Open Thread – Monday (Edited)

I’m still working but took a break this afternoon to do a little reading. I’m trying to finish Unbroken but I’m not there yet. Next weekend is the book review………..hint, hint. I’ve also been working on our taxes, that’s right we filed an extension (just like the Romneys), but I have even less money now than I did in April to pay what we still owe……………yikes. And we finally got the rest of the parts we needed to finish our big export order to Taiwan, which we’re trying to get out the door (that’s money in the bank). Anyway, I did read a couple of interesting pieces during my breaks this weekend that might spark a little conversation.

Last week Nova linked this piece from the Atlantic about why liberals shouldn’t vote for Obama. It was interesting but didn’t sway me. I’d already explored all of the issues and decided I’m going to vote for him anyway. The most important issue for me is health care reform and even though he didn’t get the bill I wanted I’ve decided repealing the ACA is too big of a threat for me to not support him.

One of the issues discussed was our drone policy, particularly in Pakistan.

Obama terrorizes innocent Pakistanis on an almost daily basis. The drone war he is waging in North Waziristan isn’t “precise” or “surgical” as he would have Americans believe. It kills hundreds of innocents, including children. And for thousands of more innocents who live in the targeted communities, the drone war makes their lives into a nightmare worthy of dystopian novels. People are always afraid. Women cower in their homes. Children are kept out of school. The stress they endure gives them psychiatric disorders. Men are driven crazy by an inability to sleep as drones buzz overhead 24 hours a day, a deadly strike possible at any moment. At worst, this policy creates more terrorists than it kills; at best, America is ruining the lives of thousands of innocent people and killing hundreds of innocents for a small increase in safety from terrorists. It is a cowardly, immoral, and illegal policy, deliberately cloaked in opportunistic secrecy. And Democrats who believe that it is the most moral of all responsible policy alternatives are as misinformed and blinded by partisanship as any conservative ideologue.

Then today I saw these charts and thought what the hell? I haven’t had the time to look into where exactly the information came from but according to them there have been exactly zero civilian deaths in Pakistan due to drone strikes this year. Can that be true?

This piece, “Is Karl Rove Losing It?”, is a pretty interesting take on Karl Rove and the author wonders if he really has as much power as he thinks he does. It’s probably just wishful thinking, those of us on the left aren’t too fond of the guy.

Karl Rove is back as GOP party boss, but this time it’s clear that even the best-laid plans of the savviest political strategists often go awry.

That became obvious earlier this week, on Sept. 25, when Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin reaffirmed that he was staying in the race in defiance of Rove, who had demanded Akin’s withdrawal and yanked American Crossroads’ millions from his campaign after Akin touted the prophylactic character of “legitimate rape.”

When pulling the super PAC dough didn’t faze the stubborn Missouri Tea Partyer, Rove went ballistic. “We should sink Todd Akin,” he declared , according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “If he’s found mysteriously murdered, don’t look for my whereabouts!”

Rove’s remarks did more than just reopen the schism between the GOP establishment he embodies and the Tea Party, which has begun to see him as a ruthless party boss. It also showed that the Republicans have another serious problem in addition to Mitt Romney’s disastrous candidacy: Karl Christian Rove.

And lastly this one suggests three reasons why Romney isn’t doing better than he is. I do realize it’s not over though…..believe me.

1. His stand on the auto bailout “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” has hurt him in states like Ohio.

2. He probably lost Florida when he chose Ryan as his running mate as the majority of seniors apparently don’t like their plans for Medicare…………even if they were excluded from the cuts.

3. His lack of connection with ordinary Americans exemplified by his 47% comments.

A Primer on War with Iran

– Mark

Where the Buck Stops…

So Yahoo! typically posts news articles that are amazingly content-free or are about Hollywood celebs (or both I guess).  But every once in a while, they seem to mistakenly post an article that is somewhat interesting in an academic way.  Now by no means is this one an in depth analysis, but I found it interesting.  It is entitled “Where did the mammoth US budget deficits come from?”  and can be found

Aside from the fact that it will confuse non-ATiM members because it does not distinguish between debt and deficit very well, it is a fairly straitforward look at the budget history and problems.  While it’s probably too simplistic for posters here in general, it could be a base for a more in depth budget discussion…perhaps in preparation for Debate I….or sequestration.

Saturday Football Open Thread, Week Five

Another crisp fall morning here in SLC–it’s only 54 outside right now (7:40 a.m. MDT) but it’s supposed to get up to 82 for the high today.  Life, elevated!  How’s the football looking?  Well, Stanford lost to UW in Husky Stadium Thursday night 17 – 13, which if you have to lose is at least a pretty place to do it (you should see the views of Lake Washington and the Cascades from the stadium).  BYU slaughtered Hawaii last night 47 – 0 in Provo; I didn’t watch either game as I was having dinner with friends on Thursday and busy with other stuff last night, so if anyone has any great insights into the games feel free to share.

Today’s games:

Mid Tennessee is at Georgia Tech, which must be yet another of those pre-ACC let’s-make-some-money-for-the-little-guy match ups.  (line: GT, spread 28).  Anything to note, yello? [Update: Wow!!  Mid Tennessee takes it 49 – 28!  Next week, yello. . .]

Penn State is playing at Illinois (line: PSU, spread 4).  Should be a good, classic Big Ten game.  Go Nittany Lions! [Update: PSU 35 – 7 as Illinois couldn’t convert a goal line stand as time ran out.]

Minnesota is at Iowa (line: UM, spread 6).  More classic (and by that I mean “three yards and a cloud of dust” plays) Big Ten ball.  Go, Golden Gophers! [Update: Iowa wins 31 – 13]

Clemson is playing Boston College (line: Clemson, spread 7).  Games are tightening up this week as we move into conference play. . . go, Eagles!  [Update: Clemson 45 – 31]

osu is going to lose to MSU, I just know it (line: MSU, spread 3).  You know where I’ll be at 11:30 1:30 MDT (stupid time zones!).  Game is on ABC.  GO SPARTANS!!!!!!  [Update:  damn.  osu 17 – 16]

Florida State is at USF (line: FSU, spread 17.0)  C’mon, Bulls, win this!  [Update:  FSU 30 – 17]

Texas is playing the other OSU (line: UT, spread 3.0)  Mark and okie, y’all be nice to each other, now.  Or at least polite!  (FOX at 7:50 p.m. EDT)  [Update: Texas wins 41 – 36 in the last minute.  OSU’s last possession was one of the wildest and wooliest I’ve seen in a long time–a nail-biter of a game!]

Wisconsin is at Nebraska, that Big Ten upstart (line: Nebraska, spread 11.5)  Another intra-ATiM game; I’ll leave Brent and Fairlington Blade to duke it out.  [Update: Nebraska wins 30 – 27 when UW fumbles on a 4th and 1 with 1:11 remaining.  Another nail-biter (the football’s getting much better now that we’re into the “real” games!!]

And, finally, Oregon State plays Arizona (line: Arizona, spread 3.0)  You’ve got another chance to prove McWing wrong here, ‘Cats!  Beat those Beavers!  [Update:  OSU wins 38 – 35–I lost track of how many times the lead changed hands in the 4th quarter.  Excellent game!]

Off this week are USC (vs Utah next week), Syracuse (Pitt), Michigan (Purdue) and Oklahoma (Texas Tech).

Morning Report 9/28/12

Vital Statistics:

Last Change Percent
S&P Futures 1433.2 -7.9 -0.55%
Eurostoxx Index 2470.5 -35.6 -1.42%
Oil (WTI) 91.65 -0.2 -0.22%
LIBOR 0.359 -0.002 -0.49%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 79.56 0.009 0.01%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 1.61% -0.05%
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 194.5 0.0

Markets are weaker on no real news.  Personal Income came in weaker than expected and personal spending was in line with estimates. The .5% increase in spending was driven by a .4% increase in prices. Bonds are up about half a point and MBS are up 1/4.

On the back of the puzzling statistic showing a 17% increase in new home prices, BLS is now saying an additional 453k jobs were added in 2011, bringing the hiring estimate up from 1.9 million to 2.3 million. Is the obama administration playing jiggery-pokery with the economic data?  Well, that is one way to fix the economy.

Amidst all of the usual theories about the cause of the financial crisis (Glass-Steagall, nefarious bankers, Fannie and Fred) we have another – flaws in democracy itself.  He does sound a bit like Thomas (Flathead) Friedman in that he envies more authoritarian societies that are able to push through policies without much opposition.

Is QEIII going to do much for the real estate market? According to Thomas Flexner, global head of real estate at Citi, it won’t “do very much at all.”  Blame tight lending standards. Also, as g-fees increase that will offset part of the lower interest rate effect.

What Kind of EconoTroll Are You?

Noah Smith of Noahpinion has published a taxonomy of commenters found on economics oriented blogs. It struck me that a lot of them sounded awfully familiar but I couldn’t quite put types to aliases. So I invite ATiMers to self-diagnose and pick what arbitrary ill-fitting bin they belong in. Feel free to mix and match. Choices include:

Post Keynesian
Market Monetarist
Modern Monetary Theorist
New Classical

As for myself, I have to classify myself as a Krugmanite, a type mentioned in the comments, since Krugman is the only economist I actually ever agree with even if I can’t understand anything labeled ‘wonkish’.

Morning Report 9/27/12

Vital Statistics:

  Last Change Percent
S&P Futures  1434.2 7.3 0.51%
Eurostoxx Index 2507.7 9.2 0.37%
Oil (WTI) 91.23 1.3 1.39%
LIBOR 0.36 -0.002 -0.55%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 79.74 -0.141 -0.18%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 1.64% 0.03%  
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 194.5 0.1  


Markets are higher this morning on speculation of further stimulus measures out of China, in spite of some lousy economic data. Bonds and MBS are down.

2Q GDP was revised down to +1.3% from +1.7%. Big revision downward. Durable goods slumped 13% on a decline in aircraft orders.  Revisions were down across the board. About the only bright spot was a drop in initial jobless claims to 359k.  While some might dismiss the drop in durables as just normal volatility, I would point out that Caterpillar has already warned.  Speaking of which, we are getting pretty close to pre-announcement season, when companies that are going to miss their quarter fess up to the Street.  

Yesterday’s report from the Commerce Department noted that sales of new single-family houses in August were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 373k, up 28% from Aug 11.  The shocking statistic from the report was that the median sales price of a new home was 257k, up 17% from a year ago. The homebuilders aren’t reporting price increases like that –  KB Homes said sales prices were up 5% YOY in their 3Q results, while Lennar reported a 4% price increase.  Is it perhaps that bigger houses are being sold now and that accounts for the increase?  Nope – McMansion builder Toll Brothers reported prices increased only 1%, and we all know that the remaining problems in the real estate market are at the high end, where it is cheaper to buy than build. And if prices really were increasing 17% YOY, housing starts wouldn’t be 750k, half of the 1959-2002 average run rate.  So something fishy is going on – perhaps Commerce is trying to put out good statistics to help Obama’s campaign and intends to quietly revise the numbers downward once he gets elected.

The first time homebuyer is still struggling to get involved in the real estate market.  The latest NAR Confidence Index Report showed that first time homebuyers were only 31% of all sales, much lower than their typical 40% share.  Tight credit and cash buyers account for the drop. Buyer traffic has jumped considerably over the past year, while seller traffic has remained flat. 


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