I acknowledged, though, that the data from my digital RA FRED only went back as far as 1995 so I couldn’t conclusively say that investment had never been higher. So, as promised, I set my human RA Sharon Hodor the task of combing through the discontinued data the BLS makes available at its ALFRED site. She found a vintage series that tracked investment in gear through 2003, using a somewhat different calculation than the current series does.
Here’s what the vintage and current data look like side by side:
The vintage data (blue line) is always higher than the current data (red line), and always higher by about the same amount. So the two series track each other well, which gives me much confidence that were it still being calculated the blue line would be at an all-time high today, just as the red line is.
Based on this quick double-check I’m confident that US corporate investment in equipment and software has never been higher. Do you have any quibbles with this conclusion? If so, leave a comment and let us know.