October 26, 2006

Enough Really Good Earnings News, and the Markets Go Up; Something to Remember about Tomorrow’s GDP Number

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:49 pm

The Dow closed at another record high yesterday (that’s 12 out of 17 days the Dow has hit a new record). The Nasdaq is at a 5-1/2-year high, and the S&P finished at its highest level in nearly 6 years.

This excerpt from Liz Rappaport’s column at thestreet.com lays out just how good the corporate earnings news, the primary driver of stock prices, has been:

You wouldn’t know the economy is slowing to look at corporate earnings.

With about 278 companies in the S&P 500 reporting, 76% have beat expectations, 12% have matched, and 13% have fallen short vs. the typical breakdown of 60/20/20, according to John Butters, analyst at Thomson Financial. If the season ends with 76% of company reports beating expectations, the third quarter would mark the highest number of blowouts in 10 years, he says.

The oohs and ahhs don’t end here. Companies are beating expectations by 6.1%, much more than the historical average of 3.2%, says Butters. In recent quarters, companies have beat by about 5%. In all, earnings have grown 17% in the third quarter, much more than the 14% estimate before the reporting began, says Butters.

The earnings strength has helped push major averages higher from the summer lows and again on Thursday.

Liz may need to question authority a bit, as her first sentence buys in to the 527 Media’s “slowing economy” meme. Indeed, the economist/analyst consensus for tomorrow’s preliminary number on GDP growth is in the low-2% range, including this mention of 2.1%. There also seems to be a broad belief that fourth quarter GDP with be much stronger than whatever tomorrow’s reported third-quarter number is.

If GDP has indeed slowed, it will be because the housing sector (and possibly government spending, of all things) has held the economy back. ShopFloor.org’s blog reminds us not to overlook what has kept things going — the sector that many pundits want us to believe is disappearing:

If this estimate (of 3rd quarter GDP growth) is accurate, then the manufacturing sector (which grew at a 4.3 annual rate in the 3rd quarter) will have outpaced overall GDP for 4-consecutive quarters. Manufacturing is driving the expansion. In fact, over the past year, manufacturing output has increased by 6.2 percent — the fastest 4-quarter pace in six years.

….. In fact, of the nine largest manufacturing sectors (which account for 75% of manufacturing in America) seven reached record-levels of production in 2006, including food, chemicals, computers, fabricated metals, machinery, plastics and rubber products and miscellaneous manufacturing.

The entry goes on to note that some sectors in manufacturing are indeed suffering, particularly (no surprise) those that serve the housing industry.

Could manufacturing carry the economy to third quarter GDP growth that is higher than “expected”? Stay tuned tomorrow.

Dealbreakers: Current List

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:15 pm

As a reminder, a BizzyBlog Dealbreaker is “something that completely justifies a person not voting for you, regardless of your party or your stands on the issues.”

Once any Dealbreaker is in place, discussion of where the candidate involved stands on “the issues” is over. The candidate is unacceptable by the standards of any reasonable voter, PERIOD. The choices are then limited to those candidates who remain.

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Official Dealbreakers of the current campaign season:

  • Ted Strickland Dealbreaker #1 — Voter Deception over the fact that he has been living outside of his district.
  • Ted Strickland Dealbreaker #2 — Financially Shortchanging His District by not living inside it.
  • Sherrod Brown Dealbreaker #1 — No-show Sherrod’s absence from roll call votes and key committee and subcommittee hearings.
  • Sherrod Brown Dealbreaker #2 — Late payment of taxes (19 months), and then only under legal threat (Brown can’t even remember the taxes he’s pushed on us, so “of course” he won’t remember the taxes he owes).
  • Charlie Wilson Dealbreaker (OH 6th District Congress Candidate) — living outside his district, refusing to move into it, and thereby financially shortchanging it.
  • (added 9:20 PM on Oct. 26; thanks to commenter Jason) Paul Gillmor Dealbreaker (OH 5th District Congressional Incumbent) — living outside his district, and financially shortchanging it in the process; his opponent’s Wiki entry says “(Robin) Weirauch insists that as a Congresswoman she would be far more accessible than Gillmor who does not actually live in the district, in fact, he does live a considerable drive from the district in the Columbus suburb of Dublin, Ohio and Gillmor openly admits it.” I have no reason to doubt that information. The “justification” is that Gillmor’s wife has a job in Columbus. Nice try, Paul, but no sale. When it comes to residency, a Dealbreaker is a Dealbreaker, even when you’re up-front about it. To accommodate the Strickland deception on residency, I may need a “MegaDealbreaker” category. :–> (Note: My response to a comment at another post on October 14 that named Gillmor and departing Rep. Mike Oxley as living outside of their districts addressed Oxley, but neglected to look into or respond to Gillmor’s status; I apologize for not doing that.)
  • Vic Wulsin Dealbreaker — ??? (coming soon)

In previous campaigns, before the Dealbreaker name was officially coined, these situations qualified under Dealbreaker standards:

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The Latest of 57 Reasons to Reject the Ohio Learn & Earn Initiative (102606)

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:45 am

From Jill at Writes Like She Talks (original entry relating to Jill’s effort is here) –

  • Reason 16 — “….. the first sentence of the text, which includes the mandatory instruction to the Board of Regents to award scholarships and tuition grants, fails to accomplish the very purpose that the same sentence indicates to be the raison d’etre of the amendment.”

Go there. She’s right. The detail of her post is difficult to get through (not her fault, but the amendment writers’ fault). But if you’re on the fence about OL&E, the ambiguity that is being inserted into Ohio’s Constitution should be enough to convince you to say “No.”

  • Reason 15 — (this is my quick take on Jill’s analysis) “because there is an inherent and unreconciled conflict between the amendment’s language describing the Ohio Board of Regents’ sole power to determine eligibiliy criteria for Lean & Earn scholarships, and other language that identifies specific criteria that are said to represent the ‘only’ options (whether the Regents like it or not).”

Jill’s right. The legalese is downright amateurish (perhaps deliberately so; who knows what mischief might come about outside of public scrutiny and/or attentiveness when conflicts such as the one just described get “resolved”?). If conflicting language of this nature were in draft financial statement disclosures of public companies, the auditors would go nuts and demand a cleanup before issuance.

  • Reason 14 — (again, this is my quick take) “Because the amendment writers don’t understand the difference between ‘taking’ a class and ‘completing’ a class; they don’t understand the difference between ‘accredited’ and ‘chartered’; heck, they don’t even understand the difference between ‘and’ and ‘or.’”

Bottom line: The langauge in the amendment is not just laughably sloppy, it’s dangerously sloppy. Just for starters — There are legitimate fears that it excludes home-schooled children, “08 school” attendees (e.g., Amish children), and perhaps even those in charter schools, from OL&E scholarship eligibility. There appears to be, in essence, a vague but mandatory community-service requirement that would dictate that schools who don’t administer such programs set them up.

As Jill says: “…. the directives are so poorly described and detailed as to be impossible to determine what they are, who they apply to, who is to apply them, when they begin, why they might not be awarded, and what to do with unawarded moneys.” Other than that, it’s fine (/sarcasm).

No lawmaker would say yes to such a law if OL&E as written was submitted to the legislature. No voter should allow this sludge to get into Ohio’s constitution.

Great job on this, Jill. I feel your analytical pain.

Things You Won’t Hear from Those Who Oppose Voter ID Without Truth Serum

Filed under: Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:14 am

Lawyers for “labor and poverty groups” are at it again (HT Boring Made Dull):

Lawyers for labor and poverty groups sued on Tuesday to block Ohio’s new law requiring voters to produce identification when they vote, claiming that inconsistencies in the way the law is being enforced makes it unconstitutional.

“There’s a significant risk here that tens of thousands of ballots will not be counted,” Subodh Chandra, a Cleveland attorney representing the group, said of the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

Chandra was hoping for a hearing later Tuesday on his request for a temporary order blocking enforcement of the requirements that voters produce identification before they can vote. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Service Employees International Union Local 1199 and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.

If (and only if) you administer truth serum, you’ll hear the following:

  • “We’re making up that part about inconsistencies because we’re out of arguments.”
  • “We want to keep the option of cheating open as much as possible.”

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UPDATE: Boring Made Dull has added more.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission Found Guilty of Bias

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:09 am

A “people in glass houses” story if there ever was one.

Tom Ullum, call your office, and/or your lawyer.

Peak Oilers’ Worst Nightmare

Filed under: Economy,Environment — Tom @ 8:04 am

If you thought you needed smelling salts when you learned of the WaPo’s endorsement (mentioned earlier) of Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich’s reelection, imagine the truckloads of the stuff Peak Oilers and assorted enviros are going to need when they read this:

Geologist: Earth has lots and lots of oil

SPOKANE, Wash., Oct. 20 (UPI) — A University of Washington economic geologist says there is lots of crude oil left for human use.

Eric Cheney said Friday in a news release that changing economics, technological advances and efforts such as recycling and substitution make the world’s mineral resources virtually infinite.

And the guy’s last name is Cheney!

What Is It with Crudding Up State Constitutions?

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:59 am

Totally lost in the white-hot controversy over Missouri’s Issue 2 is the fact that it has the same problem as Ohio’s Issue 2 on the minimum wage and Ohio’s Issue 3 (see Reason 18 at link) on legalizing gambling for college-scholarship money — namely adding an incredible level of complexity to state constitutions that are meant to be guiding documents, not intensely detailed legal, criminal, and administrative codes.

I would be against all three measures in any case, but the additional constitutional crud that each would cause should be dealbreakers, even for supporters.

When You Don’t Like History, Rewrite It

Filed under: Life-Based News,Scams — Tom @ 7:54 am

Not around here.

Apparently, the feminist movement has found it important to whitewash its prolife roots from its history:

Liberal scholars and pro-abortion advocates recently told Women’s eNews, an independent news organization originally founded by the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, that they are out to “reclaim” the legacy of one of America’s most famous suffragists, Susan B. Anthony.

….. an 1869 article published in Anthony’s newspaper, The Revolution ….. denounced abortion as “child murder” and went on to say “No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death.”

Liberal scholars are now claiming Anthony didn’t write the article.

The new claim by pro-abortion activists that Susan B. Anthony was not pro-life doesn’t pass the straight-face test. Anthony’s own words speak for themselves – she called abortion ‘child murder.’

….. The idea that, if you don’t like what someone said, to simply claim they didn’t say it, is taking political spin to a whole new level.

We’re not talking spin, we’re talking lies.

More historically supported prolife sentiments from early suffragists are here.

My Undisclosed Arrest Is the Other Guy’s Fault (BONUS: WaPo Cheers the Economy!)

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:49 am

Zheesh (HT Hot Air, which notes that Maryland gubernatorial candidate Martin O’Malley “could be disbarred if he did not disclose the charge of driving under the influence, of which he was found not guilty, to the Maryland Bar Association”).

No wonder the Washington Post (reach for the smelling salts) actually endorsed an incumbent Republican Governor.

While they were doing the Ehrlich endorsement, the Post let its slip show:

No doubt Mr. Ehrlich has had the good fortune to govern during good times. Having inherited a crushing deficit upon taking office in 2003, he benefited over the next three years from a muscular national economy that lifted Maryland, as it did most states, and pumped up the public coffers in Annapolis.

Who knew we had a “muscular national economy”? (/sarcasm)

Positivity: Idaho hunter survives 5 days in woods

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

Some wrong turn:

Monday, October 23, 2006 · Last updated 11:47 a.m. PT
STANLEY, Idaho — A wrong turn changed an overnight trip into nearly a week of shivering and hunger in the snowy Sawtooth Mountains for a hunter who finally made it to safety on his own.

Bill Helfferich set out on his two-day solo elk hunt on Oct. 15, but several hours after parking his truck, he took a wrong turn and found he was outside the area covered by his topographical map for a section of central Idaho near the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

After snow began falling he decided to wait out the storm, hoping rescuers would soon be on his trail when he didn’t return to his home and family in Eagle, near Boise, about 120 miles to the south.

That first night was one of the worst of his five-night ordeal, he told the Idaho Statesman.

“I shivered the whole night long,” said Helfferich, 53.

He ate snow to stifle hunger pangs, and occasionally thought of shooting tiny pine squirrels at his camp site.

“I … decided I wasn’t that hungry yet,” he said.

At one point, he said, he was surrounded by a pack of howling wolves.

Custer County Sheriff’s Deputy Levi Maydole said search groups shifted their focus to body recovery.

“Day three was hopeful, but we had to start thinking of the inevitable here,” Maydole said. “On day four, hopes begin to drain off. On day five, we don’t expect to find people in those conditions at that time of year in that wilderness.”

By Friday, Helfferich decided help wasn’t coming, so he opted to try to hike out of the woods on his own. He found some researchers studying pine beetle damage, and they gave him a ride to Stanley.

He estimated he had covered a total of about 24 miles on foot.