December 3, 2009

Lipstick on a Pig: AP Describes ADP’s Job-Loss Decline as Better Than Expected

APabsolutelyPathetic0109The coverage yesterday by the Associated Press’s Stephen Bernard of payroll and human resources giant ADP’s monthly jobs report for November focused on a relatively small reduction in the size of the decline in jobs lost and not on the fact that continuing to lose jobs is a bad thing.

That rhetorical sleight of hand enabled the AP reporter to tell us that ADP’s reported private sector job loss during the month of 169,000 — down from 203,000 in October — was actually good news, because even though it was a decline in the number of people working, the decline of the decline "was not as much as forecast." The forecast was for 160,000 jobs lost.

Readers of a previous version of this post will note that I allowed myself to believe that Bernard had erred when he did not. I apologize for not getting that right. And here I thought I would make it through the whole year without a mistake. :–>

What follows is a graphic of the first few paragraphs of Bernard’s report:

APonADPjobsReport120309

Having disposed of that confusion, let’s move on to the incredible bar-lowering in the final excerpted paragraph. Since when is "stabilization in cuts" part of what "is considered vital to a strong economic recovery"? Since when is "stabilization in cuts" part of a recovery at all? If the cuts "stabilize" at 150,000 – 200,000 a month, will we really be "recovering"? That would be roughly 2 million jobs lost per year, and we still supposedly be in the process of a "recovery." I suppose they could "stabilize" at a higher number and still be okay by Bernard’s definition.

Bernard’s bobble could be excused as an isolated incident if other similar mistakes weren’t so rampant in other AP business reports. But they are. Just off the top of the head, their journalists think that:

  • The national debt is the sum of Uncle Sam’s reported annual deficits. We should be so lucky, but that’s not the case.
  • That the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were major contributors to the $962 billion increase in the reported fiscal 2009 deficit vs. fiscal 2008. As seen here (go to Page 2 at link), the entire Defense Department’s year-over-year spending increase of $42 billion was less than 5% of that total, so the wars themselves couldn’t possibly have been a major factor in the overall year-over-year increase.
  • Seasonally adjusted job losses, which is what the government reports each month, represent real jobs lost in the real world. They don’t. For example, job gains on the ground in October (subject to adjustment tomorrow) were 641,000:

    BLSnotSeasJobChanges2003to2007

    But because the reported on-the-ground gain was less than the gains in most previous years (the 2004-2007 average gain was a bit under 800,000), that led to a reported seasonally adjusted job loss of 190,000.

This level of ignorant and biased reporting from AP is why people are proactively seeking alternatives. As they should.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP Report on Ford Nov. Sales Holds Huge Planned Production Increase Until Very End

FordYesGMchryslerNo1109

In their report on Ford’s November sales results, the Associated Press’s Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin seemed to downplay the company’s pretty decent month, and definitely downplayed the company’s better near-term prospects compared to its principal rivals. Additionally, despite the report’s Wednesday time stamp, the pair didn’t update the item’s content to compare Ford’s performance to its competitors.

Via the Wall Street Journal, here is the detail for Ford and the others:

  • General Motors — 150,305 units sold, down 1.5% from November 2008.
  • Toyota — 133,700 units, up 2.6%.
  • Ford — 118,215 units, down 0.1%.
  • Honda — 74,003 units, down 2.9%.
  • Chrysler — 63,560 units, down 25.5%.
  • Nissan — 56,288 units, up 20.8%.

Here are excerpts from Krisher/Durbin’s work; wait until you see what the Krisher and Durbin saved for their last paragraph (bolds are mine):

Ford’s November sales steady
1 day ago

Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday U.S. sales held steady in November as buyers snapped up fuel-efficient cars and crossovers, a sign that the market for new vehicles remains on a path to recovery.

Ford’s sales were essentially flat compared to last November, at 122,846. But sales of crossovers rose 26 percent and sales of cars rose 14 percent. Trucks and SUVs saw double-digit declines. Other automakers are reporting sales on Tuesday.

…. But carmakers continued to rely on discounts and other incentive spending to move inventory. Sales incentives rose 2 percent in November to $2,713 per vehicle, according to the auto Web site Edmunds.com.

Small monthly auto sales increases are likely as the economy continues its slow improvement, but larger auto sales gains will not happen until the unemployment rate drops substantially, and people feel confident spending money on big-ticket items, said Martin Zimmerman, a former Ford Motor Co. chief economist who now teaches at the University of Michigan.

…. Ford said its hybrid sales increased 73 percent, to 2,361, as buyers gravitated toward gas sippers. At about $2.65 per gallon, regular gasoline is up around 50 cents over November of last year.

The Ford Fusion sedan, which leads the mid-size category in fuel-efficiency at 34 miles per gallon, posted a 54-percent increase from last November, shattering its previous record for full-year sales.

…. Ford showed some optimism for the coming year, increasing first-quarter production plans by 58 percent to 550,000 vehicles. Its fourth-quarter production plan is unchanged.

Points:

  • The fact that about 900 buyers “gravitated” towards hybrids at a company that sells over 100,000 vehicles a month is hardly worth reporting.
  • The incentives figure cited is for all companies. The incentives at Ford were actually about 15% higher, which despite the generally good news out of Dearborn is probably not a good thing.
  • Here’s a question no one seems to be asking — Are buyers going to fuel-efficient cars and crossovers because of gas prices, or are they hurting so badly financially that they can’t afford anything better?

Finally, when’s the last time you saw a planned 58% increase in production described as an expression of “some optimism”? If Ford keeps that up during all of 2010, it will produce about 1.9 million units after taking shutdowns and holidays into account. That would lead one to believe that Ford is anticipating double-digit increases in unit sales next year, which starkly contrasts with the overall “on the path to recovery” picture painted by Krisher and Durbin.

Does anyone think that government/union-controlled GM or Chrysler are planning big production increases next year?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Lucid Links (120309, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:57 am

Great catch by Taranto at the WSJ’s Best of the Web on Obama’s Afghanistan speech:

Little wonder Obama also said in his speech that “the wrenching debate over the Iraq war is well-known and need not be repeated here.” That’s easier than admitting that he has changed his mind and now regards Iraq as having been an al Qaeda safe haven and source of international terrorism.

This is yet another in a long, long line of instances where the Left casually discards what it once considered core arguments when it becomes convenient and/or expedient to do so. That’s what happens when your real core values consist only of power and control.

The hope is that the rest of us will forget their previous contradictory dictums. That worked pretty well 20 years ago. Taranto has demonstrated that it doesn’t work any more.

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Hapless Hannity — I thought that Sean Hannity would stop going after Alicia, one of his assistants who recently got married, once she tied the knot. Before she got married, up to just days before her wedding, Hannity wasted precious broadcast minutes seemingly every day trying to talk her out of marrying her beau.

I was wrong. He was after her yet again yesterday about some kind of argument the now-married couple may or may not have had.

Hannity obviously thinks this is entertaining. Maybe it was, for five minutes on one day, many months ago. But now this non-stop harassment is enough to make you wonder if he believes in what he says about family values.

Sean, leave the couple alone.

Heaven help us if Rush ever goes off the air and Hannity is considered conservative talk’s leading light.

Hannity at least seems to have stopped trying to push “the new GM” onto his listeners. The sad thing is that in my opinion he had to hear from listeners and read posts from bloggers (or more likely to have his peeps do it for him) before he figured out that supporting a bailed-out, state-run company betrays sensible conservatism.

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Quick Climategate Update, from James Delingpole at the UK Telegraph — “It’s All Unravelling Now.”

While on the subject, it’s interesting how the press continues to characterize the information taken as “hacked,” as in obtained in an electronic break-in by outsiders, when the evidence points to at least an equal chance that it was surreptitiously spirited away by an insider. If it’s the latter, the person who did is this decade’s Daniel Ellsberg, in a heist with far more valuable substance than Ellsberg’s purloined Pentagon Papers ever revealed.

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Speaking of the AP article linked in the previous item, there’s this gem at the end:

The chairman of the Academy of Science panel, Texas A&M University atmospheric scientist Gerald North, said even if (Climategate e-mail authors/data cookers) Jones, Mann and others had done no research at all, the world would still be warming and scientists would still be able to show it.

I read the bolded text as an admission that “we can’t show it now.”

In other words, there’s no other convincing evidence. In other words, nothing’s “settled.” In other words, Copenhagen is a pointless waste of time and money.

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Speaking of Copenhagen and Denmark — “Denmark rife with CO2 fraud”:

Police and authorities in several European countries are investigating scams worth billions of kroner, which all originate in the Danish quota register. The CO2 quotas are traded in other EU countries.

Denmark’s quota register, which the Energy Agency within the Climate and Energy Ministry administers, is the largest in the world in terms of personal quota registrations. It is much easier to register here than in other countries, where it can take up to three months to be approved.
Ekstra Bladet reporters have found examples of people using false addresses and companies that are in liquidation, which haven’t been removed from the register.

One of the cases, which stems from the Danish register, involves fraud of more than 8 billion kroner.

At roughly 5 kroners/dollar, that’s about $1.6 billion, which is roughly $300 for every man, woman and child in Denmark.

The Danish debacle is a prelude of things to come on a much larger scale if the “trade” part of cap and trade ever becomes a worldwide reality.

Positivity: Archbishop Dolan to mark 30th anniversary of Archbishop Sheen’s death with memorial Mass

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:44 am

From New York:

Dec 3, 2009 / 05:25 am

Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan will celebrate a special St. Patrick’s Cathedral Mass on Dec. 9 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. The Mass will be broadcast live on the Catholic television network EWTN.

Archbishop Sheen was a radio host and bestselling author who also hosted the popular 1950s television series “Life is Worth Living.” He served as the Bishop of Rochester, New York from 1966 to 1969.

He died on Dec. 9, 1979.

In 2002, Archbishop Sheen was declared a Servant of God. In 2008, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints opened his cause to consider his beatification and canonization.

Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan will be the main celebrant and homilist at the memorial Mass.

The archbishop has told EWTN host Raymond Arroyo that he had the chance to meet the famous prelate several times. However, he only became interested in him during his graduate work on the history of the Catholic Church in the U.S. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.