September 4, 2014

AP Whitewashes Worst of What DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz Said, While Politico Cites Non-Existent ‘Walk Back’

There’s an establishment press cleanup in progress on behalf of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. As Tim Graham at NewsBusters noted Wednesday, the DNC Chair on Tuesday likened Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and tea party activists to domestic abusers.

At the Associated Press late Wednesday, a terse, unbylined five-paragraph story only reported the less offensive of the DNC chair’s two outrageous statements. Thursday, Lucy McAlmont at the Politico claimed that Wasserman Schultz “walked back” her comments, when she really did no such thing.


AP, LA Times and USA Today All Avoid Naming Obama in Stories on Libya

The establishment press is working mightily to shield President Barack Obama from blame for, or even association with, decisions he has made and actions he has taken — unilaterally and with dubious constitutional authority in many instances.

One particularly egregious example is Libya. When Obama decided on his own to engage in “kinetic miliitary action” to topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the press was thrilled. Now, as will be seen after the jump, three stories from major establishment press outlets don’t even contain Obama’s name, or any direct reference to him.


ISM Non-Manufacturing Zooms to 59.6% (UPDATE: Seasonal Cooking?)

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 11:02 am

From the Institute for Supply Management (bolds are mine; paragraph breaks added by me):

The NMI® registered 59.6 percent in August, 0.9 percentage point higher than the July reading of 58.7 percent. This represents continued growth in the Non-Manufacturing sector. The August reading of 59.6 percent is the highest for the composite index since its inception in January 2008.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased to 65 percent, which is 2.6 percentage points higher than the July reading of 62.4 percent, reflecting growth for the 61st consecutive month at a faster rate. This is the highest reading for the index since December of 2004 when the index also registered 65 percent.

The New Orders Index registered 63.8 percent, 1.1 percentage points lower than the reading of 64.9 percent registered in July. The Employment Index increased 1.1 percentage points to 57.1 percent from the July reading of 56 percent and indicates growth for the sixth consecutive month. The Prices Index decreased 3.2 percentage points from the July reading of 60.9 percent to 57.7 percent, indicating prices increased at a slower rate in August when compared to July.

According to the NMI®, 15 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in August. Respondents’ comments vary by business and industry. The majority of the comments reflect continued optimism in regards to business conditions. Some respondents indicate that there may be some tapering off in the recent strong rate of growth in the non-manufacturing sector.”

Backlog of Orders also stayed positive, at 54.5%.


UPDATE: Zero Hedge raises a great point

Superficially, this is great news. And yet, remember: this is the seasonal-adjustment challenged ISM, the same ISM which for some inexplicable reason believes that survey responses (not hard, or soft data), have to be seasonally adjusted.

So what happens when one looks below the seasonally-adjusted surface. Well, then things get uglier.

In fact, if one looks at the two most important data series that comprise the ISM report, New Orders and Employment, one sees that the number of respondents who reply with “Higher”, i.e., are optimistic about current conditions, is actually sliding at the fast pace in a year!

Specifically, the number of respondents who saw “Higher” employment dropped to just 22, a plunge from the 26 in July and 29 in June. This is happening as the actual number, net of seasonal adjustments, rose to, as noted above, the highest since 2006! It was also the lowest number since February when the unadjusted % of respondents seeing “Higher” jobs was at 16.

I would have to say I’m in the camp which needs to be convinced that seasonaly adjustments are needed in a sentiment survey, especially one which basically asks a series of “better or worse” and “growing or contracting” questions — and especially to the extent that they seem to distort the underlying reality.

In ISM’s defense (sort of), if, as I would expect, their seasonal factors depend on the past five years of monthly data, they’ve been so screwed up by the pathetically weak, stop-start “recovery” (i.e., in defiance of “normal” seasonality) that the garbage that went in is causing the garbage to come out.

Initial Unemployment Claims: 302K SA; Raw Claims Stay Below 250K

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

From the Department of Labor:


In the week ending August 30, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 302,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 298,000. The 4-week moving average was 302,750, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 299,750.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 248,570 in the week ending August 30, a decrease of 317 (or -0.1 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 3,581 (or -1.4 percent) from the previous week. There were 269,359 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

According to the established wisdom, claims consistently below 350K are supposed to translate into a lower unemployment rate. We’ll see if that happens tomorrow, especially since with claims below the magic threshold, the rate still nudged up a bit in July.

The Associated Press is reporting a FactSet expectation that tomorrow’s jobs report will come in with 220,000 seasonally adjusted jobs added.

ADP August Private-Sector Jobs: +204K (See Conference Call Notes)

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 8:29 am

Link is here.

Press release:

ROSELAND, N.J. – September 4, 2014 – Private sector employment increased by 204,000 jobs from July to August according to the August ADP National Employment Report®. Broadly distributed to the public each month, free of charge, the ADP National Employment Report is produced by ADP®, a leading global provider of Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions, in collaboration with Moody’s Analytics. The report, which is derived from ADP’s actual payroll data, measures the change in total nonfarm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

August 2014 Report Highlights*
Total U.S. Nonfarm Private Employment: 204,000 (jobs added)

… Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, “Steady as she goes in the job market. Businesses continue to hire at a solid pace. Job gains are broad based across industries and company sizes. At the current pace of job growth the economy will return to full employment by the end of 2016.”

2-1/2 years from now, we’ll hit “full employment.” Wow. How impressive. (/sarc)

July was slightly reduced to +212K from +218K.


MARK ZANDI: August was a solid number, anything over 200K per month is good, actually very good.

Full employment by end of 2016, even under the assumption of normalized labor force growth.

Broad-based job growth, except the information industry, and across company size, including company size. Small companies kicking into gear.

It’s evidennt that we’re getting job growth across pay scales, even middle-paying jobs.

Job growth is remarkably stable, vs. prior eras of boom-bust. A year ago, it was tracking 175K per month, now his sense is that underlying job growth is 225K per month, with very modest variability. “Remarkable stability.” GDP growth has also been stable (with negative 1Q11 and 1Q14. Really? — Ed.)

We’re in a 3% growth situation. Vehicle sales, etc. Brighter hue to econ data in general. Just generally speaking, it feels like we’re in a whole new trajectory of growth. Still a long way to go.

Decade to get back to full employment. A lot of progress.


(ME — What is full employment>
5.5%, rate consistent with absorbing LT unemployed and part-timers wanting FT.

Last decade, full emp was 5%, we were beyond that level in 2006 and 2007.

The full-emp definition is higher because of daamage created by recession. .5% added to structural unemployment because of it.

(Chris Rugaber – AP) Why isn’t consumer spending increasing?

Zandi doesn’t know. Confidence is high, jobs growth is better and with better-$ jobs.

It is showing up in vehicle sales.

Expects consumer spending to pick up, and he’s not sure he trusts the data. He thinks decline in health care spending makes no sense in light of Obamacare’s existence. (what about high deductibles, Mark?) They’re going to start using their new insurance. Gut says spending figures will be revised up. “I’m not sure I believe it.” When it gets revised up, the other data pieces will fit together.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (090414)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:15 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: Pope Francis is a ‘son of the Church’ on pro-life issues

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:10 am

From Rome:

Sep 4, 2014 / 04:55 am

Pope Francis has drawn praise for his firm pro-life stance as well as his approach to the topic – which goes to the heart of the issue and teaches the Church how to truly embrace humanity.

“I believe he has a very integral approach to teaching the faith. In other words, anything that we teach as a Church he adheres to 1,000 percent. Like he said, ‘I am a son of the Church,’” pro-life activist Father Frank Pavone told journalists in an Aug. 31 interview.

“There’s no question here about does he himself buy into whole heart and soul everything the Church teaches. Of course he does. The question is, how does he want to present that?”

Fr. Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life, explained that although there is still “a level of discomfort” regarding the pontiff’s approach to pro-life issues in the United States, his style is “a particular blessing” for all those involved the pro-life movement.

Referring to the Pope’s great concern regarding those who are alienated or distant from the Church, the priest said that his desire to relate “everything the Church teaches to the heart and core of it which is Jesus Christ and the joy of knowing him” is a more effective means of evangelization.

Despite the fact that he tends to be less outspoken on life issues than his predecessors, Pope Francis offers the pro-life movement a new, fresh perspective that doesn’t pin it down to merely saying “the Church teaches that abortion is wrong.”

Calling to mind the shock experienced by many at the closing Mass of a pro-live event in the Vatican in June 2014 when the pontiff failed to make any mention of issues such as abortion or euthanasia, Fr. Pavone stated that if we really think about it, his words that day offered something more essential.

“God is life. If we’re saying yes to God we’re saying yes to life…any idea or action contrary to life is idolatry,” he said, quoting the Pope’s homily.

When we compare someone who says “abortion is wrong, the Church is against it” with someone who says: “’Any action or thought against life is idolatry,’ which of those explanations puts it on a firmer basis?”

Go here for the rest of the story.