September 30, 2016

Fed’s Yellen Wants to Be Able Buy Stocks; Press Mostly Yawns, CNBC’s Santelli Goes Off

On Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen suggested in a videoconference call, as translated into plain English by the Wall Street Journal, that “there could be benefits to allowing the central bank to buy stocks as a way to boost the economy in a downturn.”

This advocacy of what would be a serious and perhaps permanent move away from market-based allocation of resources and risk to a government-created entity directly intervening and affecting market values — potentially, in effect, exercising control over the means of production — got a brief writeup at Reuters. The Associated Press made what Yellen said almost an afterthought in a dispatch which was primarily about Fed’s “diversity” efforts in its own hiring practices. Then on Friday afternoon, Rick Santelli at CNBC cut though the fog with what the contrarian blog Zero Hedge has described as “3 minutes of brutal reality” blasting the idea.

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Slate Writer: There Are ‘Defensible Reasons’ to Keep 2015 Murder Spike Out of the Headlines

Official crime data released by the FBI earlier this week reveal that nearly 11 percent more Americans were murdered in the U.S. in 2015 than in 2014.

Leon Neyfakh at Slate.com is only secondarily interested in what the just-released stats say about the direction of public safety in the nation. What’s far more important to him is making sure his readers know that “the FBI’s numbers do not prove Donald Trump right,” and that there are “defensible journalistic reasons for keeping that 10.8 percent murder spike out of our headlines.” I suspect the author would deny it, but if it is in the headlines, people might take their media-provided blinders off and learn that the Republican presidential nominee really is right — and we can’t have that.

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Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (093016)

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: At the heart of the Church, EWTN launches new Rome office

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Vatican City:

Sep 29, 2016 / 03:02 pm

The EWTN News Rome Bureau is now is just minutes from St. Peter’s Square, having launched its new office on Wednesday. The occasion sparked reflection on Mother Angelica’s legacy and the media network’s mission to serve the gospel.

“Today with this launch we step out in a new chapter in how we can serve our EWTN family with information from Rome,” Michael Warsaw, president of EWTN Global Catholic Network, told CNA Sept. 29.

The new office is on the Via Della Conciliazione in the shadow of St. Peter’s Basilica, the dome of which is visible from the building’s rooftop terrace.

“You can’t help but be here in Rome and in this place, so close to St. Peter’s Basilica, the tomb of St. Peter, and not be energized by that,” Warsaw said. “For all of us at EWTN that’s my hope, that this presence in Rome, so close to St. Peter, will energize us for the work of the New Evangelization in the years ahead.”

Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, blessed the new location in the presence of dozens of EWTN staff, supporters, and guests. Several hundred people gathered for a rooftop reception.

Among the guests were Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan of Antioch, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, and Cardinal Raymond Burke, patron of the Knights of Malta. Other guests included Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the Papal Household; several other cardinals and bishops; U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Ken Hackett and several other ambassadors to the Holy See; and members of the Vatican press corps.

The office includes access to professional recording studios on the sixth-floor rooftop, advanced technical infrastructure, and a much improved and spacious workspace.

Warsaw said the new Rome office “really positions the network in an even better way to be able to bring news and information from the heart of the Church to our audience around the world.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 29, 2016

Seattle TV Station Describes Washington’s Elections As ‘An Honor System’

Wednesday evening, Seattle TV station KING 5 erroneously broke what it thought was troubling news about Arcan Cetin, who has been arrested and charged with the murder of five people at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington last Friday. The station reported that Cetin is not a U.S. citizen, but is instead “considered a permanent resident or green card holder,” and that despite this status, Cetin “registered to vote in 2014 and participated in three election cycles, including the May presidential primary.”

Thursday evening, KING 5 backed away from its claim that Cetin is not a citizen. That’s embarrassing, but the specific news about Cetin is hardly the most important thing KING 5 revealed on Wednesday. The big reveal, which remains the case, but which has seldom if ever been reported so bluntly, is this: “(Washington State) elections officials say the state’s elections system operates, more or less, under an honor system.

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Boy, The Clinton Campaign Sure Knows How to Pick ‘Em

You can’t make this stuff about about Alicia Macahado, whose sordid past (or what I knew of it) was the subject of a post yesterday.

Now there’s this (Warning: not safe for work):

AliciaMachadoRealityShowSexHeadline092916

This woman wants to play victim now in an argument about whether Donald Trump is a sexist?

The fact is that Trump was compassionate and gave her a break when he could have fired her. And this, and so much more (criminal activity, drug-lord involvement, and sleaze) is how she has rewarded his faith and tarnished the image of the Miss Universe pageant.

Perhaps the lesson here is ultimately, there is payback. Now, thanks to Clinton campaign vetting incompetence, she’s the gift that keeps on giving — to the Trump campaign.

_________________________________

UPDATE: This is another likely press failure. Machado was engaged to baseball player Bobby Abreu, who called off the engagement after the TV show above aired. It seems quite likely that there were reports in the press explaining why.

AP’s Crutsinger Claims Fictional ‘New-Found Strength’ in the Economy, Ignores Massive Health Care Spending Increases

The government reported today that the US economy grew at an annual rate of 1.4 percent in the second quarter. That’s a slight increase from the 1.1 percent reported a month ago, but certainly nothing to get excited about, especially given that annualized growth during the past three quarters has been barely above 1 percent.

To make the Obama economy look better than it really is, the Associated Press’s Martin Crutsinger today found “new-found strength” in a category that is contracting, completely ignored how out-of-control healthcare spending is artificially pumping up with little growth there is, and — as he and most of the establishment press has been doing for the past 7-plus years of Dear Leader’s presidency — told us, once again, that prosperity is just around the corner.

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2Q16 GDP, Third Estimate (092916): An Annualized 1.4 Percent, Revised Up From 1.1 Percent; ‘Health Care’ Is 56 Pct. of Past 4 Quarters’ ‘Growth

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:10 am

Predictions:

The report will be here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS (full release with tables): Oh boy, a slight beat —

Real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 1.4 percent in the second quarter of 2016, according to the “third” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 0.8 percent.

… With the third estimate for the second quarter, the general picture of economic growth remains the same. The most notable change from the second to third estimate is that nonresidential fixed investment increased in the second quarter; in the previous estimate, nonresidential fixed investment decreased.

Real gross domestic income (GDI) decreased 0.2 percent in the second quarter, in contrast to an increase of 0.8 percent 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 0.6 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 0.8 percent in the first.

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

The acceleration in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected an acceleration in PCE and upturns in nonresidential fixed investment and in exports. These were partly offset by a larger decrease in private inventory investment, downturns in state and local government spending and in residential fixed investment, and an upturn in imports.

Current-dollar GDP increased 3.7 percent, or $168.5 billion, in the second quarter to a level of $18,450.1 billion. In the first quarter, current dollar GDP increased 1.3 percent, or $58.8 billion.

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.1 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 0.2 percent in the first. The PCE price index increased 2.0 percent, compared with an increase of 0.3 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.8 percent, compared with an increase of 2.1 percent.

Updates to GDP

The upward revision to the percent change in real GDP primarily reflected upward revisions to nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, and exports.

I’ll have the updated detail shortly.

UPDATE: Here it is:

GDPcomponentsThru2Q16at092916

The critical thing to note, as I’ve highlighted, is that health care costs, which have grown in REAL terms by over 5 percent in the past four quarters, have accounted for 56 percent (0.71 divided by 1.28) of the economy’s “growth.”

Very little of this disproportionate increase represents any kind of genuine improvement in living standards — and it completely explains why so many everyday people who don’t dig into the numbers and are out there living their lives feel that the overall economy and their personal financial situation are each essentially going nowhere.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (092916)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:00 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: Saints and Falcons form circle of unity during national anthem

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From New Orleans:

Sep 27, 2016

Players and coaches from both teams come together at midfield to hold hands

Colin Kaepernick’s decision to protest the national anthem has sparked lots of conversation as well, and many different NFL players have reacted in many different ways. The Falcons and Saints, ahead of Monday night’s 10th-year anniversary of the first post-Katrina game at the Superdome, chose to honor the anthem in a different way.

All the players for both teams stood in a circle at midfield and formed a ring of unity ahead of the game.

These two teams have formed a pretty heated rivalry over the past decade or so, but they put personal differences aside in order to show respect during a special day for the city of New Orleans and the Saints franchise.

According to Britt McHenry of ESPN, it was actually Sean Payton who reached out to Falcons coach Dan Quinn and broached the idea of a unified approach to the pregame celebration. …

Go here to see the photo and for the rest of the story.

September 28, 2016

Howard Dean Doubles Down on Trump ‘Using Coke?’; Chris Cillizza Says ‘We Should Be Talking More’ About It

During Monday night’s presidential debate, former DNC chairman and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean tweeted: “Notice Trump sniffing all the time. Coke user?” Even the tabloid site TMZ described Dean’s tweet as a “low blow.”

Unbowed, Dean doubled down at MSNBC on Tuesday, to the point where a clearly uncomfortable Kate Snow tried to maneuver him into backing away a bit. He wouldn’t, which is fine with Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, who told the network’s Peter Alexander on Wednesday that “we should probably be talking more about” Dean’s speculation.

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Media Mostly Ignoring Trump ‘Sexism’ Critic Alicia Machado’s Sordid Past

At Monday night’s presidential debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton made a big deal of how Republican nominee Donald Trump supposedly treated Alicia Machado after the 1996 Miss Universe winner gained a significant amount of weight during the year she held the title. Mrs. Clinton alleged that Trump called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.” Trump denies it, and I could find no news account from that time showing that he used either nickname publicly.

Especially since the Clinton campaign is now actively using Machado to promote Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy, even including her “story” in commercials, it’s fair game to consider far heftier matters relating to Machado’s history. The, uh, weight of the evidence leads one to seriously question Team Clinton’s judgment in associating so closely with Ms. Machado. They appear to have been so tantalized by what they thought was low-hanging fruit demonstrating alleged sexism that they clearly failed to adequately investigate their newfound heroine. Now it’s up to the establishment press to protect them.

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Durable Goods: The Slide Continues

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:18 am

From the Census Bureau:

New Orders

New orders for manufactured durable goods in August decreased $0.1 billion or virtually unchanged to $226.9 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This decrease, down three of the last four months, followed a 3.6 percent July increase. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.4 percent. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 1.0 percent.

Shipments

Shipments of manufactured durable goods in August, down following two consecutive monthly increases, decreased $0.8 billion or 0.4 percent to $231.7 billion. This followed a virtually unchanged July increase.

Transportation equipment, down three of the last four months, drove the decrease, $0.9 billion or 1.1 percent to $79.9 billion.

Inventories

Inventories of manufactured durable goods in August, up two consecutive months, increased $0.5 billion or 0.1 percent to $383.7 billion. This followed a 0.4 percent July increase.

July’s 3.6 percent increase is a downward revision from an originally reported 4.4 percent.

Year-to-date orders are down 0.6 percent; year-to-date sales are down 0.9 percent.

Today’s results beat negative expectations, but a goose egg is nothing to brag about, especially with a big-prior-month revision.

Zero Hedge: “Core Durable Goods Orders Contract For 20th Straight Month – Longest Non-Recessionary Streak In US History.” This is durable goods less the volatile transportation category.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s final second-quarter estimate for Gross Domestic Product, the consensus is apparently that it will come in at an annualized 1.3 percent, up from last month’s reported 1.1 percent.

Meanwhile the Atlanta Fed and Moody’s still think that the third quarter will come in at 2.8 percent. Sure it will, guys.

NFL Ratings Down Again in Week 3, and It Wasn’t Just the Monday Night Presidential Debate

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 10:15 am

Since Monday night’s presidential debate muddied the comparative waters a bit, I’m not going to post in detail on the NFL’s week three ratings decline compared to last year, except to know that there was one, it was big, and not even the presence of the Dollas Cowboys in the Sunday Night game could stem the tide.

Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (092816)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:40 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.