August 27, 2015

Vox Comic Relief: Web Site Uses New Deal-Era National Recovery Administration Photo

Two weeks ago, cable and broadcast giant Comcast announced that its NBCUniversal unit would invest $200 million in Vox Communications, thereby “creating a partnership to help the television giant better connect with younger audiences.”

Based on what follows and far more examples than one could hope to cite in a single post, Comcast should consider asking for their money back. Apparently trying to capitalize on the anti-Second Amendment hysteria the Obama administration and the left have attempted to foster after Vester Lee Flanagan II shot and killed Alison Parker and Adam Ward in Virginia, Vox posted the following breathtakingly ignorant tweet (since taken down; HT Twitchy):


Back to the ‘New Normal’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:19 pm

The U.S. markets have receovered much of the losses duirng the week or so which ended Tuesday, even though:

  • China’s stock market only rose on Thursday because of government share purchases.
  • China has been selling much of its U.S. Treasury holdings. IAnd we’re sure there are other buyers who won’t force China to take lossses? And who is going to buy the new issuance at current near-zero rates?)

I don’t have a crystal ball, but this is no time to be breathing easy.

2Q15 GDP, Second Take: An Annualized 3.7 Percent, Up From 2.3 Percent

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:44 am

From the Bureau of Economic Analysis (full release with tables here):

Real gross domestic product — the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy less the value of the goods and services used up in production, adjusted for price changes — increased at an annual rate of 3.7 percent in the second quarter of 2015, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 0.6 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “advance” estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was 2.3 percent. With the second estimate for the second quarter, nonresidential fixed investment and private inventory investment increased. With the advance estimate, both of these components were estimated to have slightly decreased (see “Revisions” on page 2).

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

The acceleration in real GDP in the second quarter reflected an upturn in exports, an acceleration in PCE, a deceleration in imports, an upturn in state and local government spending, and an acceleration in nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by decelerations in private inventory investment, in federal government spending, and in residential fixed investment.

Real gross domestic income (GDI) — the value of the costs incurred and the incomes earned in the production of goods and services in the nation’s economy — increased 0.6 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 0.4 percent (revised) in the first. The average of real GDP and real GDI, a supplemental measure of U.S. economic activity that equally weights GDP and GDI, increased 2.1 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 0.5 percent in the first quarter.

This was better than the 3.1 percent expected.

Of course, no one can really explain how so many underlying indiactors of “the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy” were lower in the second quarter of this year than during the second quarter of last year.

I’ll have a comparison chart shortly.

UPDATE: Here it is –


Primarily, we saw fairly significant upward revisions to fixed nonresidential investment, inventories (from a decline to an increase), and in government purchases, accompanied by a small increase in consumption.

The upward revision is good news.

There is a widespread belief that the third quarter will be relatively weak because the inventory buildups we’ve seen are going to go into reverse. Given the year-over-year declines in sales I’ve seen, that would seem to make sense. But so much about GDP — which again, is supposed to reflect “the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy” — isn’t reflected in underlying hard data, it’s hard say that with a lot of conviction.


UPDATE: The Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now model, which has NOT incorporated today’s GDP report into its reckoning, is projecting annualized growth of 1.4 percent in the third quarter. Today’s inventory rise would seem to argue for a lower estimate once they reanalyze.

Initial Unemployment Claims (082715); 271K SA; Raw Claims (227K) Down 9 Percent from Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:34 am

From the Department of Labor:


In the week ending August 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 271,000, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 277,000. The 4-week moving average was 272,500, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 271,500.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 226,855 in the week ending August 22, a decrease of 2,396 (or -1.0 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 2,769 (or 1.2 percent) from the previous week. There were 249,006 initial claims in the comparable week in 2014.

The seasonal adjustment factor (83.8) was identical for this year and the same week last year.

These reports, especially the raw claims numbers, continue to come in strong.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (082715)

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: Eleven cardinals join forces to tackle marriage prep, family issues in pre-synod book

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Aug 20, 2015 / 04:29 pm

With the Synod of Bishops rapidly approaching, 11 cardinals have contributed to a small but important book offering a pastoral perspective of the issues at stake, while reaffirming the truth of the Gospel on family and marriage issues.

The book is titled “Eleven cardinals speak on marriage and family,” and will be published in English by Ignatius Press. An Italian edition will also be published.

It is edited by Fr. Winfried Aymans, a German canon law professor and expert. It includes contributions by Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna; Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India; Cardinal Paul Joseph Cordes, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum; Cardinal Dominik Duka of Prague; Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk of Utrectht; Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop emeritus of Cologne; Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja; Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop emeritus of Madrid; Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Pope’s General Vicar emeritus for the diocese of Rome; Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; and Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas.

The book will be out just a few days before of the upcoming Synod of Bishops in October and will likely be part of the discussion at the synod.

Scheduled for October, the synod will gather bishops from around the world at the Vatican. They will discuss a wide range of matters dealing with family life, building upon last fall’s meeting on the same topic.

Rather than offering a rebuttal of any arguments presented at last year’s Synod on the Family, the book is instead aimed at giving a pastoral point-of-view of the issues at stake. …

Go here for the rest of the story.