15 July 2019

New Gold - part the eighth

Well, that didn't take long. A report today says it all
The other factor is that the US dollar is the world's reserve currency. That status creates persistent demand for the greenback, making it difficult to properly value the currency.

Read the piece.

14 July 2019

Figures Don't Lie, But Liars Figure - part the second

This is now a series. Yahoo!

Today's entry derives from what should be a helpful explanation of what the unemployment really is. What's truly irritating is that the author is described as a 20 year economics reporter for the NYT. Phooey. He either makes rookie mistakes, or he's in on the gag.

His thesis is that the top-line monthly unemployment number doesn't tell the whole story. D'oh!!! Of course it doesn't, which has been discussed in these endeavors more than once. He could simply direct the reader to the BLS site which gives the alternative numbers (in table A-15), to which he makes oblique reference, but never spends a word or two to mention or explain. U-3 is the top-line number, while U-6 is the larger definition. Come on!!!

Moreover he says
Older people typically don't participate in the work force to the degree that younger people do...

While historically true before the Baby Boomers began aging, and supporting their geezer parents both directly and indirectly, it hasn't been true for some time. As you can see, geezers participation has been rising for the simple reason that retirement benefits have largely disappeared for today's Geezer Boomers. While it hasn't reached the level of middle age prime earners, necessity is the mother of retention.

And, naturally, we can't forget The (would be) Manchurian President's biggest lie
I've seen numbers of 24 percent -- I actually saw a number of 42 percent unemployment. Forty-two percent.

Of course, pure bullshit. Almost. If you know where to look (now you do) there is a number from BLS that's in the 40% ballpark. It's the employment/population ratio, which if inverted gets that fantastic number. Of course, it makes no sense to call sick 80 year geezers and infants as unemployed.

Figures don't lie, but liars figure.

13 July 2019

I Still Hate Neil Irwin - part the thirteenth

Good ole Neil creeps ever closer to the problem of the USofA's economic/quant oxymoron. How can we have low unemployment rate, low inflatioa rate, and low (or negative, at times) long term interest rate? The answer can't be found, in a causative manner, in the data. At least, not the commonly available batch. The data will show the result, and does.

It took the Fed's Powell, not a bleeding heart liberal, to state the obvious: "The Fed's New Message: The Economy Can Get a Lot Better for Workers".
... American workers were due for some catch-up growth in their compensation — after years in which their pay fell as a share of the economy.

Boy howdy! Once again, the sources of inflation
1 - cost push
2 - wage push
3 - demand pull

With wages retrenching for years, how can the highly paid pundits not admit that without a growing wallet in the lower classes, there won't be measurable inflation (by the long held definition of CPI, of course) from wage push? There can't be of course; inflation by definition requires an excess of moolah chasing (a shortage of?) output. OTOH, we've seen ample evidence that there's been significant demand pull inflation in assets. That's why long term inflation, measured by rising bond prices (the inverse of the interest rate) is rampant. All those highly paid CxOs put the TARP and QEs moolah into Treasuries, M&A, and dividends. Not to mention the flickering rate inversion over the last year or so.
"I think that's really the underlying problem. We're getting reasonable wage growth, but we missed all of those years beginning at the beginning of the century."

In other words: events drive the data, not the other way around. At the macro-analysis level, anyway. Having lost badly with the Dot Bomb around 2000, the moneyed class went looking for high-return at low-risk, which, of course, doesn't really exist, and created the mulligatawny stew of ARM and CDO and CDS. Knowing how to game out the events following from the creating, and sowing, of these instruments isn't in the data. It's in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. If anywhere. One can, to a limited extent, make a gross prediction if one has money flows data. House prices couldn't keep skyrocketing forever, and neither can share prices.

Where's the next witch's brew?

08 July 2019

The Red and The Blue

Regular reader likely knows that one of the major themes of these endeavors is that there are almost no Red states or Blue states, but rather old, male, white, uneducated, rural counties and just the opposite demo in cities. A recent episode showed that, by that metric, there are only three majority Red states. Even from the Right, there's been much lamenting over the Left Behind States. What none of the reporting, including what's about to be referenced, have pointed j'accuse at the very people in these Left Behind States: they always, and continue to, elect Damn Gummints which treat them like chattel. Little education. Little health care. And so on. To quote Pogo: "We have met the enemy and he is us." Those Left Behind, luxuriating in huntin' and fishin' and bar fightin' and proud of it, bitch about not having any future. Wake up, jerk. You did it to yourself. All the opioids that Purdue can churn out won't improve your situation.

Well, two stories today offer up more information.

First, 'The Texas Miracle' proves what the Red/Blue divide really is. It's quite long and detailed. Snicker if you will. I sure did.
Nearly all of the net growth in jobs and new businesses in Texas over the last decade, Labor Department data show, has been concentrated in four large metropolitan areas — Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Those areas accounted for more than four out of every five jobs created in the state since the recession ended.

The article goes on the tell us about a Left Behind town/city, Longview, and the efforts to become less Left Behind.
"We have everything you need in Longview", Mr. Mack said recently, after a luncheon sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce that focused on community health. "We have plentiful land. We have adequate water, which most places don't have. We have everything you need. All we need is for people to realize that we're here now."

Of course, what Mr. Mack and the rest of Longview's booster won't say: if you lose your job at one of their wonderful establishments, you're shit out of luck if your position goes away, since there's little to no similar companies doing what your former employer did. Capitalists like, beyond overt fascist Gummints, company towns. The advantage of Blue cities is just that workers have alternatives. Recent reporting on hiring collusion in Silicon Valley is worth reading up. Maybe not as free and open as the Valley boosters say, but really big cities do have far greater diversity within and across sectors.

Also in recent reporting, Alaska goes total reactionary. "We don't need no education!"
The University of Alaska System is bracing for a 41% cut in funding it receives from the state, after Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed a $130 million line item in the state's budget.

Wouldn't want the kids to have useful skills, now would we?

02 July 2019

The Downer Party

All too frequently, there is reporting of a cabal of Debbie Downer Democrats going into 2020 based on the loss to The Manchurian President in 2016. This cabal keeps making noise that Democrats (aka, Hillary) blew it by not pandering to enough Rural Red Reactionaries. Baloney. She lost by 78,900 votes across three states with substantial urban weight.
- Pennsylvania - 78.7%
- Michigan - 74.6%
- Wisconsin - 70.2%

The Manchurian President pandered to, and got out the vote by, the 6,000 year old Earth lunatics. On the other hand, the Democrats simply didn't get out the vote for Hillary. Perhaps she wasn't the most charismatic campaigner (OK, she was lousy), but if the Democrats can't find another 78,900 urban votes...

Of more concern, and I've not yet seen anyone other than my humble self raise the red flag, is Johnson/Stein. The net difference Johnson was approx. the popular vote margin for Hillary. Of more significance is that Stein votes wouldn't swing any state from The Manchurian President to Hillary even if she got all of them, while Johnson out-polled Stein in every state where both were on the ballot. In sum, without either/both The Manchurian President would likely have won the popular vote, since Johnson's a close surrogate of The Manchurian President, while Stein votes were also, on balance, anti-Hillary votes. Numbers matter.

As to losing Red states, all but Maine, Mississippi, Vermont, and West Virginia are majority urban. Betcha didn't know that, right? There aren't as many Red states as you thought. Getting The Manchurian President was mostly the fault of the Democratic leadership, not The Manchurian President's 'superior campaign'. Not even close. The 'shellacing' in 2010 was for the same reason. Some folks just never learn. Get out your base; it's bigger by far, and even in states commonly labeled Red.

Now, on to a related topic. For some time, at least since the 2016 vote count, I've been telling anyone who will listen (and many more who won't) that the White House can't be the primary goal in 2020. That goal is the Senate. At long last someone of the pundits finally says so. Took long enough.

30 June 2019


A long time ago, I ran across the moanings of some white racist whose name I have long forgotten. Such moaning amounted to: 'if all this inter-racial marrying keeps going on, we'll all look like Brazilians!' It was not said, as you might expect, with warm and fuzzy expectation. While racial harmony may not be (or could be; I've not researched it) the case in Brazil, reporting today described just that in the great state of Hawaii. It's well worth reading.

Some highlights of the reporting:
Hawaii also had the highest percentage of mixed-race people by a long shot in the country.

Forty percent marry someone outside their own group.

It also probably helped that Hawaii never had any laws against miscegenation.

If you think that resources are limitless and that you don't really need other people to survive -- that they're disposable because the bounty is endless -- you may be inclined to treat people as things.

To quote Donne: "No man is an island entire of itself". But realizing that this blue planet makes rather a large difference. It bears remembering that (nearly?) all wars have been fought over religion and access to natural resources.

26 June 2019

Sleep With The Fishes

So, one might ask, what is the defining characteristic of Mob Bidnezz? Extortion? Yo, you'll get your trash hauled by Vinny? And so forth. As discussed more than once in these endeavors, the primary reason for having a Damn Gummint (beyond the basic security issues) is for it to do that which the private sector won't or can't. Mostly, one might argue, this amounts to extracting from bidnezz the costs of externalities from the few and protecting the many.

The Sherman Antitrust act was, by most accounts, the first attempt to rein in bad bidnezz behavior. Here's a quote from the wiki, itself a quote from a Supreme Court ruling:
The purpose of the [Sherman] Act is not to protect businesses from the working of the market; it is to protect the public from the failure of the market. The law directs itself not against conduct which is competitive, even severely so, but against conduct which unfairly tends to destroy competition itself.

I expect that the increasing right-tilt will find a way to deny that obvious conclusion.

Well, today brings us another example of out of tune fiddling by The Manchurian President (Donnie fiddles while ...). Methinks the unintended consequences were intentional. After all, he made his money (however much it really is) by flummoxing local gummint.

And surprise, suprise there's a body of research showing that collusion in the open is cheaper, easier, and titularly legal:
The scholarship suggests that more transparency in health care could backfire, causing prices to rise instead of fall.
The Danish study in particular comes up a lot.

The punch line, from the reporting:
They could collude with the sort of direct communication that would make such behavior illegal.

Naturally, if your health care is from an HMO, you, as patient, have no say in who or how you get your care. Unless, naturally, you're willing to pay the vig of going 'out of network'.

Here's some data:
In a report released by the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network (LAN), 43 percent of payments to health systems came from traditional fee-for-service (FFS) payment models in 2016, down from 62 percent the year before, while alternative payment models' (APMs) share increased from 23 percent to 29 percent.

All of the network based models coerce the patient into the organization's chosen providers. Period. And thus 'transparency' will lead to open collusion. A method familiar to The Manchurian President, of course. "Russia if you're listening..."