October 28, 2016

Looking for an ‘Unprecedented’ October Surprise? Nothing Tops Lawrence Walsh’s 1992 Stunt

FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress indicating that the bureau has “learned of the existence of (Hillary Clinton) emails” which he concluded must be reviewed “to determine whether they contain classified information” has led to all kinds of people declaring the move an “unprecedented” October surprise.

Even some people who should know better have called it the “Mother of All October Surprises.” Perhaps it ultimately will be, but as things currently stand, it’s not even in the running for current champion. The press’s institutional memory is so weak that no one I’m aware of has made a comparison to Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh’s indictment of former Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger on October 30, 1992, and Walsh’s obviously calculated decision to include a reference to incumbent President George H.W. Bush in his filing. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, who one would expect to remember its brutality and dishonesty, failed to do so in a telephone interview Friday afternoon.

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AP Concocts ‘GOPers Going to Hillary’ Meme in Ohio Based on One Guy

Thursday, Dan Sewell at the Associated Press worked hard to create something out of almost nothing in Southwestern Ohio, where I happen to live.

Sewell’s work oddly appeared only as a very short squib with no follow-up at the wire service’s main national site, while the AP published his full story at its “Big Story” site. The theme: “Hillary Clinton campaign’s hopes are rising” in the Buckeye State because of “Donald Trump’s provocative rhetoric and his treatment of women,” leading to “indications that … (she) is pulling more support than usual this year among suburban Republicans.” My experience, though anecdotal like the AP’s, is that far more people in Southwestern Ohio who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 have unequivocally stated their preference for Trump — a subject Sewell appeared to deliberately avoid.

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The Big Three: LA Times, Trump +1.7; IBD/TIPP, Clinton +3; Rasmussen Tied

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:39 am

You have to go to the USC site to get the latest LA Times/USC poll numbers (Trump 45.8, Clinton 44.1). The LAT’s page hasn’t been updated yet (as of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time). I’m sure it has nothing to do with the poll showing Trump’s small lead expanding by a point. It’s all within the margin of error, but there’s been a 3-point swing from Clinton +1.3 to Trump +1.7 in the past 5 days.

The news for Trump from IBD/TIPP isn’t good. The 3-point Clinton lead shown there is pretty close to the margin of error.

Rasmussen just posted today’s numbers, and has the race tied, with interesting observations:

In the latest survey, 88% of voters say they are now certain how they will vote. Trump leads 49% to 47% among these voters, with Johnson at three percent (3%) and Stein at one percent (1%). Clinton has the most to lose among voters who still could change their minds: She earns 49% in this group to Trump’s 30%, Johnson’s six percent (6%) and Stein’s 16%.

… Americans aren’t exactly upbeat about the economy and housing prices over the next year, but fewer expect a weaker economy in a year’s time compared to past years. Democrats are a lot more optimistic, though, than other adults are.

The economy remains the number one issue for all voters this election cycle, but Republicans are a lot more worried about national security than Democrats and unaffiliated voters are.

Clinton still leads among women, Trump among men. The Democrat has a sizable lead among those under 40, while her GOP rival remains ahead among their elders.

The older the voter, the more certain he or she is of how they will vote.

Trump appears to be growing his lead among whites, while Clinton is growing hers among blacks and other minority voters. But whites are more sure of their vote as of now than the others are.

Sixty percent (60%) of all voters think race relations have gotten worse since the election of the first black president in 2008. Just nine percent (9%) believe race relations are better now.

3Q16 Gross Domestic Product (102816): An Annualized 2.9 Percent, Up From 1.4 Percent in 2Q

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:20 am

Today is more than likely the day that the Obama economy falls behind the economy of the Great Depression in terms of the size of the economy as measured from the previous peak, making it the worst post-downturn performance in at least the past 100 years.

Predictions:

Zero Hedge is reporting that the New York Fed’s GDP model is predicting 2.2 percent.

The report will be here at 8:30 a.m.

HERE IT IS (permanent full text link): Imagine that … An upside surprise 11 days before Election Day:

Real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in the third quarter of 2016 (table 1), according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 1.4 percent.

The Bureau emphasized that the third-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see “Source Data for the Advance Estimate” on page 3). The “second” estimate for the third quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on November 29, 2016.

The increase in real GDP in the third quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, private inventory investment, federal government spending, and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by negative contributions from residential fixed investment and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased (table 2).

The acceleration in real GDP growth in the third quarter reflected an upturn in private inventory investment, an acceleration in exports, a smaller decrease in state and local government spending, and an upturn in federal government spending. These were partly offset by a smaller increase in PCE, and a larger increase in imports.

Current-dollar GDP increased 4.4 percent, or $201.1 billion, in the third quarter to a level of $18,651.2 billion. In the second quarter, current dollar GDP increased 3.7 percent, or $168.5 billion (table 1 and table 3).

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.6 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 2.1 percent in the second quarter (table 4). The PCE price index increased 1.4 percent, compared with an increase of 2.0 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.7 percent, compared with an increase of 1.8 percent (appendix table A).

An updated line-item table is coming soon for the quarter. The Depression-era comparison will hopefully come later in the day.

Here’s the table:

GDPcomponentsThru3Q16at102816

Observations:

  • This shows very weak growth in personal consumption expenditures. It’s perhaps weaker than we’ll see in future revisions (largely because the health care number seems low, but right now, it’s the second-worst in the past 11 quarters (only 1Q16 was worse).
  • The PCE increase in goods reverts back to the low levels seen in 4Q15 and 1Q16.
  • The inventory increase is hardly comforting, given the weak consumer spending on goods.
  • Housing continues to be a drag on the economy, and has never driven the “recovery” the way it has in previous genuine recoveries.
  • The contribution of exports, the highest in over two year, is a bit hard to accept (BUT see Update 3; it’s probably OK), and doesn’t seem to square with recent trade-related data.

I’m confident the press will portray today’s news as “robust” or something close to that, which it certainly isn’t.

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UPATE: Zero Hedge notes that GDP is only 1.5 percent greater than it was a year ago.

In the past five quarters, annualized growth has been 1.6 percent.

Neither figure is impressive.

UPDATE 3, November 4: The exports surge was driven by soybeans:

Surge in soybean sales boosted better-than-expected GDP data

a closer look at the numbers show that the economy may not be as strong as the headlines indicate.

Some nine-tenths of a percentage point of the gain came from a surge in soybean exports, much of which was shipped to China, an event that won’t be repeated in coming quarters.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (102816)

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: Peruvian president consecrates nation to Sacred Heart, Immaculate Heart

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Lima, Peru:

Oct 25, 2016 / 06:35 am

At the National Prayer Breakfast in Lima, Peru on Friday, the nation’s president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, consecrated the country, his family and himself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Taking part in the National Day of Prayer at the Swissôtel in Lima, Kuczynski in his capacity as president offered the prayer of consecration, written by the Mission for the Love of God in the Whole World.

“By the authority vested in me, I make an act of consecration of myself, my family and the Republic of Peru, to the love and protection of Almighty God through the intercession of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” the president said.

Participating in the event were important business and political leaders in the country, including the President of Congress, Luz Salgado, who also offered a prayer asking God for his help and protection.

Of the 21 prayer breakfasts that have been held in Peru, this is the first time a president has attended. The theme chosen for this year was “the Mercy of the Love of God” in accordance with the Year of Mercy called for by Pope Francis.

Event organizer Aldo Bertello Costa said that the intent of the breakfast is to pray for the leaders as well as to “bring to all Peruvians a message of optimism and reconciliation. Everyone united together for our beloved country.”

During the ceremony, President Kuczynski entrusted to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary “my government with all its workers and citizens who are under my responsibility. I offer to Almighty God my thoughts and decisions as president so that he may use them for the good of our country and always bearing in mind the Ten Commandments in governing it.”

He asked God’s forgiveness “for all the transgressions I may have committed in the past, all those committed by the Republic in the past, and for all those decisions that may have been made contrary to his commandments and I ask for his help in changing everything that separates us from Him.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.