June 1, 2011

AP’s Lame Excuse for Consumer Confidence Dive: It Missed Post-May 18 Gas Price Drop

Warning: The following cop-out explanation by Associated Press Retail Writer Mae Anderson will make many readers’ heads hurt. Knowledge that she found an economist willing to support it may cause migraines.

Consumer confidence as reported by The Conference Board fell to 60.8 in May from 66.0 in April — “unexpectedly,” of course, as the headline for Ms. Anderson’s article indicates.

But really, it was just a blip and super-duper confidence is just around the corner. Just ask Chris Christopher (yeah, that’s his real name):

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AP’s Wiseman Rolls Out a New But Tiresome Description of the Economy

YawningGuyAssociated Press Economics Writer Paul Wiseman apparently exhausted his supply of adjectives to describe the current state of the U.S. economy, and came up with a new one.

Today’s news wasn’t good. The Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index plunged from 60.4% to 53.5%. While still indicating expansion (any value above 50% means that), it’s the biggest one-month drop since January 1984, a factoid impressively relayed by the AP’s David Wagner earlier today. ADP’s private-sector payroll report showed only 38,000 jobs added in May, the lowest number since September. May car sales slumped.

So how did Paul Wiseman describe the economy? See after the jump if you’re on the home page (bolds are mine):

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The Hermanator Leads Among GOP Straws

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:40 pm

Too bad straws don’t vote.

Nonetheless: Take that, Krauthammer and Rove
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From the ‘You Get What You Pay For’ Dept.

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 2:22 pm

Via the Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Kiesewetter:

WLW-AM Fires Talk Host Eric Deters

WLW-AM weekend/fill-in talk host Eric Deters is no longer with the station, after posting a video blog on Facebook last week saying that “if you want to conquer an African nation, send white women and pot.”

… He was the station’s 9 p.m.-midnight talk host last year, from September through December, for which he was not paid a dime, he said. When he asked for compensation, the station told him in December that he was being cut back starting in January to doing only weekends, and filling in sometimes for Cunningham, including last Wednesday-Thursday when Cunningham was in New York prepping for his fall daytime TV show. He was paid $10/hour January-March, he said …

WLW: The Huffington Post of radio broadcasting. I’m not throwing a pity party for Deters, who richly deserved the boot. I am telling “The Nation’s Station” that if you want legitimate talent, you have to at least pay a bit more than peanuts for it. If a guy’s willing to work for nothing, something’s out of whack.

Memo to WLW Program Director Daryl Parks: How’s that focus on “entertainment” workin’ out for ya?

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UPDATE: Mark at Weapons of Mass Discussion has more.

ISM Manufacturing: Still in Expansion, But a Serious Drop (UPDATE: ADP Private Payrolls Increase Only 38K)

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 11:05 am

The news from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) is not good:

The PMI registered 53.5 percent and indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector for the 22nd consecutive month. This month’s index, however, registered 6.9 percentage points below the April reading of 60.4 percent, and is the first reading below 60 percent for 2011, as well as the lowest PMI reported for the past 12 months. Slower growth in new orders and production are the primary contributors to this month’s lower PMI reading.

Okay, it’s still in expansion (any reading above 50% means expansion). But we have to remember that manufacturing is only about 15% of the economy. In April the Non Manufacturing Index (NMI) took a 4.5-point dive, moving from 57.3% to 52.8%. If the Manufacturing Index is a precursor to another NMI drop, we’re going to be looking at 85% of the economy seen as in contraction by those who are on the front lines. Yikes.

The Associated Press says that “the decline was the biggest since 1984.” Good research: That decline in January of that year was from an on-fire 69.9% to still white-hot 60.0%.

Zero Hedge says that the expected reading was 57.1%. Ouch.

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UPDATE: The ADP Employment Report came in at a tepid +38,000.

Further, from the detail (PDF):

May’s ADP Report estimates employment in the service-providing sector rose by 48,000, marking 17 consecutive months of employment gains while employment in the goods-producing sector fell 10,000 following six months of increases. Manufacturing employment fell 9,000 in May following seven consecutive monthly gains.

Employment among large businesses, defined as those with 500 or more workers, decreased by 19,000, while employment among medium-size businesses, defined as those with between 50 and 499 workers, increased by 30,000. Employment for small businesses, defined as those with fewer than 50 workers, rose 27,000 in May.*

Two years after the end of the recession, we still have large companies on a net basis letting people go? Meanwhile, small-business job growth, which is supposed to the engine of employment resurgences, is mediocre.

Zero Hedge says that expectations were for +175,000. Blindfolded kids throwing darts just leaving a tilt-a-whirl ride could have done better than that.

UPDATE 2: Before ADP’s bombshell, expectations were that Friday’s employment report from Uncle Sam would come in at between +175k and +200k.

O, M, G: Tressel for U.S. Senate?

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

I told myself that I wouldn’t post anything about the Jim Tressel/Ohio State mess. After all, this isn’t a sports blog.

Then along came Bertram de Souza at the Youngstown Vindicator with an idea that is so dumb that Kevin DeWine, head of ORPINO (the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only), might actually like it.

The idea: Jim Tressel as the GOP’s U.S. Senate challenger against Sherrod Brown in 2012.

Dear readers, before moving on, please put down all drinks. For your own personal safety, move all sharp objects out of reach.

… Okay. Are we ready? If you’re on the home page, click “more” to continue.
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IBD: ‘Obama Recovery Still Feeble After Two Years’

Filed under: Economy,General,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:00 am

In an editorial yesterday:

the fact is that the Obama recovery is one of the worst ever. Certainly the worst since the Great Depression. It’s so bad, in fact, that even 24 months after the recession officially ended there are few places beyond the stock market and corporate profits that have shown much, if any, improvement. A few examples:

• Jobs: The number of people with jobs has barely changed since June 2009 — up just 0.4%.

• Unemployment: While the unemployment rate has dropped a bit, the number of long-term unemployed is up by a third, and the average length of unemployment is now a staggering 38 weeks.

• Earnings: Median weekly earnings are down slightly between Q3 2009 and Q1 2011, after adjusting for inflation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

• Housing prices: The National Association of Realtors reports that median price for existing home sales dropped 10% since June 2009.

• Gas prices: Pump prices climbed 52% over the past two years, according to the Department of Energy.

… the millions of families still worried about keeping their jobs and their homes also need to hear how the GOP can get the economy moving again.

Almost two years after the recession ended, we’re still asking “Rebound? What Rebound?” And don’t even think about where we’d be if it weren’t for Texas, where half of the nation’s net new jobs have been added since the recession ended.

The results obtained completely gut any credibility Keynesian economics ever had. Yet guess who wants to double down? That’s right, the stimulus’s final vote in the Senate in February 2009, Sherrod Brown (HT Ohio GOP):

Brown said the administration of President Barack Obama has spent a lot of energy in efforts to right the economy in the last two years, but those efforts are not showing up enough in Cincinnati, Forest Park and other communities. He called for another stimulus package that would focus more on improving infrastructure. But he said he realizes that communities are now in a mode of trying to figure out how to survive under federal and state budget cuts being made by Republicans.

Positivity: Cardinal Bertone: Church on the front lines in fight against AIDS

Filed under: Health Care,Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Vatican City:

May 28, 2011 / 10:22 am

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said the Catholic Church is on the front lines in the fight against AIDS. He explained that the Church not only has a health care network of 117,000 centers, but also generates “invisible capital” by recognizing the fundamental dignity of every person.

During a Vatican conference on AIDS prevention organized by the Good Samaritan Foundation, which operates under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, Cardinal Bertone said the Church “has been deeply committed to this task (of fighting AIDS) from the beginning, and the health care facilities that are in places where the populace is most affected are proof of this.”

The conference is being held May 27 and 28 in Rome.

Cardinal Bertone said the “invisible capital” created by the Church consists of policies such as education in overcoming prejudices, encouragement in treating those who are HIV-positive with dignity and respect, and fostering awareness of the contribution “that they can and should make to the family and to society.”

“Today, thanks to the experience acquired throughout the years, we understand even better the importance of these aspects not only for the sustaining of those persons who are affected, but also for the preventing of infection and for the effectiveness of treatment itself. This is a dimension that deserves to be broadened, and that is the framework for this conference,” the cardinal said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.