16 March 2018


There are times when one couldn't say it better (scroll to 3:11 PM - 14 Mar 2018):
17 people die in a high school and a month later there's a nationwide protest to get the attention of lawmakers. One dog dies on an airplane and there's a bill in the Senate rectifying it within 48 hours.

As pointed out here many times, this is of a piece with HRC's "deplorables" and 'the states I won are 65% of GDP', IOW, the left behind knuckleheads are in that situation just because they insist on electing fascist governments. The coastal states mostly do otherwise. You elect government that treats you like chattel, you'll be left behind. And it's your fault.

HRC has been excoriated for telling the truth, even by pundit Democrats. The truth hurts some times.

14 March 2018

Jobs R Us

Here's the headline: "Toys "R" Us liquidation could cost tens of thousands of jobs"
Toys "R" Us is expected to start court proceedings to liquidate as soon as Thursday. That's a first legal step in moving to close all of its 850 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. -- and to lay off up to 33,000 workers.

So, let's see if Orange Julius Caesar thinks they're worth saving; the way coal miners and steel workers are. Ya think may be not????

13 March 2018

Predestination - part the second

Ben Casselman's at it again. As regular reader may recall, these missives have pointed out that macro and micro data are very much brothers from different mothers. Micro data is, within a teeny epsilon, population while macro is samples. Today's piece is filled with quotes from important pundits, which make the points seen here.

"We have trouble measuring any of these things," said Tara Sinclair, an economist at George Washington University and for the job-search site Indeed. "This is definitely one of those situations where you can feed in the data and get out whatever response you're looking for."

IOW, the wiggle room in the data is sufficiently large that one can make any argument, plausible or not. Just take a look at the technical section of the Monthly Report to see the admission that the numbers are of Gumby.
BLS analyses are generally conducted at the 90-percent level of confidence.

For example, the confidence interval for the monthly change in total nonfarm
employment from the establishment survey is on the order of plus or minus 115,000.

Let that warm and fuzzy sink in. OK, back to Casselman's quotes.

Despite the familiarity of the average hourly earnings figure, however, economists say that it is among the least reliable indicators, especially in the short run.

Most government statistics, for instance, have failed to adapt to the rise of the so-called gig economy and other trends that are changing the relationship between companies and workers. The hourly earnings measure in the monthly jobs report excludes Uber drivers and similar contractors.

Now, does that bit of missing data mean; A) higher earning folks are being missed or B) lower earning folks are being missed? The answer, naturally, is B. IOW, the data/report are, to an unknown degree, rosy.

Moreover, Americans are increasingly refusing to respond to government surveys. The response rate to the monthly Current Population Survey, the data source that underlies the unemployment rate and many other key statistics, has eroded in recent years. Of the households that do respond, about a third refuse to provide information about their earnings, a rate much higher than for most other questions. Similar problems have affected other government and private-sector surveys.

Without accurate macro data, all we get is demogogic policies. Demagogues prefer to ignore data, but when the data is known to be wonky, pushback gets tougher.

08 March 2018

Blind Pundits

Yet another case where Red/Blue is being misconstrued, and over an issue of some significance. Here's a report on 'electric' cars. With this assertion:
Out of the top 10 states for new and used hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars, only two -- Arizona and Utah -- voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, according to an analysis of 2017 auto sales from from research site iSeeCars.com.

I don't doubt that for a second. But it would be helpful to readers seeking to understand WHY that is true to explore the motivation. As they say in the real estate business, it's location, location, location.

At no time in the text is it offered that electric/micro cars only make sense in urban areas. If you have to drive 100 miles to the grocery store, and the only charging station would be the one in your garage (if you actually bought an 'electric' car), you're not likely to buy one. States which, in toto, vote Blue are ones where cities overwhelm empty counties. Red, the other way round. Why won't mainstream pundits figure this out?? I guess it's too sophisticated to actually think about a subject, and look at the data.

03 March 2018

Yes Ore No

To paraphrase Orange Julius Caesar, "if you don't have iron ore and bauxite, you don't have steel or aluminum". And, one might add, to turn bauxite into aluminum eats prodigious amounts of electricity.
CSIRO calculate that the embodied energy (all the energy used to make the material) for aluminium is 211 GJ per tonne, compared to 22.7 GJ per tonne for steel.

Not for nothing, our economy would rather burn all that electricity on bitcoins. Make sense to you?

As to base ore endowment, the USofA has nearly no bauxite and has depleted iron ore to about the noise level. Without imports, we don't have industry.

Here's iron reserves. And, bauxite; you're not missing something, the USofA isn't listed.
However, since 1981, none of the bauxite mined in the US was used to make metallic aluminium. US bauxite is instead used for abrasives, high-temperature refractory materials, and as a high-strength proppant for hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells.

Besides announcing tariffs while "unglued", there really, really isn't viable US supply. Moron.

We Don't Need No Education

The West Virginia teachers remain on strike. About time that someone in the Empty States takes a stand. From the beginning of these endeavors, it's been asserted that there's a reason they have been "left behind", and it hasn't been a conspiracy among the elite Eastern intellectuals and nattering nabobs of negativism. It has been the Right Wingnuts elected by the residents of the Empty States who treat said residents as indentured servants. And those folks accept the situation blindly.

It should come as no surprise that West Virginia ranks at the bottom, topping only a few other Empty Red States. Keep 'em stupid and breeding. Works OK, for the Marie Antoinette Class when your economy is largely agrarian/extractive. Not so much in the 21st century. Also not surprising that Orange Julius Caesar promised these morons that he'd send the country back to the 19th century. And they bought it. Stupid is as stupid does.

It's not a coincidence that the prosperous coastal Blue States are closer to socialist than social Darwinist. The West Virginia teachers are figuring it out.

22 February 2018

I Still Hate Neil Irwin - part the tenth

It's the nature of quants to be lazy, despite all the brow sweat they brag about. This laziness leads them to seek out easy data. Which, in turn, leads them corporations, i.e. the micro sector, who collect as much data as they want. And, since corporations are mostly rolling in dough, fat salaries to be had. So long as the quant doesn't find the requirement to pander undesirable. Hog heaven for the quant. The problem is that, as any macro quant will tell you: 99.44% of micro performance is the result of the macro environment. Do the CxO class, and their quant servants, really think Mr. Market's spectacular rise over the last years is due to their brilliance? The CxO class has had, at most, an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka-dot effect; almost entirely M&A to destroy competition.

So, today is another reason to hate Neil Irwin!! As stated here more than once, Say is crap. If it were true, there'd never be recessions or depressions because business would ramp production (and employment and wage incomes) in the face of falling demand. I dare anyone to cite any company that did so. You won't find one. They follow the Lemming Law: each attempts to conserve cash and profits by cutting production and employment. Thus constructing a downward spiral of global contraction. What the individual sees as rational through his own eyes, leads to a mess when everyone does it.
The latest wrinkle is that the researchers now believe that productivity growth depends not just on the supply side of the economy — what companies produce and what technologies they use to do it — but also significantly on the demand side.
[C]ompanies need to increase production to match demand for their goods, and a shortage, either of workers or of materials, forces them to think creatively about how to do so.

As Homer says, "D'oh!!". And, it's worth noting, McKinsey has an extreme rightwing reputation in the consulting world.
McDonald comments that apart from slashing cost by slashing headcount (increasing employee churn in order to keep costs low), there have been many instances where the recommendations that have come from McKinsey seem to focus on cold blooded cost cutting at the expense of long term staff loyalty, creating a culture of fear and short-termism in the organisational culture.

It is kind of amazing that McKinsey and Irwin seem to ask, "What would Jesus do?". Again, the repeat: go read Baumol, as well. FIRE has eaten GDP, and measuring productivity using tools created for a manufacturing economy will, by definition, show lousy productivity as GDP skews more toward services. Which is not to assert that some other measure of productivity would both be honest and at much higher levels than we've actually seen. After all, productivity is supposed to be a measure of labor output. A few years back, GDP's definition was fiddled to add IP related activity. No one seems to ask the fundamental question: is there any productivity benefit to a mobile phone that runs "Candy Crush" 10% faster???

Here's a long-ish article making these points.
A problem with GDP even when it is being asked to do nothing more than measure production is that it is a relic of a period dominated by manufacturing.

Just like I said. Of course.