Morning Report – Construction Spending falls 5/1/15

Stocks are higher this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are down. Most of Europe is closed for May Day.

Construction Spending fell .6% in March – another bad economic number. Residential Construction fell 1.6%, although we already knew that from the lousy housing starts number of 926k.

The ISM Manufacturing Survey was flat in April, coming in at 51.5. A reading of 51.5 would correspond to a GDP growth rate of about 2.6%. The comments suggest that conditions are good, and while the rise in the dollar is a headwind, it isn’t choking off growth. The West Coast port strike didn’t help either.

Consumer sentiment fell slightly in April, according to Reuters and the University of Michigan.

The European economy seems to be turning around. In fact, lending is expanding again. While it is very early days, it looks like the world economies are finally going in the right direction, and if so that will probably mark the end of the Great US Treasury Bull Market that began when Paul Volcker tightened to quell the inflation of the 1970s. Chart: US 10 year yield 1980 – present:

And of course, it probably means the end of the secular bear market in stocks that began in 2000.

The open question is whether the Fed can raise rates without crashing the markets.

18 Responses

  1. This was one of the ways obamacare was designed to fuck over non-obama voters. I am glad to see it go.

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  2. Let’s hope that this helps keep things calmer this weekend.

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  3. I see.

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  4. This is both hilarious and excellent

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  5. Can both the Obama admin and health insurance companies lose?

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  6. Several months back, neurosurgeon Ben Carson said “the fingers of God” were pressing him to run for President.

    
    I wonder what the fingers of God feel like to Dr. Carson?  Are they strong and firm?  Soft and caressing?  Perhaps they are more figurative then literal, but even then if they can be described as fingers the very sensation should have more nuance and detail to be shared with the rest of us who have not felt them.

    The fingers of God should be the focus of inquiry here.  Generations of believers have wondered in the darkness looking for a sign.  Hopefully, Dr. Carson’s fingers of God are not raised middle fingers.

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    • Mark:

      I wonder what the fingers of God feel like to Dr. Carson?

      Perhaps Dr. Carson should defer to your own response to questions about how you experience God.

      I have often said I would not try to describe my own personal experiences in this area as definitive for anyone else.

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      • Scott, that was a fair response – but perhaps if it is true for him he should not have called upon his own higher power as a public recommendation. You could take what he said as merely a casual declaration of a personal truth, but I would think that to be naive, in the world of political theater.

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        • Mark:

          Scott, that was a fair response – but perhaps if it is true for him he should not have called upon his own higher power as a public recommendation.

          He didn’t call on a higher power as a “public recommendation”. He was asked by the Christian Broadcast Network if he was feeling a “push from God” to run for president and he said “I feel fingers. But it’s mostly me. I have to be sure and it’s part of my personality that says always look before you leap but don’t leap before you have to.” That is a far cry from “God says you should vote for me for President”, which is what a “public recommendation” would be.

          He (like Sarah Palin before him, who was also gratuitously mocked for a similar sentiment) was simply articulating the obvious and common fact that religious people often seek, and think they have received, guidance from God.

          You once said:

          I want the God I believe in to guide humans to respect each other. I do rely on my belief to ask for personal guidance.

          I would have thought that if you believe in a God that can “guide” human beings, and you even ask for such personal guidance yourself, you would find it entirely plausible, not mock-worthy, that such a God might be in a position provide even the likes of Dr. Carson with guidance too.

          (BTW, have you ever received the guidance you’ve requested? If so, maybe you could share the nuance and detail of the feeling for those of us here who have yet to experience it.)

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        • re: fingers

          What we disagree about here is simply whether his answer was calculated, or whether it was an honest attempt to answer a very personal question on a public forum. We can agree to disagree about that – and I freely concede that I do not know which it was, and that I jumped to the conclusion of calculated pandering, as I would for any politician.

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        • Mark:

          What we disagree about here is simply whether his answer was calculated, or whether it was an honest attempt to answer a very personal question on a public forum.

          I suspect we disagree about several things, primarily that what he said, whether calculated or not, can reasonably be characterized as a “call upon his own higher power as a public recommendation”. In the context of both the question he was asked and his full answer (“But it’s mostly me”), the idea that he was proclaiming himself to be God’s candidate is, I think, obviously wrong. To think that that message (again, whether calculated or sincere) is what he intended to convey shows, I think, confusion about the way in which religious people, particularly Christians, talk about and understand calls from God to do this or that.

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        • To think that that message (again, whether calculated or sincere) is what he intended to convey shows, I think, confusion about the way in which religious people, particularly Christians, talk about and understand calls from God to do this or that.

          You have not spent much time with Evangelicals, I think. Announcing a call from God is in fact the ultimate argument from authority. There is no refutation possible to the man who feels the fingers of God.

          Nevertheless, it may have been said honestly and sincerely. That is the best spin I can put on it.

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        • Mark:

          There is no refutation possible to the man who feels the fingers of God.

          What kind of refutation is possible to the man who claims to be compelled to do something by any personal motivation? Imagine someone claims that his empathy for the poor has compelled him to seek higher office in order to do something about poverty. Is that refutable? Would you feel compelled to refute it?

          You say that announcing a call from God is the ultimate argument from authority, but in fact announcing a call from God is not any kind of argument at all. It is a claim of personal motivation. If I say that X is wrong because God says it is, that is an argument from authority. But if I say that I am going to do X because God wants me to, that is not any argument at all. That is an entirely personal claim, not some objective fact the truth of which can be debated.

          The problem here, I think, is that you are interpreting his claim to be motivated by God (to the small extent that he even made the claim) to be a claim of God’s endorsement. You take the leap from “God is pushing me to run for President” to “God wants you to vote for me.” That is a pretty big leap, and a wholly unjustified one as far as I am concerned, both given the context in which he said what he said and given what I know about how Christians talk about and what they mean by their personal relationship with God.

          As an aside, you also totally mis-characterize his use of the “fingers of God” phrase. You portray it as a strong claim about what God wants when in fact his use of “fingers” was actually meant to weaken the claim about what God wants. The questioner asked if he was being “pushed” by God to run for President. Instead of being “pushed”, he responded that he merely felt “fingers”, and that his primary motivation was himself, not God.

          There is a big difference between being asked “Why are you running for President?” and responding that “The fingers of God are directing me” and being asked “Is God pushing you to run for President?” and responding that “I feel fingers, but mostly it is just me.” The two are almost (not quite, but almost) diametrically opposed to each other.

          BTW, whether or not his response was sincere or politically calculated is totally irrelevant to what I say above. It holds true even if he didn’t really feel the fingers he claimed to feel.

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        • Your 6:55 AM CDT response was confusing at best.

          Absent the honesty vs. pandering argument, the refutation of a personal motive is simply that one doesn’t agree with the goal. Under a similar condition, the refutation of an announced, albeit a quiet, call from God carries the freight that one does not agree with God’s goal. Within that community God’s approval is no trifling matter.

          There is merely a difference of degree, and not of kind between being asked “Why are you running for President?” and responding that “The fingers of God are directing me” and being asked “Is God pushing you to run for President?” and responding that “I feel fingers, but mostly it is just me.”

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        • Mark:

          Under a similar condition, the refutation of an announced, albeit a quiet, call from God carries the freight that one does not agree with God’s goal.

          If I say that God wants me to run for President, what exactly do you think I am saying God’s goal is, with which you may or may not agree? How are you in any position to “refute” what I think God wants of me?

          There is merely a difference of degree, and not of kind between being asked “Why are you running for President?” and responding that “The fingers of God are directing me” and being asked “Is God pushing you to run for President?” and responding that “I feel fingers, but mostly it is just me.”

          They are so far apart in terms of degree that they are, as I said, almost diametrically opposed. One is a full-on embrace of the notion that God is calling him to run for president, and the other is a demurral from that notion. For goodness sake, what in the world do you suppose “…but mostly it is just me” is suppose to mean?

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  7. Sublime.

    http://acasignups.net/15/05/03/well-doesnt-sound-goodsp-sees-ppaca-risk-corridors-program-funding-gap

    It would cool if all the conspirators go under.

    A man can dream can’t he?

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  8. Maybe the fingers are squeezing off a few rounds taking umbrage at drawings of ihis alleged prophet?

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