March 2, 2015

February 2015 ISM Manufacturing: 52.9%, Down Slightly From 53.5% in January

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 10:15 am

From the Institute for Supply Management:

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in February for the 26th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 69th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

“The February PMI® registered 52.9 percent, a decrease of 0.6 percentage point from January’s reading of 53.5 percent.

The New Orders Index registered 52.5 percent, a decrease of 0.4 percentage point from the reading of 52.9 percent in January. The Production Index registered 53.7 percent, 2.8 percentage points below the January reading of 56.5 percent.

The Employment Index registered 51.4 percent, 2.7 percentage points below the January reading of 54.1 percent. Inventories of raw materials registered 52.5 percent, an increase of 1.5 percentage points above the January reading of 51 percent. The Prices Index registered 35 percent, the same percentage as in January, indicating lower raw materials prices for the fourth consecutive month.

Comments from the panel express a growing level of concern over the West Coast dock slowdown, negatively impacting exports and imports and requiring workarounds and added costs.”

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 12 are reporting growth in February in the following order: Paper Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Furniture & Related Products; Primary Metals; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Fabricated Metal Products; Machinery; Transportation Equipment; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; and Chemical Products. The three industries reporting contraction in February are: Textile Mills; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; and Computer & Electronic Products.

Yahoo’s Business Calendar has a Briefing.com prediction of 51.0 percent, while the “Market Expects” figure is 53.0 percent.

Expansion is expansion (anything about 50%), so in that sense we’ll take it. Backlog of Orders returned to expansion (51.5%) after seriously contracting (46.0%) in January.

That said, the modest drop in New Orders and more significant drop in Production, two of the three primary GDP drivers, are not comforting.

Zero Hedge has noted that the “MarkIt” version of PMI seems artificialy high.

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Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (030215)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Positivity: The message of Jesus at the Transfiguration: Listen and follow, Pope says

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Mar 1, 2015 / 10:50 am

The Transfiguration reveals the glory of Christ and demands a response of listening to and following Jesus, Pope Francis said in his Sunday Angelus address March 1.

Last week the faithful were shown Christ victorious in the desert after enduring temptation from the devil, a reminder of the victory over sin offered to everyone through Christ. Today Jesus reveals the destination of the journey of conversion, which is “participation in the glory of Christ”.

The Transfiguration takes place as Christ is on his way to Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecies through his death on the cross. Jesus takes Peter, James and John away to a high mountain in order to reveal his glory in advance to them, to strengthen them in faith for what is to come – the way of the Cross, Pope Francis said.

“The three disciples are frightened, while a cloud covers and rings out from above…the voice of the Father, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him’” (Mk 9:7), the Holy Father said.

Christ’s glory is revealed because his “full adherence to the will of the Father makes his humanity transparent to the glory of God, who is Love,” the Pope explained.

Moses and Elijah appear next to Christ at the Transfiguration to show he is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, that “everything begins and ends in Jesus.”

The invitation at the Transfiguration, for the disciples as well as for the faithful today, is to listen to Jesus and to follow him, laying down our lives as a gift of love for one another in obedience to the will of the Father, the Pope explained.

“The way of Jesus always leads us to happiness, do not forget it!” Pope Francis said. “There will always be a cross in the middle, but at the end… (he) always leads us to happiness.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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March 1, 2015

Positivity: RIP, Michael Murray

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:40 pm

Yes, this IS a positivity post.

Local drummer Michael Murray, apparently facing terminal illness, took his life on Friday.

The true meaning of “Judge not, lest you be judged” is operative here.

In a pinch, Mike agreed to play drums for free at a benefit gig one of the bands I’m in played last fall. He took it upon himself to learn roughly 30 songs in just a few weeks and found the time to practice with the band twice before our appearance. He worked very hard at being prepared and getting it right. We would have been thrilled in the short-notice circumstances if he had just shown up and muddled through, but that wasn’t acceptable to him. His presence and performance that day meant a lot to all of us. We thanked him at the time, but one can never be thankful enough to someone who pulls you out of a difficult situation.

He also jammed on Monday nights at McAuly’s Pub north of Cincinnati, and was always an uplifting, scene-brightening presence.

Based on what I’m seeing at his Facebook page, all of the positivity we saw in that short time is what his friends and family routinely experienced.

We will miss you dearly, Mike. Rest in peace.

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Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (030115)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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February 28, 2015

Classless and Spiteful: Jezebel’s ‘Update’ to False Walker Sexual Assault Reporting Story

As noted this morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Jezebel’s Natasha Vargas-Cooper wrote a Friday morning hit piece directed at Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s Republican Governor, calling him a “conservative werewolf” for including a provision in the Badger State’s latest proposed budget to elminate the requirement that universities report campus sexual assault statistics to the state.

Vargas-Cooper took this to mean that all such sexual assault reporting would end. Hardly. Hours later, an unbylined Associated Press story carried at USA Today (but still not carried at its national site) made it clear that a) the University of Wisconsin system had requested the provision, and b) such statistics would continue to be reported to the federal government. Jezebel’s “correction” and Vargas-Cooper’s spiteful tweeted reaction follow the jump.

(more…)

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AP’s Crutsinger Provides Four (Not Five) Weak Reasons Why Lowered 4th Quarter GDP Isn’t a Problem

After yesterday’s government report on economic growth reduced the fourth quarter’s originally estimated increase in gross domestic product from an annualized 2.6 percent to 2.2 percent, you just knew that the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, would try to ride to the rescue.

Late Friday afternoon, the AP’s Martin Crutsinger gamely tried to concoct five reasons why we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads over a growth figure which confirms that the worst post-World War II recovery on record continues to be the worst post-World War II recovery on record. He only came up with four highly questionable reasons, while pretending he still had five (bolds and numbered tags are mine; I also numbered the reporter’s reasons):

(more…)

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Jezebel Writer Falsely Accuses Walker of Wanting to Stop Reporting of Campus Sexual Assaults

On Friday morning at Jezebel, a Gawker-affiliated web site, Natasha Vargas-Cooper thought she had Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by the — well, you know.

In a post tellingly tagged “Conservative Werewolves,” Vargas-Cooper was absolutely sure — so certain that she apparently felt no need to check any further — that Walker’s proposed budget would allow its colleges to “to stop reporting sexual assaults.” Vicious vitriol ensued (bolds are mine throughout this post):

(more…)

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Positivity: Indians rise up to defend Mother Teresa’s legacy after attack by Hindu leader

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:14 am

From New Delhi:

Feb 26, 2015 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Indians from all walks of life and religions have joined to condemn allegations made against Bl. Teresa of Calcutta by a fundamentalist Hindu leader charging that her sole objective in helping the poor was converting them to Christianity.

Mohan Bhagwat, head of the Hindu nationalist organization RSS, said Feb. 23 in India’s Rajasthan state that “Mother Teresa’s service would have been good. But it used to have one objective, to convert the person, who was being served, into a Christian.”

Bhagwat was speaking at the inauguration of an orphanage and women’s home run by a local NGO, and said, “here we will not provide service like that rendered by Mother Teresa. It is possible that her kind of work was good, but there was a motive behind that service.”

His comments have evoked fierce reactions over social media, as well as protests. In the national upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha opposition parties staged protests which led to adjournment of the sitting. They demanded statements from the ruling government and from prime minister Narendra Modi, whose BJP party is closely aligned with RSS.

Bishop Thomas Dabre of Poona told CNA Feb. 26 that “Mother Teresa’s services reflected the teachings of Jesus Christ – ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ – and so her serving others was unconditional, unselfish to lepers, the sick, the abandoned and the suffering, and for people of all religions.”

“Hundreds of thousands of people whom she served were people of different religions, and they remained in their religion till the end and she did not deny services to them, because they did not convert and left them to practice their faith.”

Bishop Dabre rebuffed Bhagwat’s comments saying that “scores of people of various religions joined Mother in serving the needy and the suffering, and among them were Hindus, so facts prove Mr. Bhagwat wrong.”

Gaja Nayak, a Hindu lawyer, told CNA that “Vindictive criticisms are like parasites, for they prey on other people’s work or achievement; some tend to be constructive, while many others are merchants of money, power and hate infiltrators … Mother Teresa spread love and kindness, and that makes the difference.”

“Perhaps people today have forgotten the historical past of the great famine of Bengal in 1943 and the pre- and post-Independence era of partitions and war, during which Mother Teresa offered her life and soul in helping the marginalized and downtrodden people.”

Nayak concluded saying that caste systems, women’s inequality, and oppression of the poor are scars that remain on India’s conscience.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of India also have slammed the allegations, expressing its concern and distress upon “casting aspersion” on the saintly persona of Mother Teresa. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (022815)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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February 27, 2015

AP Report on Wisconsin Right to Work Move Presents Union Side Only

A couple of thousand protesters have showed up to rail against the Wisconsin Legislature’s move to pass right to work legislation this week.

That number is far smaller than what was seen four years ago, when Badger State Governor Scott Walker championed Act 10, a budget repair bill which limited — but please note, contrary to frequent press assertions, did not eliminate — most public-sector unions’ collective bargaining rights. Todd Richmond’s Wednesday evening coverage of the situation in Madison at the Associated Press got plenty of perspectives from union members and others upset with the legislature’s latest move, but predictably failed to get any insights from right to work supporters or those skeptical of protesters’ positions. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbereed tags are mine):

(more…)

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Former WashPost Reporter at the Fiscal Times Falsely Claims Food Stamp Caseload Is Down 11 Percent

The Fiscal Times is a generally strong and informative online publication. That said, it has occasionally exhibits symptoms of what could be seen as either serious leftist bias, quite disappointing ignorance, or both.

One such example arrived in my email box early this morning. It contained the following headline and opening tease for a story concerning the food stamp program:

(more…)

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4Q14 Gross Domestic Product, 1st Revision: An Annualized 2.2 Percent, Down From Original 2.6 Percent Estimate

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:51 am

Predictions:

  • Yahoo.com’s Economic Calendar has a Briefing.com estimate of an annualized 2.0 percent and “Market Expects” prediction of 2.1 percent, down from the 2.6 percent originally reported in late January. We should also recall that forecasts before the first release ranged from 3.0 percent to 3.6 percent.
  • Bloomberg’s writeup tells us that “Household consumption, which is the biggest factor in growth, forecast to hold at the previously reported 4.3 percent pace.” That is “probably owed to strong job growth last year.” I think Zero Hedge has observed that it’s because families have had to spend more on medical care out of their own pockets.
  • The Associated Press isn’t carrying a prediction in its overnight report on the overseas stock markets. The wire service’s coverage of yesterday’s durable goods report had a prediction of 2.1 percent.
  • Though you never know with government reports, I have pointed to Macroeconomic Advisers’ mid-February blog post indicating their estimate that GDP contracted by 0.6 percent in December alone as a reason to believe that today’s number may come in lower than 2.0 percent — perhaps quite a bit lower. If it does, the obvious question should be why the press ignored what the highly respected firm was saying.
  • A mid-February Wall Street Journal blog post carried estimates ranging from 1.7 percent to 2.0 percent.

The report will be here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS (permanent link): Not quite as big of a drop as thought —

Real gross domestic product — the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes — increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 5.0 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “advance” estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was 2.6 percent. With the second estimate for the fourth quarter, private inventory investment increased less than previously estimated, while nonresidential fixed investment increased more (see “Revisions” on page 3).

The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), nonresidential fixed investment, exports, state and local government spending, private inventory investment, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by a negative contribution from federal government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter primarily reflected an upturn in imports, a downturn in federal government spending, and decelerations in nonresidential fixed investment and in exports that were partly offset by an acceleration in PCE, an upturn in private inventory investment, and an acceleration in state and local government spending.

Here’s the scoreboard:

4Q14GDP022715rev

Because of other commitments, I won’t have any time to review the revults until this evening, or perhaps even Saturday morning. I’ll try to monitor the blog for comments, and will post any comments as I see as soon as I see them.

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Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (022715)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Positivity: Chinese Bible association gathers to make Scripture the heart of Church’s life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Taipei, Taiwan:

Feb 26, 2015 / 02:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The United Chinese Catholic Biblical Association held its tenth World Chinese Biblical Congress last month in Taiwan, drawing participants from 18 countries to reflect on Scripture and its place in the new evangelization.

“The congress was a very touching experience of a new Pentecost with the outpouring of gifts of the Holy Spirit in the company of the Blessed Mother … engendering fresh new inspirations, hope, and vision for all concerned to mark a new page in being biblical missionary disciples in the Church and in the world in creative ways,” said Cecilia Chui, secretary of the UCCBA.

“The UCCBA is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council document Dei Verbum and has resolved to meaningfully live 2015 as a Biblical pastoral ministry year and to dedicate this project to respond to the apostolic exhortations Verbum Domini and Evangelii Gaudium as a humble gift for Pope Francis on the second anniversary of his pontificate,” Chui told CNA Feb 24.

The biblical congress drew more than 300 participants to Taipei, the capital of the Republic of China, Jan. 22-26 to reflect on the theme “Bearing Witness to the Word for New Evangelization.”

In addition to Taiwan, participants came from Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Japan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, England, and Canada.

Most were laity, though six bishops were present, including Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong.

Chui pointed out that centering on the directives of Verbum Domini and Evangelii Gaudium, the five-day congress was designed to reflect on “how to make God’s Word ever more fully the heart of the Church’s life and mission in multi-perspectives, and how to discern the signs of the times,” through talks and witnesses by speakers and communities from different locales. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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