May 29, 2015

1Q15 Gross Domestic Product, 2nd Estimate: A 0.7 Percent Annualized Contraction

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:05 am


  • At Yahoo’s Economic Calendar — has an annualized 1.0 percent contraction; the “markets” have a 0.7 percent contraction. Both are steep falls from the original estimate of a positive annualized 0.2 percent in late April, which itself fell short of most of the predictions, which were in the neighborhood of 1.0 percent.
  • The Associated Press’s Martin Crutsinger last night wrote that “Economists surveyed by data firm FactSet predict that the government will say GDP shrank at an annual rate of 0.8 percent last quarter.” But (of course) “economists see little cause for concern.” And yes, I’ve noticed the discussions about how “Many economists also suspect that the government’s calculations have tended to underestimate growth in the first quarter of each year.”

Somehow, that was never a problem until the Obama administration came along, but now all of a sudden there’s “residual seasonality” which must be “mitigated.” It doesn’t help the credibility of these claims that they were originally raised by one of the most pathetic, rude, argumentative Keynesian koolaid-drinkers on the planet.

For what it’s worth, my research indicates that during the past 30 years the net alleged “problem” has entirely occurred during leftist-controlled admnistrations and has been absent during others. (How weird … /sarcasm) I’ll have more on that in separate writeups.

BACK ON POINT — The report will appear here at 8:30.

8:25 a.m.: A predictive note — I’ve pointed out several times duirng the past two months that many hard-number stats for the second-quarter which directly impact GDP have been running not only below 4Q14, they’ve also been running below 1Q14, implying that all of the growth seen in the past three quarters has been reversed.

I’m not saying that it’s going to be reflected in today’s result, but I’m hard-pressed to see why it shouldn’t be. If it is, today’s result will be a big “surprise” to the downside.

I will update the graphic below as soon as I can after the numbers appear.

8:35 a.m.: HERE IT IS (full text version) —

Real gross domestic product — the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes — decreased at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2015, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 2.2 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, real GDP increased 0.2 percent. With the second estimate for the first quarter, imports increased more and private inventory investment increased less than previously estimated (for more information, see “Revisions” on page 3).

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


Those opposing the trade pact under consideration in Washington — how can you not be opposed, when the administration won’t let the public know what’s in it? — would appear to have gained a bit of leverage, given that majority of the revision occurred because of a spike in the negative effect of imports. The overall net exports result of -1.90 points is the worst in at least the past 12 quarters (that’s how far back today’s release goes).

UPDATE: Wow, that -1.90-point impact of net exports ties for the worst since the second quarter of 1985. The most recent worse result is -2.31 points in the first quarter of 1984. That was in the early stages of the Reagan boom (it was the last of four consecutive quarters showing annualized growth of over 8 percent), and was likely due to the need to import many items simply because our manufacturing sector couldn’t grow fast enough to keep up with demand.

That surely isn’t what’s happening now.


Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (052915)

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.


The snarky comments write themselves: “(MSNBC’s Chris) Matthews: Hillary Clinton Should Tap Republican Gov. John Kasich for Vice President”


Positivity: Think you’re important because you have money? Think again, Pope says

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

May 26, 2015 / 08:21 am

In his homily Tuesday Pope Francis cautioned against the “counter-witness” of those who seek to follow both Jesus and worldly temptations, saying that to follow Christ means denying oneself and serving others.

“There are three things, three steps that take us away from Jesus: wealth, vanity and pride,” the Pope told attendees of his May 26 Mass in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse.

Riches, he said, are dangerous “because they immediately make you vain and you think you are important. And when you think you are important, you build your head up and then you lose it.”

Francis took his cue from the day’s Mark Chapter 10 Gospel reading in which Peter asks Jesus what the disciples will get in return for following him. The scene takes place right after Jesus had told the rich young man to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor.

Instead of talking about wealth, the Lord gives an unexpected answer when he says that the disciples will gain the Kingdom of Heaven, but only “with persecution, with the cross.”

“When a Christian is attached to (worldly) things, he gives the bad impression of a Christian who wants to have two things: (both) heaven and earth,” the Pope said, explaining that that the daily cross of denying ourselves is the remedy. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

May 28, 2015

New Yorker June 1 Cover Presents Whites-Only GOP Presidential Candidates

Old stereotypes die hard — especially the ones which have long been false.

The June 1 cover of The New Yorker Magazine depicts the Republican Party’s current crop of declared and undeclared 2016 presidential candidates as an all-white-boys affair, showing seven of them in different locker-room postures, with Hillary Clinton peeping in through a window. How is this possible, you ask? Where are Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina? Obviously, presenting a segregated, chauvinistic image of the GOP is more important than dealing with reality (HT Patterico):



Paper on ‘Changing Minds’ on Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Retracted (Part 2 of 2): Press Retraction Efforts Largely Unacceptable

As noted in Part 1, one of the authors of a late-2014 study which made the nonsensical claim that “a single conversation (can) change minds on divisive social issues, such as same-sex marriage,” causing “a cascade of opinion change,” issued a retraction last week, because the data supporting it was faked. Since it was published in Science Magazine — and because it conveniently fit a leftism-advancing agenda — numerous press outlets ran stories on the study’s results.

Now they’re all having to run retractions and corrections. Besides the obvious problem that the lies have gotten a long head start, let’s look at how the seven original publishers identified by Retraction Watch, as well as the Associated Press, have handled the matter. All too often the answer has been: “Not very well.”



Paper on ‘Changing Minds’ on Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Retracted (Part 1 of 2)

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Scams — Tom @ 2:08 pm

“Science” has a problem — or more accurately stated, those who produce and publish “scienitific” studies — have a problem. Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, one of the leading weekly peer-reviewed general medical journals, caused quite a stir last week when he said that “much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.” That may be an underestimate.

One of the more recent such examples involves a paper published late last year in Science Magazine, which calls itself “The World’s Leading Journal of Scientific Research, Global News and Commentary.”



Initial Unemployment Claims (052815): 282K SA; Raw Claims (251K) 9 Percent Below Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:38 am

From the Department of Labor:


In the week ending May 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 282,000, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 274,000 to 275,000. The 4-week moving average was 271,500, an increase of 5,000 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 266,250 to 266,500.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 251,435 in the week ending May 23, an increase of 7,950 (or 3.3 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 1,924 (or 0.8 percent) from the previous week. There were 275,412 initial claims in the comparable week in 2014.

The seasonal adjustment factors for this year (89.3) and the same week last year (89.6) were virtually identical.

The result is somewhat above the predictions seen here of 270K-274K, but not alarmingly so.


NewsBusted (052715)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 6:30 am

Here we go:

– ISIS captures Ramadi
– Islamic State
– Mitch McConnell
– Romney v Holyfield
– Hillary Clinton
– George Stephanopoulos
– L.A. Minimum Wage
– Bill Murray

Best Line: “Hillary Clinton is considering granting an interview to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. The announcement came from her campaign spokesman, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.”


Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (052815)

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.


Positivity: ‘Little’ friars credit vocation boom to Pope’s name

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Rome:

May 26, 2015 / 03:33 pm

Gathered in Rome for their general chapter meeting, members of the Order of Friars Minor – better known as Franciscans – said that while vocations in general have been down in recent years, numbers have begun to rise again after Pope Francis’ election.

Polish Friar Fr. Filemon Janka spoke with CNA after the order’s May 26 audience with Pope Francis, saying that his papal name selection “is significant for all Franciscan friars.”

In his province of Posen, the effects of having a Pope named Francis have been particularly strong among the youth, he said, adding that the Franciscans “have new vocations because of that.”

“It is also the reason that young people love our spirituality, and when the Pope chose the name Francis it was an important issue for these young people, so thanks be to God for new vocations.”

The friar said that his small province has nine new novices this year, a significant number considering the size of the province. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

May 27, 2015

LA Unions Lobby for Exemption From $15/Hr. Minimum Wage Law They Pushed

This has to be the month’s top entry in the “Just when you think you’ve seen it all” category — and it will be more than a little interesting to see how the nation’s press handles it.

As the Associated Press reported a week ago, the City Council in Los Angeles, by a vote of 14-1, ordered the drafting of a law mandating a citywide minimum wage of $15 per hour by 2020, noting that “the support of Mayor Eric Garcetti virtually guarantee its eventual adoption.” Now that it’s almost a done deal, labor unions whose members earn less want to be exempt from the law. Seriously. And it’s not that the unions were caught off guard, because the person who is most visibly arguing for the exemption “helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition”! Apparently caught completely flat-footed, three Los Angeles Times reporters, in a rare break from the paper’s non-stop leftist bias, filed a fair and balanced report on the truly offensive situation.



AP: Bill Clinton’s Shell Company Only Evidence of ‘Complexity’

The Associated Press and Stephen Braun did all they could to cover for the Clintons yesterday.

First, the wire service attached the most boring headline imaginable to Braun’s story about Bill Clinton’s shell company shenanigans: “Bill Clinton company shows complexity of family finances.” The message to subscribers, particularly the broadcast networks: “This is boring and time-consuming. Don’t waste your time reading this, let alone using it.” As Scott Whitlock at NewsBusters noted early this afternoon, “All three networks on Wednesday ignored the latest questions to hit the Clintons and their foundation.” So if there was a strategy, it worked. Braun’s story was seemingly designed to induce a MEGO (my eyes glaze over) reaction:



AP: ‘Islamic State Membership Has Its Privileges’

Associated Press reporter Sarah El Deeb and Abu Bilal al-Homsi, the person she now describes as a “Syrian fighter,” have had a long acquaintance.

Sarah’s and Abu’s long-term relationship culminated in a Tuesday afternoon story which AP condensed into 140 characters on Twitter as follows: “Marriage, honeymoons and welfare: @AP exclusive shows Islamic State membership has its privileges.” A great deal of justified outrage has followed the release of El Deeb’s dispatch for “romancing the Stone Age” by glorifying the advantages accruing to an Islamic State jihadist. More attention needs to be paid to her history with al-Homsi, and her “reporting” in general.



Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (052715)

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.


Positivity: Oscar Romero, a ‘father of the poor,’ beatified in El Salvador

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From San Salvador, El Salvador:

May 23, 2015 / 01:20 pm

Archbishop Oscar Romero was beatified in El Salvador this morning, with Pope Francis declaring from the Vatican that the martyr’s feast will be celebrated on March 24 each year – the day “in which he was born into heaven.”

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided over Blessed Oscar Romero’s May 23 beatification Mass in the capital city of San Salvador.

In his homily the cardinal said that “the figure of Romero is still alive and giving comfort to the marginalized of the earth.”

“His option for the poor was not ideological, but evangelical. His charity extended to the persecutors.”

Archbishop Romero was killed due to hatred of the faith on March 24, 1980, in the midst of the birth of a civil war between leftist guerrillas and the dictatorial government of the right. At the beginning of this year Pope Francis approved of his martyrdom and that the ceremony of his beatification be held.

The Mass began at 10:00 a.m. local time in front of a multitude of near 300,000 people, who filled the streets surrounding the Salvador Plaza of the Mundo de San Salvador.

Go here for the rest of the story.

To date, no one has ever been prosecuted for the assassination, or confessed to it, or took credit for it.”