Morning Report

Vital Statistics:

  Last Change Percent
S&P Futures  1387.5 1.6 0.12%
Eurostoxx Index 2288.4 1.3 0.06%
Oil (WTI) 101 -1.5 -1.47%
LIBOR 0.466 0.000 0.00%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 79.3 0.079 0.10%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 1.95% 0.02%  
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 174.6 0.4  

Markets are flat this morning after disappointing economic data out of Europe. Eurozone PMI data was solidly below 50, indicating business conditions are getting worse, not better. Equity markets recovered after initially selling off on the payroll data. Bonds and MBS are down slightly. 

Payroll data is out – 115k jobs were added in April, well below the 160k estimate. The unemployment rate fell to 8.1%, and the labor force participation rate fell to 63.6%. Average hourly earnings were flat. By all accounts, this was a disappointing report, and the markets sold off on the number, but then recovered. I suspect that predicting market reactions to economic data are going to become more difficult as disappointing numbers raise the possibility of QEIII.  

Lender Processing Services has put out its full report on March foreclosures. Delinquencies are continuing to decline (lowest level since Aug 08), while the foreclosure inventory is still at all-time highs, especially in judicial states. 

More data on the Facebook IPO.  The pricing range is $28 – $35 for a company that earned 43 cents a share last year. 81x trailing earnings. Click to Like.  

96 Responses

  1. Back to East Coast time now, Brent? Hope you enjoyed San Diego.

    Wonkblog has a post about the soft jobs recovery with a link to cool interactive where you can put in jobs numbers to see how long until we get back to full employment. At 115K per month, the end is nowhere in sight.

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  2. And one more link from NPR about women in the workforce and what jobs they tend to have.

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  3. Unintentional irony of the day from Krugman:

    “Put it this way: If something like the financial crisis of 2008 had occurred in, say, 1971 — the year Richard Nixon declared that “I am now a Keynesian in economic policy” — Washington would probably have responded fairly effectively. There would have been a broad bipartisan consensus in favor of strong action, and there would also have been wide agreement about what kind of action was needed.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/opinion/krugman-plutocracy-paralysis-perplexity.html?ref=opinion

    Well, something like that did happen in the 1970’s in the form of the oil shocks, and the bipartisan response was Keynesian and the result was stagflation.

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  4. Re Krugman, I would love to hear his explanation of why the 1920-1921 Depression was so short and why the Great Depression was so long. Hint: it had something to do with lack of policy response and a surprising monetary response.

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  5. Re: Wonkblog:

    “Essentially, this is how long it would take to bring unemployment back down to pre-recession levels, assuming that’s even possible”

    The “assuming that’s even possible” point is key. Among other things, I believe that the bubble unemployment rates were below the NARU. 6% strikes me as a much more reasonable target than 4%, based on the pre-bubble rates in the mid 1990’s.

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    • 6% strikes me as a much more reasonable target than 4%, based on the pre-bubble rates in the mid 1990′s.

      If we ever have a budget balancing mechanism it could reasonably be based on unemployment numbers, something like this. We know that if we truly tried to have a balanced budget it would still be subject to unexpected revenue collapse or exigent expenditures. So a mechanism that aimed for balance at, say, 7% unemployment, would countercyclically produce surplus when unemployment went well below 7% and deficit when it went well above 7%. Thus we could aim for reasonable balance over a business cycle.

      OTOH, if we used a mechanism like that and aimed to balance at 5% we would generally have deficits forever.

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  6. Sigh: False talking points that won’t go away:

    We’re not Greece. We’re not Europe. But we could become the U.K.
    Posted by Ezra Klein at 10:51 AM ET, 05/04/2012

    “One of our two major parties is engulfed in a civil war driven by an insurgency that wants to radically redefine government functions, preferring, for instance, to default on the national debt rather than increase tax revenue or borrow more.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/were-not-greece-were-not-europe-but-could-become-the-uk/2012/05/04/gIQAhaXJ1T_blog.html

    Defaulting on the national debt was never under consideration. The fight was over curtailing existing obligations to fund the debt payments if the debt ceiling wasn’t lifted.

    Sending out a partial or delayed entitlement checks isn’t “defaulting on the national debt”. All government obligations aren’t equal.

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  7. I believe March employment guesstimate was adjusted upward, right?

    Brent, 1920-21 was not a financial burst bubble recession, was it?

    The comparison is much better to The Great Depression as to its inception, but I agree that almost everything else has changed.

    1] Inventory practice then meant that when demand dropped, unemployment went completely over the cliff.
    2] That we had no safety blanket meant that no public countercyclicals moderated the drop in purchasing power.
    3] That the Federal Reserve thought tight money was a good idea strangled potential opportunities for the private sector to rebuild.

    I would say to Krugman, with whom I disagree about remedies, that the lessons of Myrdal, Keynes, and Friedman have been incorporated, that while I might favor targeted infrastructure financing if I thought anyone really knew how to do it, I am more concerned about getting lending to small biz, and encouraging states to pick up more of their traditional burdens of education and roads, on a state by state basis, rather than relying on deficit financing from DC. As to the roads, if the states do their jobs, I would favor DC backing them on the federal highway maintenance as a response, thus making an incentive for local initiative, first.

    Lending to small biz is better than it was in 2010, but we are not back to business as usual by any stretch. There was a promised initiative at SBA that I have not seen bear fruit, locally.

    Krugman seems to, in his columns, if not his books, quantify the economy and then suggest a big deficit number that will “fix” it. This just seems so counterintuitive in a deficit plagued nation which in fact has plenty of cash. That second observation, the amount of cash out there, is what makes me wary of even looser money [QE3].

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    • Mark:

      I believe March employment guesstimate was adjusted upward, right?

      Yes. Basically the weakness in this month’s number, relative to the consensus expectation, was offset by the upward adjustment of last month’s number.

      Brent, did you tell Scott and me where to get RPX Composite numbers on yesterday’s thread?

      He did, but you need access to the Bloomberg info system, which I assume you don’t have. I have it here at the office

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  8. These stubborn bastards will not come down to meet my bid on some commodity action. Don’t these SOB’s listen to the media?

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  9. Saw this quote on unemployment earlier, ” The strongest part of the US economy appears to be the revision sector. It just keeps adding jobs, as it has throughout the whole recovery.”

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  10. Worth a read:

    “Women, Welch Clash at Forum
    Updated May 4, 2012, 8:33 a.m. ET

    “BY JOHN BUSSEY

    Is Jack Welch a timeless seer or an out-of-touch warhorse?

    The former Master and Commander of General Electric still writes widely on business strategy. He’s also influential on the speaking circuit.

    On Wednesday, Mr. Welch and his wife and writing partner, Suzy Welch, told a gathering of women executives from a range of industries that, in matters of career track, it is results and performance that chart the way. Programs promoting diversity, mentorships and affinity groups may or may not be good, but they are not how women get ahead. “Over deliver,” Mr. Welch advised. “Performance is it!””

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303877604577382321364803912.html

    Related post by Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/jack-welch-julia-and-the-fallacy-of-working-women-having-it-all/2012/05/04/gIQAFjYU1T_blog.html

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  11. I told all of my kids, male and female, to make themselves indispensable in any job setting. Only one has ever lost a job and it was last year due to Community College budget cuts, and they gutted the entire program she was teaching in. The youngest however, has suffered wage issues in the small business scientific consulting business world. It looks like that won’t be the case next year when she goes to work for one of the oil companies however.

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  12. I’ve no answer on how to achieve optimal work-life balance. It’s actually something my wife and I struggle with. It stinks. Sometimes I get to spend all of 20 minutes a day with my son. It’s obvious to us that something has to give. I’m actually investing a couple options to ratchet down, as she’s got more upward potential where she is. She’s at a trade association, which like every other place in town has family friendly policies. That’s great for the support staff. But can you be a VP at a trade association and have balance? No. Not when you have exec staff meetings that start at 8. And you’re on the road once/twice a month. cause that’s the job.

    I’m a non-lawyer at a law firm. Only way I’m advancing here is to bring in my own clients — which mean going to breakfast fundraisers that start at 7:00 and the cocktail circuit that starts at 7:00. nuts to that.

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  13. “novahockey, on May 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm said:

    I’ve no answer on how to achieve optimal work-life balance.”

    Welch on this:

    “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. . . . [Instead] there are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.”

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  14. @jnc — I think Welch is right.

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  15. Further OT –

    I assume that the discussions in Beijing within the Chinese hierarchy and between the USA and China about the fate of the dissident are what diplomats call delicate. My thought when WMR jumped to criticize US handling of its part in the matter, during the middle of it, was that he was graceless and ill fitting.

    This is a man with two degrees, both with distinction, from Harvard, but he strikes me as boorish, repeatedly. His friends all say he is easy to like. I am missing it.

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  16. mark

    He apparently has been tryinig to please people since birth, and just isn’t very good at it.

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  17. ” I assume that the discussions in Beijing within the Chinese hierarchy and between the USA and China about the fate of the dissident are what diplomats call delicate. My thought when WMR jumped to criticize US handling of its part in the matter, during the middle of it, was that he was graceless and ill fitting.”

    That was a graceful & diplomatic way of putting it. I think he’s an ass.

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  18. “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. … [Instead] there are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.”

    That’s fair. The goal is to be satisfied with the consequences of your choices rather than regretting them, or lamenting.g what might have been.

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  19. “bsimon1970, on May 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm said:

    “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. … [Instead] there are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.”

    That’s fair. The goal is to be satisfied with the consequences of your choices rather than regretting them, or lamenting.g what might have been.”

    And also to not expect to get the same results/compensation as those who made different choices.

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  20. Is it just me, or is the need to “prove” something about the thought processes of people who disagree with your political positions a primarily liberal/progressive position?

    “Saturday, May 5, 2012 09:00 AM EDT
    Republicans: Wired for homophobia
    New research sheds light on why conservatives are so eager to embrace anti-gay pseudoscience
    By Chris Mooney, Alternet”

    http://www.salon.com/2012/05/05/republicans_homophobic_wiring_salpart/

    I’d argue that the “wired for homophobia” argument itself is “pseudoscience”.

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    • jnc, I certainly don’t see either left or right having a patent on “the need to ‘prove’ something about the thought processes of people who disagree with your political positions” and I think both do it equally. If you are a conservative, perhaps you just notice it more when you are the subject.

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  21. ” I’d argue that the “wired for homophobia” argument itself is “pseudoscience”.”

    I’d call it hyperbole; a titillating tease intended to get salon readers to click on a link.

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  22. I don’t believe I’ve see the same level of effort on the right to proving something about how the left thinks. They usually just leave at “they’re wrong”. By contrast, books analyzing why the right’s positions are the result of mental defects and how this can be proven using “science” seems to be a cottage industry on the left.

    Examples that come to mind are:

    The Paranoid Style in American Politics
    By Richard Hofstadter

    What’s the Matter with Kansas?
    by Thomas Frank

    And from the linked article in Salon:

    “Chris Mooney is the author of four books, including “The Republican War on Science” (2005). His next book, “The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science—and Reality,” is due out in April.

    If you can think of appropriate counterexamples arguing the other way, I’d be interested in them.

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    • JNC, I am replying to your original comment about liberals, conservatives, and mental illness.

      THE LIBERAL MIND: THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CAUSES OF POLITICAL MADNESS Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr., M.D [a real shrink] 2006
      Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder: Savage Solutions Michael Savage [not a shrink] 2005

      Those two were ballyhooed when they came out. You might google Alan Bates, M.D., too.

      I replied at this reportage level because you asked for examples.

      I suspect the cottage industry of armchair psychiatry is widespread, but it could be there are more “liberal” examples, as you suspect. I want to toss out a possibly related notion; I am no sociologist and have no clear and scholarly understanding of what I am about to write or whether it is actually related. I do not claim the following as more than an impression.

      I remember that after WW2 there was a lot of interest in investing research into how and why Germans seemed mesmerized by Hitler. Because Russians were not mesmerized by their dictator, just scared shitless, the Cold War was treated as a power game and VOA and RFE simply broadcast outside news/culture into the USSR to keep some dim spark of hope alive that might someday be fanned into flame. But we wondered why Hitler was actually adored.

      So I grew up believing Stalin and Mao were as megalomaniacal and vicious as Hitler, and I believed Communism was truly evil. Still do. However, I had never seen newsreels of Russians with glazed and worshipful eyes screaming approval of Stalin while I saw plenty of Germans with blood lust in Hitler’s huge crowds. There may be an effect there. Or not. I think a political movement can be fueled by mass hysteria and appeals to fear and hate because of Hitler or that it can be fueled by a promise of a future people’s paradise, so submit now, because of Stalin. I think that is obvious, actually. That gets you a little ways down the road. Populism is what it is. I dimly recall that Hofstadter’s Paranoid Style was a collection of essays that flowed from these sorts of Cold War and post WW2 musings. He feared racist populism, I think. But I think there was an uncomplimentary chapter on Huey Long, too. And a couple of years later Hofstadter was talking against the populist left as the anti-war movement spawned violence.

      But for these later books you and I have mentioned, I think the motivations of the armchair psychiatrists is not to enlighten, but to polemicize.

      Enough. I apologize for the length and lack of specificity of my musings.

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      • mark:

        The first one sounds like a good counter to jnc. But is the Savage book really an example? I haven’t read it, so I don’t know for sure, but based on brief reviews I just looked at, it sounds more like the title was designed to be attention grabbing and provocative, not a summary of the thesis that the book sets out to demonstrate. That is to say, Savage seems to be hyperbolically characterizing liberalism as a mental disorder, but isn’t actually setting out to demonstrate it as a scientific truism.

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        • Scott, I haven’t read any of those books except Hofstadter’s and that book, as I recalled it, was not an indictment of conservative mental health. For all I care or know, all the other books may be just fancy attention getting titles with blank pages.

          I have an interest in mob politics, left and right, because it is scary and hard to defuse when it gets started. I suppose there could be a moderate mob, but I never studied one. Moderate ideas don’t seem to inflame passion. C’est la vie.

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  23. jnc, if you are talking full-length books only, I don’t pay enough attention to that stuff from either side to offer an informed response. If you are talking blog posts or comments, there’s plenty.

    lol, do you have a need to “prove” this is more prevalent on the left? If so, there is an argument to be made that you are disproving your own thesis.

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  24. “okiegirl, on May 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm said:

    lol, do you have a need to “prove” this is more prevalent on the left? If so, there is an argument to be made that you are disproving your own thesis.”

    No, it was more an instant reaction to running across the Salon post which I read as “Here’s how we can scientifically prove that conservatives are mentally deficient.”

    This strikes me as a convenient way to dodge having to engage the conservative arguments on the merits. Why bother to debate someone whose positions can be described, ipso facto as equivalent of declaring themselves to be Napoleon.

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  25. jnc, FWIW, I too find that particular post offensive and am sorry I clicked on it. I just don’t see it as in any way limited to the left. Do you read dailycaller, hotair, et al.?

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  26. jnc:

    For starters, I’d throw the entire oeuvre of Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Jonah Goldberg, Michelle Malkin, and Laura Ingraham into the fray. Those are just off the top of my head. These are all people who have described liberals ipso facto as traitors in one form or another.

    But, honestly, this is a discussion that I don’t think is worthy of ATiM because it’s just going to start another “oh, yeah? Well, you’re spouting nonsense AND you’re a nitwit!” set of comments. . .

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  27. “okiegirl, on May 5, 2012 at 6:49 pm said:

    jnc, FWIW, I too find that particular post offensive and am sorry I clicked on it. I just don’t see it as in any way limited to the left. Do you read dailycaller, hotair, et al.?”

    Actually no, unless they are linked from somewhere else.

    “Michigoose, on May 5, 2012 at 6:50 pm said:

    jnc:

    For starters, I’d throw the entire oeuvre of Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Jonah Goldberg, Michelle Malkin, and Laura Ingraham into the fray. Those are just off the top of my head. These are all people who have described liberals ipso facto as traitors in one form or another.”

    I completely agree about the uselessness of the bulk of the polemic work from the right. My observation was on the use of “neuroscience” as a way to prove a particular position.

    To put it another way, as a libertarian I find RIck Santorum’s reasoning to be flawed for a lot of his arguments on social issues but that’s not the same as arguing that his reasoning is the result of the equivalent of a brain tumor.

    You guys are correct though that this is probably a pointless debate. So I suppose the answer to my original question is, yes it’s just me.

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  28. jnc:

    Sadly, it’s not just you. I missed your neuroscience observation, but I guess that in that context I would opine that since, in general (currently) liberals are more likely to take a scientific–or pseudoscientific–position to try to explain the opposition than conservatives you’re probably right (rimshot–no pun intended). But it’s still a pointless debate, and we have so many more worthy things to discuss!

    Question for me for the weekend: is the Right going to repudiate Bryan Fischer’s designation of Mitt Romney as “maneuverable”, or do we have an actual “Kennedy-will-be-a-Roman-puppet” problem on our hands? In other words, if Romney wins will he govern at the whim of the social/religious conservatives or will he suddenly grow a spine (and by my wording I’m sure you can guess my opinion on the subject)?

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  29. I have no idea who Bryan Fischer is, but my expectation is that Romney will govern as President the same way he governed as Governor of Massachusetts. The campaign is noise. What policies gets enacted will depend considerably more on the makeup of Congress than Romney. The interesting thing about Romney is that he is the first candidate that I can remember who doesn’t have a significant base. He seems to be everyone’s second choice.

    I’m literally indifferent to whether Romney or Obama gets elected. This time, I’m voting for a candidate, rather than against one by supporting Gary Johnson.

    http://www.garyjohnson2012.com/front

    “He is best known for his support for the legalization of marijuana and the end of the so-called war on drugs. He supports same-sex marriage, an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan, and proposes slashing the federal budget by 43% to eliminate deficit spending.

    “I think there’s a mathematical consequence to continue to print money to the tune of 43 cents to the dollar that we are spending,” he told CNN by phone after winning the nod.

    “It’s a mutual sacrifice by all of us to prevent a catastrophe down the line,” he continued, saying the United States is within a decade of the fiscal collapse which hit Greece.

    On the campaign trail, Johnson presents himself as an alternative to both major party candidates, especially on civil liberties issues. He has touted the hundreds of bills he vetoed as the New Mexico governor from 1995 to 2003, his successful re-election and balanced budgets enacted under his administration.

    Johnson said that were he president at the time, he would have favored military action against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, but would have withdrawn U.S. troops within two to six months.

    “I would get out of Afghanistan tomorrow,” Johnson said Saturday. “I want to bring our troops home.””

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/05/gary-johnson-wins-libertarian-party-presidential-nomination/

    The only thing that could possibly change this would be if it was likely that either party would take control of the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Presidency. In that case, I would vote for continued gridlock.

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  30. Oh, I like Gary Johnson a lot, and I may vote for him for the same reason that lmsinca might (but for the opposite reason–here in UT my vote doesn’t matter since the state is going to go Republican no matter what I do). If you’re interested, this is the Bryan Fischer stuff I was referring to.

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    • ‘Goose, where is the Bryan Fischer stuff?

      Lms says she won’t vote for Gary – but I am almost surely going to. As with you, I can afford to vote my conscience in TX.

      He was a good gov of NM, too.

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  31. Your link doesn’t seem to work.

    Edit:

    Wikipedia seems to cover him pretty well:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryan_Fischer

    Needless to say, as a libertarian I’m probably going to oppose any social policy that he would argue for involving the Federal government in promulgating.

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  32. If we all voted our consciences, he could win. Even if he doesn’t, what I would really like to see is for him to get enough polling support that he is included in the Presidential debates the way that Ross Perot was.

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    • jnc:

      If we all voted our consciences, he could win.

      I think you are vastly overestimating the number of people with a libertarian conscience. Lots of people support this or that libertarian position, but far too few do so as the result of holding any serious libertarian principles.

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  33. okie:

    If you are talking blog posts or comments, there’s plenty.

    Could you direct us to a few?

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  34. okie:

    lol, do you have a need to “prove” this is more prevalent on the left? If so, there is an argument to be made that you are disproving your own thesis.

    Not a very convincing one, I don’t think.

    There is quite a chasm between trying to prove that demographic X behaves in a certain way and trying to prove that demographic X thinks in a certain way for certain, hardwired reasons.

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  35. If we all voted our consciences, he could win. Even if he doesn’t, what I would really like to see is for him to get enough polling support that he is included in the Presidential debates the way that Ross Perot was.

    Living in a “swing” state is a double-edged sword. It makes you feel that your vote is more consequential, especially in a state where the current governor was elected by 60K votes out of >5M cast. On the other hand, I end up voting for the lesser of two evils because it feels like I shouldn’t just throw my vote away.

    But I too would like to see Gary Johnson on stage at the debates.

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  36. I’d like to see Johnson in the debates as well. I couldn’t vote for him, even though I like about a third of what he says. I’m not a libertarian and as an entire platform I just can’t support one. I know it’s doubtful he’d be able to push through even half of the so-called entitlement reforms he’d like, but some of his prescriptions make me very nervous, enough that I couldn’t possibly support him.

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    • Lulu, unlike a Greenie, who simply will not be taken seriously by anyone not already on the committed environmental left, Johnson would likely be a Perot kind of tonic in the debate. There would be times when the rehearsed lines of the R and D nominees would sound empty bounced off GJ, I think.

      But I understand your reasons not to vote for him. Maybe you could at least tell the Field Poll you are voting for him? 😉

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      • mark:

        Johnson would likely be a Perot kind of tonic in the debate.

        Which is to say, I think, that he would prove a tonic for Obama and a poison for Romney.

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        • Which is to say, I think, that he would prove a tonic for Obama and a poison for Romney.

          My guess: Only if BHO is seen to adopt GJ’s personal civil liberties positions during the course of the debates. WJC clearly adopted some of Perot’s when he saw how much headway BigEars was making.

          Similarly, WMR could play the GJ card as he watched GJ’s positions gain popularity. Do you think WMR is too hamstrung to adopt any of GJ’s agenda to WMR’s advantage? I think BHO may well be. I’d bet BHO would not offer to “give up” his authority to call me an enemy of the state and throw away the key to my cell.

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        • mark:

          WJC clearly adopted some of Perot’s when he saw how much headway BigEars was making.

          Perhaps, but WJC didn’t win because he managed to get otherwise Republican votes by adopting Perot’s positions. He won because Perot managed to get otherwise Republican votes.

          Similarly, WMR could play the GJ card as he watched GJ’s positions gain popularity.

          I think it is highly unlikely that there is any significant number of otherwise Democratic voters who would vote for Romney because he decided to adopt some GJ positions. Heck, we’ve already heard from 2 D voters here at ATiM who wouldn’t even vote for GJ himself despite saying they like a lot of his positions. If they wouldn’t even vote for GJ despite him holding positions they like, I have zero expectation that they would ever vote for WMR just because he adopted a few of those popular positions. And I don’t think they are outliers in relation to the average D voter.

          I think a popular Libertarian candidate could effect the national political debate in a positive way, but there is only one effect that such a candidate could possibly have on a presidential election, and that is to pull enough R voters away from the R candidate to ensure the D candidate of a victory. Given the realities of the voting public, anyone who promotes GJ’s presence in the debates and the election is, necessarily, promoting an Obama victory in November.

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        • Scott, I think that is the conventional analysis. I also think WMR can pick up some swing voters if he is attentive to GJ’s impact.

          FWIW, one of my neighbors, an IBM engineer, is an ardent Paulista. He voted for BHO in ’08 when Paul was not on the ticket. He has his Paul yard sign again. He is voting for GJ this time; we have talked about it. My now 28 YO nephew had the same vote switch last time for the same reason. It’ll be GJ this time.

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        • mark:

          FWIW, one of my neighbors, an IBM engineer, is an ardent Paulista. He voted for BHO in ’08 when Paul was not on the ticket.

          I’d be curious to understand his rationale for that vote. It is not at all intuitive to me why a Paulista would prefer Obama over McCain, or any Republican for that matter.

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        • why a Paulista would prefer Obama

          Reduced foreign military involvement; reduced foreign involvement except for commerce. Only GJ offers that now. Explicit for my neighbor, implicit for my nephew.

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        • mark:

          Reduced foreign military involvement; reduced foreign involvement except for commerce.

          Fair enough, but then it seems he voted less as a Paulista and more as a single issue voter. For instance, had he been focused on health care policy rather than foreign policy, presumably as a Paulista there is no way he would have voted for Obama, given his obvious preference for government involvement.

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  37. Mark, I think my problem right now is that there is just too much at stake for me to trust a libertarian and some of the literature I’ve read depicts him as being inflexible on entitlements. It doesn’t really matter who I vote for, but if anyone calls here I’ll tell them Johnson for now.

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  38. Mark/lms:

    The problem is that the pollsters aren’t asking for other candidates. Any non-BHO/WMR vote just gets lumped in with “none of the above,” which is currently losing to “undecided” here in FL, at least in the last Q poll.

    You two are up early ….

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  39. You two are up early ….

    I know. I was doing research on the internet at 3:00 am regarding selling our tenant’s belongings. It’s much more complicated than we originally thought and guess who keeps the proceeds minus storage fees, advertising and the cost of a public sale? The proceeds go into the state treasury and she has one year to claim them…………………………..haaaaaahaaaaaa.

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  40. I’m in the same position as Michi in that OK will vote R no matter how I vote. I am considering voting for Johnson for his civil rights policies and opposition to the war. But like lms, his position on entitlements scares hell out of me (although I don’t see Obama as a very good protector of the safety net). If Johnson should manage to get elected, I would hope for gridlock. I think Mark is correct that Johnson is the only 3rd party candidate who has a chance of being taken seriously, and I would like to see that happen. At least get him in the debates.

    Like

  41. lms, are you allowed to just take everything of the tenant’s to a dump rather than bother with a sale?

    Like

  42. Which is to say, I think, that he would prove a tonic for Obama and a poison for Romney.

    Darn it.

    Like

  43. okie, only if it’s valued under $300. We’re estimating even at a garage sale, we’d probably get a couple of thousand and we’re not allowed to sell it in that case or keep the profits. It has to be advertised and sold at a public auction. Best case, she comes and gets the valuables and we trash the rest. We’re going to call her today and try to strike a deal.

    Like

  44. lms:

    Sounds like a nightmare. Or an episode on Discovery Channel.

    I think you might want to get your deal with your former tenant in writing, just in case.

    Like

    • I think you might want to get your deal with your former tenant in writing

      Yep.

      BTW, I hate CA’s “protections” of tenants.

      Like

  45. We have everything in writing plus notes on all conversations etc.

    BTW, I hate CA’s “protections” of tenants.

    Yeah, me too. Honestly, we’ve pretty much been screwed by the entire system from start to finish, including the lawyers, the city and the sheriff’s department, not to mention the legal benefits of being a tenant. We had a pretty decent offer on the house in 2008, I’m beginning to wish we’d taken it.

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  46. jnc/mark:

    Political ideology looks to have become a more studied aspect of psychology recently. There are a bunch of studies listed in PubMed (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). Perhaps this article is open access by now, as a starting point. It looks like the most prolific authors are “JR Hibbing” and “JT Jost.”

    If you decide to look and find an article you want, let me know by e-mail and I’ll send it to you.

    Like

  47. Scott and Mark, I’m wondering if there would be a similar number of Greens voting for Jill Stein as Libertarians voting for Johnson to pretty much wash the third party votes. I don’t have any stats on that right now but just curious. Johnson’s not the only third party candidate making the ballots.

    Like

    • Lulu, do you have reason to believe that Stein will be Nader redux? That she can pull half a million votes, or more? Is she a decent public speaker?

      Like

  48. I don’t really know Mark, I haven’t looked at her that closely yet but I do know people who like her. I’ll try to look into it a little more. I’m not that excited about the election so I’m just not following it all as closely as I normally do. I’ll be looking for local campaigns this year to work on in the next month or two. It doesn’t matter to me who I vote for for President, which is normally the case for me, it mostly just seems meaningless and remains the lesser of two evils as always and on a national level my vote doesn’t really count.

    Like

  49. Mark, I’ll be honest; I don’t think for 1/10th of a millisecond that Romney has the personality to pull a single Johnson vote from anybody. So, in my opinion, the Johnson votes are either going to go to Obama or thin air.

    I can see why a Paulista would’ve voted for Obama in ’08–I can’t see it happening again.

    Like

  50. “markinaustin, on May 6, 2012 at 6:41 am said:

    But for these later books you and I have mentioned, I think the motivations of the armchair psychiatrists is not to enlighten, but to polemicize.

    Enough. I apologize for the length and lack of specificity of my musings.”

    No need to apologize. Those were good counterexamples.

    Like

  51. “markinaustin, on May 6, 2012 at 5:35 am said:

    Lulu, unlike a Greenie, who simply will not be taken seriously by anyone not already on the committed environmental left, Johnson would likely be a Perot kind of tonic in the debate. There would be times when the rehearsed lines of the R and D nominees would sound empty bounced off GJ, I think. ”

    Johnson as a successful two term governor and his running mate, a former state court Judge from California are the most responsible candidates the Libertarian party has nominated in a long while. As such, they have my support.

    “lmsinca, on May 6, 2012 at 5:43 am said:

    Mark, I think my problem right now is that there is just too much at stake for me to trust a libertarian and some of the literature I’ve read depicts him as being inflexible on entitlements. It doesn’t really matter who I vote for, but if anyone calls here I’ll tell them Johnson for now.”

    The President has minimal ability to unilaterally restructure entitlements. Note the complete failure of George W. Bush’s attempts to reform Social Security. The idea that the election of Gary Johnson means that Medicare, Medicaid and SS will be repealed by the end of his term is absurd. Even if he vetoes a budget, it will get overridden the moment beneficiaries have their checks delayed.

    What Gary Johnson could do as President is unilaterally remove marijuana from the Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act, accelerate the withdrawal from Afghanistan and cease assassinating American citizens.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controlled_Substances_Act

    Like

  52. “ScottC, on May 6, 2012 at 6:07 am said:

    jnc:

    If we all voted our consciences, he could win.

    I think you are vastly overestimating the number of people with a libertarian conscience. Lots of people support this or that libertarian position, but far too few do so as the result of holding any serious libertarian principles.”

    I think with the right messengers, the socially liberal/fiscally conservative position could win broad support.

    “ScottC, on May 6, 2012 at 7:34 am said:

    I think a popular Libertarian candidate could effect the national political debate in a positive way, but there is only one effect that such a candidate could possibly have on a presidential election, and that is to pull enough R voters away from the R candidate to ensure the D candidate of a victory. Given the realities of the voting public, anyone who promotes GJ’s presence in the debates and the election is, necessarily, promoting an Obama victory in November.”

    Correct. I’m indifferent between Romney and Obama. Their behavior will mostly be determined by the composition of Congressional majority they are dealing with. Or to put it another way, if Romney was President in 2009-2010, I’m confident he would have supported TARP, the stimulus, the auto bailout and the ACA with perhaps minor changes. I certainly don’t believe he would have vetoed the bills on principle.

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  53. “ScottC, on May 6, 2012 at 8:11 am said:

    mark:

    FWIW, one of my neighbors, an IBM engineer, is an ardent Paulista. He voted for BHO in ’08 when Paul was not on the ticket.

    I’d be curious to understand his rationale for that vote. It is not at all intuitive to me why a Paulista would prefer Obama over McCain, or any Republican for that matter.”

    This applies to me as well, as I voted for Obama in 2008. It was a combination of disgust with big government Republicanism/bailouts and the fact that with no substantial record Obama in 2008 successfully managed to be all things to all people.

    Note this line from his acceptance speech in 2008:

    “But I will also go through the federal budget line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less, because we cannot meet 21st-century challenges with a 20th-century bureaucracy”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/28/us/politics/28text-obama.html?pagewanted=all

    It’s clear now how hollow that promise was.

    The final deciding factor was McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as VP, which as Karl Rove noted recently is the first presidential decision a candidate actually makes. As the campaign concluded, it was clear that if Palin was an example of McCain’s judgement with regards to staffing, then a McCain administration would have been a disaster. Had McCain picked Joe Leiberman as his VP, I may well have voted for him.

    Another great unknown is how things could have been different if President Obama had started his term in 2009 with Republican control of either the House or the Senate rather than the largest Democratic majorities since LBJ.

    Like

    • jnc:

      It’s clear now how hollow that promise was.

      I thought it was pretty clear even back then. Did you seriously hold out hope that he was telling the truth?

      As the campaign concluded, it was clear that if Palin was an example of McCain’s judgement with regards to staffing, then a McCain administration would have been a disaster.

      But Obama’s choice of Biden – Biden! – was indicative that an Obama admin would be better? Really?

      I generally don’t rate a candidate’s choice of VP to be indicative of much at all regarding how the admin might be staffed and run. They are routinely chosen for politically expedient reasons, usually having to do with the immediate strategy of the campaign, not for any real talents that would contribute to the shaping of policy later on. (There are exceptions, of course, but 2008 wasn’t one.)

      Although I will grant you that, if you are totally indifferent to two candidates on policy grounds, making your choice on the basis of your opinion of their VP selection is as good a reason as any. Literally.

      Like

  54. jnc

    What Gary Johnson could do as President is unilaterally remove marijuana from the Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act, accelerate the withdrawal from Afghanistan and cease assassinating American citizens.

    I know, those are the 1/3 of the areas where I agree with him. But,

    The idea that the election of Gary Johnson means that Medicare, Medicaid and SS will be repealed by the end of his term is absurd.

    I didn’t actually say that I expected him to repeal them and from what I’ve read that isn’t his plan anyway, it has more in common with Ryan’s plan. And with a Republican House and Senate, if it goes that way, in essence I’d be voting for that, which I won’t do.

    Like

  55. Wow, looks like our tenant took our deal, we’re buying fridge, washer and dryer in lieu of 15 days storage fees and she’ll sign off on remaining value of contents at under $300. She’s also coming with the big truck again to remove more stuff. I got her with the clothes. She took somewhere between 80 and 100 pairs of shoes, still in boxes, in the last move but didn’t get any of her clothes which I knew she was dying to get. She didn’t want to pay a storage fee but wanted the clothes, and hopefully more than that. On our way to meet them over there. Fingers crossed.

    Like

  56. Signed, sealed and delivered Mark. I had three different forms in duplicate for signatures and she signed them all. By Saturday, we’ll be taking loads of crap to the dump. Who knew her clothes would be my leverage.

    Like

  57. lms:

    Hey! Good news! Hope your place isn’t too hard to clean up after you move all that stuff out.

    Like

  58. Nikkei 225 opens down almost 3% on Euro elections. Could be a rough day tomorrow…

    Like

  59. Brent:

    This is probably not a fair question, but is the Greece election more troublesome for the markets than the French or the other way around? Or both are going to make a “perfect shit storm” for the markets?

    I’m not looking forward to the Morning Report …

    Like

  60. Mike,

    France is so much bigger than Greece that any issue there will be magnified. The big question will be whether French bond yields start blowing out. If they don’t, then it probably won’t be a big deal. If they do, then it will be a big deal simply because French long-term debt is so widely held by banks (especially in Japan, where they sold all of their Southern Euro debt and bought German, French, and Dutch bonds).

    Like

  61. “ScottC, on May 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm said:

    As the campaign concluded, it was clear that if Palin was an example of McCain’s judgement with regards to staffing, then a McCain administration would have been a disaster.

    But Obama’s choice of Biden – Biden! – was indicative that an Obama admin would be better? Really? ”

    Biden could at least answer a question in an interview intelligently. Plus his selection was an indication that Obama was selecting people to make up for his weak spots, i.e. lack of experience, rather than for political expediency. Biden has a variety of issues, but lack of experience isn’t one of them.

    Karl Rove puts it better than I do:

    “Choosing a running mate reveals much about the presidential candidate himself. Though still only a candidate, this is his first presidential decision.

    It is one best made by asking about the skills, philosophy, outlook, work ethic and chemistry of a prospective running mate. Do they have good judgment? Can they be counted on to give their unvarnished opinion? Are they loyal? Who can best help the president govern? In other words, set aside politics. Put governing first.”

    http://www.rove.com/articles/381

    The selection of Sarah Palin wasn’t about governing. It was about politics.

    I knew who Sarah Palin was prior to her selection as VP, and actually had a pretty decent opinion of her as the non-corrupt Republican in Alaska, but the longer the campaign went on the more obvious it was how bad of a choice she was. Add to that McCain’s “suspending” his campaign and his admission that economics wasn’t his strong suit made him seem ill suited to the moment.

    With regards to believing Obama’s promises, yeah I was naive, but I also believe that things may have turned out differently if he was dealing with a Republican Congress during the first two years of his term rather than having to accommodate the Congressional Democrats.

    All in all, I’m a fan of gridlock now.

    Like

    • jnc:

      The selection of Sarah Palin wasn’t about governing. It was about politics.

      I definitely agree with this. But, as I said, there was nothing particularly unusual about that, nor, I think, does it distinguish McCain’s choice from Obama’s. Obama’s political weakness was a perceived lack of experience in foreign policy, and so he chose someone who could cover that weakness and help him get elected. Is there any indication that Biden has been used as a particularly trusted and useful advisor to Obama on foreign policy? Perhaps, but at least with regard to O’s biggest foreign policy triumph, we know that Biden’s advice was explicitly ignored.

      Like

  62. Thanks, jnc, you said far better than I would have what I was thinking about Palin vs Biden as a credible VP candidate. And I think that their subsequent performances have borne that opinion out..

    Like

    • Mich/Mark:

      And I think that their subsequent performances have borne that opinion out..

      I’m curious what it is about Biden’s performance as VP that you think vindicates him as “credible” or, at least, any more credible that virtually anyone else who might be VP. It seems to me that a VP’s primary (perhaps only) non-political function is to advise the president. Is there any evidence that Biden has played a serious role as an advisor to Obama?

      Like

  63. “But Obama’s choice of Biden – Biden! – was indicative that an Obama admin would be better? Really?”

    Ignoring political views, Biden as VP is one of the better recent selections, if an important criteria is being able to step into the role of POTUS on short notice. Compare to:

    Palin
    Cheney
    Edwards
    Lieberman
    Kemp
    Gore
    Quayle
    Bentsen
    Ferraro
    Bush Sr
    Mondale

    If you split that group into qualified vs unqualified, Biden is in the group with Cheney, Gore, Kemp, Bentsen, Bush Sr & Mondale. The unqualified being Palin, Edwards, Lieberman, Quayle & Ferraro.

    Like

    • I agree with JNC and Kelley, and am pretty close to you on this, Brian.

      JB not only had long experience in Senate leadership circles he actually had friends across the aisle.

      Like JNC, what I had read about SP as guv was all good and I had positive expectations until she revealed herself.

      Brian, my quibble with your list is with Lieberman.

      Like

  64. jnc

    It’s clear now how hollow that promise was.

    I’m not sure the promise was hollow or that you were naive jnc. I believe Obama was the naive one and his lack of experience and familiarity with the office he was seeking lead him to make promises he couldn’t possibly keep.

    It’s funny but when I heard he had chosen Biden I cringed, but then the more I thought about it the more I understood the decision. And Biden doesn’t scare me as President the way Palin would have. I think Biden ended up being a better pick than some of his other ones at any rate.

    Like

  65. Brent:

    Thanks. I read that the Nikkei was closed for a holiday on Friday, so some of the drop also came from the weak US jobs report. The Euro markets don’t seem to be taking as much of a hit as the Nikkei did.

    Guess we’ll see in a couple of minutes when you post your Morning Report ….

    Like

  66. I’m working my way through a very long Frontline interview with Stiglitz and I think this Q & A reflects the problem with the kind of advice Obama was getting from people essentially much more important than Biden.

    Question: How surprising is it to you when Obama takes power that he names Geithner as the Treasury secretary, and he brings back [Larry] Summers? …

    Answer: He was told that appointing this team would present a problem, because even if they gave the right advice, it will be tainted. People will see it as reflecting the interest of the banks and people who were linked to the deregulation, to the flawed policies. You’re bringing in the same plumber that caused the problem. …

    Of course the real risk was that they would not give the right advice, and that would turn out to be the case. I wasn’t surprised, because at that point it was already clear where he was getting his advice from, who he was listening to.

    The only thing that was perhaps a little bit of a surprise was the disjuncture between “Change you can believe in,” the slogan, and the team that was put in place, which was, yes, change a little bit from the Bush team, but only a little bit.

    If anyone’s interested here’s the interview. As I said I’m still working my way through it. The grey bars are all expandable answers to questions.

    Like

  67. “my quibble with your list is with Lieberman.”

    Labeling him as unqualified may be my least defensible choice, but thinking back to the first (only?) VP debate that year, Lieberman came across as unprepared & overwhelmed compared to Cheney. And I just don’t like the guy.

    Like

    • I take your word for it. I did not see it. I can imagine it, however. JL has a voice quaver that is very distracting. That’s what I always hear when he talks. I imagine him as very old in my mind’s ear.

      Like

  68. “Is there any indication that Biden has been used as a particularly trusted and useful advisor to Obama on foreign policy?”

    Yes. There was extensive coverage of his involvement in managing our departure from Iraq, for one example. If I’m not mistaken, current Afghan policy is remarkably similar to what Biden proposed during the 08 primary.

    Like

  69. Highlights from Johnson’s LP nomination acceptance speech.

    http://reason.com/blog/2012/05/05/gary-johnson-just-gave-the-best-speech-o

    “I was on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday. The question was, ‘You’re on the torture rack, they’re going to kill you, who are you going to vote for? Mitt Romney, or Barack Obama? I said, ‘Look, I’ve climbed Mount Everest. I know how to do what it takes. Take this to the bank: I would rather die.'”

    Like

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