February 24, 2011

AP Fails to Note That Jan. 2011 Was Worst Single-Month New Home Sales Total on Record

Although it would be unfair to characterize Derek Kravitz’s report at the Associated Press this morning on the Census Bureau’s new home sales report as anything but bleak, the AP reporter missed what should have been the most obvious stat: The 19,000 new homes actually sold nationwide in January 2011 (i.e., not seasonally adjusted, real number) is the lowest for any single month on record in the 48 years the Bureau has been reporting this information.

Kravitz also demonstrated that he has picked up a couple of bad habits the AP’s Martin Crutsinger displayed when reporting on news home sales during several previous months. First, he set the bar which would represent a legitimate industry recovery artificially low. Second, he gave readers the impression that the current housing market is better than it was a “nearly half-century” ago, which of course it isn’t.

Here are several paragraphs from Kravitz’s creation:

New-home sales in January drop 12.6 pct

Sales of new homes fell significantly in January, a dismal sign after the worst year for that sector in nearly a half-century. [1]

New-home sales dropped to a seasonally adjusted rate of 284,000 homes last month, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That’s down from 325,000 in December and less than half the 600,000-a-year pace that economists view as healthy. [2]

Bad winter weather likely hampered some sales, although the industry has been struggling since the housing bubble burst in 2006.

Last year was the fifth consecutive year that new-home sales have declined after hitting record highs during the housing boom. Buyers purchased 322,000 new homes last year, the fewest annual total on records going back 47 years. Economists say it could take years before sales return to a healthy pace.

… Mortgage applications are now near their lowest levels in 15 years.


  • [1] — A reasonable reader would take “the worst year for that sector in nearly a half-century” to mean that some year during the early 1960s was worse. It’s not even close, even before adjusting for population growth. Census Bureau reporting began in 1963, when 560,000 units were sold. Total sales during the next two years were slightly higher. Given that economic growth was positive during every year from 1960-1965, it’s inconceivable that sales fell below the 322,000 annual total seen in 2010 during the three earliest years of the decade. I demonstrated late last year that 2010 was really the worst year in the new home market since World War II.
  • [2] — Kravitz’s assertion that a pace of 600,000 new homes sold per year would represent a “healthy pace” flies in the face of history. Only two years since 1983 (1990 and 1991) have come in with lower totals — and the nation’s population was about 19% lower than it is today. The recovery bar is really an annual pace of 750,000 – 800,000.

Finally, as would be expected, Kravitz fails to broach the possibility that Obama administration policies and programs or government-sponsored entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have had anything to do with why the homebuilding industry remains in the pits. That would seem to be a more important factor than January’s bad weather in parts of the country.

It will be interesting to see how cheerleaders like Julie Schmit at USA Today, who composed a comic column on how “Optimism for home sales adds up” in late December, react to January 2011′s all time single-month record low. A reasonable guess: Silence.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

30-Minute Drill: Quick Hit Headlines and Highlights (022411, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:06 am

30 minutes, no timeouts:


Dubious assertion, via Bloomberg:

While violent unrest has also spread to Bahrain, Iran and Yemen, none of those regimes has used as much force to quell protesters as Libya.

I suspect that this is more of a function of what news gets out than the actual level of force actually being applied, and that Iranian dissidents might strongly disagree.


Accurate assertion, via a teacher who wrote to Michelle Malkin:

The truth is that any teacher who does not hold down the talking points of the unions, DNC or Obama White House needs to keep quiet to keep their job.

This is true, even in some areas of the country where you wouldn’t expect it to be the case.


Pathetic assertion, via President Obama:

“It is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice,” he said.

It would be progress if Obama and his administration would “spoke with one voice.” Not even close, as exhaustively illustrated here in the case of Egypt.


Uninformed assertion, via Michael Gormley at the Associated Press (“Catholic blogger: No Communion for NY Gov. Cuomo”):

Bishops and priests have allowed the Catholic Democrat to receive Communion for years, including at Christmas last year and at a Mass last month marking his inauguration. The practice appears to conform to church law.

Matt Hadro at NewsBusters points out the obvious (internal link added by me):

The Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law 915 explicitly states that those “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy Communion.”

… Cuomo, who himself is divorced and lives with his divorced girlfriend, is living in a state of “public concubinage” and adultery – gravely sinful and a state that excludes someone from receiving Communion. In addition, Cuomo supports abortion and gay marriage – both serious issues that are in direct opposition with Church teaching.

In the current circumstances, any priest or bishop who chooses to deny Communion to Cuomo not only has the discretion to do so, but arguably is duty-bound to do so.

The two real issues here are:

  • First, that alleged “Catholic” Democrats want the political benefits of religious affiliation without having to actually adhere to the strictures of that religion. They’re treating receiving Communion as an entitlement. It’s not.
  • Second, that bishops and priests have been taking the easy way out with pretend-Catholic politicians for way too long.


Hypocritical assertions –These come from via Bill Clinton, the ARIFPOTUS (Accused Rapist and Impeached Former President Of The United States), after he and Bush 41 were named honorary chairs of — I’m not kidding — the University of Arizona’s National Institute for Civil Discourse.

First, this:

Meeting them (our challenges) requires an honest dialogue celebrating both a clarification of our differences and a genuine stand for principled comparisons.

Clinton also said this:

“… I believe that the National Institute for Civil Discourse can elevate the tone of dialogue in our country, and in so doing, help us to keep moving toward ‘a more perfect union.’”

You have to wipe your eyes to make sure that the quotes above really came from the Hill and CNN and not the Onion.

These statement come from the guy who viciously trashed Ken Starr, Linda Tripp, Kathleen Willey, and others who had the goods on his clearly uncivil conduct, while he, his administration and his party uncivilly and dishonestly demonized any and all Republicans and conservatives who wished to rein in the entitlement state and spending as wanting to starve children, throw seniors on the streets, and make the air and water dirtier. Spare me.

Positivity: Boy Without a Cerebellum Baffles Doctors

Filed under: Health Care,Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From New York (video at link):

Feb 12, 2011 – 1:42 PM

Heather and David Britton want everyone to understand a few things about their giggling, bespectacled 3-year-old son, Chase.

“He’s happy. We call him the Little Gremlin. He loves to play tricks on people. He loves to sing. His goal in life is to make people smile,” Heather Britton told AOL News.

“He’s got so much love around him. We’re an extremely happy family. His story is not tragic.”

But to an outsider, the Brittons’ story might seem heartbreaking.

Another son, Trey, was born 11 weeks early and only expected to live moments. Instead, he died six weeks after his birth in 2008, on the same day he was scheduled to receive a liver transplant. Cleared to get pregnant again, the couple was thrilled when Chase was conceived, Britton said. They were eager to give older son Alex, 13, a sibling.

Chase was also born prematurely, and he was legally blind. When he was 1 year old, doctors did an MRI, expecting to find he had a mild case of cerebral palsy. Instead, they discovered he was completely missing his cerebellum — the part of the brain that controls motor skills, balance and emotions.

“That’s when the doctor called and didn’t know what to say to us,” Britton said in a telephone interview. “No one had ever seen it before. And then we’d go to the neurologists and they’d say, ‘That’s impossible.’ ‘He has the MRI of a vegetable,’ one of the doctors said to us.”

Chase is not a vegetable, leaving doctors bewildered and experts rethinking what they thought they knew about the human brain.

“There are some very bright, specialized people across the country and in Europe that have put their minds to this dilemma and are continuing to do so, and we haven’t come up with an answer,” Dr. Adre du Plessis, chief of Fetal and Transitional Medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., told Fox News affiliate WGRZ.

“So it is a mystery.”

Chase also is missing his pons, the part of the brain stem that controls basic functions, such as sleeping and breathing. There is only fluid where the cerebellum and pons should be, Britton said.

Britton’s pregnancy was complicated, so doctors closely monitored her. Deepening the mystery, she has detailed ultrasound pictures of Chase’s brain during various stages of fetal development and the images clearly show he once had a cerebellum.

“That is actually a fundamental part of the dilemma,” du Plessis told WGRZ. “If there was a cerebellum, what happened to it?”

Doctors found no signs of a brain bleed, hemorrhage or stroke, and no damage to any other part of his brain, Britton said. Technically, his diagnosis is cerebellar hypoplasia, which normally means a small cerebellum rather than a missing one.

Chase’s case, du Plessis said, challenges “fundamental principles.” And its impact is certain to reach far beyond one little boy and his family.

“It is cases like this that rally the support of the medical community, that harness the interest of other investigators, that stimulate people to try and find solutions,” he told WGRZ, “and those repercussions will have an impact on a much broader population of kids.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.