Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's Official: In Age of Obama, We Must Be Satisfied with Scraps

US expands at brisk pace in 2nd quarter, defying gloom 
U.S. economic growth unexpectedly accelerated in the second quarter, laying a firmer foundation for the rest of the year that could bring the Federal Reserve a step closer to cutting back its monetary stimulus. Gross domestic product grew at a 1.7 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday, stepping up from the first-quarter's downwardly revised 1.1 percent expansion pace.
 Are these media dickheads serious? Brisk pace? 1.7% is anemic, lame-ass, sclerotic, Euro-weenie style growth. Have our expectations been so beaten down in the age of Obama that we are satisfied with such scraps?

UPDATE:  Megan McArdle gets it too, obviously.   As do a host of others, people who actually specialize in covering the economy have not been so glowing.

Monday, July 29, 2013

...No Special Duty...

From the Good Professor we learn:
A man who was brutally stabbed by Brooklyn subway slasher Maksim Gelman two years ago had his negligence case against the city dismissed in court yesterday, despite the fact that two transit officers had locked themselves in a motorman’s car only a few feet from him at the time of the attack.
Gelman stabbed Joseph Lozito in the face, neck, hands and head on an uptown 3 train in February 2011, after fatally stabbing four people and injuring three others in a 28-hour period. Lozito, a father of two and an avid martial arts fan, was able to tackle Gelman and hold him down, and Gelman was eventually arrested by the transit officers. Lozito sued the city, arguing that the police officers had locked themselves in the conductor’s car and failed to come to his aid in time.
The city, meanwhile, claimed that the NYPD had no “special duty” to intervene at the time, and that they were in the motorman’s car because they believed Gelman had a gun.
No special duty. Sounds alot like the finding in Warren v Distict of Columbia, which NBfPB readers should be familiar with.

Bubba: Weiner Isn't In My League

Bill and Hillary Clinton are angry with efforts by mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner and his campaign to compare his Internet sexcapades — and his wife Huma Abedin’s incredible forgiveness — to the Clintons’ notorious White House saga, The Post has learned.
I can see why Bubba is livid, he got more off than just pictures...don't dare compare Weiner's amateurishness to the Clenis!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fracky Friday

The Department of Energy says that fracking did not contaminate drinking water in Pennsylvania.
A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site, the Department of Energy told The Associated Press.
After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water, geologist Richard Hammack said. Although the results are preliminary — the study is still ongoing — they are a boost to a natural gas industry that has fought complaints from environmental groups and property owners who call fracking dangerous.
And the Brits, in a fit of good sense and economic logic, aim to encourage the revolutionary technology of fracking in their oil and gas sectors by lowering taxes on shale gas producers.
The UK government has announced large tax breaks for shale gas producers in the country, as part of a consultation on a proposed tax regime for shale gas.
HM Treasury stated Friday that companies will have to pay a profit of just 30 percent on any shale gas they produce in the UK, compared to the current 62 percent tax that is levied on hydrocarbons produced by conventional means on the UK Continental Shelf. This "pad" allowance for shale gas is based on existing field allowance for oil and gas production that are expected to help encourage nearly $21 billion of investment in 2013, according to the department.

Detroit? Let's Talk About Trayvon.

So I just got this news alert:
In surprise appearance in White House briefing room, President Obama talks about challenges young black men face in light of Trayvon Martin case, questions so-called 'Stand-Your-Ground' laws
What about the challenges that young black men (or all black men, or all blacks, or all people) face growing up in city that is broke and in bankruptcy?

Or in a country with a President seeking to govern the country exactly as Detroit has been governed all these years?

UPDATE: On that last thought...

A Few Millimeters From Death, America Spares Tsarnaev

Note the nice fat red dot on Tsarnaev's forehead generated by a laser sight no doubt attached to some model of high-powered rifle in the hands of a police or military sharp shooter. Tsarnaev is very lucky to be in America. In most other countries, given what he did, that shot would have likely been taken.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Former BLS Economist: U-3 Is Garbage, U-6 Is Better

Use U-6 to find out true picture of the economy, which btw is not good.  We knew this of course, but it helps to have one of the top gnomes at the BLS say so publicly.
Think the economy is bouncing back quickly? Think again, says the former top number-cruncher in charge of the Washington Bureau of Labor Statistics. Keith Hall tells the New York Post Thursday that the BLS, White House and media are wasting time focusing on an edited set of data and using it to paint an incorrect picture of the American jobs market on the mend.
The current U.S. unemployment level is reported to be around 7.6 percent. “Right now [it’s] misleadingly low,” Hall told the New York paper. Hall, like many other economists, believes that the more accurate reading of Americans who want a job but can’t find one is north of 10 percent. He says the jobless rate that grabs the most headlines -- called the U-3 -- doesn’t factor in people who have stopped looking for work, but does count employed people who have clocked in as little as an hour of work during the prior month. Hall says another more accurate indicator of the country’s economic health is in the U-6 number, which factors in the underemployed. That number, he said, jumped in June to 14.3 percent from 13.8 percent the month before.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Q: Who Killed Peak Oil? A: Oklahoma.

I've told you that Peak Oil is dead, but who killed it?  Here is a supposed list of five companies.  One can quibble with the list, but taking this list at face value, you can basically say that the death of Peak Oil was cooked up in Oklahoma.  Three of the five companies listed are Oklahoma-based companies.  Add in Harold Hamm's Continental Resources and it's pretty much a lock...the scrappy oilmen (and oilwomen) of Oklahoma have killed off Peak Oil.  Given that the energy renaissance in the US could turn out to be a potentially world-historical development that rearranges the global geo-political order, that is quite a feat for a small state in the middle of America!

"Wannabe Cop"? Fine. What About "Wannabe Gangster"?

The Zimmerman case will generate alot of ink and be looked at every which way to Sunday. One way it WON'T be looked at is with an analytical eye to Trayvon Martin's behavior. We constantly here in the media and by those outraged at the verdict, that Zimmerman was a "wannabe cop" and that he should have listened to the police's admonition to stop trailing Trayvon Martin.


But what of Trayvon Martin's choices?  If he was this cherubic child determined only to watch the NBA All-Star while enjoying some Skittles and an iced tea, why was he not determined to get home with all possible dispatch?  If a creepy person is following you, you get your ass home any way you can.  Or you get to any safe place, i.e. the nearest house, if you can't safely make it home. Or you call police. This is not what Trayvon Martin did. I understand a black youth's reluctance to call police, but I don't understand the reluctance to run home. Waiting around to jump Zimmerman was every bit as much a bad choice as Zimmerman's choices.

And what motivations or characteristics is behind those choices? Well, we've heard ad infinitum what was behind Zimmerman's actions, he's a "wannabe cop". No such analysis of Trayvon Martin's actions has been proferred. Why did he sneak up on Zimmerman and assault him? Why did he pursue a very violent physical attack on Zimmerman, presumably before he knew Zimmerman was armed? If wannabe-copism is on trial in the court of public opinion, why isn't the thuggishness of many of our black youth on trial too?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Funniest Joke In All of History - This Day 07/12/13 A.D.

I am a 42 year old man.  I have a wife and three children.  I have my own business dealing with large sums of money.  I am highly educated.  I have travelled the world and seen great beauty and great tragedy.  I have deeply pondered the universe, the existence of God, life's meaning, and the nature of man.  I think of myself as a serious person, a pillar for those around me who rely on me, an island for loved ones, friends or, perhaps, any one of God's creatures who might be lost but nonetheless find themselves in my path.

But for the last 37 minutes I have been on the floor in the fetal position, crying, unable to breath or speak or straighten.  I was useless.  I was reduced to mere matter, just a clump of cells, drained of all that makes us human - reason, compassion, self-control - except the ability to laugh...

For I had just seen the funniest thing a person could ever see.  Now I understand the ancient notion of a joke so funny, you laugh until you die, that it was better to not hear it.  My sides will hurt for decades...

Obama Is Over, Stocks Hit All-Time Highs

Well, the stock market is hitting all-time highs. It goes without saying that such a result has a handful of factors, but I am, after many years in this business, a big believer in the influence of the policy environment on stocks. When I say "policy environment" I mean just that - the prevailing mood, direction and results - of the policy-making apparatus. Rarely do I mean a particular politician, although there are times when a politician so dominates the environment that you can speak of that politician as affecting markets. Barack Obama is such a politician. He has so dominated the policy environment, not through numerous legislative accomplishments, but through his Chicago Alinskyite gangster form of governing in addition to his embodiment of the worst elements of the Democratic caucus, which I call the Obamacrats. The Obama administration's governing tenure is both a legislative disaster for the economy but more so a behind-the-scenes policy-making disaster. So much of the policy environment that our economy has to deal with happens beyond the headlines deep within the executive branch. The regulatory onslaught, the policy uncertain, even the legal uncertainty (see Chrysler) of having the Lightworker's gangster government target you have weighed heavily on the economy.

I have argued here before that the Obama presidency is over as far as major policy accomplishments are concerned and that this is good for the stock market. There will be no more economy crushing progressive wet dream legislation coming out of Washington DC. This has been true for some time and is true today despite the media's desperate assistance to get immigration reform passed. However, now it appears that there is some light at the end of the tunnel on the regulatory front as well. Businesses have had some success in pushing back on regulatory depredations and it appears they will continue to fight Obama's second term regulatory war on business.  Businesses of many stripes have the confidence to fight back and play for a new, post-Obama day. So, Obama 2.0, if it isn't a lame duck, round-the-clock scandal-a-palooza, will likely be a war of regulatory punch and counter-punch, fought to a stalemate. That explains a good portion of why stocks are rising. Obama is over. Business fear very little further harm will come from this administration, anticipate that Obama will fade away into the history books, and can start planning for a better policy environment.

I happened to be out for a few drinks with my deeply-embedded Washington DC-based source and I tested this theory. My source is a go-to guy for political analysis, risk assessment and raw scuttlebutt. He signed on to my theory as well-reasoned and well-founded. He says that Obama is a completely spent force in Washington DC.

The Lefty Media and Their Freudian Obsessions

These ink-stained wretches just can't shed the Freud obsession can they? As always, probably says more about the speaker than the subject...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chalk Another (Flub) Up for "Science"

So, "science" got the salt thing totally wrong, but CLIMATE CHANGE IS HAPPENING...WE ARE SURE OF IT!!!!!!!!!

As I have said, "science" is merely our best informed guess at the current time, subject to change.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

And The (ObamaCare) Hits Just Keep On Comin'

Via Bloomberg, we learn of a new study that says that ObamaCare will create a two-tier system out of Medicare that will provide benefits to certain enrollees but not others. I wonder if this is a "glitch" too?
Colonoscopies, diabetes screenings and other preventative services mandated by the U.S. health law may be offered only to new Medicaid program enrollees next year, leaving existing patients with second-tier care, a study found.
Excluding people already in the Medicaid program for the poor may penalize a population more prone to chronic conditions, researchers from George Washington University said in an article published today in the journal Health Affairs. The 2010 Affordable Care Act guaranteed preventative screenings to almost all who enroll in the expanded version of Medicaid and states were given the option of whether to offer those services to people already in the program.
Add this to the other pieces of ObamaCare that have been circumvented, delayed, rescinded or just outright allowed to fail:
- 1099 provision
- CLASS program
- state insurance exchanges
- employer mandate
- medical device tax (pending)
- subsidy eligibility enforcement
...and that smoking thing...

Friday, July 05, 2013

Part Time America...Again and Still

The Robert Half Economy rolls on.

UPDATE:  I chose Robert Half for this idea because, at the time, alot of people were talking about "Going Galt" and I wanted a name to play off of the character John Galt, so I picked Robert Half because I saw going half-Galt, or temporary, as a more powerful analysis of what would befall us in Obama's economy.  Alas, as it turns out the idea is 110% on the money, but I didn't get the exact name right.  Via this item on Drudge we learn that the second largest employer in America is Robert Half's competitor, temp agency Kelly Services.

A Win for Julian Simon

I have long denounced the idiocy of Peak Oil.  Well, via a hat-tip from the Good Professor, we learn today that the key blogging engine in the service of advancing this silly theory is shutting down.  This is a win for Julian Simon.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

ObamaCare Inches Toward Collapse

Not too long ago, I wrote this
this development is probably most interesting in that it is yet another pillar of ObamaCare that is crumbling before our eyes. Despite the sanction by Chief Justice Roberts and the failure to roll back ObamaCare at the ballot box, the unwieldy, poorly-constructed law still might crater in on itself of its own weight. We have already seen two elements of the law - the 1099 provision and the CLASS program - go completely up in flames. Currently at risk are the state-run insurance exchanges, which 16 states, at current count, have declined to setup, which throws ObamaCare's funding legitimacy into question. Also at risk are several of the law's provisions that appear to violate the right of religious freedom and are pending in several courts across the country. Now, we have this medical device tax, which is at risk. How many of these pieces have to fail or be retracted before the law itself fails - not fails to perform as advertised, it'll never do that, but fails to simply function? It looks like we're going to see.
Now it looks like the employer mandate, which has just been delayed a year, has become another source of instability for the edifice of ObamaCare. It is all TBD, but ObamaCare is a tiny bit closer to collapsing than it was yesterday.

UPDATE: More here. Looks like some deeper yogurt than I anticipated...

Monday, July 01, 2013

Five Years of Solid Correlation: Obama Down, Market Up

I have argued consistently, almost from the very beginning, that Barack Obama would be guaranteed to disappoint the cultists of Hopeandchange, become uniformly and increasingly unpopular and ineffective. I have further argued that, as a result, given Obama's ideological bent, his weakening would be good for the stock market.  I've highlighted this relationship many times throughout the last five years, including graphically.

The Lightworker's re-election notwithstanding, polling has shown a consistent slide in approval from the earliest days of this administration. The guys at Powerline highlight the relevant polling graphs - it's an unambiguous story, and, as they note, an enduring mystery. Recent data shows an accelerating of even this very clear trend, a massive dropoff in approval since re-election. So has the stock market functioned as my theory would have predicted? Definitively, yes. Here is the recent six month chart.
Chart forS&P 500 (^GSPC)
I thoroughly expect that this relationship will hold and extend itself. Expect further Obama weakness and, concomitantly, further market strength.