Monday, June 30, 2014

Market cap to GDP ratios March 2009 vs. March 2014 flash valuation warning

Probably the broadest measure for stock market valuation purposes is total stock market capitalization divided by GDP. Warren Buffett uses it and John Hussman has spoken approvingly of the measure.

But because we have to wait for GDP numbers for at least a month after the quarter end, the ratio cannot be a real-time valuation tool. And given that revisions to GDP can be substantial in the 2nd and 3rd estimates, as well as in the annual summer revisions, precision using the 1st estimate is also wanting. Nevertheless the calculation provides a big picture snapshot of where we have been in the market cycle, and gives forward guidance for long term investors. Presently it appears to counsel taking chips off the table and waiting in cash for a better opportunity to invest. 

For the following I use nominal figures for GDP as revised in the most recent updates from bea.gov and calculate market cap using the popular Wilshire 5000 (level x $1.2 billion) as close to March 31 as practicable.

A comparison of March 2009 to March 2014 is instructive, since March 2009 was a pretty good buying opportunity both in terms of the absolute level of the stock market after its decline and the coincident Shiller p/e valuation which was about 13.3 on March 1. The ratio has almost doubled in the interim, indicating that now is probably not a good time to commit large new sums to stock markets. The current Shiller p/e begins the day at 26.31, which is also nearly doubled from five years ago.

That said, the 10 year Treasury presently pays just 69 basis points more than the dividend yield of the S&P500. At the October 2007 stock market high, the 10 year Treasury paid 276 basis points more than the dividend yield of the S&P500. You could argue the Fed caused the markets to crash by taking rates much too high in 2006 and 2007 and that Janet Yellen is bound and determined not to let that happen again anytime soon, meaning stock markets could have higher to go. Keep in mind that the inflation-adjusted all-time high of the S&P500 was 2045.09 on August 1, 2000. We're at 1962.46 this morning. 


March 30 2009

$10.32 trillion market cap
---------------------------------------------- = 0.72
$14.38 trillion GDP



March 31 2014

$23.99 trillion market cap
---------------------------------------------- = 1.41
$17.02 trillion GDP



Banks probably will need ZIRP until March 2015 to be fully recapitalized from the crisis

In March 2013 Warren Sulmasy estimated that banks had lost $1 trillion in the crisis, and had recapitalized as little as $300 billion of that by that time.

Chris Whalen has estimated that ZIRP yields banks profits of $100 billion quarterly at the expense of savers who are not fairly recompensed for their deposits under the Federal Reserve policy known as zero interest rate policy.

So theoretically by March 2014, one year on from Sulmasy's estimate, banks had recouped an additional $400 billion, with $300 billion yet to go, which should take us to the spring of 2015 before we can say that banks should have been made completely whole from the crisis.

ZIRP should most definitely end by then, or things are worse than we imagine.

Business as usual: a government of the banks, by the banks and for the banks.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Elton John thinks Jesus would have supported gay marriage when he didn't really support normal marriage in the first place

I used teh word normal instead of heterosexual just to piss you off.

Story here.

[I]n the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.

-- Luke 20:33ff.

The reasons why his followers weren't supposed to marry are complicated, theological and not generally understood by any church, being the same reasons for requiring personal poverty of his followers. On these NT Wright will be of no help to you. 

US company clones 100 cows . . . it's called the . . .

U.S. Senate.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Five years after the recession ended . . .

. . . Democrats are still trying to pass "emergency" unemployment benefits.

It must be a depression, Obama's depression.

More than 7 years after the crisis began, banks are still failing

The Freedom State Bank, Freedom, Oklahoma, failed tonight, costing the FDIC $5.8 million. It's the 12th failure of 2014.

Metropolitan Savings Bank, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, kicked off the wave of bank failures in the current crisis on February 2, 2007, with assets of $15.8 million. About $1.2 million in deposits exceeded the FDIC insured limit at the time. It had been the first bank failure in the country since 2004 and the first of a string of failures which now totals 504 banks and close to $89 billion in covered losses.

Stay tuned. 

Supremes unanimously slap down the King of constitutional law in the White House for 13th time

From John Fund here:

"Those decisions are very revealing about the views of President Obama and Eric Holder: Their vision is one of unchecked federal power on immigration and environmental issues, on presidential prerogatives, and the taking of private property by the government; hostility to First Amendment freedoms that don’t meet the politically correct norms; and disregard of Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless government intrusion. These are positions that should alarm all Americans regardless of their political views, political-party affiliations, or background."

The first three months of 2014 were worse than the whole 2001 recession

Jeffrey Snider, here:

"The first quarter of 2014 is worse than anything seen during the 2001 recession – which the worst contraction then was -1.2% in the third quarter of 2001. In raw GDP terms, that would make the first three months of 2014 worse than the whole of the 2001 recession."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge is crazy, but you knew that

The website that specializes in the economic whacky, lately popular on the right as a rhetorical club against Obama which Tyler Durden exploits to gain eyeballs, says today here that ObamaCare spending is the cause of the total collapse in 1Q2014 GDP. You know, like ObamaCare is responsible for all you full-timers getting part-timed.

ObamaCare, the heart of all darkness.

That's funny, because in April Zero Hedge maintained ObamaCare spending was the sole cause of the rise in 1Q2014 GDP.

Well which is it?

In other words, in April ObamaCare was the only thing responsible for positive GDP ihao, but in June it is the only thing responsible for negative GDP. This is because we're supposed to believe that healthcare services spending evaporated in the final estimate of GDP (a swing from +$39.9 billion in the 2nd estimate to -$6.4 billion in the 3rd), evidently accounting for $46 billion of lost spending in the Zero Hedge world of weird math between Q4 and Q1. The swing negative caused the personal consumption expenditures collapse, he says, which fell almost $60 billion inflation-adjusted Q4 to Q1.

Of course, that's comparing apples to oranges. Healthcare services spending in Q4 was positive $24.4 billion. That makes the swing barely $31 billion from positive into negative territory, not $46 billion.

From that you wouldn't know that PCE was still positive in the 3rd estimate: $27.7 billion. Nor that goods consumption collapsed $24.5 billion from Q4. Nor that spending on utilities was up a whopping $23 billion because of the cold weather. Nor that the output of nonprofits swang nearly $28 billion into negative territory from positive, while receipts for goods and services of nonprofits suffered a similar swing, $29 billion from positive to negative. Schwing!

Does he read the report?

The inflation-adjusted decline in GDP totaled just over $118 billion, $81 billion of which was from a decline in private domestic investment from positive $16 billion in Q4, mostly inventories, and $58 billion of which was from a decline in net exports of goods and services, from a positive $37 billion in Q4. That's where the real decline was, a total swing of over $190 billion from just those two categories.

Maybe the silliest thing Durden predicts is that all that "lost" ObamaCare spending will magically reappear in Q2.

Which leads us to ask: What if ObamaCare actually did reduce healthcare services spending in Q1? Isn't it conceivable that a bunch of people, now qualifying for subsidies under the program, had significantly reduced costs? Who knows, the $6.4 billion drop might actually be the first and only drop we're ever going to see in healthcare services spending under ObamaCare.

I'll bet on that before I'll bet on a 5% GDP print from Obama.

Obama vs. Bush on GDP

Bush's average quarterly report of GDP: 2.1%. Obama's average quarterly report of GDP through today's final number for 1Q2014: 1.6%.

Too hot to shop: There goes Q2 GDP


Keeping the people ignorant of their poverty: Obama's media shills bury the awful GDP story

NBC briefly had a red banner headline at the top of the page and then moved the GDP story to the top left but not among the page lead stories.

ABC buried the story near the bottom left.

CBS buried the story near the bottom right.

GDP tanks 2.9% in first quarter, CNBC shills for Obama calling it disappointing, doesn't even put GDP in headline


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Consensus estimate for GDP has worsened to -1.7% from -1.6% at fxstreet

Bob Brinker mentioned the consensus estimate for GDP this last weekend on his radio program Money Talk at -1.8%. fxstreet.com had had the consensus estimate at -1.6% as recently as last week, but now shows it at -1.7%. Very curious.

How did the winter get so much worse in the last month for its impact on GDP? After all, everyone has blamed the -1.0% print in the second estimate on the bad winter. But somehow things are much worse than we thought because of the weather? 70% or 80% worse than we imagined?

It's not because of the winter, dear friends. It's because your master wants you to suffer, wants to cut you down to size, wants to destroy your aspirations.

He is succeeding.

How does it feel to be a slave?


The keys to corporate profits since the 2008 panic

Layoffs and ZIRP and buybacks, oh my! Layoffs and ZIRP and buybacks, oh my!

Art Hogan doesn't think valuation is a fundamental


"At these levels you need a strong catalyst, and I thought we got that, but we've got investors that are nervous about things other than fundamentals, namely geopolitical and valuations, so the path of least resistance is to take chips off the table. There's a large cohort of investors looking for any opportunity to take some money off the table near record highs," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Translation: paying too much for something shouldn't concern you.

$82,077: What you need to make to afford the median existing home price in May 2014

The median sales price of an existing home in May rose to $213,400 from $201,500 in April.

In May you needed to make $82,077 for that home to be affordable to you.

In April you needed $77,500.

Housing affordability is generally calculated by multiplying your salary by 2.6.

Just 10.5% of individual wage earners made $80,000 or more per year in 2012, which means the vast majority of Americans must settle for homes which are priced in the bottom half of the market. Two people each making the median wage in 2012 of $27,519.10 could afford a home priced at no more than $143,100, which was the typical price of a suburban home in the collar communities of Chicago in . . . 1993, over twenty years ago.

"And it is a device of tyranny to make the subjects poor, so that a guard may not be kept, and also that the people being busy with their daily affairs may not have leisure to plot against their ruler. Instances of this are the pyramids in Egypt and the votive offerings of the Cypselids, and the building of the temple of Olympian Zeus by the Pisistratidae and of the temples at Samos, works of Polycrates (for all these undertakings produce the same effect, constant occupation and poverty among the subject people); and the levying of taxes, as at Syracuse (for in the reign of Dionysius the result of taxation used to be that in five years men had contributed the whole of their substance)." -- Aristotle, Politics, 5, 1313b.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Run away: Today's total market capitalization/GDP ratio is 1.46

$25.003 trillion
-------------------  = 1.46 (June 23, 2014: a really bad time to invest)
$17.101 trillion


$10.222 trillion
------------------- = 0.71 (April 6, 2009: a pretty good time to invest)
$14.381 trillion













h/t John Hussman, Warren Buffett

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Blaming negative GDP on the harsh winter is already forecast to get worse

The consensus estimate of the third and final report of 1Q2014 GDP, coming out on Wednesday next week, is already 60% worse than the actual second report at -1.6%. What, is the late winter suddenly become worse in the last month?

The first estimate, you will recall, came in at +0.1%, and was quickly downgraded in various places to something ranging between -0.2% and -0.4%. When the second estimate came in at a much worse -1.0%, just about everyone blamed the harsh winter for the pathetic print, including the White House, which incredibly credited GDP from spending on utilities at the same time it debited GDP because people weren't traveling (which isn't true--just examine the government's miles-traveled reports over the winter), weren't vacationing and weren't spending money on hotels and restaurants, and other such drivel.

Having it both ways, it seems, only applies south of the Canadian border, where real GDP was a negative almost $40 billion. North of it real GDP was actually positive, despite the winter, at about $4.7 billion US. A much smaller economy Canada's is, to be sure, but for that reason you'd think it more vulnerable to the harshest winter in decades whereas our much larger, more varied economy ought to be more resilient.

But up against an Obama, you would be wrong. He is secretly happy that things are going as poorly as they are, because it means that the middle class is steadily shrinking and soon will no longer be able to stand in his way, and the Democrat Party's way, of remaking America into a few haves and a lot of have-nots.

In this they are assisted by the libertarians who have successfully infiltrated the Republican Party as conservatives, who see this as their natural mission, too. Politically speaking, they are out to defeat Republicanism just as much as the Democrats are. The successful individual lone ranger is the sine qua non of their vision, after all, whose fabulous wealth is the only object of their affection. And the only thing standing in his way are people who believe in something bigger than themselves.

People who believe in something larger than themselves in America today occupy the extremes of the left and the right, and seem to be getting fewer in number as we speak, a fact noted in a recent article in The New Republic. Between them are a mass of social and economic libertines who are already the slaves of the elites, for whom neither the economic nor the moral restraint of the Protestant founders which built our country are a value. Unless we recover something of the latter the America of the past will cease to exist, if it hasn't already.

And persistently poor GDP proves it.




Friday, June 20, 2014

We're still driving at 2004-2005 levels in April 2014 but at the highest levels since the 2008 peak

The moving 12 month average of miles traveled in the US in April came in at 2.967 trillion miles. That level beats the level for every year 2009-2013 in April, but remains 1.95% below the peak level in 2008 of 3.026 trillion miles.

View the report here.

Tonight's S&P500 remains 4.02% below the August 2000 inflation-adjusted all-time high

2045.09 is the inflation-adjusted all-time high, on August 1, 2000. 1962.87 is the current level of the S&P500, June 20, 2014.

1753.10 is the inflation-adjusted high on October 1, 2007 before the crash. We are currently almost 12% above that.

Your real rate of return with full dividend reinvestment August 2000 to May 2014 is just 1.32% per annum.

Your real rate of return with full dividend reinvestment October 2007 to May 2014 is 3.36% per annum.

Update: And your real rate of return with full dividend reinvestment between August 2000 and October 2007 was -0.51% per annum.

Bank Failure Friday . . . two tonight: the 10th and 11th in 2014

Reported here and here.

The FDIC still insures 6,730 institutions through March 31, 2014.

In February 2007, over 500 bank failures ago, the FDIC still insured 8,743 institutions, meaning about 1,500 additional institutions have succumbed to acquisition by bigger banks which have swallowed them up since the financial panic.

Call it income inequality, banker style.

FISA Court rules NSA can take your metadata for another 90 days, until September 12th

Story here, buried in the tyranny's Friday afternoon document dump.

Robert Kaplan either steals from Plato, or is simply ignorant of him

Here in "The Loneliness of the Tyrant", where he discourses at length on the psychological predicament of many strongmen past and present, but never once mentions Socrates' famous meditation on the soul of the tyrannical man:

"No one should envy a tyrant. His existence is miserable."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Is not his case utterly miserable? and does not the actual tyrant lead a worse life than he whose life you determined to be the worst? ... 

He who is the real tyrant, whatever men may think, is the real slave, and is obliged to practise the greatest adulation and servility, and to be the flatterer of the vilest of mankind. He has desires which he is utterly unable to satisfy, and has more wants than any one, and is truly poor, if you know how to inspect the whole soul of him: all his life long he is beset with fear and is full of convulsions, and distractions, even as the State which he resembles: and surely the resemblance holds? ... 

Moreover, as we were saying before, he grows worse from having power: he becomes and is of necessity more jealous, more faithless, more unjust, more friendless, more impious, than he was at first; he is the purveyor and cherisher of every sort of vice, and the consequence is that he is supremely miserable, and that he makes everybody else as miserable as himself.

-- Plato, Republic, Book 9

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Rupert Murdoch abandoned Australia for our country, lies about H-1B visas, and calls us the nativists

What else would a traitor to his own do and say?

The POS, here:

"Next, we need to do away with the cap on H-1B visas, which is arbitrary and results in U.S. companies struggling to find the high-skill workers they need to continue growing. We already know that most of the applications for these visas are for computer programmers and engineers, where there is a shortage of qualified American candidates. But we are held back by the objections of the richly funded labor unions that mistakenly believe that if we keep innovation out of America, somehow nothing will change. They are wrong, and frankly as much to blame for our stalemate on this issue as nativists who scream about amnesty."

-----------------------------------------------

The only shortage of workers in America is of the kind which will take the same pay as a cheaper foreign import. The libertarian idea which has infected the Republican Party is best observed in the person of Rupert Murdoch and his many properties such as Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and the NY Post.



Monday, June 16, 2014

Shiller p/e vs. S&P500 p/e: Was either a guide to investing since 2008?

The merit of the Shiller p/e, which is backward looking, for timing investment decisions is cautioned against even by its supporters like John Hussman. It's something of a straw man to attack people like him for using it that way when they really don't use it to time market entry and exit points. Hussman views the indicator as one of a number of things which help him forecast 10-year returns going forward, a point lost it seems on people who don't read him carefully. High Shiller p/e levels in the present are part of an ensemble of indicators which to Hussman forecast low average annual returns over the course of the next decade.

That said, which has been the better indicator for timing a major allocation of monies to stocks in the recent past, the backward-looking Shiller p/e or the simple S&P500 p/e?

Today's Shiller p/e is a very high 26.06, 57.65% above its mean level of 16.53. The S&P500 p/e is 19.32, 24.56% above its mean level of 15.51. By both measures, today would seem to be a costly time to invest new monies in the stock markets.

How about during the March 2009 period when stocks tanked to their lows during the financial crisis?

The Shiller p/e actually told you to invest, hitting 13.32 on March 1, just days before the markets bottomed. In fact between October 2008 and June 2009 the indicator remained at or below 16.38, in other words below mean level, while the S&P500 inverted bell curve fell from 1100 to 683 and rose to 940. With the S&P500 now over 1900, any time during that woeful period looks in retrospect like a great time to buy. The trouble was that people didn't have any money to invest, being fully invested as usual, riding it all the way down after riding it all the way up.

The S&P500 p/e on the other hand was quite high on March 1, 2009 at 110.37, 612% above its mean level! It most definitely told you NOT to buy then, when you should have bought then. This indicator didn't hit its lows for the period, at the 13 level, until the late summer of 2011 and then only briefly, when interestingly enough the S&P500 was trading near 1100 again, in retrospect another very good time to buy. But at that time the Shiller p/e was above mean, at about 20, and you might have been forgiven for not taking the bait. But because you didn't you've missed an 800 point climb in the S&P500.

You have to go all the way back to the late 1980s to get an S&P500 p/e ratio consistently below 15, and even earlier to the mid-1980s for the Shiller p/e. All of which is to say that stocks have been rather expensive for quite a long time in general, coinciding with the generational focus on it as the way to make the big money for retirement.

In other words, we're in a bubble, and we blew it.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Krauthammer on IRS scandal: Nixon was missing only 18 minutes, Lerner is missing two years

@BarackObama: We never said record Antarctic sea ice is made of cheese


If the Iraq War had been about getting the oil, it wasn't a very good deal

DoD direct spending on the war in Iraq was $758 billion.

Iraqi exports, mostly oil, reached $94.2 billion in 2012, and have totaled barely $441 billion from 2004 to 2012. We blow more than that on gasoline in a single year.

At the current US gasoline average price of $3.648/gallon, the 134.51 billion gallons of gasoline consumed in the US in 2013 is the equivalent of spending $490.7 billion.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The problem with free-market ideology in our time isn't about the tax code, it's about patriotism

Free-marketeers in our time want to wipe away the favors of the tax code, many of which go to the middle class in the form of credits and deductions, and to end the taxes on capital which they say deprive the middle of opportunity. 

That seems to be the upshot of the libertarian attempt to co-opt the meaning of the Dave Brat victory over Eric Cantor as expressed by Kim Strassel of the Wall Street urinal, for one. Central to that thesis is poo-poo-ing the importance of the immigration stance of Eric Cantor, which was attacked by Brat with the support of anti-amnesty conservatives, especially Laura Ingraham, and complaining about "the insane complexity of taxes".

What the kerfuffle shows is that Dave Brat is a mighty conflicted person, as are all libertarians, some more some less, a condition they share with liberals, and that he may end up being worse than the man he now replaces. Brat spent much of the campaign talking about closing loopholes and simplifying the tax code, but opposed more immigration because Americans are having massive trouble finding work. The better angels of his nature, all Christian, were at work there. But to his free-market self, there should be no reason why citizenship shouldn't be free. Why should there be a law restricting it to those born here? The federal government has no role "making my life work", he has said. See how well your life works when there's no army to stop an invasion, and there's no will to create one. Just ask Arizona.

Immigration is an issue which ought to direct the attention of the American right toward the bigger picture of what has happened to this country since the Reagan revolution slashed taxes, but hasn't because the right is now obsessed with principles over people. It has become as "ideologized" as any leftist camp. In fact the political discussion on the right deliberately obscures how libertarianism has already impoverished the many and rewarded the few. Some of its adherents today actually foresee an American future more starkly drawn that way, as did Ayn Rand. It isn't capitalism which is to blame for all the income inequality, it's libertarianism.

With the permanently lower tax regime in the US since Reagan also came a headlong plunge into global free trade which has created vast middle classes abroad where there were none before, at the expense of our own. The anchor manufacturing industries of the middle class in this country were exported to places where labor was cheaper, leaving the hollowed out shell of a service industry economy behind to pick up the pieces here.

Where's the patriotism, I'd like to know? Neither side wants to touch the trade argument, mostly because they are all profiting from the new status quo while we are fed a bunch of lies about who are the real conservatives. The answer is none of them are. They've all betrayed us and joined the global investor class where borders no longer matter.

To be a conservative in our time is to be for families with children here, for good jobs here, and for tax and trade policies which prop up those things here and put Americans first, not foreigners and disloyal Americans and disloyal American businesses.

If that's too complicated for you, maybe you shouldn't be in office.  

Glenn Beck thinks we have an actual democracy to export

When the dim bulbs of our time start interviewing each other, you know it's almost over.

Here with Sean Hannity:

BECK: We don't have the resources to deal with it anymore. We should have gone in after September 11th, taken care of the bad guys, killed them, not rebuilt them. I think it's real hubris to think that we can bring our democracy and peace to a region that doesn't want it. Freedom is something I truly believe you have to earn.

-------------------------------------------------------

If freedom isn't the natural state of humanity, then there isn't any freedom anywhere. Someone who has to earn his freedom is a slave. And if someone is a slave, that someone is owned by someone else. And as the ancients taught us, the owner is but the slave turned inside out, who is as miserable as the one owned.

The real hubris is mistaking this oligarchy for a democracy in the first place, and that we have any freedom to export.



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Food stamps go to 46.098 million Americans in March 2014, down 3.4% from a year ago

Year over year the numbers are down overall, but the number of recipients is up in a number of states, for example, in California 3.7%, 3.9% in Connecticut, 6.9% in Nevada and 3.7% in West Virginia. 

Larry Kudlow must be kidding: "if the 11 million illegals who live here obey the law . . ."


And if the 11 million illegals who live here obey the law, pay taxes, learn English, and understand the Constitution, they deserve legal status. Citizenship is an issue way down the road. And yes, we must include border security, where unfortunately Obama's lax policies have contributed to the calamitous surge in illegal-immigrant children. But temporary visas or work permits should be part of a sensible reform package. The E-Verify system can work.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Ahem . . . illegals have already broken the law, Larry. So sorry to see the amnesty fanatics have abandoned the first conservative instinct, the love for law and order. There will be no free-market without it.

Sen. Rand Paul learns nothing from Cantor loss, joins immigration amnesty fanatics lead by Grover Norquist

Libertarians of a feather quack together.

Story here:

A top Paul aide confirmed the alliance of Mr. Paul and Mr. Norquist on immigration reform, after The Times received a copy of an email sent to Republicans, Democrats, independents and others thought to be open to some kind of reform.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hillary Clinton's top achievement as Secretary of State was . . .

. . . doubling the Department's liquor budget.

Cantor's opponent Brat won without money, especially Tea Party money, and was outspent 20-1

The Hill reports here that Cantor spent over $1 million on the primary and that Tea Party groups did not fund Brat at all:

Brat defeated Cantor, a six-term incumbent, despite having no experience in elected office and being outspent by nearly 20-to-1. ... Unlike elections in Mississippi and Kentucky, major conservative and Tea Party groups did not flood Cantor’s district with money and rallies. ... Cantor spent more than $1 million on the primary and attacked Brat for serving on an advisory board for former Gov. Tim Kaine at a time when the Democrat was pushing tax increases.

USA Today story about Tea Party defeating Cantor is total crap

The story here quotes some law professor who claims the Tea Party strongly supported Brat when no major Tea Party group supported Brat at all:

"Brat ran an aggressive campaign with strong Tea Party support and perhaps some voters felt that Cantor was not doing enough for those in his home district," said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who resides in Cantor's district.

No major Tea Party groups played a role in Eric Cantor's defeat: they were caught by surprise at leadership dinner

Cantor's defeat had to do with his immigration amnesty activism, and the Tea Party is soft on the issue, which is why it didn't endorse Brat.

Reported here:

It was supposed to be a casual dinner of tea party and conservative movement leaders at the Virginia home of ForAmerica chairman Brent Bozell to talk about upcoming races in 2014.

But while the group was still nibbling on cheese and crackers, Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin checked the early returns in Tuesday’s GOP primary pitting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor against a little-known challenger. ...

One of the most stunning aspects of Mr. Brat’s victory was that none of the major tea party groups apparently played a role. Most are currently focused on the runoff hundreds of miles away in Mississippi pitting incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran against state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Talk show hosts Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin helped to rally the troops in Virginia, Ms. Martin said. ...

Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks for America, which did not endorse Mr. Brat, said that Mr. Cantor’s defeat proves the rules of politics are changing. Some grassroots leaders in Virginia, he said, have more Facebook contacts than some county Republican leaders.



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Best News Since 2011: Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor loses in primary

The weenie is out!

But the seat may well go Democrat as a result. The question is, to which Democrat. The Republican winner, Brat, is perceived by some voters as someone who isn't really sure what he is. One thing's for sure: Cantor was ousted over his immigration squishiness. Radio host Laura Ingraham helped lead the charge against him on this issue and succeeded. Importantly, she noted today on the program that the Tea Party had abandoned Brat, meaning Brat is not a victory for the Tea Party. The Tea Party has been co-opted by open borders libertarians who secretly supported Cantor with their indifference.

The danger now is that Cantor will help broker a bad immigration deal with Obama, bad for Republicans and bad for the country, on his way out the door. 

Real returns from stocks since April 2000 have been just 1.3% per annum

Stock market investors who think market peaks like now are good times to add large sums to the equity side might want to consider what would have happened had you gone all in with new monies in the spring of 2000.

Today's real S&P500 for April 1, 2000 was higher than it is today: 2,022.46 then vs. 1951.27 now. The real S&P500 would go on to exceed that level only once: on August 1, 2000 at 2,037.97. It's been a pretty rough ride since then even with the spectacular 5-year run we've just had, added in.

Ironman here provides an excellent tool to calculate your returns in the S&P500 since April 2000 to April 2014, the most recent date available. They are horrible: just 1.3% per annum real, 3.68% not adjusted for inflation.

By way of contrast, Morningstar reports that Vanguard's Total Bond Market Index Fund through yesterday has produced a nominal 15-year return of 5.34% per annum.

John Hussman: It's advisable to panic before everyone else does

From the irrepressible mind of John Hussman, here:

Market conditions presently match those that have repeatedly preceded either market crashes or extended losses approaching 50% or more. Such losses have not always occurred immediately, but they have typically been significant enough to wipe out years of prior market gains. ... On the basis of historically reliable measures, the S&P 500 would have to move slightly below the 1000 level to raise its prospective returns to a historically normal 10% annually. ... Regardless of whether the market’s losses in this cycle turn out to be closer to 32% (which is the average run-of-the-mill bear market loss) or greater than 50% (which would be required to take historically reliable valuation measures to historical norms, though most bear markets have continued to undervalued levels), it’s going to be difficult to avoid steep losses without a plan of action. In our view, that action should be rather immediate even if the market’s losses are not. However uncomfortable it might be in the shorter-term, the historical evidence suggests that once overvalued, overbought, overbullish conditions become as extreme as they are today, it’s advisable to panic before everyone else does.


S&P500 rises just 0.09% yesterday to new high

That puts correction territory everywhere down to 1561.016, where the market was as recently as April 2013.

1365.889 demarcates a bear down 30% from here, the market level in April 2011.

1170.762 is a 40% bear, the market level in March 2010.

976.135 is a 50% bear from here, the market level in July 2009.

780.508 is a 60% bear from here, the market level in April 1997.

585.381 is a 70% bear from here, the market level in September 1995.

That should about unwind it. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Oops: "Collapsing" Antarctic glacier is melting because of geothermal heat energy, not CO2

Magma!

Reported here:

Thwaites Glacier, the large, rapidly changing outlet of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, is not only being eroded by the ocean, it’s being melted from below by geothermal heat, researchers at the Institute for Geophysics at The University of Texas at Austin (UTIG) report in the current edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ... Until now, scientists had been unable to measure the strength or location of heat flow under the glacier. Current ice sheet models have assumed that heat flow under the glacier is uniform like a pancake griddle with even heat distribution across the bottom of the ice. The findings of lead author Dusty Schroeder and his colleagues show that the glacier sits on something more like a multi-burner stovetop with burners putting out heat at different levels at different locations.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fertility drops in 2013: Maybe some demographers are under the ILLUSION of economic recovery

They're puzzled by the total fertility rate dropping and staying below the replacement rate.

Reported here:

But the total fertility rate, or TFR, the average number of children a woman would have during her child-bearing years, fell to just 1.86 [in 2013], the lowest rate in 27 years. TFR is considered the best metric of fertility. A TFR of 2.1 represents a stable population, with children replacing parents as they die off.

Demographers expected the fertility rate to fall during recession, as financially strapped families put off childbearing. But what has surprised some demographers is both the depth of the decline and the fact that fertility has continued to drop even over the course of the country's five years of slow but steady recovery. The rate has fallen steadily each year since 2007, when it stood at 2.1 percent. ...

[T]he U.S. only reached a TFR above 2.1 in 2006 and 2007, at the height of the housing bubble years.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

The total fertility rate in the US has been below the replacement rate since 1971 except for the two years noted. This is the real reason behind the immigration liberalization push by Republicans, who didn't have enough children themselves and still don't understand as a political party that it's impossible for America to look like it did in the past, now or in the future, without having done so. They are as guilty as liberals in eschewing family.

It raises the question of what comes first: the GDP or the population which goes on to consume it. Arguably, just as banks create money by writing loans, not by the Fed printing dollars, people actually create future economic growth by having children in the present. It really isn't the other way around, but we haven't been smart enough as a culture to grasp this. Women naturally grasp this. They not only naturally want children on a time schedule dictated by human biology, but also grandchildren. But the liberal war on this natural instinct has succeeded in killing off the goose that laid the golden egg of American greatness. It should not come as a surprise that GDP was negative again.

We do not live. We just survive.

A little Larry Norman from 1973, from the not coincidentally entitled "Nightmare Number 71":

We kill our children swap our wives

We've learned to greet a man with knives

We swallow pills in fours and fives
Our cities look like crumbling hives
Man does not live he just survives
We sleep till he arrives


Love is a corpse we sit and watch it harden

We left it oh so long ago the garden

Globe and Mail columnist forgets to lump in Henry Kissinger with Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders as Putin's 5th column in the West

Doug Saunders, here:
In words widely reported in the Russian media, [Farage] added that the EU has “blood on its hands” for supporting the democracy movement in Ukraine. Rather than posing a threat to Europe, Mr. Farage said, Russia has fallen prey to Europe’s “activist, militarist and expansionist foreign policy.”


Henry Kissinger, here:
The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities. ... Ukraine should not join NATO, a position I took seven years ago, when it last came up.


Lefties say America has 6 million not counted as unemployed

The extreme left Economic Policy Institute here puts the number of missing workers in the US employment statistics at almost 6 million, give or take, since October 2013.

This is premised on a 2007 government projection of labor force participation rates in a healthy economy to 2016 which already controlled for demographic change, including the burgeoning retirements of Baby Boomers and, evidently, emerging smaller workforce cohorts due to declining fertility rates. That can be used against the measurements of labor force participation rates and labor force levels which have actually filled the record over the period to derive discrepancies.

Currently EPI calculates the discrepancies to mean that unemployment is 9.7%, not 6.3%.

And you thought only wild-eyed kooks on the right thought unemployment was still that high.

Jimmy Carter appointee in Wisconsin overturns Defense of Marriage Amendment

As usual, the meaning of liberalism is to overturn by the decree of a single individual what the voters have passed into law. In other words, to impose what they can't pass. In this case the now 75 year old judge waited like a sleeper for many years until Barack Obama made it safe to unleash rulings against the people.

Barbara Brandriff Crabb, who has been inflicting herself on the voters since 1979 thanks to an appointment to the US District Court by Jimmy Carter, has previously ruled in 2010 the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional. A federal appellate court subsequently ruled she had no standing. She has also ruled in 2013 against the clergy exemption from income of housing allowances. In 2009 she ruled that Wisconsin's restrictions on judges against joining political parties, endorsing candidates and raising campaign funds violated their First Amendment rights.

Story here:

A federal judge in Madison on Friday overturned Wisconsin's gay marriage ban, striking down an amendment to the state constitution approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2006 and prompting an emergency action by the state to halt the scores of weddings that began in the state's two largest cities. ... In Wisconsin, voters in 2006 resoundingly approved the same-sex marriage amendment, 59% to 41%. Every county in the state except Dane voted for it.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The May 2014 unemployment rate is unchanged at 6.3%

Not seasonally adjusted, total nonfarm employment is up 199,916 monthly in the last 12 months to May 1, 2014

April 1, 2013 to April 1, 2014 the rate was 196,750 monthly.

During the Clinton presidency, which was without a recession, total nonfarm averaged a spectacular gain of 235,000 monthly. Under Reagan, who had one, jobs boomed at the rate of 250,000 monthly for six full years once it was over.

Presently job creation is 15% behind the Clinton rate, and 20% behind the Reagan rate.

After 76 months, the jobs recession ends no thanks to Obama as the liberals declare victory and go home

That's after 6 years and 4 months for those of you in Rio Linda.

From Calculated Risk here:

This [graph] shows the depth of the recent employment recession - worse than any other post-war recession - and the relatively slow recovery due to the lingering effects of the housing bust and financial crisis. Total employment is now 98 thousand above the pre-recession peak and at an all time high.  It is probably time to retire this graph - until the next recession.

Obama was first elected in month 12 of the jobs recession when its severity was still at -3.0% on this chart. Americans had no idea what was coming. Nearly 30 million Americans would go on in 2009 alone to file first time claims for unemployment compensation.

If Obama's election meant salvation from a looming crisis, businesses didn't think so. They proceeded out of fear of the most anti-capitalist president to be elected in the history of the country to cut their number one cost in order to survive what was coming. Arguably Obama's election made a severe downturn into the employment crisis that it became.

The longest and deepest jobs recession in the post-war is now over according to the seasonally adjusted figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the very least the Columbia and Harvard educated Obama did nothing effectual to end it in a timely manner as all his predecessors had done, even George W. Bush by comparison. The reason? Your choices are a) incompetence and b) malice aforethought.

Bringing America down a notch or two seems to have been the guiding principle for every problem Obama has had to confront during his presidency, whether in domestic or foreign policy. When it comes to jobs, the average middle class family which lost a good $50,000 income to long term unemployment is now in the 6th year of reduced circumstances. Such a family is easily $250,000 behind when you combine the effects of reduced wages and retirement funding. Such equality with the poor isn't what the middle class had in mind, but it sure looks like what Obama did.

Calculated Risk Blog retires its unemployment recession chart

This tracks seasonally adjusted figures, of course. Not seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment still has not recovered to peak under Bush.

Discussion here:

This graph shows the job losses from the start of the employment recession, in percentage terms - this time aligned at maximum job losses.  Employment is now back above pre-recession levels and this graph will be retired until the next recession (Of course this doesn't include population growth).

Friday, June 6, 2014

3 million more still work part-time for economic reasons under Obama than under Bush


Those usually working full-time are still 4 million fewer in number than in 2007 at peak under Bush


Despite all the crowing, total nonfarm employment, not-seasonally-adjusted, remains below 11/'07 peak


Monetarism on the rocks: TCMDO has grown less than 19% in 6.5 years

Deflation in today's economy is not a decline in the general price level but a decline in the expansion of total credit market debt outstanding, now unhelpfully called "all sectors credit market instruments liability level". The monetarists keep trying to get the borrowing engine going again, but to no avail, and the bottle of Viagra seems to be always in need of a refill. In six and a half years total credit market debt outstanding has grown by a paltry 18.7%. During the good old days of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan TCMDO twice doubled in as little time. At this rate it will take 35 years from 2007 for TCMDO to double again when the longest it has taken in the post-war is about eleven and a half.

Conservatives may well mock the flacid, shriveling manhood of our metrosexual economy, but in the absence of structural measures designed to reward savers in the form of strong currencies and honest rates of return and punish spendthrifts with budget disciplines, what we are witnessing is a crack-up of epochal proportions which threatens to wipe away the achievements of centuries.

Who could possibly be happy about that?

The best that we can hope for is an arrangement which will buy us time to pay back what we have borrowed from the future for the prosperity of the past. It will require us to sober up. It will require personal repentance. The alternatives are a long slow decline into poverty, bankruptcy and war if we do nothing, or a stimulation-induced heart attack if we keep on the present path. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Shiller p/e hits 25.94 as total market index and S&P500 make the barest of new highs

The S&P500 floated up 0.19% while Vanguard's Total Stock Market Index Fund was up just 0.22%.

The Shiller p/e at nearly 26 is close to a level matched on the first of the month just 24 times going back to 1881. Valuation is presently 56.9% above the mean Shiller p/e of 16.53.

From John Hussman earlier this week, here:

On Friday, our estimate of prospective 10-year S&P nominal total returns set a new low for this cycle, falling below 2.2% annually. This is worse than the level observed at the 2007 market peak, or at any point in history outside of the late-1990's market bubble. 

Obama goes outside the experience of the enemy (you): swaps Muslim combatants for US deserter

To piss off the patriots and please his anti-Gitmo critics in one stroke.

And talk about using different tactics and actions and all events of the period to maintain a constant pressure:

FBI tries to shake down Phil Mickelson last Thursday on the golf course, a political spectacle aimed at the non-compliant rich.

Arizona is punished as a dumping ground for busloads of illegal immigrant children because it dared to enforce its border with Mexico.

With GDP negative the EPA moves forward with rules to make electricity more expensive for the already beleaguered masses.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Liberal Jonathan Turley says Obama's behavior in Bergdahl affair just adds to the pile of laws Obama's broken


CNN ANCHOR: Jonathan, did the White House violate federal law?

JONATHAN TURLEY: They did. I don't think the White House is seriously arguing they're not violating federal law. To make matters worse, this is a long series of violations of federal law this president has been accused of. I testified twice in Congress about this record of the president in suspending or ignoring federal laws. This is going to add to that pile. I don't think there's much debate that they're in violation of the law.

The Detroit News Explains To Obama How He Could Learn Something About Coal From Europe


Europe’s experience with such hardline carbon rule-making [as Obama's] would suggest the [US Chamber of Commerce's] claims are more credible than the administration’s. Clean energy investment among European Union members dropped 14 percent in the third quarter of last year, as governments reconsidered policies similar to the ones Obama is putting in place.

The reason: Electricity costs in Europe are the highest in the world, and are helping to drive away manufacturing jobs. Instead of shutting down coal plants, Europe is actually building them again as a way of dropping those crushing electricity costs.

Higher utility bills will hurt poorer Americans the hardest, and ultimately will necessitate even more wealth transfer schemes.

In addition, the resurgent U.S. manufacturing industry will be slowed. Energy is a crucial component of building things, obviously, and today American manufacturers enjoy a distinct advantage because of relatively low electricity costs. Raising those costs will hit industrial states, like Michigan, particularly hard.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Attention Mish: Dump Google Translate and learn a second language already

From the story here:

The participants were given an intelligence test in 1947 at the age of 11 and were retested in their early 70s, between 2008 and 2010. Of the participants, 262 said they were able to communicate in at least one language other than English. Of those, 195 learned the second language before the age of 18, while 65 learned the language after this age.

Researchers found that those who spoke two or more languages had significantly better cognitive abilities in later life, compared to what would be predicted from their performance in the tests at age 11.

How come Neil Cavuto of FoxBusiness is so misinformed about the average age of US vehicles on the road?


What’s surprising right now is that while auto sales are predictably sluggish, they could be a heck of a lot worse. Auto analysts tell me that’s because the average car on the road is so old – close to nine years. Many owners have no choice but to replace their vehicles. But they’re clearly taking their time and many are waiting for just the right time, and the right sale.

Wrong Neil.


You don't go from 11.4 years to 9 years in less than a year.

If we had done so, we'd be in an economic boom right now instead of GDP in the toilet at -1.0%.

White House wants it both ways: blames bad GDP on harsh winter, credits good GDP on increased utilities consumption

Doesn't utilities consumption go up because of bad winter weather, in which case bad winter weather is good for GDP, not bad?

From WhiteHouse.gov here:

1. Real gross domestic product (GDP) fell 1.0 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter of 2014, according to the second estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This drop follows an increase of 3.4 percent annual pace in the second half of 2013. Looking at the various components of GDP, consumer spending grew at a rapid pace, mainly reflecting sharp increases in health care and utilities consumption, while the other elements of consumer spending on net rose only slightly. Consumer spending on food services and accommodations fell for the first time in four years, one of several components that was likely affected by unusually severe winter weather. Exports and inventory investment, two particularly volatile components of GDP, also subtracted from growth. ...

3. The first quarter of 2014 was marked by unusually severe winter weather, including record cold temperatures and snowstorms, which explains part of the difference in GDP growth relative to previous quarters. The left chart shows the quarterly deviation in heating degree days from its average for the same quarter over the previous five years. By this measure, the first quarter of 2014 was the third most unusually cold quarter over the last sixty years, behind only the first quarter of 1978 and the fourth quarter of 1976. In addition, there were four storms in the first quarter that rated on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS). The right chart shows that no quarter going back to 1956 had more than three such storms.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Obama's policies caused the GDP decline, not the winter

From The Wall Street Journal, here:

Gross domestic product decelerated to an annualized 1.2% in the January through March period--the slowest pace since the fourth quarter of 2012--from a downwardly revised 2.7% in the final three months of last year, Statistics Canada said Friday. On a monthly basis, GDP in March slowed to 0.1% as expected, from 0.2% in February.

The consensus call was for first-quarter growth to slow to an annualized 1.8% from the originally estimated 2.9% in the fourth quarter, according to a report from Royal Bank of Canada. ... The central bank had forecast growth of 1.5% in its April monetary policy report. ...

Despite the poor showing, Canada's GDP outpaced the U.S. where latest figures showed output shrank 1% at annual rates in the first quarter, as severe winter weather exacted a major toll on the economy.

Statistics Canada didn't specify the reasons for the slowdown in Canada, but bad weather could have been a factor.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, bad winter weather supposedly caused US GDP to go dramatically negative while in Canada the same bad weather didn't cause GDP to go dramatically negative. We supposedly froze to a standstill and died because of it, while Canadians went on their merry way as they usually do, just at a little slower pace.

Let's put it all in perspective.

The Canadian consensus estimate was off by only 33%, but in the US by some 400% (the consensus for the US revision was down to -0.2% from +0.1%). Apparently the cold affects our reasoning ability, too.

In nominal terms, US GDP on an annualized basis was up just $11.7 billion in 1Q2014 to $17.101 trillion compared with 4Q2013 in the second estimate. But in real terms this was deemed a decline of $39.4 billion, hence the negative print.

Canada's much smaller economy, which in current US dollars is about $1.58 trillion in size, produced an increase of 0.29% in the first quarter as announced on Friday, which annualized comes to 1.19%. In terms of constant prices this was an increase of 5.1 billion dollars Canadian in the first quarter, about $4.7 billion US.

So Canada's tiny little economy, nearly ten times smaller than ours, had the temerity to produce about 40% of our nominal GDP in the face of one of the most brutally cold and snowy winters in the last 100 years.

Put that in your winter-caused-the-GDP-to-decline pipe and smoke it, Mr. Obama. The Great White North may be smaller, but it works harder than you and your Dreamer pals ever dreamed.

UPDATE: The proper comparison, because the Canadian figures are in constant dollars, that is,  already inflation-adjusted dollars, is between Canada's positive addition of $4.7 billion US to their GDP vs. America's subtraction of $39.4 billion in real terms from their GDP.

So Canada's 10x smaller economy managed to produce net positive GDP in the most extreme weather conditions which Americans to a man blame for their net negative GDP.

Frankly, I'M DISGUSTED WITH MY COUNTRY!