September 1, 2015

August ISM Manufacturing Index: 51.1 Percent vs. 52.5 Expectations, Down From 52.7 in July (Update: Construction Spending Comes in Strong)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:24 am

From the Institute for Supply Management (bolds are mine; some paragraph breaks added by me):

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in August for the 32nd consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 75th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

The August PMI® registered 51.1 percent, a decrease of 1.6 percentage points from the July reading of 52.7 percent.

The New Orders Index registered 51.7 percent, a decrease of 4.8 percentage points from the reading of 56.5 percent in July. The Production Index registered 53.6 percent, 2.4 percentage points below the July reading of 56 percent.

The Employment Index registered 51.2 percent, 1.5 percentage points below the July reading of 52.7 percent. Inventories of raw materials registered 48.5 percent, a decrease of 1 percentage point from the July reading of 49.5 percent. The Prices Index registered 39 percent, down 5 percentage points from the July reading of 44 percent, indicating lower raw materials prices for the 10th consecutive month. The New Export Orders Index registered 46.5 percent, down 1.5 percentage points from the July reading of 48 percent.

Comments from the panel reflect a mix of modest to strong growth depending upon the specific industry, the positive impact of lower raw materials prices, but also a continuing concern over export growth.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 10 are reporting growth in August …

Six of the remaining eight industries were in contraction.

Expectations as seen at Yahoo’s Business Calendar averaged 52.5 percent.

51.1 percent, while still expansion (any reading above 50 percent represents expansion), is certainly not strongly so.

Of the three primary GDP drivers, the New Orders and Production declines are certainly significant, and Backlog of Order remained in contraction, while less seriously so (46.5 percent in August vs. 42.5 percent in July).

The problem for some time has been that this index has portrayed a rosier picture than we have seen in the related government data, which has mostly been in a year-over-year hard-data decline during 2015 thus far. So today’s news doesn’t bode well for third quarter GDP, which by many estimates is due to come in at an annualized 2.0 percent or below — perhaps far below.

I believe that ISM, although not intentionally so, is cherry-picking manufacturing facilities which are doing well and not adequately considering those which either aren’t doing well or have closed. I would suggest that since ISM’s index isn’t positive by all that much, the manufacturing sector as a whole is likely in at least a mild contraction.


UPDATE: Better news came from the Census Bureau’s July Construction Spending report:

&The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced today that construction spending during July 2015 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,083.4 billion, 0.7 percent (±1.5%)* above the revised June estimate of $1,075.9 billion. The July figure is 13.7 percent (±2.0%) above the July 2014 estimate of $952.5 billion.

During the first 7 months of this year, construction spending amounted to $583.2 billion, 9.3 percent (±1.5%) above the $533.7 billion for the same period in 2014.

June’s increase was revised up from +0.1 percent to 0.7 percent.


Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (090115)

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: The ‘Share a Coke’-inspired Marriage Proposal

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Atlanta (HT Daryn Kagan):

Jul 23, 2015

“I owe her a grand moment,” Wil Ramos says, with a serious expression that quickly curls into a smile. “She’s going to be so surprised.”

A little less than 24 hours later, he greets Trunshedda Washington, his girlfriend of five years, at The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, where he works as a senior change manager.

Trunshedda thinks she’s there for a Coca-Cola function, but Wil has bigger things in mind. They walk to the Jacobs Pharmacy soda fountain on the company’s newly renovated campus and take seats at the counter. Wil orders two Coke floats.

The waitress brings over two tall glasses with scoops of vanilla ice cream and red straws, then a pair of glass bottles of Coca-Cola with the labels facing away from the couple. Wil slowly rotates the first, which has “Marry” printed on the label, then the second, which reads “Me.”

He drops to one knee, pulls an engagement ring from his pocket and slides it on Trunshedda’s finger.

“I set it up so she’d say yes,” he said.

And she did. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 31, 2015

Why Is the Press So Quiet About Illinois Lottery Winners Not Getting Paid?

Silly me. I really thought that every state’s lottery operation was walled off from the rest of its finances. They collect bets, pay out winnings and administrative costs, and turn over the profits to general fund. End of discussion. No muss, no fuss. Right?

In Illinois, based on recent developments, we know that’s obviously not the case — leading me to wonder how many other states potentially have the same problem the Land of Lincoln currently has. You see, the state is about to move into the third month of a budget standoff between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and its Democrat-controlled state legislature. As a result, because the lottery’s operations are at least in a legal sense commingled with the rest of the state’s finances, its comptroller has been forced to cancel payouts of lottery winnings greater than $25,000. It appears that very few media outlets outside of Illinois are interested in covering this obviously important story. Why?



Begala Calls Dick Cheney a ‘Sociopath’ — Then Apologizes to Sociopaths

This is obviously sarcasm: Right behind all the positive racial healing we’ve seen during Barack Obama’s presidency is the vast improvement in the degree of civility seen and heard in leftist discourse.

Obviously, that’s not so. Hillary Clinton calls GOP presidential candidates “terrorists” and invokes Nazi-era images of illegal immigrants being “loaded into boxcars.” The press — which would treat either utterance as front-page news if said by a Republican or conservative — gives her a pass, and some of its members are virtually cheering her on. Barack Obama calls his opponents “crazies,” arguably even including some Democrats on matters on the Iran “deal,” aka the “orchestrated surrender to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.” Former Bill Clinton administration and current Hillary Clinton insider Paul Begala joined the parade today as he attacked Dick Cheney:



Press Fawns Over ‘Black Lives Matter’ Rally, Ignores 20K ‘All Lives Matter’ March

On Saturday, “more than 20,000” people — perhaps as many as 25,000 to 30,000, according to some police — marched through the streets of Birmingham, Alabama at a Glenn Beck-led “Restoring Unity” rally chanting “All Lives Matter.” The event has been described as possibly “the largest march in Birmingham since the civil rights marches of 1963.”

Searches at Google News and at the Associated Press’s main national and “Big Story” sites indicate that no establishment press outlet gave the rally national coverage. The AP only managed to push out terse three-paragraph and seven-paragraph local stories. Meanwhile, a Reuters story on the less than peaceful march by the “Black Lives Matter” crowd attended by an estimated 325 (compared to an expected 900) in Minneapolis was carried at Yahoo News and the New York Times (at least).



PolitiFact Howler: Saying That PP Does No Mammograms Is Only ‘Half True’

In the course of evaluating a claim made by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a prolife group, PolitiFact Georgia’s crack investigators learned from a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Federation of America that the organization “does not provide mammograms at any of its health centers.” Since such facilities must be licensed by the Food and Drug Administration, no PPFA facility can legally perform a mammogram.

The claim ADF made in a tweet is that “ZERO @PPFA facilities are licensed to do mammograms.” On August 21, despite PPFA’s de facto acknowledgment that ADF is correct, PolitiFact Georgia determined that ADF’s claim is only “Half True.”



Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (083115)

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: Siri ‘butt dial’ to 911 brings rescuers to trapped victim

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Murfreesboro and Nashville, Tennessee (HT Daryn Kagan):

Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, 10:40 AM

A Vanderbilt patient who survived the unthinkable has brought a whole new meaning to the term “butt dialing” and believes that prayer, along with a little help from Siri, saved his life.

Sam Ray, 18, was never a fan of Siri, the hands-free virtual assistant on Apple iPhones, until he found himself pinned under his truck with Siri as his only way to call for help.

On July 2, the recent high school graduate was working under his truck, which was lifted up on a jack in the driveway of his family’s Murfreesboro, Tennessee, home. Needing a little advice, he called his father, who encouraged him to stop what he was doing until they could look at the truck together. Sam put his phone in his back pocket and proceeded to slide out from under the truck when the jack gave way, causing the nearly 5,000-pound vehicle to fall on him.

“I just kept praying out loud, ‘Lord, get me out of this,’” Sam said. “I kept reciting Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’”

He yelled for help, but no one could hear him. Helpless and alone, he suddenly heard the familiar sound of Siri activating in his back pocket and realized that this iPhone feature could possibly allow him to call for help.

His arms were trapped, making it impossible to access his phone, but he was able to push up on his hip to activate Siri in his pocket and request that his phone call 911. After several attempts, he heard a voice on the line and realized he had gotten through.

“When I heard a woman talking from inside my pocket, I just started shouting,” Sam said. “I didn’t know if she could hear me or not, but I heard her say that help was just around the corner.”

Responders with Rutherford County Emergency Medical Services, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department, the Rutherford County Fire Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol responded to Sam’s call. They were able to move him out from under the vehicle and then transported him to the Vanderbilt LifeFlight base in Murfreesboro, where he was then flown to Vanderbilt.

“We’re always concerned with crush injuries, and the longer a patient is trapped, the more problems they can have,” said Kirk Krokosky, one of Sam’s flight nurses. “He could have been there for hours, but as fate would have it, Siri was sort of his guardian angel.”

During the estimated 40 minutes that Sam was under his truck, he sustained three broken ribs, a bruised kidney, a cut on the forehead, and second- and third-degree burns to one arm that was under the exhaust pipe.

However, an accident like this could have easily had a very different outcome, said his doctor, Richard Miller, M.D., Chief of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care and professor of Surgery at Vanderbilt.

“A tool like Siri is a modern-day rescue item that we didn’t have in the past and potentially saved him from more serious or long-term complications from his crush injury.”“He’s very lucky. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 30, 2015

Ignorant Miami Sportswriter Criticizes ‘Anti-Government’ Crowd

Miami Herald sportwriter and columnist Greg Cote, whose career has entered or is about to enter its third decade, seems to have incorporated a sideline into his work: glib, ignorant political commentary.

One such example surfaced at the end of his August 25 Random Evidence blog post. Apparently, Cote believes that anyone who has ever received any kind of government benefit or has made use of a government service at any time in their life is a flaming hypocrite if they believe that Uncle Sam and other public entities should be able to survive on less money than they currently spend. They’re also hypocrites if they believe that the federal government has become far too intrusive in our everyday affairs and threatening to the fundamental freedoms identified in the naton’s Constitution. Greg, who clearly should stick to sportwriting, has convinced himself that such people are “anti-government”:



WashPost’s Ignatius Relies on Hillary Clinton Defender With Undisclosed Connections

One of the odder pieces appearing during the past week in connection with the Hillary Clinton email and private server scandal was David Ignatius’s attempt to deny that it’s a scandal at all in Thursday’s Washington Post.

Ignatius devoted four of his first five paragraphs to relaying the allegedly expert assessments of Jeffrey Smith, who Ignatius described as “a former CIA general counsel who’s now a partner at Arnold & Porter, where he often represents defendants suspected of misusing classified information.” Sounds like an arms-length guy, doesn’t he? He’s not. He has been a security adviser to Hillary Clinton’s previous presidential campaign, defended John Kerry against criticism of the Massachusetts senator’s national security negligence in 2004, and served on Bill Clinton’s presidential transition team in late 1992 and early 1993.



NY Times Headlines Make Clarence Thomas Look Like a Plagiarist

The leftist press has despised Clarence Thomas ever since he fought off their attempt at what he properly characterized as a “high-tech lynching” to become a Supreme Court justice almost 24 years ago. It has worked to smear and discredit him ever since.

The latest such effort was posted online at the New York Times on Thursday and published in its Friday print edition. The online and print edition headlines at the piece by Adam Liptak, the paper’s Supreme Court correspondent, made it appear as if the Times had discovered serious instances of plagiarism.



Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (083015)

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: Catholics in Colombia assist thousands of their brethren forced out of Venezuela

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Cucuta, Colombia:

Aug 27, 2015 / 11:36 am

With thousands of Colombian residents of Venezuela being driven from their homes amid a border crisis and martial law, the bishop of a Colombian border city is encouraging his people to assist the displaced.

Since last week, more than 6,000 Colombian residents of Venezuela have been expelled or have left voluntarily, after president Nicolas Maduro declared martial law and closed the border following the Sept. 19 injury of four Venezuelans by Colombian smugglers.

Bishop Victor Ochoa Cadavid of Cúcuta warned that Venezuela’s actions have unleashed a humanitarian crisis, and therefore asked that “the competent authorities address, in a timely and effective manner, the situation confronting the people expelled from our neighboring country.”

The bishop noted that the diocese is providing assistance to some 200 deportees through its Migration Center, “providing shelter, personal hygiene items, and food, with contributions coming from the Diocesan Food Bank and Jesuit Refugee Services.”

Bishop Ochoa added that the diocese is also providing food for the 207 persons housed in Cúcuta’s public schools and that they are “awaiting a contribution from the city administration to increase the aid.”

He also said that in La Parada, another border town located six miles south of Cúcuta, “Saint Peter the Apostle Parish is providing accommodation and food for 30 people, and they are moving forward with taking inventory of the needs in available lodging in the area. With the help of religious communities we are taking care of 196 deportees or people who are in need.”

The bishop was thankful that the fruits of this year’s Campaign for Christian Communication of Goods will be able to provide for “this complex situation, especially for children and youth.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 29, 2015

AP Treats Obama Admin’s Kansas Funding Cutoff in Planned Parenthood Fight as a Local Story

Three weeks ago, concerning Associated Press coverage of investigations into Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts business, I noted that “Bad news for Planned Parenthood gets only local coverage,” while “Exculpatory news, even if artificially concocted, gets national exposure.”

Add the following to that observation: Obama administration attempts to punish states for attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, clearly nationally significant, only get local coverage. Kansas provides such an example.