January 31, 2013

AP Headline’s Complaint: ‘Economic Jitters Compete With Obama Agenda’

Darn that economy. Why won’t it behave? Doesn’t it realize that Barack Obama has more important things to do than worry about its health and well-being?

That’s the tone I get from a story headline at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, about how “ECONOMIC JITTERS COMPETE WITH OBAMA AGENDA.” The poor guy; he has to pay attention to something he must have thought he could keep at bay with continued but consistent tepid job and economic growth. Trouble is, yesterday’s report from the government indicated that the economy contracted at an annualized rate of 0.1% during the fourth quarter of last year. The underlying writeup by the AP’s Jim Kuhnhenn also treats the economy as an annoying distraction or possibly even a threat to his gun contral and immigration de facto amnesty efforts (bolds are mine):

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Rush Links to and Reads From Yours Truly’s NewsBusters Post About Bloomberg Howler That GDP ‘Is an Imperfect Measure’

In his post (and on-air narrative) which began being about Obama’s Jobs Council disbanding, Rush Limbaugh went to last night’s Bloomberg News editorial about how GDP “is an imperfect measure” while referencing this morning’s NewsBusters post (BizzyBlog mirror; bolds are mine):

Obama Ends Jobs Council Because the Economy is A-OK, Despite Shrinking GDP

… So we’re gonna shut down the jobs council, but we’re not gonna close Gitmo.

… There isn’t any pro-growth policy taking place. I sound like a broken record. I think it’s hilarious the jobs council shut down, ’cause we’re now supposed to accept, okay, well, this is the new norm. Mission accomplished.

Bloomberg News. Now that the gross domestic product is contracting, i.e., the economy’s shrinking, Bloomberg’s editors have decided that GDP is an imperfect measure of progress. Just ten hours after a government report showed that the economy went into contraction for the first time in three years during the fourth quarter last year, an item written by the editors at Bloomberg News appeared last night which basically said, you know, you people that focus on GDP are making a mistake. That’s an imperfect measure of economic activity and progress. We need to be looking at indicators — I kid you not — of social progress or human happiness. So in measuring economic output, in measuring economic activity, the GDP, ah, it’s old-fashioned, doesn’t work, never was all that accurate. You shouldn’t rely on that. Don’t pay any attention. It’s an imperfect measure of progress.

Instead, we should refocus and look at the indicators of social progress or human happiness. So it’s the usual case: When things go south, the problem is the way we measure it. When the news is bad, the problem is how the news is determined (laughing), not the actual news. So we’re gonna have to change the mechanism by which we measure the economy because it’s not showing the economy in a good enough light to reflect the magnificence of our esteemed leader, “Barack Hussein Obama! Mmm! Mmm! Mmm!”

Thanks to El Rushbo for picking it up.

AP Whitewashes EPA’s Defiance of Federal Court Ruling on Ethanol Mandate

Let’s see. Last week, USA Today reported that “A federal court delivered a defeat to the biofuels industry Friday, ruling the U.S. government exceeded its authority by requiring refiners to purchase cellulosic biofuel despite the fact the next-generation fuel is not commercially available.”

Today, Matthew Daly at AP reported that the EPA in 2013 will “require production of 14 million gallons of so-called cellulosic biofuels made from grasses and woody material.” In other words, EPA, in defiance of a federal court order will continue to mandate how these fuels will be produced. Daly, of course, didn’t characterize what EPA did as direct defiance. Here are several paragraphs from Daly’s whitewash:

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Politico’s Byers Drags Romney, 13 Years After Leaving Bain Capital, Into a Story About Firm’s Involvement in Layoffs at Time

Someone needs to tell Dylan Byers at the Politico that the 2012 presidential smear campaign is over, and their guy won.

Byers seems not to have gotten the memo, and is still engaged in associating Mitt Romney with the firm he left in 1999 any time it has involvement in decisions relating to layoffs. In the current instance, Bain was engaged as an advisor to a new CEO at Time Inc. — meaning that management of the company involved could have ignored the firm’s advice — and not as an investor. It doesn’t matter to Byers, who named Romney anyway, even though Ad Age, the underlying source, didn’t (presented in full because of its brevity; bolds are mine):

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NewsBusted (012913)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 1:55 pm

A bit late, but here we go:

TOPICS:
–Super Bowl
–Whole Foods CEO
–President Obama
–Chris Matthews
–American Idol
–Transformers Movies
–Guns
–Sugar Daddies

Best Line (among many): “The New York Times is claiming that the Transformers movies are subliminally anti-Obama — unlikely reality, which is wholeheartedly anti-Obama.”

Now That GDP Is Contracting, Bloomberg’s Editors Decide That It’s ‘An Imperfect Measure of Progress’

This is so pathetic and predictable, you could almost set your watch to it.

Just ten hours after a government report showed that the economy went into contraction for the first time in three years during 2012′s fourth quarter, an item penned “by the editors” at Bloomberg News appeared which scolded us that the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) is an “imperfect measure of progress,” and that we really should be looking at indicators of “social progress or human happiness.” As usual, when things go bad in Leftyland, the problem is the yardstick, not what’s being measured. The first four paragraphs from the editorial, which reads like — no, make that “really is” — the text of a leftist political stump speech, follow the jump:

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Initial Unemployment Claims: 368K SA; 367K NSA, a 13% Year-Over-Year Drop

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:38 am

Here’s the link to DOL’s report.

I’ll have more on this shortly. …

… Okay, here are key paragraphs from DOL’s report:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending January 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 368,000, an increase of 38,000 from the previous week’s unrevised figure of 330,000. The 4-week moving average was 352,000, an increase of 250 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 351,750.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 366,596 in the week ending January 26, a decrease of 70,429 from the previous week. There were 422,287 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

As explained last week, a rise was a given, because the seasonal conversion factor for this week was 99.5 vs. much higher factors in previous weeks.

The 13% drop-off in raw claims from last year is far more than I expected, given that the two previous weeks (here and here) showed year-over-year increases in raw claims. I’m going to look around a bit to see if DOL is going to tell us if any states’ numbers were estimated. I also expect that we’ll see a return to the land of upward revisions starting next week. (see update)

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UPDATE: According to Bloomberg, analysts expected the seasonally adjusted number to come in at 350,000. It also reported that “No states estimated their claims figures last week.” Okay, I guess that means we should expect no prior-week revision next week.

As Steve notes in the comments, next week will have all the MLK and post-holiday noise flushed out, and we’ll be able to compare 2013 vs. 2012 raw claims for full business weeks. Next week’s seasonal adjustment factor is about 2.4% lower than last year’s (105.6 vs. 108.2). Raw claims for the week ended February 4 were 401K. If raw claims next week are about the same as this week’s 366K, seasonally adjusted claims will come in at 347K, and there will be renewed media dancing in the streets.

We’ll see.

Obama’s Economic Excusemakers Go Into Overdrive

Inadvertently humorous cop-outs are everywhere.

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This column went up this morning under a different title (“Obama’s Incredible Shrinking Economy”) at FrontPageMag.com.

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I believe that the funniest reaction to Wednesday’s government report on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which showed that the economy contracted by an annualized 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, was posted at my home blog. A mere 23 minutes after the report’s release, my commenter noted with mock surprise: “This bad even with all the extra guns that were sold. And they aren’t cheap.”

Government officials, wire service reporters, and pundits galore inadvertently attempted and failed to top my commenter’s sense of humor throughout the rest of the day. Sadly, they were all trying to be serious.

An unbylined dispatch from the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, released shortly after the report was issued — actually, I’m not sure about that, as the time stamp at CNBC’s web site where the report is carried is 8:11 a.m., 19 minutes before the government’s supposed embargo on the information expired — earned the award for most accidental jokes per column-inch. The report’s top three laugh lines related to “stimulus,” “cuts” in “government spending,” and tax increases.

AP’s unidentified writer characterized the contraction as “possibly providing incentive for more Federal Reserve stimulus” — as if we haven’t already had more than enough of that.

Gee, there was the $900 billion “stimulus plan” which stimulated nothing except a longer recession and slower subsequent growth. The government has run $5 trillion in deficits during the past four calendar years while adding an even larger amount to the national debt. Keynesian economic theory, which at this point would even embarrass the Keystone Cops, tells us that deficits, especially of such unprecedented magnitude, should stimulate the economy to recover at a faster pace. That’s obviously not happening. On top of all of that, Ben the Betrayer Bernanke at the Federal Reserve has bought up over $3 trillion in government debt and kept interest rates at nearly zero for several years. Those actions are also supposed to be stimulative.

With all that stimulation, the economy, according to Keynesians, should be growing at a roaring pace. Instead, annual growth since the recession officially ended 3-1/2 years ago has averaged just 2.2 percent. Average annual growth during the first 14 full quarters after the 1980s recession ended (1983, 1984, 1985, and the first half of 1986), as President Ronald Reagan was employing those allegedly useless, ineffective, and counterproductive supply-side economic policies, was 4.9 percent — over twice as fast.

AP’s next fable had to do with how “government spending cuts” were largely to blame for the negative result. In making this claim, the AP repeated a mistake the press has been ignorantly making for years in assuming that “government spending” is the same thing as “government consumption expenditures and gross investment” in the GDP report.

It isn’t. The latter term represents purchases of real goods and services plus capital investments in fixed (long-lasting) assets. It isn’t even one-third of all federal “government spending,” which includes transfer payments and myriad other items which, though in some cases defensible, don’t add economic value. The fact is that “government spending” skyrocketed by 12% from the third quarter to the fourth quarter, rising from $810 billion to $908 billion. Since expenditures and gross investment included in GDP went down, spending that added no value clearly soared by even more.

The AP’s final major gag line had to do with taxes. All of a sudden, today’s bad news “could raise fears about the economy’s ability to handle tax increases that took effect in January.”

Wait a minute. I thought that the established wisdom was that tax increases don’t hurt the economy. At least that’s what we were told during the fiscal cliff negotiations a month ago when the objective was to figure out how much the Republican House would allow the government to “soak the rich” (actually, “soak those with the highest incomes who may or may not be rich”). I think the revised formulation is: A tax increase on high earners isn’t a problem, but a Social Security tax increase on those who were promised that it would be the rich who would pay during Obama’s second term is. Uh-huh.

Giving AP’s reporters extra time to digest the news only increased the decibel level of their howlers. In a late-afternoon report, the wire service’s Christopher Rugaber trembled in fear over “the biggest threat it (the economy) faces in 2013: sharp government spending cuts and prolonged political budget fights.” Beside your problem with calling two things a (singular) “threat,” Chris, there’s haven’t been any “cuts.” If we’re lucky, we’ll only see reductions in the rate of previously projected spending increases. The economy will have a better chance of seeing a meaningful recovery if your dreaded “prolonged political budget fights” lead to even a modicum of control over what is now a runaway government. If you’re looking for threats, try looking into over-regulation, the war on fossil fuels, borders which are out of control, and at least two dozen other far more relevant factors.

Reuters pitched in with its own humdinger — “[E]conomists said Superstorm Sandy, which struck the East Coast in late October may have reduced GDP by about half a point.” Nice try, no sale. Growth during the third quarter of 2005, when Hurricane Katrina inflicted perhaps as much or even more damage to the nation’s productive capacity, especially in energy, was an annualized 3.2 percent. The Obama economy hasn’t seen a growth figure that high in three years.

Bloomberg decided to go into “What difference does it make?” mode (© 2013 Hillary Clinton), whining that “[P]oliticians have increasingly come to rely on … (GDP) as a singular tool for calibrating public policy. This is a mistake.” Folks, no matter what “tool” you use, it’s bad out here in the real world, whether you look at employment, unemployment, under-employment, wage contraction, disposable income contraction, low business start-ups — I could go on forever.

The top humor entry in the government apologists’ division came from Paul Ashworth at Capital Economics, who actually said in a note to clients: “Frankly, this is the best-looking contraction in U.S. GDP you’ll ever see.” Last time I checked, Paul, no contraction “looks good.”

There seems to be at least some chance that the GDP figure will move from contraction to a tiny amount of expansion during the next two revisions in February and March. Building on the genuine humor of my commenter, maybe the government bean-counters will find that they underestimated the value of guns purchased and concealed-carry classes held in December after the politicians started making noises about taking our guns away.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (013113)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: F-22 pilot flies boy’s letter ‘closer to heaven’

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 6:00 am

From JOINT BASE ELMENDORF RICHARDSON, Alaska , in full (HT to Bill Sloat):

1/28/2013

MacAidan “Mac” Gallegos was only 5 when his father, Army Sgt. Justin Gallegos, was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about him. On days like Jan. 24, his father’s 31st birthday, he has found a special way to celebrate his birthday and honor his memory.

“I wanted to write my dad a letter and get it as close to heaven as possible,” said Mac.

Mac and his mother Amanda Marr discussed ways to get the letter to heaven but ultimately decided that having someone fly it would be the best.

“I posted on Facebook that we were looking for a pilot who could fly the letter for Mac,” said Marr. “Kyle Moxley from HAVE Alaska contacted me and said he would coordinate and try to make it happen.”

Helping American Veterans Experience Alaska, or HAVE Alaska, was stood up in 2010 by Moxley and his wife Carla to provide opportunities for Veterans to experience hunting and fishing excursions in Alaska.

A few emails and phone calls later Mac, his mother and his step-father, Army Master Sgt. Jeremy Marr, were meeting Senior Airman Jennifer Dunham, 90th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief who gave them a tour of the Raptor.

Before stepping to fly Lt. Col. Brian Baldwin, a Reserve F-22 pilot assigned to the 302nd Fighter Squadron, met Mac at his F-22 where the little boy handed over the letter to his father written on red construction paper, his dad’s favorite color.

“It is an honor to fly with Mac’s letter,” said Baldwin. “His father gave the greatest sacrifice to our country and I am humbled to be able to do something for him and his family.”

Mac and his family have baked cupcakes and said they look forward to taking time out to remember Gallegos on his birthday.

“Over the years we would have a party for Justin on his birthday,” said Marr, who grew up in Palmer, Alaska but now resides in Anchorage. “As Mac has gotten older we have turned it into a day where we do “Acts of Service” for others. It is important for us to remember Justin and celebrate his life.”

Rick Santelli: ‘We Are Now Europe’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:12 am

As usual, his goverment-apologist colleagues tried to drown him out, but CNBC’s Rick Santelli got in the needed digs: