Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Jobless claims: a very positive reversal

 

This week’s new jobless claims report not only reversed last week’s increase but declined below 800,000 for the first time on an *un*revised basis. I say that because revisions from two weeks ago now have that week as the lowest since the pandemic struck.  [NOTE: California has restarted reporting its claims, and has also reported for the past two weeks, and is the likely cause of the big revisions – generally downward, or positive.]

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, new jobless claims declined by 73,125 to 756,617. This would be a new low, except two weeks ago was revised down to 731,249. After seasonal adjustment (which is far less important than usual at this time), claims declined by 55,000 to 787,000. This would be a new low as well, except two weeks ago was revised down to 767,000. The 4-week moving average also decreased by 21,500 to 811,250, a new pandemic low:

 

Here is a close-up of the last three months since the end of July highlighting the overall slow progress in initial claims since then:

 

Comments (3) | |

The Period Of Short Term Memory

The Period Of Short Term Memory

 The election is two weeks from today.  When I took an intro psych course over half a century ago, I was taught in it that two weeks is the period of short term memory, the period in which we remember events with special salience.  I do not know if this is still the official view of the profession, but it has since then made sense to me: I seem to be able, even now, to remember what happened day by day for the previous two weeks.  Things before then are “in the past,” although certainly some are salient and on my mind. But those that happened in the past two weeks are just that much more on my mind.

With this in mind even four years ago when people asked me to forecast the election outcome I would drag this up and say “anything can happen in the last two weeks that can change it,” and four years ago it happened with the James Comey public reopening of an email investigation into Hillary Clinton 11 days before the election.  Even though about two days before he announced nothing was found, the damage was done.  This year we all remember this, and while he is further ahead in national polls than she was at this point then, Joe  Biden is not much further ahead, and even behind in some, than she was in those crucial battleground states that will determine the outcome. So it remains fully possible that something unexpected can happen that will give Trump the victory.

Comments (5) | |

Sincere Advice For Donald Trump

Last I heard (6:52 PM EST October 10 2020) Donald Trump wants to sign a huge new stimulus bill. I don’t try to read his mind, but I think he is sincere. It is the only way he can win re-election. On the other hand, Mtich McConnell does not want the Senate to pass a huge stimulus bill. I assume that he assumes that Trump will lose and has already switched to the worse it is the better it is. What is a poor President to do ?

1) Mitch McConnell is not President of the Senate. The President of the Senate is named Michael Pence. Michael Pence can actually preside. Then if a Senator (say Charles Schumer) introduces a Mnuchin/Pelosi compromise bill, it can be debated (Pence need show no more respect for regular order than McConnell ever has). Then there will be a filibuster. VP Pence can declare the debate over and call a vote. This would be a lie about Senate rules. McConnell would object and the Senate would vote on the objection. The Democrats, independents and 3 Republicans would make a tie so Pence’s decision would stand. This is how filibusters are nuked. McConnell doesn’t have to be involved. He can be outvoted if there are three Republican Senators who do not want to break with Trump, go against public opinion, and lose their seats. Then there would be a vote. The Democrats, independents, 3 Republican Senators and Pence could send the bill to Donald Trump to sign.

I think it all works fine. Pence can say no to Trump (it is a tradition that Vice Presidents are servants of Presidents not a provision of the Constitution (as Jefferson and Adams might explain). It is possible that no Republican Senators would see any gain in breaking with Trump. It is almost certain that Trump won’t do this.

But I think it is his only chance of re-election.

Comments (18) | |

September housing construction: another very positive month

by New Deal democrat

September housing construction: another very positive month

Yesterday September housing permits and starts were reported. Permits made yet another 10+ year high. This bodes very well for the economy in 2021, if the pandemic can be contained.

Sorry about the delay. Seeking Alpha didn’t get around to publishing it until this morning. Here’s the link.

Comments (0) | |

The 2020 election nowcast: Biden widens national lead; Senate races likely to follow Presidential result in each State

The 2020 election nowcast: Biden widens national lead; Senate races likely to follow Presidential result in each State

Here is my weekly update on the 2020 elections, based on State rather than national polling in the past 30 days, since that directly reflects what is likely to happen in the Electoral College.At only 16 days from Election Day, the polls, while actually nowcasts rather than forecasts, are probably less than 2% off the final result. With the exception of the last Presidential debate and any *significant* “October surprise,” all of the fundamentals of the election are already “baked into the cake.” Because some GOP voters will likely still “come home” in the next two weeks, I expect the race to tighten a little bit.

There are two big takeaways from the present situation:

1. In the Presidential election, Biden’s lead has not just been steady, but on a national level has been pulling decisively away from Trump, to the biggest lead of the entire year:

2. The Senate elections show very little variation from Presidential polling in the affected States. The only 4 States in which contrary results at the two levels look reasonably possible are Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Comments (0) | |

Two noteworthy tweets

Two noteworthy tweets

It’s a slow economic news week. Housing starts and permits are reported tomorrow, and jobless claims and existing home sales on Thursday. I’ll update the Coronavirus Dashboard Wednesday.  So for today, two nuggets.

1. Nate Silver discovers behavioral psychology:

This has been my paradigm for months. Panic breeds compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing. Complacency breeds risk-taking. Over time both trends wane, breeding the conditions necessary for the opposite outcome. Not only has this been true in almost all US States, but we have now seen the same dynamic play out in Europe.

Nice to see that Nate Silver is learning about learning.
2. What is the solution to the Supreme Court?

Comments (2) | |

The Post Office in a Decent Society

Mark Jamison’s commentary on USPO matters have been featured at Angry Bear Blog a number of times. A retired postmaster, Mark Jamison serves as an advisor, resident guru, and a regular contributor to Save the Post Office. Mark’s previous posts concerning the USPO can be found here at “Save The Post Office” or by doing the search function at Angry Bear. Mark can also be contacted on USPO matters markijamison01@gmail.com

In looking at the results of the recent lawsuits against the Postal Service — eight of which have led to rulings banning changes in postal operations until after the election — it is tempting to make a bad sports analogy.  After all, going 0 for 8 in the courts lends itself to comparisons with the futility we often associate with the worst teams and players. But to do so trivializes matters of the gravest civic importance.

The lawsuits have been initiated to preserve our right to vote and do so in a way that preserves our health and safety during a pandemic. They have also served to highlight the politicization of a national asset and institution, one whose mission embodies the concept of one nation through the provision of universal service.

The Postal Service has repeatedly lost in court because there is no argument that can defend the clownish tenure of Louis DeJoy and the overt politicization of an infrastructure that should be totally nonpolitical by Robert Duncan and the other members of the Postal Board of Governors.

Duncan continues to serve as a director of a super PAC dedicated to electing Republican candidates to the Senate. Whatever insights or advantages Duncan’s experience might bring to the operations of the Postal Service, they are more than offset by his utter lack of respect for the institution. His continued partisan position during a contentious election in which the Postal Service is playing an essential role is inexcusable. A person with any sense of civic duty or public propriety would have stepped aside long ago.

Tags: , Comments (3) | |

Eating More Chocolate: A Cure for Pandemic Fatigue?

Just doing the local rounds and reading. One of three writers over at Naked Capitalism had this up on a small way escape the boredom of Covid.  It is more than just a promotion about chocolate and it does make you smile. When I was working in Riethim-Weilheim area of Germany near Tuttligen, on the weekend I would drive into Switzerland to a  Chocolatier in Schaffhausen and buy a nice box of chocolates to share with my German associates and then wander over to  Konstanz to explore along the lake.  Good stuff and it made friends. A little bit about the writer: Jerri-Lynn Scofield has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

I just finished compiling today’s Links and they are particularly dire. COVID-19 is not going away. There is no vaccine or cure in sight. Even some places that had seemed to control spread of the disease – much of Europe – are imposing more draconian restrictions, in response to an uptick in cases. The only positive thing I can think of to say is the virus does not seem to have evolved into a more virulent form and that treatment is getting better. Small comfort.

According to today’s New York Times, As the Coronavirus Surges, a New Culprit Emerges: Pandemic Fatigue:

Tags: , Comments (1) | |

Tic Tac Toe, Supreme Court style

(This was first posted February 21, 2008.)

Bribes, payola, favor of the physical kind? Forget-about it. Just put the right person in the appropriate agency, preferably a person from the line of business the agency is to regulate. But, for extra insurance over the long haul, with a little luck of timing you get to fix the legal issue almost permanently: supreme court justices.

Justices Make it Tougher to Sue Makers of Medical Devices

The case has significant implications for the $75 billion-a-year health care technology industry, whose products range from heart valves to toothbrushes. In a recent three-month span, federal regulators responded to over 100 safety problems regarding medical devices.

At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the estate of Charles Riegel could sue a company under state law over a device previously cleared for sale by federal regulators. State lawsuits are barred to the extent they would impose requirements that are different from federal requirements, said the ruling by Justice Antonin Scalia.

In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that Congress never intended “a radical curtailment of state common-law lawsuits seeking compensation for injuries caused by defectively designed or labeled medical devices.”

Tags: , , , , , Comments (0) | |