October 28, 2017

Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (102817)

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.

October 27, 2017

‘Fact-Checkers’ AWOL as DNC Chair Perez Claims Electoral College Is Not in the Constitution

Three days on, the leftist “fact-checkers” haven’t gotten around to evaluating the following claim made by DNC Chair Tom Perez on Tuesday: “The Electoral College is not a creation of the Constitution.” Don’t sit by your computer waiting for it to happen.


Bloomberg, Quartz Waste Time, Mislead Readers on Trivial Projected Growth in Renewable Energy Jobs

It would be hard to find an example of a story covering an aspect of business and the economy more pathetic than Jordan Yadoo’s report on the government’s biennial 10-year employment growth projections published at Bloomberg News on Tuesday. Yadoo was impressed, or knew better and wanted to mislead readers and other outlets into being impressed, that “The number of solar photovoltaic installers … is projected to more than double.” Excuse the yawning you may hear in the background — If true, that will represent fewer than 1,000 new jobs annually.


3Q17 Gross Domestic Product, First Estimate (102717): An Annualized 3.0 Percent

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:23 am

This report seems to have snuck up on everyone, which is not surprising, because the press is not giving the economy much attention these days. Given that this is a Republican presidential administration and it’s fairly hard to find bad news — though I still think that growth isn’t where it could or should be — that’s not surprising.

In September, the second quarter’s gross domestic product growth came in at an annualized 3.1 percent, up from earlier estimates of 2.6 percent in July and 3.0 percent in August. That result is consistent with years of watching revisions go up during Republican administrations and down during Democratic administrations. Interesting how that seems to work, isn’t it?

Here are predictions for today’s report on the third quarter, starting with a surprising difference between two models which usually don’t differ by all that much, at least not by as much as they do today:

  • The Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now estimate is an annualized 2.5 percent.
  • In an unusual situation, Moody’s is estimating a much higher figure — “The new data on new-home sales and durable goods raised our high-frequency GDP model’s estimate of third quarter GDP from 3.4% to 3.6% at an annualized rate.”

Unless the figure comes in at about 3.0 percent, one of these two behemoths is going to have to reexamine their model after today’s release. If 3.0 percent or so is today’s figure, they’re both going to be scratching their heads.

Moody’s is also reporting a consensus estimate of an annualized 2.8 percent in its CNBC survey of economists.

The Wall Street Journal is estimating 2.7 percent.

The Associated Press must be expecting good news, as the issuance of the GDP report, which is obviously darned important, is not one of its Top 10 Things to Know for today. Though it’s difficult to find anything at AP these days (explained here for those who missed the post earlier in the week), I couldn’t quickly locate an advance writeup or story containing a prediction of third-quarter growth.

The report will be here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS (full report with tables): What do you know, right smack dab in between Moody’s and the Atlanta Fed, and slightly beating the consensus estimates noted above —

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 3.0 percent in the third quarter of 2017 (table 1), according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 3.1 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 2). The “second” estimate for the third quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on November 29, 2017.

The increase in real GDP in the third quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), private inventory investment, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, and federal government spending. These increases 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, decreased (table 2).

The deceleration in real GDP growth in the third quarter primarily reflected decelerations in PCE, in nonresidential fixed investment, and in exports that were partly offset by an acceleration in private inventory investment and a downturn in imports.

Current-dollar GDP increased 5.2 percent, or $245.5 billion, in the third quarter to a level of $19,495.5 billion. In the second quarter, current-dollar GDP increased 4.1 percent, or $192.3 billion (table 1 and table 3).

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.8 percent in the third quarter, compared with an increase of 0.9 percent in the second quarter (table 4). The PCE price index increased 1.5 percent, compared with an increase of 0.3 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.3 percent, compared with an increase of 0.9 percent (appendix table A).

Personal Income (table 10)

Current-dollar personal income increased $113.7 billion in the third quarter, compared with an increase of $119.1 billion in the second. The deceleration in personal income primarily reflected decelerations in personal dividend income, in rental income, and in wages and salaries that were offset by an acceleration in government social benefits, a smaller decrease in personal interest income, an acceleration in nonfarm proprietors’ income, and a smaller decrease in farm proprietors’ income.

Disposable personal income increased $73.6 billion, or 2.1 percent, in the third quarter, compared with an increase of $125.1 billion, or 3.6 percent, in the second. Real disposable personal income increased 0.6 percent, compared with an increase of 3.3 percent.

Personal saving was $494.8 billion in the third quarter, compared with $545.6 billion in the second. The personal saving rate — personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income — was 3.4 percent in the third quarter, compared with 3.8 percent in the second.

I’ll have the components table up shortly.


UPDATE: Here it is —


Given Moody’s reasons for their higher GDP estimate noted earlier, it would seem that the contraction in the residential fixed investment component may be overstate.

The fixed nonresidential investment figure is disappointing, but, Moody’s also pointed to durable goods as a reason for its higher estimate. So it may be that the overall figure will head higher in the November and December revisions.

It’s also good to see that Health Care continued not to be a big contributor to third quarter growth, as it was during the Obama era, when in my view the reported figures mostly represented market distortions caused by Obamacare and not genuine standard of living improvements.

The positive Inventory Change figure would seem to indicate optimism for the upcoming Christmas shopping season. Let’s hope it’s justified. I’m not so sure, given that so many consumers are far more leveraged, i.e., in debt, than they should be.

UPDATE 2: The 6.1 percent sum of the past two quarters is okay, but the Obama economy, for all of its mediocrity, had larger two-quarter totals several times, most recently during the second and third quarters of 2014. Additionally the sum of Q1-2015 and Q2-2015 was 5.9 percent. So although President Trump will probably do his predictable Twitter thing with today’s news, hold my champagne for later, much better quarters, or at least several more quarters that replicate or slightly beat the past two — if they come.

UPDATE 3: The reason I perhaps should be more impressed with the 3.0 percent third-quarter performance is that it happened in a quarter with two major hurricanes. According to AP, “many private economists believe shaved at least one-half percentage point off growth.” I’m not so sure. Neither is an economist quoted by AP, who says that the hurricanes had “little lasting impact on the economy.” (I realize that doesn’t necessarily preclude a third-quarter to fourth-quarter shift, but it may. Sadly, this economist also believes that Trump’s variously stated 3.0 percent to 4.0 percent annual growth target isn’t achievable.)

Harvey hitting Texas in late August allowed for almost full month of recovery construction to take place, which I would argue might have partially or mostly offset the obvious shutdowns of businesses which occurred during the hurricane.

The GDP hit for Irma was probably worse, given that it hit Florida on September 10, and there was much less time for recovery activities to make up for lost business operations during the hurricane.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (102717)

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.

October 26, 2017

SF Chronicle Columnist Mark Morford: EPA’s Pruitt Deserves Death Threats

At SFgate.com on Thursday, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Mark Morford has hit a new low. Early that evening Pacific Time, Morford justified the extraordinary number of death threats Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt has received and the resulting high cost of his security as deserved, given that Pruitt’s conduct and policies as agency head represent “death threats to the world and all who live on her.”


NBC Radio Brief Notes Modest Jobless Claims Increase, Ignores Far More Important Stories

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 5:56 pm

Establishment press bias is everywhere, even in the top- and bottom-of hour new briefs heard on radio stations across the land. During one such brief at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, NBC’s Lisa Carter presented three items as the day’s most important current news: President Trump’s declaration that the nation’s opioid abuse crisis is a public health emergency; the House passing a budget, removing one obstacle to passing President Donald Trump’s tax-reform plan; and — I can’t believe I’m typing this — an increase in unemployment claims of 10,000 from last week’s lowest level in 43 years, presented to induce low-information news consumers into believing that this rise is potentially problematic for the economy.


Learned While Preparing a Separate Post: Specific AP Time Stamps End After Two Hours

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 5:51 pm

In yet another move towards less transparency and accountability, a trend which I detailed in a Sunday NewsBusters post, the Associated Press now labels all stories more two hours old “Today,” and no longer provides specific time stamps for such stories.

This runs counter to most news organizations’ practices. Many still (and all should) provide permanent, specific time stamps. Those which don’t, including many search engines, at least indicate how many hours old a story is within a 1-23 hour range before labeling them “1 day old, 2 days old” etc.

This move makes it even more difficult to track revisions to AP stories, which is important given that older items on a given story are usually flushed down the memory hole.

This is no accident. This is yet another conscious decision to make it more difficult to trace the evolution of AP content.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (102617)

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: The tradition of sacred choral music needs to be ‘revived’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Vatican City:

Oct 25, 2017 / 12:08 am

For one member of “the Pope’s Choir,” the Catholic Church, while appreciating sacred music, has in some respects lost the art of singing it in her parishes, prompting the need for a revival of traditional style across the world.

“Coming from the UK, I’m used to a choral tradition, it’s a great Anglican tradition,” Mark Spyropoulos told CNA, noting that much of the sacred music they sing is written for great Catholic choirs, but “generally, across Europe at least, we’ve lost touch with that.”

“The cathedrals are mostly silent,” he said, and while the Vatican is an exception, “from a personal stance, as a choral singer, I would like to see that tradition revived” in Catholic choirs “because it’s absolutely wonderful.”

Originally from London, Spyropoulos has been a member of the Sistine Chapel Choir for two and a half years, and is the first person from Britain to join the choir, which just returned from a tour in the United States, the first in 30 years, which included stops in Washington D.C., New York and Detroit.

“I would like to see our touring also promote something of a revival of great Catholic choirs,” he said.

He was present for the Oct. 24 presentation of the choir’s annual CD, which this year is titled “Veni Domine: Advent and Christmas at the Sistine Chapel.”

When it comes to sacred music, Spyropoulos said he believes it has “a huge place” in the Church, and has much to offer, even outside of an ecclesial context.

Sacred music, he said, “puts young singers in touch with their history, their culture, and it’s an inspirational thing to do, not just to be part of it, but to hear it.”

Whenever the choir sings, “our intention is that it should inspire people, that people would listen to it and be transported away from the mundane and the banal, and that their minds would be directed to something that is spiritual, beautiful and transcendent,” he said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

October 25, 2017

Brookings Fellow at PBS: ‘Alarmism Over Trump Is Dangerous For Democracy

Pass the smelling salts. Last week, PBS, the public broadcasting behemoth, actually published a column by a clearly left-leaning Brookings Institute Senior Fellow which was mostly backed by reason and an understanding of the nation’s constitutional framework. Shadi Hamid, who is no fan of the President, warned the left and never-Trumpers that their constant “alarmism” over the actions and statement of President Donald Trump “is dangerous for democracy.”


Positivity: Meet the monks who spend their lives praying for Ireland’s priests

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 10:15 am

From Dublin, Ireland:

Oct 24, 2017 / 03:11 am

Prayer, reparation, and praising God are the focus of a new Benedictine priory in Ireland, which focuses especially on reparation for the sins of priests.

“It was never our predetermined plan to come to Ireland,” Silverstream Priory’s Father Benedict Andersen, O.S.B., told CNA. “But we believe that, through circumstances that we could never have foreseen, Divine Providence placed us here to play some sort of role, however modest, in the life of the Irish Church.”

Silverstream Priory is the home of the Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

The priory is a former residence of the Visitation Sisters in Stamullen, a village about 22 miles north of Dublin. It is believed to be the first monastery established in Ireland’s County Meath since King Henry VIII suppressed them.

“The Reformation, which was ruthlessly enforced in Ireland, dealt a near fatal blow to the monastic life, and it almost seems as if certain contemporary forces and trends are conspiring to finish it off completely,” said Father Benedict, who hails from Colorado.

There are many Americans at the priory. The prior, Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, is from Connecticut. Tulsa, Okla. native Dom Elijah Carroll also comes from the U.S. The priory has a postulant from Toledo, Ohio and a priest from the Archdiocese of St. Louis. One member is from County Meath, while one novice is from Australia and another from Denmark.

According to Father Benedict, one of the glories of the Benedictine order is that their sole reason for existence is “the lifelong search for God in separation from the world, and the perpetual praise of God in the Sacred Liturgy.” …

Go here for the rest of the storty.

Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (102517)

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.

October 24, 2017

AdAge.com Writer Tries to Cover Up NFL’s Ratings and Attendance Slides

Last week, Anthony Crupi at AdAge.com was either willfully ignorant or deliberately deceptive when he claimed that the size of the National Football League’s TV ratings decline is inconsequential. Crupi also appears to be quite wrong in contending that actual game attendance — not reported attendance, but “turnstile” attendance — during the 2017 season is only barely down compared to last year.


Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (102417)

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.