July 15, 2013

AP’s Unique Definition of ‘Core Retail Sales’ Creates a Positive Number For June While Others Are Negative; 2Q13 GDP Growth Estimates Are Now Below an Annualized 1%

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:22 pm

Investopedia defines “core retail sales” as “U.S. aggregate retail sales excluding automobile and gasoline sales, which are excluded due to their volatility.” So does Traders Laboratory and the business press which covered today’s disappointing June retail sales report from the Commerce Department — with the exception of the Associated Press.

Tiffany Hsu at the Los Angeles Times noted that “a calculation of so-called core sales, which strip out the effects of auto and gas purchases, slipped 0.1% in its first decline in a year.” Bloomberg News described this drop as having occurred (you guessed it) “unexpectedly.”

Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press used a different definition:


The U.S. economy appears to be weaker than many economists had thought after a report Monday showed consumers spent cautiously in June at retail businesses.

Americans bought more cars and trucks, furniture and clothes. But they cut back almost everywhere else. They spent less at restaurants and bars, reduced purchases at home improvement stores, and bought fewer computers and electronics.

Overall retail spending rose 0.4 percent in June from May, the Commerce Department said. But excluding volatile spending on autos, gasoline and building supplies, so-called core retail sales rose just 0.15 percent. That’s the weakest gain since January.

I have no idea why the AP has chosen to be different, but it’s a wire service practice which goes back at least a dozen years, usually prefaced as seen above with the term “so-called.” Before that, core retail sales was apparently not considered an important figure in the business press.

Having journeyed down that blind alley, there is important news in Crutsinger’s report, namely that second quarter GDP growth is on track to stink to high heaven:

Economists said the deceleration in retail sales could slow economic growth in the April-June quarter to an annual rate below 1 percent. That’s weaker than many had thought and would be down from a tepid 1.8 percent rate in the January-March quarter.

Still, many economists aren’t changing their forecast for the second half of the year. Most expect growth will rebound to around a 2.5 percent rate.

“Job growth, income growth, rising stock prices and higher home prices all suggest a healthier state for the household sector in the second half of the year,” said Paul Dales, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

During the ADP conference call I attended on July 3, Moody’s economic Mark Zandi cited consensus estimated 2Q13 growth as being 1.6% to 1.7%.

Ouch — All that “stimulus” and the economy continues to inch along at a historically awful rate.

Whining Spitzer, Who Beat the Rap Because of Who He Is: Zimmerman Verdict ‘A Failure of Justice’

On ABC’s This Week yesterday, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer — who resigned in 2008 when caught dead to rights illegally purchasing the services of prostitutes but was never prosecuted because, as announced two days after Election Day in 2008, the Department of Justice decided that “the public interest would not be further advanced by filing criminal charges” — called the verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial “a failure of justice.”

Of course, Politico’s Juana Summers provided none of the background yours truly just did while only referring to Spitzer as “the former Democratic governor of New York who’s now a candidate for New York City comptroller.” Another statement Spitzer made on the same program deserves further scrutiny, which will arrive after the jump:


Instapundit Destroys NAACP’s Ben Jealous’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Nonsense

Filed under: Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:00 am

From late last night (HT Twitchy):


Homer Plessy was the plaintiff in Plessy v. Ferguson, the horrible 1896 Supreme Court decision which legalized racially segregated facilities with the euphemism of “separate but equal” in the South.

Politico’s Haberman Lets Bloomberg Rant About ‘Shoot First’ Laws Which Were Not Involved in Zimmerman Case

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was predictably unhappy with Saturday’s verdict in the George Zimmerman case. He used it as an opportunity to go after what he calls “shoot first” laws, which people in the real world refer to as “stand your ground” laws.

It was an irrelevant rant, as Politico’s Maggie Haberman pointed out: “In the Zimmerman case, neither the defense nor the prosecution ultimately used “Stand Your Ground.” Zimmerman’s attorneys … presented a conventional self-defense strategy.” Problem is, Haberman waited until her final paragraph to note that, and gave readers every impression that the case was about “stand your ground” up until that point (presented in full for fair use and discussion purposes; bolds are mine):


Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (071513)

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

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

Positivity: Court decision ends Illinois ‘haven’ for underage abortions

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:01 am

From Chicago:

Jul 11, 2013 / 04:11 pm

A unanimous ruling from the Illinois Supreme Court means that a 1995 law requiring parental notification for a minor seeking an abortion will take effect, with implications in surrounding states as well.

“This is a huge victory for the rights of parents not only in Illinois but in all Midwestern states,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief council of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, on July 11.

The Thomas More Society said that the delay in implementing the law allowed abortions to be performed on non-resident minors, letting them avoiding notification laws in their nearby home states. Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin require parental consent for an abortion, while Iowa and Minnesota require parental notification.

The Catholic legal group charged that many of these young girls were accompanied to the Illinois abortion clinics by the adult men who impregnated them.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke ruled that the state “has an interest in ensuring that a minor is sufficiently mature and well-informed to make the difficult decision whether to have an abortion,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports. She said the law encourages pregnant minors to “seek the help and advice of a parent or other adult family member in making the very important decision whether or not to bear a child.”

The law requires doctors to inform the parent or guardian of a girl under 18 when she seeks to procure an abortion.

Burke said that minors can expect privacy in medical information, but the notification law is a “not unreasonable” intrusion on this privacy. She noted that other Supreme Court cases have ruled that parental notification laws are constitutional.

Over 50,000 abortions have been performed on pregnant minors in Illinois since 1995, including almost 5,000 abortions on girls 14 years old and younger. In the same time period, over 55,000 abortions have been performed on non-residents, though the number of these performed on minors is not known.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois said that the delay in implementing the law allowed the state to be an “abortion haven.”

“With this ruling, parents across the state and the Midwest can breathe a sigh of relief with the knowledge that state law finally allows them to fully parent their children, and safeguard their lives and those of the unborn,” said Robert Gilligan, the conference’s executive director.

The American Civil Liberties Union obtained an injunction to block the law from going into effect in 1995. The injunction was based on unclear rules about a judicial bypass process for minor girls to obtain an abortion without parental notification in certain situations approved by a judge.

Pro-life groups began working to lift the injunction, and Thursday’s decision means the law will take effect in mid-August.

Carol Brite, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said her organization was “disappointed.” The state leader of the abortion provider said the legislation puts “the health and safety of teens at unnecessary risk.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.