July 31, 2014

Very Funny: Evan Sayet

Filed under: Education,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:42 pm

I argue that the modern liberal is the stupidest human being to have ever lived.” (HT Eagle Rising via Instapundit):

Some may take offense at Sayet going after “teachers.” I think it’s clear that he’s going after college professors, whose mission all too often seems to be to undo all the good things elementary and secondary ed teachers do.

WaPo’s Kucinich Covers Bloomberg Ad, Misses How Having a Gun Would Have Prevented Domestic Violence

On Tuesday, Jackie Kucinich at the Washington Post wrote up a brief item about an ad released Monday by Everytown For Gun Safety, deep-pocketed former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun-grabbing group.

Kucinich reports that the ad “will air on cable television in Washington, D.C., and on network stations in New Hampshire, Arizona and Nevada, according to a release,” in an attempt to affect U.S. Senate races in those states. If Kucinich had actually watched the ad, it’s hard to imagine why she wouldn’t have noticed that the victim of domestic violence portrayed would have been far better off if she herself had been armed:

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Writers at the Hill Give ‘Obama Pivots to Economic Legacy’ Credibility

This post is not about an item in The Onion. It’s about a supposedly serious establishment press story at the Hill.

This morning, Amie Parnes and Peter Schroeder covered the Obama administration’s apparent plan to pivot to the economy for the umpteenth time. But this time, Obama and his apparatchiks aren’t doing it because they think they need to convince people that things are getting better. No-no-no. They’re declaring victory, “tying his legacy” to Obama’s apparently wondrous stewardhip of the economy. In the words of the Hill pair, they are “seizing on the administration’s successes in boosting the nation during financial woes.” Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

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The Gruber Grovel

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:49 pm

This video summarizes (HT to a NewsBusters commenter) how utterly ridiculous Jonathan Gruber and all Obamacare-supporting politicians and pundits are when they claim that the the Affordable Care Act’s limitations of premium subsidies to those participating in state-run exchanges was a “typo”:

Money quote (at 1:08 in the video):

If your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars of tax credits to be delivered to your citizens. So that’s the other threat. Will the states do what they have to do to set it up?

The intent to force governors to set up an exchange or lose billions could not be clearer.

As I wrote shortly after the DC court’s ruling came out, that ruling has to stand, or the rule of law is dead.

AP Acknowledges That There Are ‘Fewer Full-Time Jobs,’ But Doesn’t Cite Obamacare As a Contributor

In a Thursday report on why many Americans are still unimpressed with the U.S. job market, Associated Press reporters Christopher Rugaber and Josh Boak made a rare admission that “Finding a steady full-time job has become harder” than it was before the recession.

The AP pair then contended that “the trend might also reflect a lasting shift among restaurants and coffee shops,” but found an “expert” who only acknowledged that such employers are trying to be more careful in their spending. Although they mentioned Obamacare as a reason why pollied Republicans are dissatisfied with the economy, Rugaber and Boak never cited the healthcare law as a possible factor in the significant move to employ part-timers, even though Investor’s Business Daily has compiled a list of 429 employers “with strong proof that ObamaCare’s employer mandate is behind cuts to work hours or staffing levels.” Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

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CNN’s Bill Weir Directs Profanity at Fox Nation Tweeters Mocking Mild Weather at a ‘Climate Change’ Meeting

Filed under: Economy,Environment — Tom @ 2:50 pm

You might think that an anchor at an also-ran news network in the cable ratings race would be trying to learn about and adapt to what Number 1 is doing to draw its far larger audience.

That’s what happens in virtually every other business: If your competitors start outperforming you, you try to respond and then one-up them in some way. There are two major exceptions. One involves businesses protected by cronyism, which instead try to drive out competitors through government regulations and political favors (e.g., the established taxi companies trying to stop Uber). The other is the liberal wing (i.e., most of) the national news business. Their response is to keep doing what they’ve been doing all along, while bitterly attacking those who are taking away their business and their audience. As an example, let’s look at this still present tweet from CNN Anchor Bill Weir (profane word actually present in the original tweet was massaged; HT Mediaite):

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Latest PJ Media Columm (‘The Depression-Era 1930s—1, The Obama ‘Recovery’—Ø’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:45 pm

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog late Saturday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

Here’s the column’s most important chart, which is no substitute for reading the column (it should rather be an incentive for going there :—>):

PostDownturnRecovsComparedToPeak073014

Initial Unemployment Claims (073114): 302K SA, Lowest 4-Week SA Average Since 2006

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:59 am

Predictions:

  • Business Insider — 305,000 seasonally adjusted claimes, ups from last week’s artificially low 284,000 (artificial because the seasonal adjustment factor was inexplicably higher than the same week 2013, leading the figure to be about 11,000 claims lower than it otherwise would have been).
  • Bloomberg — “The Labor Department’s weekly report on initial claims for jobless benefits today will show applications rose from an eight-year low …”

Seasonal Adjustment Factors:

  • Week ended July 26, 2014 — 85.1
  • Week ended July 27, 2013 — 84.5

Raw Claims:

  • Week ended July 19, 2014 — 292,344
  • Week ended July 27, 2013 — 281,692 (before revision)

To meet or beat the prediction, raw claims will need to be 259.5K or lower (259.5K divided by .851 is 305K, rounded).

That doesn’t seem likely. It would be quite impressive if achieved. I think we’re going to see a seasonally adjusted reading closer to 325K, and we shouldn’t get too concenred unless it goes above 353K (which would require raw claims to top 300,000).

The report will be here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS (permanent PDF link): Well, it’s impressive —

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending July 26, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 302,000, an increase of 23,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised down by 5,000 from 284,000 to 279,000. The 4-week moving average was 297,250, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since April 15, 2006 when it was 296,000. The previous week’s average was revised down by 1,250 from 302,000 to 300,750.

USADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 257,210 in the week ending July 26, a decrease of 29,839 (or -10.4 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 49,885 (or -17.4 percent) from the previous week. There were 281,692 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

Covered employment update: DOL’s interactive tables now indicate that its estimate of “covered employment” — the number of workers who might be able to collect unemployment benefits if laid off or terminated — rose modestly from 131.53 million in the second quarter to 132.15 million in the third.

In another indication that this has been a different, zombielike “recovery,” that figure is still 1.75 million shy of the 133.90 million peake for this figure seen in the final quarter of 2008. That’s depstie the fact that the the 16-and-over population has grown by 14 million in past 5-1/2 years. The seasonally adjusted workforce has only grown by 1 million (not a typo) since the end of 2008. So we have 13 million more adults on the sidelines.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (073114)

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

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

Positivity: ‘Amazing Parish’ movement unites clergy, laity in renewal

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Denver:

Jul 29, 2014 / 02:06 am

A new movement seeking to unite the faithful and their pastors in the formation of thriving parishes has seen a wide scope of interest throughout the U.S. in the time since it was started little more than a year ago.

“The response has been great,” Pat Lencioni, one of the founders, told CNA.

The Amazing Parish movement seeks to give Catholic leaders, both clergy and lay, the resources and support they need to create strong, fruitful parishes.

“For most Catholics, the parish is where they come to know Christ and the Church. If parishes aren’t vibrant and strong, it’s really tough for most Catholics to connect with their faith,” Lencioni said.

The movement will have its first conference Aug. 27-28 in Denver, but before the leaders had a chance to publically advertise, the 500 person capacity had already been reached simply by word of mouth.

“Praise God, the Holy Spirit just made something happen,” he said.

Pastors and their staff from some 115 parishes across the country will gather to hear talks and brainstorm with other parishes about what makes a parish great.

The foundation of the movement is the Amazing Parish website, which lays out a model of what makes up an amazing parish as well as related resources.

“It’s a simple website that says, ‘listen, all we want to do is make parishes amazing and help you make your parish amazing,’” Lencioni said.

He pointed out the importance of encouraging the laity to get more involved in their parishes to work alongside their pastors toward the same goal.

“The Church is everyone, and with great respect for the authority of a pastor of a parish and for his vocation and his dedication, we have to recognize that if we think he’s going to do it on his own, we’re putting him in a position of great struggle and suffering.”

“The laity have to step up.”

The website highlights seven traits, including a foundation of three main elements: reliance on prayer, teamwork, and a cohesive vision for the parish. The Sunday experience, compelling faith formation, small groups and evangelization make up the final traits of a strong parish, according to the movement. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 30, 2014

WH CIA Interrogations Document ‘Accidentally Emailed’ to AP Potentially Exonerates Powell

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 11:49 pm

Gosh, how could this have happened?

Tonight at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, a dispatch by Ken Dilanian and Eileen Sullivan reports that “a document circulating among White House staff” about post-9/11 allegedly harsh and inhumane CIA interrogation techniques — a document which was “accidentally emailed to an Associated Press reporter” — claims that Former Secretary of State Colin Powell “may not have been informed when the techniques were first used in 2002.” Given the wire service’s unrequited lapdog love for all things Obama, it seems more likely, as posited by Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds, that the “AP reporter” in question is on the regular circulation list and was told to call this particular leak an accident. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

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Paying the Price For Bias and Slop? In July, MSNBC Fell to Number Four in 25-54 Demo

Oh, how the pathetic progs have fallen.

Earlier today, the Hollywood Reporter told readers that MSNBC had a horrible July rating period. For the four weeks ended July 27, the self-described “lean forward” network saw “its total day average among the news demo of adults 25-54″ drop by “33 percent from July 2013,” causing it come in “below HLN by 16,000 viewers for No. 4 status”:

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2Q14 Gross Domestic Product (1st Take) and Comprehensive Revision: An Annualized 4.0%; 1Q14 Revised to a 2.1% Contraction

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:50 am

Moved to the top after original post time of about 7:30 this morning. See Updates below.

______________________________________

Predictions: There weren’t any at two of the major wires as of midnight, but now there are —

  • Associated Press — in a triumphal writeup, Martin Crutsinger is confident that the “US ECONOMY LIKELY SHOWED BIG REBOUND LAST QUARTER.” Specifically, “The consensus forecast is that the economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.9 percent, according to a survey of economists by data firm FactSet.” Several readers and commenters during past month have pointed out that this result would not bring us to breakeven for the year; the reading needs to be a bit above 3.0 percent before rounding to do that. Crutsinger is still beating the snot of the “bad weather” excuse for the first quarter.
  • Bloomberg News — “GDP probably rose at a 3 percent annual rate in the second quarter following a 2.9 percent slump in the first …”

Reuters, as noted last night, carried a prediction of 3.0 percent.

UPDATE: Business Insider has this paragraph:

The Bureau of Economic Analysis will release GDP data at 8:30 a.m. Consensus is for a reading of 2.9% annualized. Deutsche Bank’s Joe LaVorgna, who is predicting 4.2%, has explained why he thinks it could be even higher: “Current data imply that Q1 productivity fell at an astounding -5.8% annualized rate, which would be the largest decline since Q3 1947 when productivity plunged by an all-time record amount of -11.2% in the quarter. Productivity then rebounded an even more remarkable +17.8% in the following quarter. In the context of a sharp downward revision to Q1 productivity, our estimate of just a +0.4% rebound in Q2 is extremely modest. If anything, the payback should be much larger, thereby implying even more economic output than what we project.”

Making a call here is especially tough because the prior-year revisions, up to and including the first quarter of this year, mean that this quarter’s reported starting point is different. So I’m going to go with an estimate for the first half of 2014.

I think that the sum of the first and second quarters reported today will be an annualized -1.0 percent, which is one percentage point below the consensus implied in today’s quarterly prediction that we’re just barely short of breakeven.

One thing to note about today’s result: Based on how the first quarter’s figure went from +0.1 to -1.0 to -2.9 in successive releases, it’s certainly won’t be the last word. Not that it will stop anyone in the press from doing so, but there should be no premature celebrating if the news is good.

The report will be here at 8:30 a.m. My analysis will be somewhat delayed, because I’ll be sitting in on ADP’s conference call from 8:30-9. That report’s chief economist has been a jobs-GDP booster for several quarters, so I certainly want his immediate reax to whatever news comes out.

HERE IT IS (permanent full text link) Well, as noted, it’s only Round 1, but we sure missed on the prediction (we’ll see what it looks like two months from now) —

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 4.0 percent in the second quarter of 2014, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter,
real GDP decreased 2.1 percent (revised).

The Bureau emphasized that the second-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 3 and “Comparisons of Revisions to GDP” on page 10). The “second” estimate for the second quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on August 28, 2014.

The increase in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), private inventory investment, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

More later, after I sit in on the ADP converence call.

__________________________________________

UPDATE: I’m going to concentrate on the first half of this year for now, and look at the comprehensive revision in a separate post.

First, let’s look at what happened to the first quarter:

1QrevVs0625on073014

The reduced contraction came from smaller declines in inventories and increased fixed investment in structures.

Now let’s look at 2nd quarter vs. the revised first:

1QrevVs2Q14on073014

So the bounceback in personal consumption expenditures was indeed pretty weak, given the “weather-driven” weak first quarter. My guess is that it’s going to come in a bit weaker overall in subsequent revisions, with goods coming down, and services coming up, but not by as much.

On the investment side, the “other” category in nonresidential fixed has the highest contribution to GDP (0.30 points) in all of the quarters listed in the report (going back to Q410). What’s in there? Well, I don’t know, because it’s not detailed at the “expanded” Table 1.5.2, which at least shows that it’s been 5 years since we’ve seen a contribution that great. The fixed residential turnaround is probably positive, but it doesn’t seem like it should be as positive as 0.23 points, given the awful June new-home sales and pending sales reports released during the past week.

The big positive inventory change, combined with the big negative in imports (the higher imports are, the worse it is for reported GDP growth), might lead one to believe that U.S. manufacturers produced a whole lot of stuff which consumers chose to instead buy from other countries. If so .. uh-oh.

The 0.30-point contribution of increased spending at state governments is not exactly desirable, given that it’s likely an increase in bureaucratic bloat and not substantive economic improvement.

So overall, the 4.0% annualized number is nice if it holds, but I don’t think it will (let’s not forget what happened to health care spending as the first quarter’s revisions came out). Depstie the nice overall number, it was still a pretty soft result for what was supposed to be a great “rebound from bad weather” quarter.

With the left’s darling economy driver of consumption coming in at a pretty low contribution level, you might think they’ll mute their celebrating a bit. You can bet they won’t.

July ADP Report: 218K Private-Sector Jobs Added (See Conference Call Notes)

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 7:53 am

Prediction: Business Insider — 230,000 private-sector payroll jobs added.

The topside number will be released here at 8:15.

I will sit in and take notes on the report’s conference call, which will start at 8:30, coinciding with when the GDP report comes out.

8:19 a.m.: Well, ADP’s home page isn’t loading, at least for me … Zero Hedge says the magic number is 218,000.

OK, finally:

Private-sector employment increased by 218,000 from June to July, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Highlights:
- Small businesses (1-49 employees) +84,000
- Medium businesses (50-499 employees) +92,000
- Large businesses (500 or more employees) +41,000

From the press release:

Goods-producing employment rose by 16,000 jobs in July, down from 43,000 jobs gained in June. The construction industry added 12,000 jobs over the month, less than half last month’s
gain. Meanwhile, manufacturing added 3,000 jobs in July, less than one-third the number of jobs added in June.

Service-providing employment rose by 202,000 jobs in July, down from 238,000 in June. The ADP National Employment Report indicates that professional/ business services contributed 61,000 jobs in July, down from 79,000 in June. Expansion in trade/transportation/utilities grew by 52,000, down slightly from June’s 56,000. The 9,000 new jobs added in financial activities was down 25% from last month’s number.

… Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, “The July employment gain was softer than June, but remains consistent with a steadily improving job market. At the current pace of job growth unemployment will quickly decline. Layoffs are still receding and hiring and job openings are picking up. If current trends continue, the economy will return to full employment by late 2016.”

CONFERENCE CALL NOTES:

Zandi: “Feels like the job market is humming … good by any historical standard.”

Current pace of job growth (200K+/mo.) labor market slack of all kinds will decline by 0.6% to 0.7% or so every year (those who have withdrawn, PTers who want to be FT, and others, roughly 1.5% of the workforce right now). So it will take 2-1/2 to 3 years to get to full employment (7 years after end of recession — Ed.) Zandi acknowledges that it was a very long road back, indicating the hit the econ took during the recession (and the sucky policies which made the “recovery” so painful — Ed.).

As to quality of jobs, job growth started to expand out from low-paying jobs. Now it’s across all pay scales, even “middle-paying” jobs due to resumption of activity in the housing market (though slower than had been hoped for). Job growth also returning in government.

Job creation quality has steadily improved and is “pretty much across the board.”

As to pace of wage growth — are people getting pay increases greater than inflation — “so far that hasn’t happened.” Basically, it’s been zero. But the absorption of slack will lead to more definitive signs of accelerating wage growth a year or so from now. Already happening in certain parts of the country in certain industries, but not really visible overall. THEN, perceptions and attitiudes will change, and there is some movement now (e.g., Conference Board consumer confidence yesterday).

“It feels pretty good. Everything looks very positive.”

QUESTIONS:

(Chris Rugaber of AP on GDP) — Are GDP numbers supportive of job growth? (Zandi was surprised at 4% figure.) Numbers now feel more consistent with jobs numbers. Very encouraging, very positive. Thinks Q1 will eventually get revised to a lower decline.

(Rugaber on job quality specific) — Financial services had been shedding jobs until 6-9 months ago, but now it’s adding to payrolls. But we’re getting job growth everywhere. Media is still shedding jobs. Hard-pressed to come up with other industry sectors not adding payrolls.

Expects 6-12 months down the road a significant pickup in monthly job growth.

(Richard Neal, GDP) 1.7% of 2Q increase was in inventories. Zandi says Fed will downplay 2Q’s inflation pickup, b/c rate is still below target. Inflation will start to pick up in a substantive way by this time next year. Housing market is tight, vacancy rates are coming down, rent growth is accelerating and tends to be persistent once it starts to accelerate. That will contribute more to inflationary pressures, and will be patently evident a year from now, at which time according to their script they’ll start raising interest rates.

Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (073014)

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

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.