changes but what consumers spend. If you switch from pork to chicken, then pork prices do not matter and maybe chicken prices—and therefore inflation—is flat.

In truth, both the PCE and the CPI are “lies.”

All economics is personal. My entire family works from home, so gasoline prices mean much less than if we all were driving to Makati every day. The jeepney driver says he will stop driving because he is only earning P300 because of high diesel prices. Fair enough. But there is someone out there making P200 a day doing another job that would like to trade places.

The worst and most dangerous lies are things like “High gasoline prices are because of the oil companies.” “June 15, 2022; Joe Biden called on US oil refiners to produce more gasoline and diesel.” As of March 2022, US refinery capacity utilization is at 91.3 percent, the highest in history.

“June 15, 2022; Joe Biden asked US refiners for their assistance in adding refining capacity to increase supply of gasoline and diesel.” Brilliant idea to build more refineries.

Planning, designing, permitting, and building a new medium-sized refinery is a 5 to 7-year process with costs ranging from $7-10 billion, not including land acquisition. “September 6, 2019; Joe Biden told a questioner during a campaign event in New Castle, N.H., “I guarantee you, we are going to end fossil fuels.”

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you”: Friedrich Nietzsche.

E-mail me at mangun@gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis provided by AAA Southeast Equities Inc.