January 15, 2016

Yahoo Finance Reporter Won’t Cite Awful U.S. Economic Data as Markets Tank

The press’s fierce determination to avoid blaming any of the steep decline in this nation’s stock markets so far this year on horrid U.S. economic data, or on the Obama administration which has given us such a sour economic environment, has gone way beyond annoying.

Shortly after noon at Yahoo Finance, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s Friday dive hit 500 points, Nicole Sinclair, who is also a senior analyst at TheStreet.com, asked: “Why the heck are the markets tanking?” The mystified Sinclair came up with five reasons. None of them directly related to U.S. fundamentals, which she eventually described as “mixed,” or recently released data, though she finally mentioned “disappointing” December retail sales in passing in her second-last sentence.

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December SA Retail Sales Down 0.1 Pct.; Up Only 0.2 Pct. in the Past FIVE Months

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:11 am

I’m amazed that more people didn’t see this coming, but they didn’t, as expectations at Yahoo’s Economic Calendar were for +0.1 percent to +0.2 percent. (UPDATE: The economists Bloomberg consulted apparently DID see it coming — “The 0.1 percent drop matched the median forecast of 84 economists surveyed.”)

From the Census Bureau:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for December, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $448.1 billion, a decrease of 0.1 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month, and 2.2 percent (±0.7%) above December 2014. Total sales for the 12 months of 2015 were up 2.1 percent (±0.4%) from 2014. Total sales for the October 2015 through December 2015 period were up 1.8 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The October 2015 to November 2015 percent change was revised from up 0.2 percent (±0.5%)* to up 0.4 percent (±0.2%).

Retail trade sales were down 0.2 percent (±0.5%)* from November 2015, but up 1.6 percent (±0.5%) from last year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores were up 7.6% (±2.1%) from December 2014 and nonstore retailers were up 7.1 percent (±1.2%) from last year.

Sorry, the November revision, which the press will certainly cheer even though they rarely cite downward revisions to prior months, doesn’t make up for the December dive for two reasons. First, December’s raw sales are always the largest in any single month during the calendar year (about 9.6 percent of the full year). Second, a bit of November’s revised increase was made possible by October’s revised decrease.

Third, if you look further back to the past five months, seasonally adjusted retail sales have gone almost nowhere. July was $447.1 billion. Today’s December figure (above) was $448.1 billion, an increase of 0.22 percent in five months (0.04 percent per month).

Even if you factor in falling gas prices, the picture is historically dismal.

Also note that retail sales ex-autos also fell. Seasonally adjusted auto dealer sales in the past two months have flattened.

The press’s go-to excuse, which has been that economic problems in other countries are causing most of the problems seen here, has been exposed as rubbish. The primary problem is that U.S. consumers don’t have money, and they’re not spending money they don’t have — now, even on cars.

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UPDATE: Zero Hedge“US retail sales put the wrap on the weakest year since 2009 as the manufacturing recession is now officially starting to spread to the service sector.”

Libs and the Press Discover That the Obama Era Has Hurt the Poor, Won’t Call Him Out

The Brookings Institution, the leftist think tank, is wailing and gnashing its teeth over its finding that in many metro areas, “income inequality,” their favorite bogeyman, is being “driven by declining incomes” among their poorest residents. The problem isn’t so much that the rich are getting richer as it is that the poor are getting poorer. As a result, “Inequality is higher today in most metropolitan areas than in 2007.”

Well golly gee, I wonder who has controlled U.S. economic policy while this calamity has occurred? Brookings predictably failed to call out President Obama or even his administration by name, instead blaming “a federal government hamstrung by partisan gridlock and budget constraints.” At the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, Josh Boak’s Thursday coverage at least mentioned the president’s name, but failed to note the role that the subpar economic growth since the recession’s official end in mid-2009 caused by his policies has played.

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Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (011516)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 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: All the faithful can receive God’s love in confession – Pope Francis

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Vatican City:

Jan 13, 2016 / 12:08 am

God’s love is offered to everyone who goes to the sacrament of confession, Pope Francis said in his new book on mercy – even those who are not able to receive absolution from their sins.

“I feel compelled to say to confessors: talk, listen with patience, and above all tell people that God loves them,” the Pope said in The Name of God is Mercy, a book-length interview of Pope Francis by Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli published Jan. 12.

“If the confessor cannot absolve a person, he needs to explain why, he needs to give them a blessing, even without the holy sacrament. The love of God exists even for those who are not disposed to receive it.”

Pope Francis here referred to cases in which a person is not disposed to be absolved of their sins, giving the example of his own niece, who had civilly married a man who had not yet had his first marriage found null.

He recounted how the man, despite having remarried without an annulment, nonetheless went to confession every Sunday before Mass, telling the priest, “I know you can’t absolve me but I have sinned … please give me a blessing.”

“This is a religiously mature man,” the Pope said.

Pope Francis stressed the importance of tenderness towards those who come to confession. …

Go here for the rest of the story.