November 27, 2015

AP Headlines Oct. Consumer Spending As ‘Weak’; Crutsinger Opens by Claiming a ‘Modest Increase’

Economic news on Wednesday’s pre-Thanksgiving “Getaway Day” was largely dismal. The government’s report on October’s personal income and outlays headed up the disappointing news. While incomes increased nicely — at a rate which needs to be repeated about two dozen more times before it can be seen as genuinely impressive — spending only rose by 0.1 percent, and prior months were revised significantly downward.

Perhaps because they were all in a pre-holiday hurry, the headline writers at the Associated Press and AP economics writer Martin Crutsinger had fundamentally different takes on the news. Additionally, Crutsinger was apparently in such a rush that he didn’t worry about the fact that his first two paragraphs’ characterizations of the result disagreed. Finally, the AP reporter failed to note that total consumer spending in October was lower than what was originally reported in September after the previously mentioned downard revisions.



Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (112715)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 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: Mystery Teen Suprises Mom And Toddler With Kind Deed At Target

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

Via Daryn Kagan:

November 19, 2015

Young mom Megan Shufflebarger says her heart is about to explode.

She shares an encounter that led to a kind deed at her local Target Store in Lafayette, Indiana on her Facebook page.

She wasn’t expecting anything special as she helped her little girl, Kinley, go up and down the aisles making a wish list for her upcoming birthday.

Megan writes:

“My heart is about to explode. We were in target tonight and this younger couple was walking thru the toy aisles listening to Kinley ooh and ahhh and make her birthday list of doll goodies. He asked her which one she picked out and she showed him and said yeah and I really lub dis one. They chuckled and he walked off with the doll and said try to stay over here. I thought it was odd at first but was quickly distracted with more oohing and ahhing. Kinley asked where the dolly was she picked and I told her it would be okay there are more. He came back a few minutes later with her doll, in a bag with a receipt and told her happy birthday, you enjoy your dolly. Seriously. What a reminder to never loose faith in humanity and to be generous and pay it forward. To this generous young man, whoever you are, I hope you see this and more importantly, I hope you know what a good young man you are.” …

The young man has since been identified.

Go here to see who it is.

November 26, 2015

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (112615)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 pm

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: George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:00 am

This post is a BizzyBlog Thanksgiving tradition.



General Thanksgiving
By the President of the United States of America

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLIC THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;– to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

November 25, 2015

Positivity: Pre-Thanksgiving Perspective

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 pm

Note: A slightly different version of this post originally went up in November 2007, and has turned into a BizzyBlog tradition.


I saw this about halfway through this post at Obi’s Sister. It was written to make a political point, which is fine, but it also makes a universal one (paragraphing added by me):

A neighbor (say her name is Mary) sees her other neighbor (say her name is Nancy) and decides to make her a pie. She bakes a lovely pie the next day and takes it next-door. Nancy is overwhelmed that her neighbor would be so thoughtful and thanks her profusely.

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy thanks her again, but with less enthusiasm.

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy just says “Thanks.”

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy says, “Thanks, and you’re a day late this time.”

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy says “Thanks, but next time, can you make a cherry pie instead of apple? I’m getting tired of apple.”

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy says “You know, if you put a little less sugar in the crust and didn’t handle it so long, the crust wouldn’t be tough.”

The next week, Mary has lots to do and forgets to make her pie. When she walked by Nancy’s house, she stuck her head out the door and yelled, “Hey! Where’s my pie?”

How quickly gratitude turns into a jaded sense of entitlement.

…. Why don’t we go back to the original idea? Simple people, pioneers really, expressing their pure and heartfelt gratitude …. A humble heartfelt thanksgiving. Not a holiday, but a state of mind.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


October Durable Goods: Orders Up 3.0 Pct. (But Down Slightly ex-Aircraft), Shipments Down 1.0 Pct.; Raw Numbers Are Worse

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:58 am

A mixed bag, but with more coal than presents, from the Census Bureau:

New Orders

New orders for manufactured durable goods in October increased $6.9 billion or 3.0 percent to $239.0 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This increase, up following two consecutive monthly decreases, followed a 0.8 percent September decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.5 percent. Excluding defense, new orders increased 3.2 percent.

Transportation equipment, also up following two consecutive monthly decreases, led the increase, $6.1 billion or 8.0 percent to $82.1 billion.


Shipments of manufactured durable goods in October, down two of the last three months, decreased $2.5 billion, or 1.0 percent, to $240.1 billion. This followed a 0.2 percent September increase.

…  Inventories

Inventories of manufactured durable goods in October, down five of the last six months, decreased $0.7 billion, or 0.2 percent, to $397.4 billion. This followed a 0.6 percent September decrease.

The good news on orders is that they went up. The not-so-good news is that but for the big increase in the volatile nondefense aircraft and parts (+$7.8 billion), net orders in all other sectors declined by $0.9 billion.

Not seasonally adjusted October orders of $240.2 billion trailed October 2014 by 1.0 percent. This is seventh straight year-over-year monthly decline.

Not seasonally adjusted October shipments of $246.2 billion trailed October 2014 by 1.7 percent. This is a rare year-over-year decline in this area — only the second in the almost six years, and the biggest such decline since December 2009.

The inventory come-down is necessary from a business standpoint, but it’s probably going to hurt fourth-quarter GDP.

Overall, the trends here are decidedly not our friends.


New-Home Sales: Annualized 495K in Oct.; Previous 3 Months Revised Down by a Total of 40K

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:37 am

From the Census Bureau:

Sales of new single-family houses in October 2015 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 495,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 10.7 percent (±17.7%)* above the revised September rate of 447,000 and is 4.9 percent (±17.6%)* above the October 2014 estimate of 472,000.

Today’s result was in the expected range of 490K to 504K, but previous month revisions reduced July through September sales by a total of 40K:


Given that the three previous months got revised down today, it’s not unreasonable to believe that today’s not-great, not-terrible number won’t hold up in future revisions.


If Consumers Are Going to Save the Day, They’d Better Show Up Soon

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:56 am

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has just told us that personal income went up nicely in October, but that people didn’t spend the extra money:

Personal income increased $68.1 billion, or 0.4 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) increased $56.8 billion, or 0.4 percent, in October, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $15.2 billion, or 0.1 percent. In September, personal income increased $27.4 billion, or 0.2 percent, DPI increased $27.0 billion, or 0.2 percent, and PCE increased $9.5 billion, or 0.1 percent, based on revised estimates.

Real DPI increased 0.4 percent in October, compared with an increase of 0.3 percent in September. Real PCE increased 0.1 percent in October, the same increase as in September.

Additionally, as seen in the second of the two tables which follow, spending increases in previous months were were revised significantly downward, despite income increases getting revised upward:


Here’s the underlying data for this year, which shows a 2.1 perent increase through 10 months:


Since it came out only a day after GDP, I wouldn’t know whether today’s downward revisions were or weren’t considered in yesterday’s GDP report. If they weren’t, the above data, which shows PCE increasing by just 0.6 percent in the third quarter (2.4 percent annualized), would seem to dictate the need to take what the government reported yesterday — a 3.0 percent annualized increase in PCE — down significantly. If they were, yesterday’s result doesn’t seem defensible.

(UPDATE, Nov. 27: The Atlanta Fed reduced its fourth-quarter forceast from 2.3 percent to 1.8 percent based on today’s news. So if the government didn’t bake today’s income/outlays news into yesterday’s GDP report, it seems that the third quarter will be revised down in late December by a more than minor amount.)

In general — It’s more money, but barely more consumption. I say, with support found here, that the explanation is higher debt payments, which aren’t part of consumption, but certainly work to empty consumers’ pockets.


Initial Unemployment Claims (112515): 260K SA; Raw Claims 12 Pct. Below Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:37 am

Predictions were for 270,000 to 272,000 seasonally adjusted claims, which averages out to the same as last week.

Here are the key paragraphs from the Department of Labor’s report released at 8:30:


In the week ending November 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 260,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 271,000 to 272,000. The 4-week moving average was 271,000, unchanged from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 270,750 to 271,000.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 305,757 in the week ending November 21, an increase of 40,941 (or 15.5 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 54,977 (or 20.8 percent) from the previous week. There were 357,202 initial claims in the comparable week in 2014.

I’m not sure why raw claims would have topped 300,000 for the first time in a while, but apparently, given both years’ relatively high seasonal adjustment factors (117.5 this year, 118.0 last year), the last full week before Thanksgiving typically has a higher level of claims than previous weeks.

So there’s nothing particularly cheering or alarming here.


Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (112515)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 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.

November 24, 2015

Percentage of Late-Nov. Media Mentions of ‘Christmas Shopping Season’ at a 10-Year Low

As we head into the Christmas shopping season, yours truly regrets to inform readers that the relative frequency of late-November media mentions of the “Christmas shopping season” is at the lowest level in all of the years I have been tracking it — probably meaning that it’s at an all-time low, period.

This is Year 11 of an effort which began in 2005. Each year has involved Google News searches on “Christmas shopping season” and “holiday shopping season” (both terms in quotes). In the past few years, after Google News merged its archive with its regular one-month news results, I’ve made sure to only search on the past month. As seen in the graph which follows, this year’s result is down to one “Christmas” mention for every 16.5 “holiday” mentions:



Year 11 Christmas/Holiday Layoff and Shopping Searches: Round 1

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 10:13 pm

Background behind these annual searches is here and here.

Here are the results of this year’s first round of searches:

Here goes (for the past month):

That is the lowest “Christmas” component ever in 11 years of such searches, coming in below last year’s. The lowest-ever result for a full Christmas season (three searches) was 8.5% in 2012. The press seems determined to separate “shopping” from the reason for the season.

Now on to the second set of searches (for the past month):

  • Christmas layoffs (not in quotes, also excluding the word “challenger” to ensure that about 30 items relating to the mass layoffs report issued by Challenger & Christmas were exluded) — 6,880 (22.5%)
  • Holiday layoffs (not in quotes) — 17,300 (56.6%)
  • Holidays layoffs (not in quotes) — 6,370 (20.9%)

As has been the case in previous years, the press is far more likely to use “Christmas” in connection with layoffs (4 times as likely in the most recent set — 27.5% vs. 7%), an obviously negative thing, than it is to use “Christmas” in connection with shopping and commerce, a generally positive or neutral thing.

Additional searches will take place in roughly two and four weeks.


‘Victim’ of ‘Islamophobia’ Three Years Ago Arrested in Turkey as Part of ISIS Cell

There are plenty of problems with the government’s “no-fly list,” and especially the plans by some congressmen and senators to abuse it. That said, it appears, almost three years later, to have gotten one name right.

In late 2012 and early 2013, leftists like Chris Hayes at MSNBC, Glenn Greenwald and Kevin Drum at Mother Jones were upset that Saadiq Long, a U.S. Air Force veteran who was living in Qatar, had been put on the no-fly list. After making a stink, Long’s name was apparently removed so he could fly into Oklahoma to see his ailing mother, only to see his no-fly listing reinstated so he couldn’t leave. He returned to Qatar, but only after taking a bus down to Mexico City and flying from there. End of story? Hardly, as PJ Media’s Patrick Poole reports:



Reuters: 2.1 Pct. GDP Growth Is ‘Respectable’; 2 Pct. Is Economy’s ‘Long-Run Potential’

Call it the triumph of the “new normal.”

At Reuters today, after today’s first revision of third-quarter gross domestic product showed that the economy grew by an annualized 2.1 percent, up from the late-October estimate of 1.5 percent, reporter Lucia Mutikani and Editor Paul Simao demonstrated that they have completely given in to the artificially lowered expectations of past seven miserable years. Despite the fact that annual growth in the U.S. economy averaged 3.4 percent from 1946-2007 — a period which included ten recessions — and that it has seen four-year spurts averaging over 4 percent several times in the past three decades, the Reuters pair claims that its “long-run potential” is now only 2 percent, thus making today’s 2.1 percent result “respectable.”