Friday, April 2, 2010

Running Commentary

Well I am home today to watch the installation of my brand new generator. It is fed off the main natural gas line so no need for fuel. Of course now that it is going in, the power will never go out!

I am not sure how much time I will have until I have to shut off the electricity as they do the wiring, but until then I always wanted to write a real time blog post. I will start off posting what I am watching today and update it all day. A running commentary if you will. Of course this could all get cut short if the power needs to be off, but I will give it a shot.

Jobs Number Release
Gotta love this headline:
March payrolls rise 162,000 on private hiring
162k jobs with 48k from the census hiring, which are private jobs!

Anyways, far short of my estimate for 11 million jobs created (kidding) but within estimates which ranged wildly (80k-350k). Markets are closed but I imagine a weekend of "jobs created, whooopppeeee!" should engineer a bull run for Monday.

Another Great Headline
Like this one:
Obama: US would go bankrupt without health changes
So glad that's all fixed now!

Big Picture
Econompic has a handy visual for the macro jobs picture:

I say things are improving.....smirk.

The Good and the Bad
Good run down from The Big Picture:
• Average Hourly Earnings of all employees NFP fell by 2 cents, or 0.1%.
• Unemployment rate is unchanged at 9.7% (no improvement this month)
• U6 Unemployment, the broadest measure, rose to 16.9% –that’s off of the December 2009 peak of 17.3, but higher than January (16.5%) and February (16.8%) of 2010.
• Long-term unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks+) increased by 414,000 to 6.5 million. (bad)
• 44.1 percent of unemployed persons were jobless for 27 weeks +. (Also very bad)
• Involuntary part-time workers increased to 9.1 million in March. (This remains a stubborn problem area)

• +162k is the best report since March, 2007.
• Average workweek was up by 0.1 hour to 34.0 hours in March.
• Temp help services added 40,000 jobs in March. That’s a cumulative add of 313k since September 2009.
• Census added “only” 48,000 workers — far below the 100-150k consensus. This pushes their hiring out into the rest of the year.
• Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate at 64.9% edged up in March
• Manufacturing continued to trend up (+17,000); Mfr added 45,000 jobs in Q1.
• Revisions: January 2010 data was revised upwards 40k (from-26k to +14k); February was revised up 22k (from -36k to -14k).

Good summary.

Good Read
Kid Dynamite points towards a great rant by Dean Baker which is well worth a few minutes. Best part:
"The Washington Post (aka Fox on 15th Street) once again proclaimed TARP a success. The cause for the latest revelry is the fact that the government appears to be in a position to make an $8 billion gain on the stock it holds in Citigroup. Before we join the Post in breaking out the champagne, it's worth taking a bit closer look at our investments in Citigroup...."

"In effect, the government's profit is entirely due to the value of the government's guarantee. In Washington Post land, the government could make money by buying shares of a company's stock, offering to guarantee the company's debt, and then selling our shares at a gain when the market recognizes the value of the government's guarantee. Of course this strategy provides much larger gains to the other shareholders and allows the top executives to score billions in bonuses for being such shrewd managers, but in Washington Post land they don't pay attention to such things."

Classic. What a messed up situation we have.

Random Musing
I was just thinking that with the terrible employment situation, housing issues, etc why is it that consumer spending is not far from highs and various other metrics show things "returning to normal"? Do we even need jobs anymore other than something to do? How does an economy work like this? Something is amiss or there are other factors at work.

Getting a Response
The bets way to generate traffic and discussion? It has to be either mega hottie ladys or music!

The "Ghost of Tom Joad" debate goes on here and over at TAE. The best remake ever done? Jimi Hendrix blows Bob Dylan away with "All Along the Watchtower" by far:

Anyone really think otherwise?

Speculation Elimination
I have always thought sports players should be paid at season's end based on their performance. This way you could avoid big contract guys from mailing it in.

Why can't the stock market be priced at every quarter end based on a set metric, whatever that is. Say company XXX made 2 dollars a share in Q1 and has 100 shares outstanding, the stock price would be set at $200. If they make 3 dollars a share at year end, the price is set at $300. No guess work, no games, and no casino gambling.

Oh, I answered my own question.

What Does This Mean?
Puzzler from Bloomberg:
Tax Receipts Rebound as 15 Biggest States See Gain
Sounds good, right? From the story:
The two-year slide in tax collections that opened a $196 billion gap in U.S. state budgets has stopped, easing pressure on credit ratings and giving leeway to lawmakers as they craft spending plans for next year.
I already have a bad feeling when the story leads this way. Next up:
The 15 largest states by population forecast a 3.9 percent gain in tax revenue in fiscal 2011, budget documents show. The 50 states on average may increase collections by about 3.5 percent, the first time in two years the figure is expected to grow, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s
So faced with credit rating issues and the spector of, GASP, budget cuts, the states now FORECAST tax revenue growth? Whatever, go with it:
California took in 3.9 percent more since December than projected in January, Controller John Chiang said this month. New York got $129 million above forecasts in its budget year through February, according to a report from Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. In New Jersey, the second-wealthiest state per capita, January sales-tax collections were 1.9 percent higher than a year earlier, the first annual increase in 19 months, forecasters said in a report last month.

“This time last year, we were sliding down a mountain,” said David Rosen, chief budget officer for the New Jersey Legislature. “I don’t think we are now; it’s stabilized.”
How's that view from the base of K2 buddy?

Yet another "awesome" report showing things getting better (?) after collapsing. We are fast approaching my target of S&P 500 1500 and DOW 14,000 with unemployment at 9% plus, no tax revenue, and waves of debt defaults. That is going to look peculiar, but pay that no mind.

Easy Button
I already have this weekend's reading gem via The Automatic Earth:
The Long and Short of Numbers
Ilargi: OK, so the BLS Establishment Survey Data say that in March, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 162,000 (quite a bit less than the consensus among "experts"). Not a terribly reliable or important number, if you ask me, but of course people will milk it for what they can. What strikes me is a number in the Household Survey Data:

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) increased by 414,000 over the month to 6.5 million.

That's almost 7% in one month, and that is downright scary. Of course, we've talked about this till the cows were home, fed, bathed, and left the barn again, but it still bears repeating that discussing US employment, for instance the initial jobless claims data, has become a futile exercise, if not an outright affront to the people, if the EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) numbers are not included.
As always, much more in the post and you should read it. Is anyone really not checking that site every day?

What Does it Take for the FHA to Say "No Mas" to Your Firm?
It looks like quite a bit to get the boot (via Housing Wire):
FHA Withdraws Approval of Two Mortgage Lenders
The story details some reasons:
The MRB alleges RSA misleadingly stated it was properly licensed by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance at the time the company submitted an application to FHA for lender approval.

Additionally, the MRB alleges that RSA submitted false or misleading information regarding the criminal conviction and sanction history of its owner and executive, Ramsey Suphi Agan. Specifically, RSA claimed company officials “are neither currently, nor have ever been, debarred, sanctioned, fined, convicted, denied approval, or refused a license by any State, Federal, or local government agency.” But HUD said it suspended and debarred Agan on at least two occasions and has two felony convictions.

HUD claims 1st Alliance engaged in prohibited branch arrangements, provided false certifications, failed to implement a quality control plan, and committed a number of other violations of HUD/FHA standards.

MRB alleges 1st Alliance used independent contractors to originate 708 loans from branch offices that were not true branches of the company and then falsely certified the contractors were full-time employees of the company. The MRB also claims 1st Alliance charged consumers “unallowable, excessive or duplicative loan processing and origination fees” and also failed to list fees paid outside of closing on HUD-1 Settlement Statements.
Wow! It takes all that to get booted from FHA funding? The best summary comes from the FHA themselves:
FHA commissioner David Stevens. “If any lender can’t operate within FHA’s guidelines, they can’t do business with us.”

It is hard to live up to those stringent standards.

This is the Business We Have Chosen! I Didn't Ask "Who is a Currency Manipulator!"
This stuff is so dumb I wish so much did not depend on it:
US To Defer China Currency Manipulator Decision, No Further Escalation Expected
As was expected in light of recent FX moderating overtures by Beijing, China will not find out if it is or is not a currency manipulator on April 15. The NYT reports that the decision from the Treasury will be deferred until after China President Hu Jintao visit Washington. "


I missed the time stamps on a few posts, sorry.


getyourselfconnected said...

re Joan Baez from last post;
I have had her on Friday night a few times, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" is one of may favorites.

I was just starting trouble with the Bruce-Rage poll on the Tom Joad song. How can you really pick a winner there, both great.

Best re-do ever?
"All Along the Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix putting Bob Dylan to shame.

Where is Watchtower by the way??

Anonymous said...

"Why can't the stock market be priced at every quarter end based on a set metric, whatever that is. Say company XXX made 2 dollars a share in Q1 and has 100 shares outstanding, the stock price would be set at $200. If they make 3 dollars a share at year end, the price is set at $300. No guess work, no games, and no casino gambling."

How the heck would that work? Say in 1995, you owned stock in a camera film company that was making money today (thus according to your model say $300 a share).

Say too that other companies had created a new technology, called digital photography which was taking hold, and sadly, your film company hadnt done any R&D on a competing product.

So according to your model, the market isnt allowed to speculate that while film company is making $$$ today, it may not be making $$$ tomorrow? You have to keep the price at $300 a share til it proves it starts losing money?

Say too that the digital company, despite holding a lockdown patent, hadnt yet turned a profit and was running in the red due to start up costs. According to your formula its stock would be worth $0 til the day it made money.

Furthermore, even if you could somehow "set" the price at $300 or $0, good luck trying to convince someone to BUY the film company stock at $300, or to convince someone to SELL the digital company stock at $0.

Like it or not, imperfect as it is, the market always finds a way to clear.

getyourselfconnected said...

great points and I made my statement ultra simple to start. The start up business up scenario you used was perfect, yeah my model would end all new business! Oops! Well good thing I am not emperor!

Still, I long for a more rigid way to price things to cut down on all the games.

GawainsGhost said...

Well, The Band's version of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" is the best in my opinion.

And, yes, Hendrix did improve on "All Along the Watchtower." Because he basically re-invented guitar playing.

So did Tony Iommi. This guy, on his last day of work at a steel factory before he quits to devote himself to music, get the tips of his fingers cut off by a saw!

Most people would have quit at that point. But Iommi made some plastic caps to put over the ends of his fingers and soldiered on.

It's one thing to learn to play the guitar. It's another thing to actually PLAY the guitar. But it's an entirely different thing to take the guitar and use it to invent a new form of musical expression. Which is exactly what he did. Imagine that. A 19-year old with plastic caps over his cut-off fingertips, by himself in a loft, invented heavy metal, with its hard chords and complex leads. (Actually it was heavy jazz, but that's beside the point.)

No one has ever done a cover of a Black Sabbath song and improved on it (because the guitar, bass and drums were too complex). While Randy Rhodes was a phenomenal guitar player, he was no Iommi. And he never would have made it without Ozzy, as good as his original stuff was. Not that I didn't admire his musicianship, you understand, but that he died young.

By the way, that's another great song I'd like to recommend. "Die Young," off of Heaven and Hell. Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Terrence Butler, Bill Ward, now that was a great album. I saw that tour, and it was incredible.

getyourselfconnected said...

Iommi gets little credit, often called a "riff player" and not a true artist. Well that bullsh$t!

GawainsGhost said...

Well, I'm left wondering whatever happened to art.

I mean, back in the day, Hank Williams was locked in a room by himself and told to write a hit song, before he could get a record contract.

The same is true for all the great bands of the late 60s and 70s. They had to perform live and pack stadiums to get another contract. That's the way it should be.

If you can't play it live, you can't play it. Period. It's all about entertaining the audience and rocking their world, in person.

Sad that so much of today's music is defined by video, which has been edited after multiple takes to provide the best image. Yeah, well, play it live. Then we'll know how good you are. And in most cases that's not very good.

All I know is this. The best bands I've seen could perform live. And their only interest was in putting on the best performance for the audience.

These days most bands put out a video they can't back up on stage.

It's sad. But then how is that really different from the stock market? Companies that put on a good face but can't perform. Just wondering.

getyourselfconnected said...

Live performance is the "mark to market" of music. "mark to myth" is the new era of albums with no tour.

GawainsGhost said...

It's not just a question of "no tour," it's a matter of inability to perform. So much for the modern market.

I saw some of the best bands of the late 60s and early 70s. By the 80s it was all on the decline. Thank you, MTV! "Video killed the radio star."

All of the real talent is in country music these days. Rock and roll is dead. I wouldn't pay a dime to see most of the bands today.

In fact, the last band I paid to see was ZZ Top. They were excellent. That was two years ago.

By the way, another interesting experiment is to compare Fleetwood Mac's "Green Manalishi" with Judas Priest's. The latter blows away the former, but those days are gone forever.

watchtower said...

I've been 'spring cleaning' my garage (before the really hot weather sets in) and trying to help my brother get his 40 year old Firebird in reliable enough shape to go to our local 'cruise in' tomorrow, what a nightmare.

Needless to say his car is not going to make it.


You should write a book on all your inside real estate knowledge.

getyourselfconnected said...

Seriously on the Gawains angle! I want to excerpt a bunch of it but it's too good!

good luck on the garage. What's wrong with the firebird? Answer in the next post, up in a minute or so.