April 17, 2014

Initial Unemployment Claims (041714): 304K SA; Raw Claims Up 5.8% From Previous Week

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:58 am

Predictions: 

Seasonal adjustment factors:

  • Week ended April 12, 2014 — 104.6
  • Week ended April 13, 2013 — 101.9

Raw claims:

  • Week ended April 5, 2014 — 298,393 (before possible revision; Update: revised to 300,189)
  • Week ended April 13, 2013 — 359,415

For the predictions above to come true, raw claims will need to be 330,000 or lower (330K divided by 1.046 is 315K, rounded).

That’s way too easy. We really should expect a seasonally adjusted value of 287,000 or below, which would mean that raw claims came in at 300,000 or below, or just above what we’ve seen in raw claims during the past two weeks. It’s difficult to see why raw claims should come in any higher, unless conditions are deteriorating. So to be clear, a seasonally adjusted reading of 295K or higher should be seen as BAD news.

We’ll see here at 8:30 a.m. (Note: The Department of Labor began issuing the report in PDF format last week).

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UPDATE: The DOL home page says 304,000, but the new report isn’t at the link yet.

HERE IT IS (the permanent link works):

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending April 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 304,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 2,000 from 300,000 to 302,000. The 4-week moving average was 312,000, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since October 6, 2007 when it was 302,000. The previous week’s average was revised up by 500 from 316,250 to 316,750.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 317,701 in the week ending April 12, an increase of 17,512 (or 5.8 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 16,022 (or 5.3 percent) from the previous week. There were 359,415 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

Well, the change in “the seasonal factors” doesn’t make sense. Both the week ended April 5 and the one ended April 12 were full, five-day, early-spring business weeks, and there really shouldn’t have been much change in raw claims from the first week to the second. But there was.

So, though the press surely won’t see it as such, this is a disappointment.

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UPDATE: I haven’t mentioned this in a few weeks, and need to remind readers of it every so often, with a bit of an update.

“Covered employment,” or the number of workers who would be eligible for unemployment benefits if they were laid off or let go, peaked at 133.902 million at the end of 2008. After over five years of “recovery,” it’s currently 130.938 million, or 2.2% below that peak.

Given that private-sector employment is finally back to its pre-recession peak, this tells me that there has been a noticeable shift in the workforce towards people who aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits, i.e., temps and part-timers.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (041714)

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

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

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GM Risked Lives to Save 25 Cents Per Car — and the Obama administration’s stepchild wants to shield itself from accountability as a result of its 2009 bankruptcy subterfuge (“Oh, that was OLD GM, which is gone; we’re NEW GM”).

Really? If they’re so completely separate, then how about giving back the billions in corporate income taxes not paid because the Treasury Department allowed NEW GM to use OLD GM’s net operating loss carryforwards?

Even better idea — Let’s nuke this attempted defense, and see where it takes us:

… even if one were to believe that Old GM was somehow engaged in “fraud on the court” with respect to the ignition defect (overlooking the difficulty that the bankruptcy court was not a safety regulator and there is really nothing in the bankruptcy code or logic that requires extensive disclosure in a sale context about a liability that is not moving anywhere in the sale), it is hard to see how New GM could be tagged with the assumed fraud.

One has to demonstrate a “fraud on the court” to overcome a one-year “fraud by the seller” limitation on legal action. If it’s a “fraud on the court,” there’s apparently no time limit.

The problem with that defense is that NEW GM at the time of the bankruptcy was the government, which had exclusive control over the entire process, and arbitrarily doled out shares in the new company based on doing favors to its UAW employees and certain lenders and bondholders (while putting the screw to others).

If it can be shown in documentation or drawn out in sworn testimony that agents of the government (i.e., car czar Steve Rattner and his crew) knew about the ignition problem and did not disclose it to the court throughout the Chapter 11 proceedings … that sure looks like a “fraud on the court” to me. If so, NEW GM would and should indeed be “tagged with the assumed fraud,” and be forced to deal with the tort claims based on the problem it deliberately chose not to disclose.

Following logically from that, the “pump and dump” U.S. Treasury Department should be subject to a class action suit for waiting until it had fully exited GM to allow what its agents knew all along to finally see the light of day.

Also: At Huffington Post (!) — “So Much for the Great GM Bailout”

Positivity: ‘I can’t leave my people’ — Priest killed in Syria hailed as martyr

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City, and Syria:

Apr 15, 2014 / 07:21 am

Days after Dutch priest Fr. Frans van der Lugt S.J. was murdered in Syria, a close young friend recalled his saintly life, noting both his personal holiness and extraordinary advances in Christian-Muslim relations.

Wael Salibi, 26, recalled how when the Christian area in Homs was taken over by rebels, 66,000 of the faithful “left their home, and just few of them stayed there. He was the only priest, he stayed in his church.”

“Just months before he died, he said ‘I can’t leave my people, I can’t leave my church, I am director of this church, how can I leave them?’” Salibi told CNA on April 11.

Salibi, who hails from the now-ravished city of Homs, grew up as a close friend and pupil of Fr. Frans, who was brutally killed on April 7. Days before his 76th birthday, an unknown gunman entered his church, beat him and shot him in the head.

For the past three years Syria has been embroiled in conflict which sprang up after citizens protested the rule of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president and leader the country’s Ba’ath Party.

Since then, the violence has morphed into a civil war which has claimed the lives of an estimated 140,000 people. There are currently 2.6 million Syrian refugees in nearby countries, most of them in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, and an additional 6.5 million Syrian people are believed to have been internally displaced by the war.

Currently a refugee living and studying in Rome, Salibi fled his city just a year and a half ago – following a two-week religious visit to Europe – after receiving a call from his mother telling him not to return.

Recalling his life growing up with the priest, Salibi explained that because Fr. Frans had been living and working in Syria since 1966, his family formed close ties with the priest, who would often visit after celebrating Christmas Mass in order to wish his father a happy birthday, and was at one point the spiritual director for his sister.

“This is what makes Fr. Frans special,” Salibi noted, “because he influenced thousands of people, and he remembered all people with little details, and he listened to others.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.