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No government data? Carlyle has you covered

October 21, 2013: 2:18 PM ET

Private equity giant publishes U.S. 'economic indicators'


Carlyle's Rubenstein: No government data? No problem.

FORTUNE -- Tomorrow we'll get the jobs report that should have been released more than two weeks ago. September retail sales data comes next Tuesday, while the Consumer Price Index has been pushed back to next Wednesday. And if you want September housing starts, check back during Thanksgiving week.

All of these delays, of course, are courtesy of the mindless government shutdown (which heretofore will simply be referred to as the "government shutdown"). But, while we wait, private equity firm The Carlyle Group (CG) wants to help fill the void.

Carlyle has released a series of economic indicators based on its portfolio of more than 200 companies that "Carlyle believes serve as a reliable proxy for U.S. official data." Here are the highlights:

  • Retail sales for September: +0.25%
  • Consumer price index for September: +1.5% (year-over-year)
  • New residential construction for September: 913,000 housing starts annualized
  • Durable goods orders for September: $68.6 billion
  • GDP for Q3 2013: +1.7%

Carlyle has a fairly diverse portfolio, with major companies within such sectors as energy, real estate, retail and healthcare. So it should be interesting to see how its numbers match up once the official government data arrives.

There have been some in Congress who have suggested that compiling official government statistics are a waste of time and money, plus an invasion of privacy (here's one extreme example of this thinking). If Carlyle nails the numbers, then it could add a bit of weight to such arguments. Particularly if large private equity firms were to begin combining their numbers with more crowdsourced products like Premise Data is going with global consumer prices.

To be sure, the U.S. government will remain official arbiter for the foreseeable future. But perhaps Carlyle is leading us toward more accurate predictions,and a possible alternative if we get another government shutdown in  2014... Again, we'll know soon.

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Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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