March 11, 2018

On Trump Tariffs, AP Reporter Tries to Frighten, Misquotes Prominent Economist

The Associated Press’s Paul Wiseman has apparently tired of good economic news. Saturday, the AP reporter painted a frightening picture of what a trade war based on President Donald Trump’s planned tariffs on a tiny sliver of U.S. imports might do to the world’s economy, mischaracterizing a prominent economist’s position to build his case.

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LA Times Columnist Falsely Claims North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Hasn’t Offered to Denuclearize

Of all the absurd takes on the U.S.-North Korean situation in the wake of President Trump’s tentative, conditional agreement to meet with Kim Jong Un, that country’s communist dictator, Barbara Demick’s Friday “analysis” piece at the Los Angeles Times has to be near the top of any “worst” list. The headline: “Whatever comes next, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un can claim a win against Trump.” Oh really?

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Allergic to Good News? CNN Stops Tracking Trump-Era Job Growth

CNN last updated a presentation tracking job growth since President Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 5, the day the government issued its December jobs report. This halt coincided with the January effective date of the GOP-Trump tax-cut law and wide expectations of significant job growth because of that legislation, and is more evidence — as if we needed any — that the network which is obsessed with reporting negative news about Trump and his administration is allergic to anything which might make him and his policies look good.

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How Good Was February’s Jobs Report? This Good

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:32 pm

To be clear before getting into this, January’s jobs report was far worse than seasonally adjusted figures advertised. Not seasonally adjusted job losses (which always happen in January) of 3.058 million (revised in February’s report) were the second-worst for any month on record, exceeded only by the deep-recession 3.690 million lost in January 2009 as the nation went into full fear-and-loathing mode over Barack Obama’s arrival in the White House (and yes, Obama’s behavior during the transition accelerated job losses and deepened the recession in the months before he arrived, and I would argue deliberately so.).

I bring up January’s bad news because it partially — but nowhere near fully — offsets February’s really good news.

With that out of the way, let’s note what happened in February before seasonal adjustments. What happened is that the economy added 1.224 million jobs.

I mentioned Friday that it was the highest February figure in the 79 years (80 Februarys) BLS has issued monthly payroll jobs data.

What I didn’t realize is that February’s 1.224 million actual jobs added is the third-highest not seasonally adjusted figure reported in ANY month during the past 79 years (exceeded only in September 1983 and April 1978, and not adjusted for workforce size).

This is made all the more impressive by the fact that February, the first of five months (Feb.-June) during which the economy almost always actually adds large numbers of jobs (i.e., before seasonal adjustment), has only been the highest of those five months during two of the past 79 years (2013 and 2017).

Thus, though no cause for premature celebration, especially because some of Febrary’s pickup may have occurred because January’s losses were exaggerated, there remains a distinct possibility, to coin the old phrase, that “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (031118)

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: Vatican’s Korea diplomat to help bridge the gap between North and South

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

From Seoul, South Korea:

Mar 9, 2018 / 04:14 pm

The Vatican’s recent diplomatic appointment to South Korea gained added significance as President Donald Trump announced that he will meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un for nuclear negotiations within the next two months.

Pope Francis’ appointed Monsignor Alfred Xuereb to serve as the Apostolic Nuncio to Korea beginning March 19.

“As the pope continually shows his concern for the reconciliation of the two Koreas and [prays for] peace on the Korean Peninsula, the new nuncio will play an active role in bridging the gap between the two Koreas and working for peace in the region,” said the Acting Apostolic Nuncio to Korea, Monsignor Marco Sprizzi, according to UCA news.

Monsignor Xuereb, who previously served as a private secretary to both Pope Francis and Benedict XVI, will be consecrated a bishop as he takes up his first diplomatic posting for the Vatican.

Although he lacks the diplomatic experience of his predecessors in the Korean nunciature, the Maltese cleric is reported to be close to Pope Francis.

“Monsignor Xuereb is one of the closest allies of Pope Francis and reads the pope’s thinking very well,” continued Monsignor Sprizzi.

Trump announced March 8 that he had accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to negotiate the North’s nuclear weapons program. Trump will be the first sitting U.S. president to meet face to face with a North Korean leader.

Trump followed up yesterday’s announcement with calls to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss the prospect of dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea and to confirm a shared commitment to maintaining sanctions until tangible steps toward denuclearization are taken, according to the White House.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in helped to facilitate the upcoming meeting between the U.S. and North Korea. Moon sent his National Security Advisor Chung Eui-yong to Pyongyang on Monday and then quickly on to Washington to convey the North Korean leader’s invitation to Trump.

Moon is a practicing Catholic who has pledged himself to peaceful dialogue on the Korean peninsula. Shortly after taking office in Seoul, Moon commissioned a Korean envoy to meet with Pope Francis in Rome last May to advocate for Vatican support for Korean reconciliation. …

Go here for the rest of the story.