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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hold The Mass Suicide!

Okay, the unemployment claims release looks relatively good (for a recession), and Treasury receipts show that small businesses are picking up. In particular, the jobs basis reported increased almost as much in the first quarter as it did last year.

Now if we only had presidential candidates who could add, the picture would be improving. Of course, we don't have that. I read McCain's economic speech and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. More on that later I guess.

Sorry for the light blogging, but I am very busy because the data is rolling in. I only have time for essentials!

In the spirit of assisting clueless liberal political campaign workers everywhere, I bring you the country-western plan for world peace and a deeper understanding of what those "bitter", prudish, religious "Guns, God and Gays" rural "values voters" in small towns across America are really all about. This is true boob power! Warning, this is not work-safe at all, and you guys will want to see the video. Keep a close eye on that audience! (Thank you, Lance!!!)

It is also why the US will never be conquered and freedom will continue to ring. The free men are too cheerful to be conquered, and the free women are having too much fun cheering up the free men to think of surrender.

For what it's worth, shortly after 9/11 a chain email about how to defeat terrorists was flying around GA banking circles. The assertion was that Islamic terrorists were not terrified of death, but they were terrified of nekkid women, so it was proposed that at Thursday at 7:00, all females should go out and stand nude, thus terrifying the Islamic terrorists right off our homeland. If I am understanding Shrinkwrapped's Arab Mind series correctly, GA bankers are not that far off the mark.

Hmmm... I'm not sure this plan is workable. If red-blooded American men came to believe that terrorist attacks would lead to nude women standing around, I don't think I'd feel too safe!
Though I am not saying I am necessarily *against* trying the plan out anyway.

In the interests of homeland security, of course.
MoM,Another example of healthy people who do not take themselves too seriously.Our language has been so degraded over the years that the meaning of the words "liberal" and "conservative" lack much meaning.Barry Goldwater was considered the Arch conservative when I first started following politics in 1960,and he was far more liberal than any of the major "liberals"of today.I think that the concentration of the MSM is much to blame for the corruption of "public" discourse,and the growth of the internet is beginning to counter that.As far as Muslims being terrified of women,and their bodies,yes they are,and so are the tight assed hypocrites of the right and the left.People of a Totalitarian bent are always afraid of sexuality,and apalled by humor,their fear and compulsion to control the world bar them from any honest joy.And it doesn't matter whether they claim to be Liberal or Conservative,their actions and reactions are the same,fear based and controlling...can YOU imagine any of our candidates for prez admitting that titties fun and that humans are inherently rediculous and unpredictable?
MoM I appreciate the links,as usual.As a card carrying Liberal(It says "NRA Member")I particularly enjoyed the CW Video.After viewing it several times to obtain a better idea of the audience demographics I am sure that I saw Maria Bartiromo's face about a third of the way through before it was obscured by a t shirt.Can you confirm this? Tom Stone.
Maria Bartiromo... LOL! Tom that was classic.

US politics has gotten so liberal since 1960 that JFK could not possibly win the Republican nomination today.

The Party Party versus the Apathy Party versus the TaTa Party in '08.

MoM, that video... thanks.
Frank - take a leap of faith, man. For your country. This is patriotism IN ACTION. It's not that terrorist attacks lead to flashing - it's that flashing prevents terrorists from functioning! What would happen if the TSA employed this strategy as part of their psychological profiling? Huh? What about that? At the very least people would bitch less about the lines!

Anon - I totally agree that tight-assed totalitarians of the right and left seem to be converging. Yes, they ARE afraid of normal human beings and normal human interactions. Humor and sex combined are our best weapons against the Spanish inquisition!

Instead of the "faith forum" or last night's dysfunctional debate, I would like to have had this video played unannounced and the candidate's reactions recorded on video. There is something wrong with a man who doesn't look happily enthused and a woman who doesn't laugh out loud at this video. Of course I am tolerant so if Hillary looked happily enthused I would accept that as well.

Regarding the important question of Maria - let's at least give her the benefit of the doubt and **claim** that she would stand up for world peace and homeland security!
I am at work, so haven't watched the video yet.

I am not sure I'd want to take Dr. Melissa Clouthier too seriously - anybody who actually links to Ann Coulter can't be "all there". Coulter is just vile.
Considering that the 9/11 terrorists spent significant time at strip clubs before the attacks, I just don't think the GA banker plan would work, somehow.

The best defense against terrorism is not being afraid.
The video is a hoot and we had a good laugh! Nothing like a little fun! :-)
Viola - I laughed very hard myself. Hooting for hooters!
Joy - they do that because dying for the cause wipes out all sins according to the Koran, so the pre-suicide indulgence locks them into dying for the cause now and going to heaven, or living and going to hell later.

And if you really meant "The best defense against terrorism is not being afraid" to be a complete statement, you are not in contact with reality. I'm sure you didn't, though. I'm sure you meant "not being afraid enough to stop normal life while setting up precautions and defenses sufficient to cut the danger as far as possible".
No, actually I meant "not being afraid." Of course reasonable precautions against politically motivated violence are necessary no matter where they come from, but we have as a society gone way overboard in the "fear" direction when it comes to terrorism. The beautiful town where I work is now junked up with these hideous fences around Federal property, one of which is apparently to keep a *library* safe forcryingoutloud.

This "Arab mind"/naked women nonsense is just some fancy shmancy way of saying that since Arabs don't have the word "madonna" in their cultural vocabulary, they don't use the phrase "madonna/whore complex." But the attitude that female sexuality is disturbing (or dirty) and must be controlled by men is present in most societies to some extent. Would a parade of naked women freak them out? Maybe. But it would most likely just reinforce to them how decadent and evil our culture is and must be destroyed.

Anyway, I really enjoy your blog. You make me think, and when I think I argue. I hope you don't mind.
No, I think we need MORE argument not less. Argue away!

The reason our government does things like propose Foreclosure Prevention Acts that PAY for foreclosures is because there isn't enough real debate.

Most of the US electorate has decent levels of common sense and is rather moderate. The so-called culture wars really aren't there (which is one reason why I posted the video). A lot of "discussion" is really about fake issues, and I believe it's done to some extent to avoid discussion of the real issues.

We'll get bad government until people get more involved in the basic issues. I have yet to see any GOP or DEM forum or blog that really believes paying for foreclosures is a good idea!

Now the banks.... A government by, for and of the banks is not my idea of a good government.
Oh - and regarding those security projects, I think that became something of a boondoggle like the Bridge to Nowhere.
The reason our government does things like propose Foreclosure Prevention Acts that PAY for foreclosures is because there isn't enough real debate.

And this happens because these ever-fundraising political creatures are bought and sold by moneybags so large that even the common people who vote for them don't have much say in the matter. The "watch the hot-button-issue" game is played to distract the distractable part of the public (someone, after all, must be energized by these culture war type issues) so the slimery can continue.

I'm depressed now...
But Mom, comparing the April 11, 2008 Daily Treasury Statement figures against those of April 12, 2007 (which we have to do because 2008 is a leap year), we see on the revenue side that YTD Federal Unemployment Taxes are up only 0.2% YOY (less than population growth), Excise Taxes are down 1.3%, Postal Service Money Orders and Other are down 2.6%, and Deposits by States, Unemployment are down 5.9%, while on the outlay side Unemployment Insurance Benefits are up 14.6%.

Doesn't look all that rosy to me.
jm - the bigger pop is in the last few months, and in fact FUT was going down YoY for about two years previously. This is a better trend. Also it appears to be accelerating into the spring.

Small businesses are doing relatively well.
jm - I just realized how inscrutable that may have sounded. I put a lot of work into creating a db of Treasury receipts that I sift to try to pick up various trends. For example of the surprising, indeed amazing, strength this year compare March 31, 2008 and March 30, 2007. FUT is up over 10% on the month YoY, and that is in the face of declining construction.

The significance of April data is that it is dominated by quarterly filings and so is more of a small business signal.

I expect the FUT increases to tail off now, because construction runs at a much higher relative pace after March.

One of the nicest aspects of the Treasury data is that because of the difference in filing schedules between large and small businesses, you can get an early read on how they are doing without waiting endlessly for B.E.D updates.

Anyway, the very strong CIT receipts in April seem to show that some smaller businesses are doing very well indeed.

No one sends in taxes they don't owe. Call it a reality check. Granted, there is a tremendous amount of work involved in dealing with the Treasury receipt data, but once you put that work in it seems to give very solid results.

Furthermore, these don't stand alone but are supported by freight volumes and shipment/inventory ratios.

The difficulties on the consumer side of the economy are substantial, but we are clearly well out from the trough in production. Now we wait for ROW weakness and its impact; there is likely to be a new patch of weakness developing late 2008 or early 2009.
MoM, I love you even when we disagree -- you're a really serious person searching for the truth, who quotes real data, really thoroughly analyzed.

Your observations are extremely interesting, as they're not very consistent with the most recent NFIB report on small business conditions, which says things like, "The Index of Small Business Optimism fell 3.3 points in March to 89.6 (1986=100), the lowest monthly reading since the monthly surveys began in 1986 and the lowest reading since the second quarter of 1980 when it was 80.1."

A while back you speculated that perhaps some of the apparent strength in FUT might be due to people taking second jobs. I wonder whether another factor might be people who were formerly self-employed in realty and construction becoming employees? Not only is there anecdotal evidence of this, reasoning from first principles, what else are they going to do?

I, too, have noted the relatively strong income tax receipts. As you note, no one pays taxes they don't have to. Are changes in the nature of employment reducing the number of people working off the books, at the same time income is rising for people on the books? Last time I looked at Social Security revenue increase vs. income tax increase I saw definite signs of stagnation in the income subject to FICA relative to that not.
jm - I know - I've been watching small business surveys with great attention - and I have been completely surprised by April Treasury receipts. It's causing my eyes to rotate in my head a la The Exorcist. My tentative hypothesis is that we are seeing harder times at consumer services businesses and very strong growth in a segment of services businesses related to production.

I believe that part-time service hires could be causing some of the FUT rise. I also believe that replacement of illegal workers with legal workers might have an impact. However that would not be entirely a false economic signal, because a replacement of established workers who spend most of their income internally instead of remitting a lot of it out of the country would in fact be a stimulus.

Daily Treasury receipts are even harder to compare this year than normal because last year the real tax deadline was the 17th.

Still, these CIT figures!!! I'm as surprised as anyone.

CIT is beginning to recover in FL, though. I saw strength in some mfrg-related counties in the midwest later in 2007. I wasn't sure if it was last car syndrome or real growth then.

The US economy is remarkably dynamic and complex in the way it responds to changing conditions. It will always surprise honest observers. It's an ongoing course in humility for me.
MoM. by the CIT figures I assume you mean Corporation Income Taxes. Comparing 4/17/08, two days past individual income tax filing this year, against the same calendar day of '07, against the same serial day of '07 (4/18, due to '08 leap year), and the same day relative to tax filing day of '07 (4/19), I see:

Corporation Income Taxes
04/17/07 MTD: 46,993 FYTD: 214,199
04/18/07 MTD: 47,271 FYTD: 214,477
04/19/07 MTD: 47,398 FYTD: 214,604

04/17/08 MTD: 47,299 FYTD: 203,340

So I see no strength in '08 even month-to-date, and the fiscal-year-to-date figure is quite disappointing. Or is that what you meant by surprising?

The strangeness of some of these numbers in and of itself has me worried.
They were way, way worse on a YoY basis earlier. That's what is so surprising - that there is so much relative improvement now.

March MTDs showed relative improvement for FY 2008 to date, but YoY they still were bad:
2007: 43,315
2008: 37,627

2007: 7,917
2008: 4,560 (including extra day)

2007: 12,473
2008: 10,146

You really have to take Jan/Dec as one period here. I usually work with 2 & 3 month rolling averages for overall trend, but of course you can't do that when you are trying to figure out the quarterly filing trend.

CIT numbers can be erratic and have to be used with caution, because sometimes a large company will settle a dispute and send in a big payment, which blows numbers for the period up. Generally the quarterly pulse is more reliable.

The Rockefeller Institute state CIT data, although delayed, can help you correct because it's by region.
Oh, and on the MTD for April you really want to compare the pulse where most of the big payments show up. The daily doesn't mean that much, and if you want to adjust for days you need to use business days so far in the month.

The 17th of April in 2008 is the 13th business day, whereas the 17th of April in 2007 is the 12th business day. So we really need to wait for a few more days to get a past pulse good comparison point.

You most definitely wouldn't compare 4/17 this year to 4/18 last year. You could compare 4/18 of both years, or 4/19/07 to 4/18/08.

For example, on 4/15/2008 CIT payments were 41,543, and for 2007 it went:
April 13: 3,652
April 16: 18,407
April 17: 23,521

The normal pulse was distributed over a few days due to the weird filing date.
Thanks for the tips on Rockefeller CIT and the historical character of the pulse, MoM!
I just thought of something that I hadn't considered in the PA vote. (This likely has to do with the Truthers I've been listening to on another list.) Flight 93 went down in Shanksville, Somerset county. They went 71% for Hillary. I wonder just how much of the PA vote for Hillary had 9/11 in mind.
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