UNEXPECTEDLY: US Factory Orders Post Surprise Fall in April.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Unemployment Rate Rises to 8.2%. “American employers in May added the smallest number of workers in a year and the unemployment rate unexpectedly increased as job-seekers re-entered the workforce, further evidence that the labor-market recovery is stalling.”
Unexpectedly! More: “The dismal jobs figures could fan fears that the economy is sputtering.” Ya think?
UPDATE: “This is just brutal no matter how you look at it. But how can these ‘experts’ and ‘economists’ be so far off in their forecasts? Not even half of what they expected.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Dan Mitchell: “At best, the results are mediocre. The unemployment rate generally gets the most attention, and that was bad news since the joblessness rate jumped to 8.2 percent. What makes that number particularly painful is that the Obama Administration claimed that the unemployment rate today would be less than 6 percent if the so-called stimulus was adopted. But as you can see from the chart, squandering $800 billion on a Keynesian package hasn’t worked.”
He continues: “Sort of makes you wonder whether there’s a lesson to be learned. Maybe, just maybe, bigger government means weaker economic performance.” Ya think?
Related: “The May jobs numbers are putrid.”
UNEXPECTEDLY! Consumer confidence in the economy plunged in May.
UNEXPECTEDLY! Index of U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Falls 0.1%.
POLITICO: Obama’s Wall Street Problem. “The giant $2 billion trading loss at JPMorgan Chase highlights a central problem in President Barack Obama’s case for a second term: Four years after the financial crisis nearly brought the nation to its knees, very little appears to have changed. . . . And now one of the largest banks in the United States, headed by a Democrat and operating with government guarantees, has turned in the kind of headline-grabbing, casino-style style loss that drives voters crazy and that Obama’s financial reform bill was supposed to stop.” Unexpectedly.
Plus this: “The guy in the street in 2008 and 2009 was worried about his or her deposits, and now it’s clear they should still be worried.”
UNEXPECTEDLY: U.S. Biofuel Mandates Looking Unrealistic. “In 2007, Congress vastly overestimated the government’s ability to create a market for cellulosic biofuels, which remain much more expensive to produce than corn ethanol. There was no commercial production of cellulosic fuel in 2010 or 2011—even though the 2007 law originally called for 100 million and 250 million gallons, respectively, for those years (the requirements were subsequently scaled back to around 6.5 million gallons for each year). The chart above shows the actual biofuel production, so far, compared to future mandates.”
UNEXPECTEDLY! GOV. JERRY BROWN SAYS CALIFORNIA FACING HIGHER-THAN-EXPECTED $16 BILLION BUDGET SHORTFALL:
California’s budget deficit has swelled to a projected $16 billion — much larger than had been predicted just months ago — and will force severe cuts to schools and public safety if voters fail to approve tax increases in November, Gov. Jerry Brown said Saturday.
The Democratic governor said the shortfall grew from $9.2 billion in January in part because tax collections have not come in as high as expected and the economy isn’t growing as fast as hoped for. The deficit has also risen because lawsuits and federal requirements have blocked billions of dollars in state cuts.
How come the Red Queen’s Race only seems to happen in the bluest of regions?
UPDATE: Speaking of the Red Queen’s Race, “The History of Stockton: Chapter Nine.”
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: The Chinese economy “unexpectedly” slows.
HOW THE FELON WON: Charles Mahtesian of the Politico on Keith Judd’s “unexpectedly” strong showing on Tuesday:
Whatever other forces may be at work in the Appalachian opposition to Obama — the role of race has been debated since his 2008 run — it’s clear the administration’s energy policies played a big role in the president’s lackluster performance.
Locally, it’s referred to as “the war on coal.”
Looking at the map, Judd’s strongest support came from southern West Virginia’s coal country, close by the Kentucky border.
The five coal counties that voted against Obama Tuesday also voted for Hillary Clinton by landslide margins in the 2008 primary.
That cluster includes the place that might be described as the epicenter of the Obama resistance: Mingo County.
Known as “Bloody Mingo” for its storied history of labor unrest and bloodshed surrounding the coal mining industry – the acclaimed John Sayles movie “Matewan” was based on events there in 1920 – the county disliked Obama even before he was elected president.
Clinton defeated him in there 88 percent to 8 percent, one of Obama’s worst primary drubbings in the nation in 2008. This time around, Mingo delivered what is certainly the president’s worst county-level defeat in 2012 – the inmate defeated the incumbent 60 percent to 40 percent.
Huh — can’t imagine why:
BITTER CLINGERS, REDUX: “To Explain Obama’s WV Humiliation, Dems Accuse Their Own of Racism,” John Nolte writes at Big Government.
But this isn’t anything new — Obama’s bitter clingers Kinsleyesque gaffe was aimed at Pennsylvania Democrats voting for Hillary in the April 2008 primary. As was concurrent talk from his fellow Democrats, such as film director Nora Ephron, who wrote at the Huffington Post in April of 2008 in a screedy post titled “White Men,” that “This is an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I don’t mean people, I mean white men.”
“Unexpectedly,” the election of President Obama has done little to calm the rage that seems to lurk just underneath the surface of much of the left.
OBAMA LOSES WEST VIRGINIA DELEGATES TO PRISON INMATE — Unexpectedly! “An obscure federal prison inmate gave President Obama an unexpected run for his money in the West Virginia Democratic Primary Tuesday, highlighting the deep dislike for the president in the Appalachian heartland.”
UPDATE: “Did Joe Manchin (D-WV) vote for prison inmate Keith Judd in today’s primary? He refuses to say if he voted for Obama.”
UNEXPECTEDLY: GDP Growth Comes In At Only 2.2%. More here. “Politically speaking, this makes the White House’s ‘we’re on the right track’ argument a little more difficult to make. A 2.2% GDP rate won’t be a disaster on the stump, but the trend is going once again towards another Stagnant Spring. If it gets revised downward in the next two months, Obama will have a tough time talking about the economy. Expect a lot of discussion of dog carriers and condoms in the weeks ahead.”
Plus: “Last week’s 386K number was revised to 389K, meaning the massive miss relative to expectations of 370K last week just got even worse. This is the 10th week in a row of misses to the weaker side and the 16th of the last 18.”
THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: U.S. Previously Owned Home Sales Unexpectedly Fell in March.
SPEAKING OF UNEXPECTEDLY: Republican Committee Makes Big Turnaround on Fund-Raising. “With the divisive and drawn-out Republican primary season moving toward a close, the committee reported more money in the bank at the start of last month than the Democratic National Committee, which raised about $137 million during the same period but also spent far more.” How is the DNC managing to spend so much more when there’s no primary, and no general election campaign yet? High overhead? Or are they doing something I haven’t noticed?
UNEMPLOYMENT DROPS TO 8.2% DESPITE UNEXPECTEDLY FEW NEW JOBS. “The drop in the unemployment rate, to the lowest level since January 2009, reflected a drop in the labor force. The separate household survey, from which the jobless rate is derieved also showed a drop in employment.”
UNEXPECTEDLY: Case-Shiller home price index falls. “Home prices in the U.S. fell for the fifth month in a row in January to the lowest level since early 2003, a closely followed index showed on Tuesday. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index fell 0.8%. The three-month rolling index includes transactions that took place from November to January. Over the past 12 months, prices have dropped 3.8%.”
THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: New Home Sales Unexpectedly Slip 1.6% in February.
UPDATE: Plus this: China factories falter, euro zone business wilts. And: “Memphis, Tennessee-based FedEx Corp (FDX.N), whose delivery service spans the globe, included a warning with its earnings report issued on Thursday that tepid economic growth was causing it to scale back its outlook for the rest of this year.”
UNEXPECTEDLY: Developing World Success Shocks Economists.
2012 a Republican year? All I know is that even if Obama ends up losing every state, the press coverage will make him sound invincible right up until it happens, “unexpectedly.”
THE REAL NEWS HERE IS THAT PEOPLE ARE USING GOOGLE+! Chinese Netizens Flood Obama’s Google+ Page:
Google+ — the US Internet giant’s social networking site — has been unavailable in China since it was launched last year, apparently blocked by the nation’s strict censorship system, dubbed “the Great Firewall of China.”
But over the past few days, Chinese netizens say they have unexpectedly managed to get onto the site, and have decided to concentrate their presence on Obama’s page.
“Many people don’t understand the meaning why all Chinese are coming here. We envy American people their democracy and freedom!” one netizen said in English under Obama’s latest posting about his campaign’s bumper stickers.
The comments centre on freedom of expression and human rights, as well as more mundane issues such as how to get US green cards.
“We are not barbaric people, we are just suppressed,” one netizen wrote, while others called on the US president to “come and liberate China.”
Sorry, folks, but Iran is next on the list, I believe.
CLIMATE-CHANGE CHANGE: Global Warming Engine Unexpectedly Slows.
THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: Sales of U.S. New Homes Unexpectedly Decline in December. “Sales of new U.S. homes unexpectedly declined in December for the first time in four months, capping the slowest year on record for builders.” And note that November was revised down.
NOT EXACTLY “UNEXPECTEDLY:” AP calls New Hampshire for Romney.
“Old tea-party goal: Stop Romney from winning the nomination. New tea-party goal: Stop Romney from winning all 50 primaries. Heart-ache,” Allahpundit quips at Hot Air, with a round-up of early results. What is unexpected is the truly dismal showing from Rick Perry. Only one percent?
JOBLESS RATE DROPS UNEXPECTEDLY. The folks at ZeroHedge say it’s because of workforce shrinkage, and suspect chicanery at the BLS. I should note that I’ve looked into the chicanery issue, and folks who worked there under Bush don’t think there’s any funny business going on now.
Meanwhile, James Pethokoukis explains why it’s better but still terrible.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Weekly Jobless Claims Jump Back Over 400,000 Mark. “Claims for unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose last week, climbing past the psychologically important 400,000 mark as the jobs market showed signs of more weakness. . . . Applications would need to stay below 375,000 consistently to push down the unemployment rate significantly. They haven’t been at that level since February.” Unexpectedly! And note that, as usual, the previous week’s number was revised upward.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Economic Growth Just 2%, Well Below Earlier Estimate. Unexpectedly!
THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEKEND, if you were out, you know, having a life or something:
My Sunday New York Post column: Government inflated the college loan bubble, but Obama isn’t fixing it.
Now online: Video of my keynote speech at the Harvard Law School constitutional-convention conference. All the conference video is collected here.
An epic population bomb fail.
Dartmouth’s diversity problem.
Hennepin County prosecutor gets it right.
More on the $10,000 college degree. Why aren’t Rick Perry’s proposals getting more attention?
In California, a rural rebellion is brewing.
The Livestrong App wins a fan.
I asked Michael Walsh if there was anything I could do for him after his heart surgery, and he said to plug his new novel, Shock Warning. Authors.
UNEXPECTEDLY! The debt fallout: How Social Security went ‘cash negative’ earlier than expected. “Now, Social Security is sucking money out of the Treasury. This year, it will add a projected $46 billion to the nation’s budget problems, according to projections by system trustees. Replacing cash lost to a one-year payroll tax holiday will require an additional $105 billion. If the payroll tax break is expanded next year, as President Obama has proposed, Social Security will need an extra $267 billion to pay promised benefits.”
Has anybody looked in Al Gore’s “lockbox?”
UNEXPECTEDLY! Why Economic Models Are Always Wrong. “If you had to readjust the constant in Newton’s law of gravity every time you got out of bed in the morning in order for it to agree with your scale, it wouldn’t be much of a law. But in finance they just keep on recalibrating and pretending that the models work.”
Of course, if the models are always wrong, that’s a good argument for leaving things to markets, instead of having regulators — whose models are always wrong, remember — trying to run things.
UNEXPECTEDLY: Consumer confidence tumbles, home prices stagnate. “Consumer confidence unexpectedly dropped to its lowest level in two-and-a-half years in October, while house prices were unchanged at low levels in August, suggesting the consumer is still struggling.”
UNEXPECTEDLY! Netflix Customer Loss Worse Than Forecast.
THIS MUST BE THE RESULT OF SOME OF THAT “SMART DIPLOMACY” WE WERE PROMISED: New Libyan Leader To Introduce “Radical” Islamic Law. “Mr Abdul-Jalil’s decision – made in advance of the introduction of any democratic process – will please the Islamists who have played a strong role in opposition to Col Gaddafi’s rule and in the uprising but worry the many young liberal Libyans who, while usually observant Muslims, take their political cues from the West.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mark Shelden emails: “Hey, did you catch the ‘more radical than expected’ from the headline?” Another case of bad things happening unexpectedly!
UNEXPECTEDLY! Inflation Pressures Intensify as Producer Prices Jump Higher. “U.S. producer prices rose more than expected in September to record their largest increase in five months as gasoline prices surged, a government report showed on Tuesday.”
UNEXPECTEDLY! California revenues down by $705 million. “Revenues flowed into state coffers at a lower rate than projected in September, short about $302 million, putting California a total of $705.5 million below expectations for the first three months of the fiscal year.”
“DREADFULLY BAD:” Consumer Credit Unexpectedly Fell In August By Most In Over A Year. “This is the biggest drop MoM since April 2010. More surprising is that we just saw the first drop in non-revolving credit in a year: since this is credit that goes out for car purchases and school loans, is either of these two bubbles (student loans and GM subprime loans) about to pop?”
NOT-SO-GREAT EXPECTATIONS: US Factory Orders Fell Unexpectedly in August.
METRICS: Turns Out, The South Is A Pretty Nice Place To Live. “The advantages of the South — especially the advantages of the 21st century South — are less well known (and, somehow, Southern coastal cities are frequently overlooked as major cities). Oh, there are books and TV shows, songs and movies about Dixie — but, as Habeeb points out, they’re often misleading caricatures or dwell too heavily on the South’s past. Little has been done to update the popular image of the region, which is now economically inviting and culturally reassuring — perhaps because those who spin popular images, from the president to junior reporters, haven’t taken the time to really understand the South for themselves. That happens to be Habeeb’s thesis.”
To be honest, we’d rather word didn’t get out. Stay away! In fact, I need to point this out: The South is a cultural desert, across which ride Klansmen on horseback and NASCAR fans in F350 Dually pickups. The cultural center is Wal-Mart, and the occasional tailgater before a lynching. Gunshows are disdained as the domain of pointy-headed intellectuals, because they also sell books. No, really, that’s all true — stay away! For the love of God, stay away!
UPDATE: Reader Phil Manhard emails: “I wish to add that we have fire ants, sinkholes, red tide, shark attacks, huge and regular brush fires, sandspurs, sunburn, hurricanes (though, unexpectedly!, none in the last couple of years). Yes, for the love of God, stay far away!”
And the chiggers. Beastly critters you want no part of. Stay in Massachusetts!
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): August home building fell 5 pct., slide continues. “Construction fell to its lowest levels in 50 years in 2009, when builders began work on just 554,000 homes. Last year was not much better and this year is shaping up to be just bad.”
Unexpectedly! “Housing starts fell more than expected in August as groundbreaking for both single-family and multi-family units dropped, suggesting the economy will not get help from residential construction anytime soon.”
SOCIAL SCIENCE CONUNDRUMS: Violent Crimes Drop 12%, Reason Unknown; In Other News, Record Number of Americans Carrying Concealed Weapons. Unexpectedly!
UPDATE: A North Carolina report.
UNEXPECTEDLY: Jobless Claims Post Surprise Increase. “The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose unexpectedly last week in a sign concerns about a weak economy were sapping an already beleaguered labor market, data showed on Thursday.”
Related: Gallup: Unemployment Is Now Top Issue. “Asked which political party they thought would better handle the problem they considered the most important, 44 percent chose the Republican Party and 37 percent picked the Democratic Party.”
UNEXPECTEDLY! — ELECTRIC CAR EDITION: Mitsubishi raises price of all-electric i by an “unforeseen” $1,135.
UNEXPECTEDLY: “NO ONE expects rising unemployment claims! Their two main weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency!” And an almost fanatical devotion to the narrative. Wait . . . .
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): New jobless claims rise to 414,000 last week. “New U.S. jobless claims rose unexpectedly last week, further evidence of a weak labor market just hours before President Barack Obama delivers a major address to Congress on the issue.” Unexpectedly!
I can’t find the link now, but somebody was criticizing this feature a while back as “juvenile.” Well, I am quite deliberately rubbing it in, as the ridiculously inflated expectations for Obama are regularly and repeatedly exposed as . . . ridiculously inflated. But what’s really juvenile is expecting that an inexperienced former community organizer could successfully execute the office of President of the United States. And if I’m peeing all over the wave of hope-and-change hype that got him into office despite his obvious unsuitability, it’s to help ensure that nothing this disastrous happens again in my lifetime. I realize that it’s painful for those who fell victim to the mass hysteria to constantly be reminded of their foolishness, but I hope it’ll be the kind of pain that results in learning. . . .
UPDATE: Prof. Stephen Clark emails:
Many all too willingly wanted to follow the piper and now that it’s proven to have been a disastrous choice, would prefer that all that was forgotten. Well, no it shouldn’t be. Votes matter, and their gullibility, or pursuit of easy absolution, or confirmation of some imagined moral superiority in support of the President’s election has led to the disaster we now face. Many among these people, in particular those with a public voice, bear a large measure of responsibility for having brought us to this point. What is truly juvenile is that among many of these same people there exists a continued denial of the reality we face and of their role in helping to bringing it about.
Indeed. Which is why I continue to rub it in.
THE RISE OF Group Dating? “I admit, when my girl friends and I first met our Grouper guys, we agreed we wouldn’t have been interested in them if we had just seen them out at a bar. But halfway into our first round of drinks, we were amazed at how smart, funny, and interesting they turned out to be! It was an unexpectedly awesome night, and this was exactly Guo and Waxman’s intention.”
NICK GILLESPIE: Obama’s Jobs Program: If the Choice is Between “Go Big or Go Home,” Start Packing Now. Key bit: “All we’ve got—and all we’ve had for way too long—is uncertainty. Market uncertainty is beyond politicians’ control. But political certainty? That’s their job.”
UPDATE: Unexpectedly! “The Obama administration now says U.S. unemployment could persist at its current stubbornly high level around 9% well into 2012. . . . Administration officials said they downgraded their projections for economic growth and employment largely because of recent unexpected weakness in the U.S. economy, particularly ongoing turmoil in the housing market and slackening demand for exports.”
As Nick Gillespie notes above, despite their handwaving in the general direction of the Japanese earthquake, etc., the big problem is regime uncertainty brought about by their endless hare-brained schemes to transfer money from the productive sectors to their cronies. That’s caused employers to hunker down, quite reasonably, in fear of what might come next.
In other words, when they say “unexpected” they really mean “we didn’t expect that we’d be able to screw up the economy so badly.”
JIM GERAGHTY: Expect The “Unexpectedly:” In The Obama Era, Bad News Has Always Surprised The Media. “A healthy dose of partisanship.”
I’ve also noticed that when the Dow rises by 200 points after dropping 500, reports say that it has “surged” or “bounced back.” If you didn’t pay close attention to the actual index, you’d think it had made up the losses.
GDP GROWTH UNEXPECTEDLY SLOW. How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?
UPDATE: “Politically, of course, this is a rolling disaster for the Obama administration. The downward revision comes while Obama is on Martha’s Vineyard, enjoying a high-profile ‘vacation’ and promising to get around to a jobs plan … soon. Commerce will give one more revision to Q2′s estimate in late September, which will put the poor economic performance under his stewardship on display yet again — and then Obama will have to deal with a Q3 result that so far doesn’t look any better than Q2. If Hurricane Irene doesn’t bring the vacation to an early end, this number really should have the White House political team calling to have Air Force One warming up the engines.”
HOPE AND CHANGE: More Jobless Stagflation: CPI +0.5% On Expectations Of 0.2%, Jobless Claims Back Comfortably In +400K Territory. Inflation, unemployment both unexpectedly high!
This iconic photo from the early days of hope-and-change now seems prophetic.
RECOVERY BUMMER (CONT’D): “Consumer spending unexpectedly fell in June to post the first decline in nearly two years as incomes barely rose.” Yeah, who could have seen this coming?
UPDATE: Make that over 36,000 followers. “To put it another way, he lost twice as many followers today as jobs created last month.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails:
I notice a one word omission from your posting on Obama losing 36,000 twitter followers:
Related: Top Congressional Democrats Complain Obama Is Not A Leader. Well, let’s see where we end up before we decide how either man has done.
And reader Patrick Ford emails:
#compromise: The new twitter hash tag to get people to call Republicans to accept the Obama plan, what ever that is?
Shockingly and unexpectedly, being supported by NYT.
How do you compromise between a plan, and a non-plan? Er, excuse me, a “secret plan.”
UNEXPECTEDLY! JOBLESS CLAIMS JUMP. “New claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week following two declines, a setback for a sector that hasn’t been producing many jobs.” Expect the number to be revised upward next week, as usual.
UNEXPECTEDLY: June Existing-Home Sales Drop. Plus, “the sales decline year-on-year is now 8.8%, indicating that we’re still plumbing for the bottom. “
WE’VE SEEN A LOT OF THESE REVISIONS: “Contributing to the weak tenor of the report, the department said the economy created 44,000 fewer jobs in April and May than previously thought.” Unexpectedly!
SO IS THIS THE HOPE, OR THE CHANGE? Unemployment rises to 9.2 pct. in June, employers add only 18,000 jobs.
Bloomberg’s got the inevitable take: “U.S. employers added 18,000 workers in June, less than forecast and the fewest in nine months, while the unemployment rate unexpectedly climbed, indicating a struggling labor market.” Plus this: “The so-called underemployment rate — which includes part- time workers who’d prefer a full-time position and people who want work but have given up looking — increased to 16.2 percent from 15.8 percent.”
And: “By a 44 percent to 34 percent margin, Americans say they believe they are worse off than when Obama took office, according to a Bloomberg National Poll conducted June 17-20.”
From 2007 to 2010, initial reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) told us that the economy lost 4.201 million jobs. BLS revisions have thus far ramped up the number of jobs lost by 2.43 million. The four-year total is now 6.631 million — a stunning 58% increase. As seen above, the bureau’s revisions to the 12 months of the real recession (July 2008 through June 2009) have shot reported job losses up by almost 1.9 million, a jaw-dropping average of 158,000 per month.
They’re not done yet. Every February, BLS performs a comprehensive “benchmark revision.” The next one will affect the period from March 2010 through December 2011. Considering the results of the past four years showing average additional job losses of 415,000, the next benchmark revision seems destined to push the figures even higher.
By contrast, from 2003 to 2006, initial BLS reports told us that the economy added 5.103 million jobs. After all revisions, the four-year total rose by 1.605 million to 6.708 million — a 31% increase. The sum of all benchmark revisions during that time was a positive 675,000.
Why did the revised data largely improve (or at least decline very little) from 2003 through 2006, while decaying horribly since 2007?
Read the whole thing.
UNEXPECTEDLY! U.S. Consumer Confidence Hits Seven-Month Low. “Confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly fell in June to a seven-month low, indicating that slowing employment gains are weighing on Americans’ outlooks. . . . Joblessness hovering around 9 percent, rising inflation and falling share prices may keep household sentiment in check, raising the risk that the biggest part of the economy will stagnate. Employers last month added the fewest workers since September, and spending, adjusted for inflation, dropped for a second consecutive time, figures from the Labor and Commerce Departments showed.” With all that being the case, it’s funny that the drop was so . . . unexpected.
UPDATE: Reader Michael Long writes:
Too funny, it is no longer “unexpectedly!”
Professor Reynolds, Please tell me you have a screen-shot shot of Bloomberg’s “unexpectedly”… I just followed your link and they no longer think it is so unexpected.
As a matter of fact, I do. Here’s the story lede as it was when I blogged it. Just for the record.
So I guess I can scratch this off my Bloomberg gift list — they’ve obviously already got one. . . .
RECOVERY BUMMER (CONT’D): Americans Spend At Weakest Pace In Nearly Two Years. “Americans spent at the weakest pace in 20 months, a sign that high gas prices are taking a toll on the economy. Consumer spending was unchanged in May, the Commerce Department said Monday. That was the worst result since September 2009. And when adjusted for inflation, spending actually dropped 0.1 percent. April’s consumer spending figures were revised to show a similar decline when adjusting for inflation. It marked the first decline in inflation-adjusted spending since January 2010.”
Plus this: “Neil Dutta, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, pointed out that inflation-adjusted, after-tax income is now slightly lower than it was in January.” Can you say stagflation?
And a reader points out that the word “unexpectedly” appears nowhere in this story.
UPDATE: Reader Antoinette Aubert writes:
I realize it is a cliche for a woman to say she has nothing to wear; but I have literally only bought one new item of apparel for myself in the past three years. I had a pair of shorts that was more patches than original cloth, so I determined I had to buy some new ones. But after three years of mall avoidance I found the idea of going to one to be impossibly fatiguing. So I checked Overstock and Landsend clearance and bought myself some new shorts for about $10 each.
But of course since I was online I just typed in women’s shorts and that’s all I bought. If I had been at a mall I would have found a cute top and an adorable little skirt and etc.etc. My shopping habits have been completely altered, and I think its a good thing.
The truth is my house losing 1/3 of its value almost overnight has turned me into a cheapskate. And I like it. Maybe there’s a song in that.
I think this may be a trend.
HOPE AND CHANGE: Forecasts For Growth Drop, Some Sharply. “The likelihood of a negative surprise is bigger than the likelihood of a positive surprise.” But it’ll be unexpected when it comes . . . .
UPDATE: Reader Michael Costello sends this headline: Unexpectedly bad economy now expected. Heh.
JAMES TARANTO ON MYTH AND REALITY: “The truth is, there’s an Emperor’s New Clothes aspect to Obama’s supposed status as the World’s Greatest Orator. We’ve heard the myth of his eloquence over and over, yet he keeps ‘unexpectedly’ making gaffes or tin-eared statements.”
By now, those are pretty old clothes.
The headline Mickey Kaus draws attention to is “Sagging Economy Draws Attention to War Spending.” In reality, somebody — e.g., Obama, the NYT — is trying to tell us to look at Y instead of X. The headline absurdly infuses the “sagging economy” with the will and the capacity to cause “attention” to be diverted to the subject of war spending.
The word “attention” also drains the headline of human will. The truth is that Obama/the NYT would like people to look at war spending instead of the economy.
At this point, I think they’d like us to look at pretty much anything instead of the economy, which unexpectedly continues to underperform, something that might otherwise draw attention to how the treasury was looted on behalf of crony groups, in the name of “stimulus.”
Best short take in the comments: “More mush from the pimps.” This is just a placeholder, though. Watch while they try to figure out a way to blame unemployment — now roughly double what it was when Democrats took Congress back in 2006 — on the Tea Party or Sarah Palin or something.
A COMPILATION OF “Unexpectedly” Headlines.
SHOCKER: U.S. Jobless Claims Rise Unexpectedly. Again!
Plus this: “The previous week’s figure was revised up to 420K from 414K.” Meaning that last week’s “good news” — a slight drop — was essentially bogus. More here, including this: “A Labor Department official said technical problems had resulted in claims for six states being estimated last week.”
UNEXPECTEDLY! Is Newspaper Coverage of Economic Events Politically Biased? Thanks to reader Matthew MacArthur for the tip.
UNEXPECTEDLY! Most Illinois Specialists Won’t Take Medicaid Patients. “Obviously, this has implications for the plans to cut Medicare reimbursements. And for the success of ObamaCare, since most of the coverage expansion will come, not from the exchanges, but from extending Medicaid.”
RECOVERY SUMMER II: Second manufacturing report shows decline amid mixed signals. “Yesterday it was the Empire State manufacturing index that turned unexpectedly negative. Today, it’s the Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing index that dropped into the red … ‘unexpectedly.’”
UNEXPECTEDLY! “Confidence among U.S. homebuilders slumped in June to the lowest level in nine months as executives turned more pessimistic on the outlook for sales, a sign that any pickup will take time to develop. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo sentiment index unexpectedly fell to 13 from 16 in May, the biggest drop in a year, data from the Washington-based group showed today.”
UPDATE: Related: Inflation rises to highest level in 3 years, key manufacturing index goes negative. Stagflation? Yes we can!
UNEXPECTEDLY? May retail sales post first drop in 11 months. “Retail sales fell in May for the first time in 11 months as receipts at auto dealerships dropped sharply, but the decline was less than expected, offering hope of a pick-up in economic activity.”
IN CANADA, a different sort of “unexpectedly” appears: “Canada’s jobless rate unexpectedly declined in May to the lowest since January 2009 as the economy added workers for the seventh time in eight months.” Hmm. What could explain the difference? . . .
UNEXPECTEDLY! “Lots of ‘Obama faithful,’ who were quick to embrace his economic rhetoric as the 2008 crisis unfolded, are now genuinely shocked that things haven’t worked out.”
SHOCKER: New Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Rise. Unexpectedly! Again!
UPDATE: Commentary: “There is nothing to excuse last week’s once again disappointing jobless claims number which came at 427K, even as the lemming horde was expecting an improvement to 419K. The previous number of 422K was revised as is always the case higher to 426K, in an attempt to make the W/W deterioration seem less than expected.”
CHANGE: Time: Don’t Hold Your Breath. “Double dip is not a term that a government keen to extricate itself from the economic-crisis-management business likes to hear. A couple of weeks ago, the Obama Administration was poised to switch to growth mode. Then the ugly data started pouring in like the overflowing Mississippi.” Unexpectedly!
But the author doesn’t seem to have read Steve Carter’s essay yet.
UPDATE: Dick Durbin: This Is Obama’s Economy Now. Is it just me, or are we starting to see some distancing going on where the economy is concerned? . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: Unpacking Time’s political theory.
UNEXPECTEDLY! Visits to ER rise despite health law. “Emergency room visits have been on the rise in Massachusetts since the passage of the 2006 health care law, much to the chagrin of supporters who projected that the opposite would happen as more people had insurance and were connected with primary care providers.”
UNEXPECTEDLY: OPEC won’t increase production. “Get ready for higher gas prices.”
UPDATE: Jeff Carter on what it means: “The effects of the crony capitalism economy are being seen in unemployment numbers. Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, huge unchecked runaway bureaucracy. It has created ‘The Great Uncertainty’. We are seeing people get frustrated and drop out of the work force. If you are a history major, check out charts from 1937-40. They might repeat themselves.”
Plus this: “The number of unemployed in the workforce actually rose by almost 170,000, while the number of Americans not in the workforce fell by 105,000. That’s why the unemployment rate rose in this report. However, the workforce level in May 2011 is still more than 500,000 fewer people than a year ago, when the Obama administration tried selling its ‘Recovery Summer’ campaign.”
UNEXPECTEDLY! New Jobless Claims Fall Less Than Expected.
THERE’S THAT WORD AGAIN: Consumer Confidence Falls Unexpectedly In May. “Consumers are considerably more apprehensive about future business and labor market conditions as well as their income prospects.” Unexpectedly!
CHANGE: ‘Double-Dip’ in Housing Prices Even Worse Than Expected. Unexpectedly!
MICHAEL BARONE: Pro-Obama media always shocked by bad economic news. “I’m confident that any comparison of economic coverage in the Bush years and the coverage now would show far fewer variants of the word ‘unexpectedly’ in stories suggesting economic doldrums. It’s obviously going to be hard to achieve the unacknowledged goal of many mainstream journalists — the president’s re-election — if the economic slump continues. So they characterize economic setbacks as unexpected, with the implication that there’s still every reason to believe that, in Herbert Hoover’s phrase, prosperity is just around the corner. . . . We tend to hire presidents who we think can foresee the future effect of their policies. No one does so perfectly. But if the best sympathetic observers can say about the results is that they are ‘unexpected,’ voters may decide someone else can do better.”
A VARIATION ON “UNEXPECTEDLY,” ANYWAY: Pending Home Sales Plunge, Reaching Seven-Month Low. “Pending sales of existing U.S. homes dropped far more than expected in April to touch a seven-month low, a trade group said on Friday, dealing a blow to hopes of a recovery in the housing market.”
UPDATE: Consumer spending, income drop as inflation accelerates. Somebody send Obama a copy of Steve Carter’s essay.
CHANGE: Stubborn Jobless Claims Just Keep Climbing Higher. “New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed to 424,000 last week from a revised 414,000 in the prior week, pointing to a painfully slow improvement in the nation’s job markets.” Unexpectedly! Again!
But wait, there’s more: Q1 GDP Misses Expectations, Personal Consumption Unexpectedly Dives. There’s that word again.
UNEXPECTEDLY! Durable goods orders drop 3.6% in April. “The decrease in capital goods was even more dramatic, at 7.3% in the non-defense market. That points to a significant decrease in business investment, which would indicate that the private sector has turned bearish on the weak recovery from the Great Recession. If so, the tax break given to businesses as part of the deal made between the White House and Congress in December that allowed businesses to take a 100% write-off on FY2011 capital investment appears to have already run its course. That’s bad news for the Obama administration, which had hoped to ride a rising economic wave to a second term in office for Barack Obama.”
UNEXPECTEDLY: 5.5 PERCENT DROP IN VIOLENT CRIME. “Some experts are puzzled. Expectations that crime would rise in the economic recession have not materialized. The size of the most crime-prone population age groups, from late teens through mid-20s, has remained relatively flat in recent years.”
Hmm. I wonder if anyone has any ideas?
UPDATE: Reader William Chenoweth writes that maybe it’s the porn and videogames! Good point!
UNEXPECTEDLY! Existing-Home Sales In U.S. Unexpectedly Fall. “As of March 31, about 5.6 million houses were either in foreclosure or their owners were more than 30 days late in making mortgage payments, according to Bloomberg calculations, raising the risk that property values will keep falling. That would make any sustained recovery difficult to achieve. About 37 percent of all transactions last month were of distressed properties.”
CHANGE: Construction, Manufacturing Fall. “U.S. home construction fell unexpectedly in April, an indication that the troubled sector will remain a drag on the economic recovery.” Unexpectedly!
UPDATE: Reader Gordon Stewart emails:
How many times in a row can something happen unexpectedly before the experts start to, you know, expect it? At some point, shouldn’t they be required to state the foundation for their expectations? If they actually expect housing prices or new home construction to go up in this market, what are they basing that on?
Hope. Desperation. Something like that.
MULTINATIONALS DUMP U.S. WORKERS FOR FOREIGN LABOR:
Small companies are heavily dependent on spending within the U.S. at a time when domestic demand, especially by consumers, is fighting strong headwinds, as households shed debt and rebuild their savings. Since the recession ended nearly two years ago, U.S. domestic demand, which includes imports, has not regained its pre-recession peak. Neither have small business payrolls. Meanwhile, big global companies are taking advantage of strong demand in fast-growing economies outside the U.S.
All this suggests that Washington policies that support small businesses, both directly and indirectly by strengthening overall demand, would pay big dividends for U.S. job markets. Likewise, if the U.S. is going to get its share of global growth and new jobs, policies that enhance the attractiveness of America as a place to invest will be imperative, as the structure of the global economy continues to shift.
In the meantime, expect continued bad economic news.
Unexpectedly, of course.
UNEXPECTEDLY! NEW JOBLESS CLAIMS JUMP TO 8-MONTH HIGH: “New U.S. claims for unemployment aid unexpectedly rose last week to touch their highest level in eight months, pushed up by factors ranging from spring break layoffs to the introduction of an emergency benefits program, a government report showed on Thursday.” Or, you know, the whole recovery could basically be stalling.
Meanwhile, should the motto for our economic forecasters be “expect the unexpected?”
UPDATE: Reader Dave Ivers emails: “What? The MSM can’t say ‘jobless recovery’ anymore?” Not until at least 2013.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Michael Ubaldi writes: “So much as glancing at a chart of initial jobless claims over five years shows how ridiculous it is to discuss anything other than why the metric is miles away from where it should be. Just one of these days I’d like to see read that third-to-fifth sentence in a wire report as ‘Claims were pushed up by factors including hopeless employers laying their workers the f___ off again.’”
RIGHT TRACK OR WRONG TRACK: 21% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction, A New Low.
UPDATE: Obama Approval At Lowest Level Ever In Pennsylvania, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds. “President Obama, who carried Pennsylvania 55 – 44 percent in the 2008 election, is underwater mostly because of his deterioration among independent voters, who disapprove of his performance 57 – 37 percent, compared to 50 – 46 percent approval in February.” But he’s even losing Democrats.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bill Archer writes:
As a PA resident I can attest to the sea change in attitudes towards Barack Obama here.
It’s public, it’s palpable and it’s entirely due to inflation.
It’s astonishing to me that a bunch of guys who are supposed to be so smart think that women aren’t going to the grocery store and leaving in a state of shock, disbelief and, occasionally, panic.
And a Democrat who frightens women cannot win anything. Period.
I just started playing a sort of instant citizen poll at stores. It began a week or so ago at Sams’ Club:
I was in one of THOSE lines and ended up chatting with a well dressed middle aged woman with a cart half full of grocery items.
I made mention of the fact that while I didn’t normally make the hike to Sams’ that with prices going up I figured I had to make the effort.
She exploded: Prices are sky high, she’s feeding three kids, eating store brands and sale items but can’t afford to stock up, on and on.
Then the lady in front of HER piped in: if prices keep going up she doesn’t know what she’ll do, their budget is already at the breaking point, trying to keep a daughter in college, off she goes.
Then a man in the next line over heard them and HE jumped in: this is ridiculous, Washington is killing us, economy broken, he’s off to the races.
I thought maybe this was just a coincidence, so I’ve started the same conversation in store lines twice more in the past week and it’s exactly the same: people are frightened and EVERYONE wants to talk about it out loud.
The interesting thing to me is that everyone used to be very reluctant to speak out in public against Obama. You were always afraid some leftie whackjob would hear you and tear into you. You know what I mean.
But now the gloves are off, people are freaking out and Obama can raise FIVE billion dollars for his campaign and organize until the cows come home and call everyone in the country a racist until he turns blue but it’s not going to convince anyone that they’re not paying an arm and a leg for half a cart worth of food.
There is no more basic thing to people, and it’s off the hook.
I don’t see how the Republicans could possibly mess this up. Then again, after a lifetime of watching them do just that, if there’s way they’ll find it.
Indeed. They don’t call ‘em the stupid party for nothing. But yeah, it’s hard to hide inflation. Unemployment only hurts the unemployed; EVERYONE feels inflation.
UNEXPECTEDLY! Economic Growth Slows As Inflation Measure Spikes Up. “U.S. economic growth slowed more than expected in the first quarter as higher food and gasoline prices dampened consumer spending, and sent a broad measure of inflation rising at its fastest pace in 2-1/2 years. . . . The Federal Reserve on Wednesday acknowledged the slowdown in first-quarter growth, describing the recovery as proceeding at a ‘moderate pace’—a slight step back from a statement in March when it said the economy was on a ‘firmer footing.’”
THE WAR AGAINST THE YOUNG (CONT’D): Teenage Wasteland: Jobless Rate For Young Is 25%—and Rising. “A quarter of teenagers were jobless in March, representing a surprising increase from February, even as the unemployment rate for the rest of the population decreased. This figure may only get worse if budget-strapped states raise the minimum wage, and it could also be a sign of greater structural damage underlying our economy, analysts said.”
UPDATE: Reader Tom Scott writes: “A surprising increase? Well, that’s certainly unexpected.” And reader John Eschenbrenner emails:
I can attest first hand to what the article said. My 17 year old son works at a fast food joint. Since getting hired almost a year ago, they have worked him as much as possible. He averages close to, but not quite at, 40 hours a week. The reason being, most kids they hire don’t show up when they scheduled, don’t work when they are there, and they mouth off to the management. And at 10 months or so, he has seen dozens of new people come and go.
The company doesn’t want to pay over $7/hr now for people who are not going to pan out. Raise the minimum wage any more than it is and you can expect the teenage unemployment to double or triple.
Lowered work ethic plus increased minimum wage = less interest in hiring. Unexpectedly!