Electoral vote predictions

Picking up on a comment by nova, here’s a link to a website where you can design your own electoral map. Then you can copy the URL into your comment for everyone else to see. Overall vote percentages, including minor party candidates, can be used as a tiebreaker.

If someone finds a better site to link, please add it into this post (or replace my link above).

Post Romney Options

To start the Romney campaign postmortems a little early, I’ll throw this out:

Romney was a horrible candidate for small government conservatives because everything he targeted in the budget for cuts was either insignificant symbolism (PBS) or what a majority of people consider a core government function (FEMA). That coupled with holding entitlements sacrosanct and increasing defense made his plans implausible to begin with.

No where in a Romney campaign speech was the fact that the average senior takes out three times as much as they have paid in to the entitlement system (here meaning Medicare & Social Security combined) and that is unsustainable. This campaign was not about making tough budget choices.

How Lifetime Benefits and Contributions Point the Way Toward Reforming Our Senior Entitlement Programs

However, the Republicans do have a candidate available to make this argument, and it’s Chris Christie. This piece from the NYTimes magazine is worth a reread:

“How Chris Christie Did His Homework
Mark Peterson for The New York Times
Published: February 24, 2011”

How Chris Christie Did His Homework

If anyone can sell entitlment reform, he can:

“Christie, it turns out, has a preternatural gift for making the complex seem deceptively simple. Last month I saw him hold forth at a town-hall meeting in Chesilhurst, a South Jersey borough of about 1,600. Chesilhurst is about half African-American, and I sensed more curiosity than enthusiasm among the racially mixed crowd as it flowed into the little community-center gymnasium. An unusually large number of folding chairs were empty. About 20 minutes after the program was supposed to start, there came over the loudspeakers the kind of melodramatic instrumental that might introduce a local newscast, or maybe an Atlantic City magic show, and in came Christie, taking his position in the center of the crowd. The theme of the week was pension-and-benefits reform, and in his introductory remarks, Christie explained the inefficiency in the state’s health care costs not by wielding a stack of damning statistics, as some politicians might, but by relating a story.

When he was a federal prosecutor, Christie told the audience, he got to choose from about 100 health-insurance plans, ranging from cheap to quite expensive. But as soon as he became governor, the “benefits lady” told him he had only three state plans from which to choose, Goldilocks-style; one was great, one was modestly generous and one was rather miserly. And any of the three would cost him exactly 1.5 percent of his salary.

“ ‘You’re telling me,’ ” Christie said he told the woman, feigning befuddlement, “ ‘that no matter which one I pick, the good one or the O.K. one or the bad one, I’m going to pay 1½ percent of my salary?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’

“And I said, ‘Then everyone picks the really good one, right?’ And she said, ‘Ninety-six percent of state employees pick the really good one.’

“Which led me to have two reactions,” Christie told the crowd. “First, bring those other 4 percent to me! Because when I have to start laying people off, they’re the first ones!” His audience burst into near hysterics. “And the second reaction was, of course I would choose the best plan,” Christie said, “and so would you.

“Now listen, I don’t think this is groundbreaking stuff,” Christie added. “I don’t think this means that instead of being governor, you know, I should be at NASA, working on the space shuttle. I’m no genius. Just seems to me that if you give people an option to get something for nothing, they’ll take it.” Scanning the nodding faces around me, it seemed there wasn’t a person in the gymnasium, at that point, who wouldn’t have voted to make state workers and teachers pay more for the better plan.”

What the @$%?! Disney buying ‘Star Wars’ maker Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion from George Lucas

Disney buying ‘Star Wars’ maker Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion from George Lucas
By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 4:37 PM

LOS ANGELES — Disney is paying $4.05 billion to buy Lucasfilm Ltd., the production company behind “Star Wars,” from its chairman and founder, George Lucas. It’s also making a seventh movie in the “Star Wars” series called “Episode 7,” set for release in 2015, with plans to follow it with Episodes 8 and 9 and then one new movie every two or three years.


Storm Fallout

Here in Maryland we seem to have escaped the brunt of Hurricane Sandy but with New Jersey and New York taking the greatest damage. I was living in West Palm Beach when Hurricane Andrew sliced through south Dade County, making it twice that I have been on the fringe of major storms.

Whenever I hear of hurricanes heading for New York I always think of the cautionary tale of the Citicorp Building where the structural engineer, through a series of propitious events, discovered that the building was susceptible to collapse under certain wind conditions. The New Yorker has one of the most succinct and lucid accounts of the event.

This resulted in a crash program to remediate the building’s structure which was successfully completed before any major storm struck the building. This one example is a cautionary tale about engineering professionalism. One should always do the right thing regardless of the consequences.

And no discussion of wind and structures is complete without a reference to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse which is shown in about every freshman engineering class ever.

Open post for storm and disaster stories:

Monday Open Thread 10/29/2012

On the off chance that Brent can’t do the morning report today due to the hurricane, here’s an open thread. Also, for those who haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the PBS Frontline episode on the 2012 election:



[A Woefully Inadequate] Saturday Football Thread (Week 9)

Ah, apparently Michi is not posting a football thread, and apparently I did not fully credit how much I enjoyed them.  Not sure which teams need to be tracked here, but if everybody would insert their teams into the post it would be appreciated.  For the ones I know about:

Not to play favorites, I think the top game this week is ND at OU.  It should be quite a game, although I don’t really get the spread (OU by 12) unless the perception is that Jones is getting in the groove at qb and the offense finally is gelling for OU.  Boomer Sooner!

UT is at KS.  KS is living by itself in the Big 12 cellar, so have to assume UT was favored but don’t have a spread.  KS was ahead much of the game but UT pulled it out in the last minute 21-17.  Tough year for the Horns.  Mark, any insight on what’s going on here?

MSU is at #25 WI (spread WI by 5.5).  Michi, this could be a big win for your guys.

USF hosts Syracuse this evening (spread USF by 3).  Mike, is this “your” team?

BYU will play soon at GT (spread GT by 2.5).

osu is favored by 1.5 at PSU.  Hope I’m wrong, but I think this one might be a snoozer.

#22 Michigan is at NE (spread NE by 1).  This might be a pretty good game.

Not sure who among us is an MN fan, but they host Purdue which is favored by 2.

In some other Top 25 games, #2 FL at #10 GA (spread FL by 6.5) and #14 Texas Tech at #3 Kansas State (spread KSU by 7.5) might be worth a watch.  And of course unbeatens #11 Miss St at #1 AL (spread Bama by 22.5); don’t think Miss St is the one destined to pull off the upset.

So who did I miss?

And who has a World Series report?

Morning Report 10/26/12

Vital Statistics:

  Last Change Percent
S&P Futures  1403.7 -4.5 -0.32%
Eurostoxx Index 2481.1 -2.3 -0.09%
Oil (WTI) 86.11 0.1 0.07%
LIBOR 0.313 0.000 0.00%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 80.18 0.138 0.17%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 1.78% -0.04%  
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 193.9 -0.1  

Markets are flat after a better than expected GDP report offset the earnings miss from Apple. Surprisingly, bonds and MBS are rallying on the GDP number. Not sure what to make of that.

3Q GDP came in at +2%, higher than the +1.8% expectation.  This is the “advance estimate,” which means the source data are still incomplete, so the number will be subject to two revisions.  Increases in consumption and government spending were offset by a drop in nonresidential fixed investment. 

The NAR is forecasting that home prices will increase by 3.25% in 2013 based on its survey of 50,000 real estate practitioners.  

If Obama wins re-election, Ed DeMarco’s days at FHFA are probably numbered. To overcome Republican opposition, he will probably be fired and replaced while Congress is in recess. He has continued to butt heads with the Administration over principal reductions for GSE loans.

The MR may be a casualty of Sandy next week.  Hopefully not.


Conservatives Are Easier to Disgust

Or, liberals are hard to disgust. At least, when using things traditionally considered disgusting:

Although I bet you could find that lefties had high levels of disgust towards Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and Ronald Reagan. 😉

Context, context, context.

I’m not that easy to disgust, but it’s not impossible. I guess that makes me a moderate.

Being reminded that you should wash your hands apparently makes people more conservative. There’s a strategy for the GOP moving forward. Forget these commercials about Romney and Obama and whatnot. Just start bankrolling PSAs that remind people to wash their hands!

Morning Report 10/25/12

Vital Statistics:

  Last Change Percent
S&P Futures  1413.5 8.2 0.58%
Eurostoxx Index 2500.1 9.5 0.38%
Oil (WTI) 86.63 0.9 1.05%
LIBOR 0.313 -0.001 -0.32%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 79.82 -0.091 -0.11%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 1.84% 0.05%  
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 194.1 -0.1  

Markets are stronger this morning after a strong durable goods report and a good UK GDP number. Initial Jobless Claims came in at 369k and last week was revised upward to 392k.  Capital Goods orders were flat. We had a slew of decent earnings reports this morning, and Apple will report after the close. Bonds are getting clocked on the durable goods number, with the 10 year down a point and mortgages down 10 ticks.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index came in flat, but the 3 month moving average is still negative, indicating the economy is growing below trend.  

The FOMC statement yesterday was more or less a rehash of the prior statement.  Bond Traders who were looking for the Fed to add Treasuries to the QE mix were disappointed. The Fed noted that household spending has been advancing, while growth in fixed business investment has slowed.  Today’s durable goods and capital goods reports bear that out.  

The global slowdown is causing another round of job cuts.  This time, it is more than just Wall Street as Ford, Dow Chemical, Colgate Palmolive, AMD, and HP are all cutting staff.  The number of announced job cuts in the last 2 months is the highest since 2010.

The government is going after Bank of America for the sins of Countrywide. Needless to say, the consumer groups are delighted.  Lenders warn that credit will become even tighter. Certainly the litigation risk will get passed onto borrowers through higher rates and fees. Barney Frank believes the government should lay off JP Morgan for the sins of Bear, and claims that the government asked BOA to buy Merrill, but not Countrywide.

Whatever happened to the San Bernardino eminent domain idea?  This was the plan that involved the county taking performing underwater mortgages from the banks and forgiving principal. It appears the firestorm of criticism has caused the county to quietly table the idea.

Speaking of foreclosures, ABC News has a depressing photo essay of the foreclosure crisis.

Morning Report 10/24/12

Vital Statistics:

Last Change Percent
S&P Futures 1411.8 5.0 0.36%
Eurostoxx Index 2489.5 11.6 0.47%
Oil (WTI) 86.67 0.0 0.00%
LIBOR 0.314 -0.001 -0.32%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 80.02 0.041 0.05%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 1.77% 0.01%
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 194.1 0.3

Stock index futures are stronger this morning after yesterday’s rout. Dow Chemical reported better than expected earnings in spite of a leaked memo that said the company was considering laying off 5% of its workforce. Facebook surprised to the upside by cracking the code on monetizing mobile. Mortgage aps dropped 12% last week.  The Markit PMI (a predictor of the ISM PMI) came in light, but still improved from Sep. Bonds and MBS are down small.

The FOMC rate decision is scheduled for 2:15 EST.  Historically the Fed has tried to stay out of the way this close to the election – in fact, the last announcement on QE (Infinity) was pushing it.  Which means the smart bet is going to be that this is a non-event.  That said, the Street is expecting some change – where the Fed adds Treasuries to its QE mix – so there is the possibility of market movement, especially MBS versus Treasuries. I wouldn’t want to be floating going into that announcement.

The FHFA House Price Index rose .7% in August, and is up 4.7% YOY.  This index covers only conforming mortgages, so it is less noisy than Case-Schiller or Radar Logic.

Freddie Mac’s latest US Economic and Housing Market Outlook expects QEIII to spark a further pick-up in housing activity, noting that housing has turned from a headwind to a tailwind for the economy. They are forecasting $2 trillion in originations this year, followed by a 15-20 percent contraction in 2013 as the refi boom plays out. They do worry about the fiscal cliff taking 2 percentage points out of GDP, although Obama is playing cat and mouse with the defense budget cuts, as he says one thing in the debates “cuts will not happen” and his advisers walk back the comments afterward. Elmer Fudd is quite concerned about the fiscal cliff as well.

Finally, Rob Chrisman gives you the data dump from the MBA Conference in Chicago.  Originators are adding capacity, the CFPB wants a flat fee for all mortgage originations, and the Street gets ticked when clients have the gall to check multiple dealers in order to get the best price on their TBA transactions.

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