» Search Results » chart


Search Results for: chart

The Future of War is Now

March 2nd, 2015 - 7:28 am


The infographic above does a gorgeous job of making plain Russia’s sometimes difficult-to-quantify hybrid warfare against Ukraine.

Over at Jane’s, Reuben F Johnson uses that chart and some cold analysis to determine that Russia’s newfangled operational art “is working” to keep Ukraine destabilized:

Overall, the Ukrainian military continues to be severely disadvantaged by not being equipped with a list of the items that are becoming well known to those watching the current situation in eastern Ukraine: secure communications systems; anti-tank guided weapons with tandem warheads; counter-battery radars; UAVs for both reconnaissance and strike missions; and the ability to stream multiple intelligence sources into centralised command centres to get inside the ‘decision loop’ of the Russian-backed forces.

As I’ve noted before, the beauty of Putin’s warmaking is that he can dial it up or down on the X or Y axis virtually at will, which serves to keep NATO divided and confused, while giving himself a working combination of political cover and military gain.

This is the Operational Art of War brought fully into the 21st Century, allowing a much weaker actor (Russia) to leverage its few strengths against a much stronger potential opponent (NATO) to get what he wants (Ukraine) without a full-scale war.

This is what President Look At Me Looking At Me derided with “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion.” But we know who is really living in the 21st Century and who is stuck in the past.

Friday Night Videos

February 27th, 2015 - 10:24 pm

It’s another “I Apologize for Nothing!” edition of FNV.

Ah, Gino Vannelli — Canadian master of cheesy light rock and body hair. He’s easy to make fun of, and even SCTV took a shot at him in a “Lee Iacocca’s Rock Concert” sketch with Eugene Levy playing Vannelli. Every time he turned around or the camera angle changed during his performance of “I Just Wanna Stop,” Levy was, werewolf transformation style, covered with more and more body and facial hair. It’s starts at about the 4:50 mark in this YouTube clip. Snark aside though, Vannelli sold a ton of records and cut a few singles which haven’t aged too badly.

Tonight’s pick, “Wild Horses,” was Vannelli’s penultimate single to chart in the US, and for whatever reason it really caught my ear during senior year at Missouri Military Academy. I had this cheap boombox for playing tapes and picking up the local radio stations in Mexico, Missouri, and it was my policy when listening to the radio to have a scratch tape ready to go. “Record” and “Pause” were pressed at all times, so when I heard a new song I liked, I would just release the pause button and record it straight off the radio in crystal clear FM-radio-to-crap-cassette quality. This one was a minor hit, and I was lucky enough to have had a scratch tape ready to go the second — and final — I ever heard it on the air.

The tape got lost in the sands of time, but somehow this one popped up in my suggestions on the iTunes Store while I was searching for some other bit of high school-era pop-fluff — and you know what? It’s still all right. Oh, you can hear the producer throwing every single mid-’80s studio trick at it, trying to generate a big hit, but the lyric has some lovely imagery and the music somehow fits Vannelli’s Disco Shirt Chest Hair delivery.

This one’s a keeper.

Friday Night Videos

February 20th, 2015 - 10:11 pm

Helen Reddy’s “Angie Baby” is easily one of the weirdest and creepiest songs ever to chart — and yet the music is perfectly cheesy ’70s soft rock.

Don’t believe me? I bet you haven’t heard this one in ages, so listen and, um, see.

Strange Bedfellows

January 28th, 2015 - 8:51 am



A week before the attack on Charlie Hebdo, France’s leading gay magazine, Têtu, announced the winner of its annual beauty contest. His name was Matthieu Chartraire, and he was 22, doe-eyed and six-packed, with perfectly groomed hair, stubble and eyebrows. A pin-up in every way — until he started talking.

To the anger of many of the magazine’s readers, the Adonis of 2015 turns out to be an outspoken supporter of the Front National. Têtu’s editor-in-chief, Yannick Barbe, refused to play censor. ‘It’s within his rights to vote for the FN even if we don’t share his beliefs,’ he said. ‘This is a beauty pageant, and our readers’ vote was only based on a single criterion! He only stands for himself and not for the gay community.’

Barbe has a point (although from next year, it’s worth noting, entrants for Têtu’s beauty contest will have to sign a code of ethics that rejects discrimination). But his assertion that Chartraire does not stand for the gay community overlooks a trend that has been accelerating over the last decade: French gay votersare falling for the Front National’s leader, Marine Le Pen. A survey by the polling firm Ifop indicates a dramatic increase in support for the FN among homosexual and bisexual voters since the French presidential elections of April 2012.

The National Front is the party in France with the strongest anti-Muslim stance. Given the desire of a sizable fraction of France’s sizable Muslim minority for Sharia law…

…does the poll really seem all that strange?

Jobless Claims Up, Up, and… Away?

January 22nd, 2015 - 2:14 pm


Tyler Durden reports that as oil prices are plunging, jobless claims are spiking — mostly in big energy-producing states like Texas, North Dakota, and Colorado:

Not “unambiguously good” as Shale states see initial jobless claims spiking. Overall initial jobless claims missed expectations for the 4th week in a row, holding above 300k for the 3d week in a row (for the first time since July). At 307k, this week’s print is below last week’s but well above the 300k expectation. However, across TX, CO, ND, PA, and WV, initial claims (1 week lagged) rose to over 75k (from 30k in October)… “crisis has passed”?

Losses like these are supposed to come out in the wash, as money that had been going to the shale oil fields gets redirected to consumer spending. But we’re in uncharted waters here, as energy jobs are some of the few high-paying blue collar jobs left in this country.

I get the feeling the money we save at the pump will be going to buy cheap Chinese crap directly, instead of first going through the hands of an oil worker in North Dakota, but we’ll see.

Straight Outta Chartres

January 15th, 2015 - 11:25 am

Today’s Trifecta features what might be Scott Ott’s best close ever, which is impossible to say lightly.

About That Jobs Report…

December 8th, 2014 - 10:52 am

Chart of Doom

In case, after six years of Obamanomics, you hadn’t yet learned to read below the headline numbers, maybe Jeff Cox help you with that:

Friday’s turbocharged jobs headline came thanks to seasonal adjustments and other wizardry at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reported that U.S. job growth hit 321,000 even as the unemployment rate held steady at 5.8 percent.

That big headline number translated into just 4,000 more working Americans. There were, at the same time, another 115,000 on the unemployment line. That disparity can be explained through an expanding labor force, which grew 119,000, though the participation rate among that group remained at 62.8 percent, which is just off the year’s worst level and around a 36-year low.

But wait, there’s more: The jobs that were created skewed heavily toward lower quality. Full-time jobs declined by 150,000, while part-time positions increased by 77,000.

Cox notes that analysts “mostly gushed over the report,” which should also teach you all you need to know about most analysts.

The Oil Bubble

December 5th, 2014 - 11:03 am

From Charles Hugh-Smith via Tyler Durden:

Since 2009, central state/bank authorities have backstopped the private banking sector and the sovereign debt market with everything they’ve got. The Federal Reserve alone threw something on the order of $23 trillion in guarantees, loans and backstops at the private banking sector, and the other central banks have thrown trillions of yuan, yen and euros to shore up the banking sector and sovereign debt.

They did this because they identified the banking sector and sovereign debt as the sources of systemic risk. Now that they’ve effectively shored up these two risk-laden sectors with the full weight of the central state and bank, they presume the systemic risk has been eradicated.

They could not be more wrong. As I often note, risk cannot be disappeared, it can only be masked or transferred. The systemic risk will not manifest in the heavily protected banking sector or the sovereign debt market–risk will break out of sectors that are considered ‘safe”–like oil.

Yesterday, I described how The Financialization of Oil has followed much the same path as the financialization of home mortgages in the 2000s: a “safe” sector has been piled high with highly profitable and highly risky debt and leverage.

We just had a conversation an hour or two ago about what declining oil prices might do to Vlad Putin’s Russia, but Russia isn’t the only country at risk of financial ruin. Before we get to that though, a brief word about the Saudis.

The Saudis don’t enjoy so much control over the price of oil just because they have so much of it, although that is a part of their control. The other part is that their oil is the highest quality (light, sweet), easy to get to (scratch the sand and the oil comes forth), and easy to market (the oil fields are right there on the coast). So the Saudis can sell oil at a profit at prices which drive higher-cost producers out of business.

The fracking revolution has done wonderful things for our economy, but fracking is far from a low-cost method of oil production. See this from an October Reuters report:

“We estimate $73 as the weighted average breakeven point for
U.S. supply.”

Eagle Ford Liquids Rich $53
Wolfcamp North Midland $57
Bakken Core $61
Niobrara Extension $64
Eagle Ford Oil $65
Niobrara Core $68
Wolfcamp South Midland $75

Bakken Non Core $75
Texas Panhandle $81
Mississippi Lime $84
Barnett Combo $93

At the time of this writing, crude oil is trading at under $70.

Much of our present recovery, lame as it is, is due to the revolution in fracking. The jobs pay well, the work requires lots of expensive equipment, and those benefits plus the benefits of cheaper energy ripple through the rest of the economy. So it’s great to watch Putin squirm as the rug is pulled out from under his imperial ambitions, but if Hugh-Smith is right, the US economy could be looking at an oil bubble ready to pop — a bubble every bit as big as the real estate bubble of 2007-08. The ripple effects we’re enjoying now could easily become the giant sucking sound of trillions of dollars leaving the economy.

Can we afford for the Fed to inflate its balance sheet by several additional trillions? Can we afford another trillion-dollar stimulus? Can we afford seven trillion more in debt? Can we afford negative interest rates?

Which begs further questions still.

Where would the Fed’s newly-minted trillions go? Who would be the beneficiaries of Washington’s renewed largess? Who would buy our debt? What happens to an economy when banks become the Fed’s enlarged syphons of middle class savings?

I’m not sure there’s ever been First World economy as dependent on the production of extraction wealth as ours has become under Obamanomics. We’re in uncharted waters here, but its plain to see for anyone willing to look that they are treacherous.

Goin’ South

December 2nd, 2014 - 1:44 pm


Social Security’s inevitable insolvency keeps getting pushed up:

Social Security’s trustees projected in 1983 that the recently enacted Social Security reforms would keep the program active for at least the next 75 years, through 2058. However, according to research by Rachel Greszler, a senior policy analyst, and James M. Roberts, research fellow for economic freedom and growth at The Heritage Foundation, that approach date has accelerated.

“If the trend since 1983 continues, the program will become insolvent in 2024—34 years earlier than originally projected,” Roberts writes.

The problem with the inevitable is that it always seems to happen. Sooner, in this case, than most people are willing to admit.

Friday Night Videos

November 7th, 2014 - 10:27 pm

I can (almost) promise you that I’ll never play Kool & The Gang again — but you can’t blame me this one time, can you?

Look, I understand they’re mostly cheesy. K&TG was to funk what Foreigner was to rock — chart-friendly & risk-free pop fluff.

But “Celebration” is perfect right now and this live performance from 1983 is 90% funk and only 10% cheese.

Japan’s Last Chance

October 30th, 2014 - 7:39 am

Chart of Doom

Stephen Roach takes a look at Japan’s most recent attempt to spend its way to prosperity:

Abenomics, with its potentially powerful combination of monetary and fiscal stimulus, coupled with a wide array of structural reforms, was supposed to end Japan’s “lost decades.” All three “arrows” of the strategy were to be aimed at freeing the economy from a 15-year deflationary quagmire.

Unfortunately, not all of the arrows have been soaring in flight. The Bank of Japan seems well on its way to delivering on the first one – embracing what it calls quantitative and qualitative easing (QQE). Relative to GDP, the BOJ’s monetary-policy gambit could actually far outstrip the efforts of America’s Federal Reserve.

But the flight of the other two arrows is shaky, at best. In recent days, Abe has raised serious questions about proceeding with the second phase of a previously legislated consumer-tax hike that has long been viewed as the linchpin of Japan’s debt-consolidation strategy. Abe has flinched because the economy remains weak, posing renewed risks of a deflationary relapse. Meanwhile, the third arrow of structural reforms – especially tax, education, and immigration reforms – is nowhere near its target.

Abenomics, one might conclude, is basically a Japanese version of the failed policy combination deployed in the United States and Europe: massive unconventional liquidity injections by central banks (with the European Central Bank apparently now poised to follow the Fed), but little in the way of fundamental fiscal and structural reforms. The political expedience of the short-term monetary fix has triumphed once again.

I think it’s safe to conclude that politicians — and this is universal, not unique to Japan — will never undertake serious political or economic reform, so long as they’re allowed to take the easy way out of printing money.

Printing money feels good, it’s easy to achieve, and it provides effortlessly the illusion of prosperity. Real reform means pushing even your friends off of the gravy train and forcing even the most entrenched business interests to compete. That makes for unhappy power brokers — the only real anathema to progressive political leaders.

So it’s free money for everybody forever. But as Heinlein wrote, anything free is worth what you pay for it — you just don’t find out until later.

Well, it’s later than they think.

Your Scary-Ass Chart of the Day

October 29th, 2014 - 6:12 am

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

October 28th, 2014 - 9:19 am


A new study from the well-respected and non-partisan National Bureau of Economic Research (and published by Brookings Institution), overcomes the limitations of these prior studies by examining what happened to premiums in the entire non-group market. The bottom line? In 2014, premiums in the non-group market grew by 24.4% compared to what they would have been without Obamacare. Of equal importance, this careful state-by-state assessment showed that premiums rose in all but 6 states (including Washington DC).

Of course, Obamacare enthusiasts will argue that I’m ignoring all the subsidies provided to Exchange members. It’s certainly true that for those lucky enough to qualify for such subsidies, the typical size of a subsidy in any given state would have been sufficient to protect such individuals from the premium increases shown in the chart above. But that ignores the fact that out of an estimated 13.2 million people covered in the non-group market in second quarter 2014 (Kowalski’s estimate), only about 7 million qualified for subsidies.[2] Thus, there were 6.2 million in the non-group market who had to absorb these premium increases without the benefit of any help from Uncle Sam.

Moreover, the fact that federal taxpayers were handed the privilege of having to offset such premium increases using their hard-earned tax dollars should in no way obscure the reality that Obamacare caused premiums to rise in the first place.

The net result? Taxpayers are on the hook for a 24% increase in subsidy expenses due to ♡bamaCare!!!’s requirements and strictures.

But I’m sure we’ll make it up in volume.

The Numbers Game

October 20th, 2014 - 12:12 pm


As a longtime proponent of cutting government spending, and a reluctant-at-best GOP voter, I couldn’t wait to dig into the latest from Sally Kohn, detailing the GOP’s “anti-tax austerity” and “bash and slash” cuts to Washington DC.

I must admit I was a little hesitant, because I couldn’t remember any actual, you know, austerity under George W. Bush, what with those deficits of his that were so large they were unpatriotic even. And I was hard-pressed to think of any slashes to government spending, even with the GOP in charge of the House.

Nevertheless, I dug right in and was shocked to see the numbers Kohn had dug up.

[crickets chirping]

OK, so Kohn didn’t provide any numbers per se, just a collection of mean things various Republicans, including Ronald Reagan who hasn’t even been a president for a very long time, have said about Washington, DC.

The numbers I have here show that government spending rose under Bush, then found a new and even higher plateau under Obama.

But I’m sure the slashing and the austerity must be in there somewhere.

I’ll contact Kohn for an addendum to her piece.

[crickets chirping]

Friday Night Videos

October 17th, 2014 - 10:54 pm

Not sure what happened to last week’s FNV — other than it seems to have been eaten whole by the WordPress Gods (or *ahem* user error) and by the time someone alerted me to it, it was too late to repost. But I’m going to save that one for later because this week we need something different.

Going into the final midterm stretch requires something bouncy and brainless. Of course I have an iTunes playlist devoted to music which is nothing but. And you can probably guess that there’s a lot of chart-friendly disco on my B&B playlist, because popular music rarely gets more bouncy and brainless than disco, with the possible exception of Charo’s guest appearances on The Love Boat.

So let’s begin our disco roundup this week with Leo Sayer doing his best Frankie Valli in the unrelentingly bouncy and unmercifully catchy and mercifully short, “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.”

Leo and the pretty backup singers and the band are giving it all they got, but watch as the audience just stands there without feeling like dancing at all. I was too young to have watched The Midnight Special regularly, or to have remembered much of the few I did see. So I don’t know if just standing there is what the audience usually did, or if they really weren’t into the song.

Either way, I still get a kick out of it in the car, where I can’t dance at all.

ADDENDUM: Charo seems like a lovely person, who for all I know has an IQ in the Wile E. Coyote Supergeeeeeenius range. What I do know for sure is that I spent nearly half of my preteen years staring at her shorts.

First Ebola Nurse “Doing Really Well”

October 17th, 2014 - 12:00 pm

At last, good news:

Nina Pham, saying “I’m doing really well,” left Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in an ambulance for a chartered small jet waiting at the city’s Love Field. The plane departed at 7:09 p.m. CT and arrived at an airport at Frederick, Md., less than three hours later.

Pham walked off the plane with assistance while wearing a protective suit. She climbed into an ambulance for transport to the National Institutes of Health’s state-of-the-art facility in Bethesda, Md.

Fellow health-care workers lined her path out of the Dallas hospital, cheering and waving signs expressing love and support for their colleague.

Let’s hope this scare serves as a wakeup call, even if the current administration hits the snooze alarm for the next two years.

And the Second Runner Up Is…

October 13th, 2014 - 2:14 pm


It’s no surprise that just a couple weeks after they launched, Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus dominate sales at all four major US carriers. But what did surprise me is that the year-old iPhone 5S is the third bestselling smartphone, knocking Samsung’s Galaxy S5 (no relation) off the charts, even though it’s only been available since April.

I’m sure the hundred dollar price cut has something to do with that, but happy Galaxy buyers have been able to find the S5 for as little as $49 down.

So maybe cheap materials and deep discounts aren’t so good for longterm success.

Punching Above Their Weight

October 13th, 2014 - 8:38 am


You might have seen Business Insider’s chart of Nobel winners since 1910 (H/T Glenn), but I found it interesting for what BI left out. If you break Israeli winners out, that tiny country’s total is 12, just behind the Netherlands’ 17 and with a population of almost 17 million. Israel has about eight million people.

And despite being a fraction of one percent of the Earth’s population, Jews of all national origins have won about 20% of all Nobel prizes — and that ain’t chopped liver.

Required Reading

September 26th, 2014 - 7:41 am

Tom Dougherty on the Tea Party:

In reality, either the Tea Party is considerably less conservative than the narrative suggests, or their influence has been wildly exaggerated. Many on the far right have suggested it was the Tea Party uprising that carried the GOP to a wave victory in 2010, giving them their majority in the House. Others suggest that despite subsequent failures to win elections, the Tea Party inspired a more staunch conservatism in those elected in 2010, and forced the Republican conference to the right. While the first point might have merit, the latter is simply not supported by evidence, namely the voting records of the Senate and House Republicans.

Looking at the voting scorecards, in the first year of every Congress since 2001, from The American Conservative Union (ACU), the GOP has moderated considerably in both chambers since 2009. In fact, the current Senate Republicans tie the lowest average rating in the last 12 years; and the current House Republicans have the lowest average in the last seven Congresses. Notably the trend is the same in both chambers despite different majorities, and the House average has dropped more than the Senate.

You’ll definitely want to read the whole thing, which is data driven and filled with handy charts and graphs. The lesson here though might not be that the Tea Party has been ineffective, or that it has been maligned, or perhaps both. The lesson might be that such a loud and dedicated constituency is enough to tip the balance to the Democrats on election day if they feel Congress has ignored their concerns.

Read on a bit further:

When we look at the above analyses, we have to wonder: Is the Tea Party actually a more realistic, grounded group of voters, represented by more moderate legislators, than the media narrative would have us think? It certainly could be. Has the colloquial use of the label, “Tea Party,” been overused and corrupted by what is actually a smaller subset of unyielding ideologues? Quite possibly it has. Are there a handful of opportunists who have hijacked the moniker for their own selfish purposes, while doing very little to influence the legislative process? As I’ve written before, there most assuredly are. Is it possible that a diverse and decentralized group of local and regional organizations simply cannot be arbitrarily unified under a single brand called the “Tea Party?” I think so.

In the sense that it’s like herding cats, the Tea Party and the libertarians seem to have a lot in common.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

September 25th, 2014 - 6:23 am


I’m all out of “if you like your plan you can keep it” jokes, and anyway this isn’t funny:

Now here is what is really strange and it is explained superbly by Bob Graboyes, a health economist with the Mercatus Center, in this video. There are gaps between the corridors. And if your plan happens to fall within one of the gaps, it is no longer a valid plan.

Suppose you are in a Bronze plan with an actuarial value of 58%. Then, a year from now, because of price changes, technology changes, or some other kind of change, your plan suddenly covers 60% of expected expenses. That’s good for you, right? Wrong. Because your plan no longer fits into one of the metallic corridors, it’s no longer a valid plan – despite the fact that it has become a better plan!

Now let’s suppose you have a really good plan – a plan that pays 98% of expected health care costs. Given the large number of Democrat’s who believe that health insurance should pay almost every medical bill, you would think that the law passed by a Democratic Congress without a single Republican vote would strongly encourage such a plan. If you’re inclined to think that, you are mistaken, however.

Any plan that pays more than 92% of expected health care costs for the average enrollee is illegal under ♡bamaCare!!!.

The clusterfudge has only just begun.

Sign “O” the Times

September 24th, 2014 - 8:27 am


Here are the fruits of incentivizing massive college debts, keeping young adults on mom & dad’s health insurance, and inflating housing prices:

Last week, an annual Census Bureau survey showed that the U.S. added just 476,000 households in the year ended in March, compared with an average of 1.3 million in each of the prior two years.

The Census releases a separate quarterly survey that also provides household formation figures, though economists say the annual survey is a better gauge of household formation. The quarterly survey has also shown weak household formation—around 650,000 new households—for the same period measured by the annual survey that runs from March to March.

Either way, for the most recent year, both surveys “show disturbingly slow growth,” said Thomas Lawler, an independent housing economist in Leesburg, Va.

And yet the GOP has pretty much given up on marketing to these poor kids who aren’t really kids anymore.

Sign “O” the Times

September 23rd, 2014 - 6:11 am


Robert Samuelson warns that the next economic surprise is a longterm one:

[Economist Robert] Gordon, a respected Northwestern University scholar, contends that mainstream economic growth predictions are wildly optimistic. His own calculations are more restrained. By 2024, he reckons, the economy’s annual output (gross domestic product) will be nearly $2 trillion lower — almost 10 percent — than projected by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Government debt will be 87 percent of GDP in 2024 instead of the CBO’s estimate of 78 percent. Disappointing output will also pressure the Federal Reserve to move earlier against inflation by tightening credit, he says.

The gist of Gordon’s argument is that the nation’s productive capacity — what economists call “the supply side” — will expand only slowly. It won’t keep up with the stronger consumer demand embodied in other forecasts. As a result, inflationary pressures will be higher and GDP lower. The “economy is on a collision course between demand-side optimism and supply-side pessimism,” he writes in a study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Combine that projection of low growth with yesterday’s Scary-Ass Chart showing who has been benefitting from our economic growth, and together they detail the end of the American middle class.

At last, the Progressive dream made real.

Scary-Ass Chart of the Day

September 22nd, 2014 - 7:37 am


That’s a NY Times chart, annotated for you by Tyler Durden. You’ll notice that the lines diverge not long after the Fed began its permanent policy of cheap money.

I realize correlation is not causation, but at some point we really ought to try something else.

Twenty-Two Trillion and Nothing On

September 16th, 2014 - 12:09 pm



But today the Census will almost certainly proclaim that around 14 percent of Americans are still poor. The present poverty rate is almost exactly the same as it was in 1967 a few years after the War on Poverty started. Census data actually shows that poverty has gotten worse over the last 40 years.

How is this possible? How can the taxpayers spend $22 trillion on welfare while poverty gets worse?

That’s Heritage’s Robert Rector in The Daily Signal, detailing how much we’ve spent since LBJ launched the War on Poverty 50 years ago, and how little we have to show for it. For some of the explanation, let’s go back to Rector:

Census counts a family as poor if its income falls below specified thresholds. But in counting family “income,” Census ignores nearly the entire $943 billion welfare state.

For most Americans, the word “poverty” means significant material deprivation, an inability to provide a family with adequate nutritious food, reasonable shelter and clothing. But only a small portion of the more than 40 million people labelled as poor by Census fit that description.

The media frequently associate the idea of poverty with being homeless. But less than two percent of the poor are homeless. Only one in ten live in mobile homes. The typical house or apartment of the poor is in good repair and uncrowded; it is actually larger than the average dwelling of non-poor French, Germans or English.

The other part of the explanation lies in Rector’s chart, reprinted above.

You’ll notice that before 1964, the US economy was waging its own War on Poverty — and winning. Once the anti-market insanity of the New Deal ended with Roosevelt’s last breath, and the wartime economy had the chance to recover to peacetime conditions, poverty was rapidly decreasing.

Then Washington took over, and the decline turned into a flatline.

It’s almost as though LBJ’s War on Poverty was just a $22,000,000,000,000 vote-buying scheme and permanent paycheck racket for otherwise unemployable do-gooders.

Far from the “colossal flop” Rector calls it, the War has resulted in a stunning and ongoing victory.

Your ♡bamaCare!!! Fail of the Day

September 12th, 2014 - 7:23 am


At his health care reform blog, Robert Laszewski notes that it’s been a “pretty quiet lately on the Obamcare front.” True enough — we muddled our way through the Healthcare.gov fiasco (the site still doesn’t have a functioning backend, which is like using your computer to run an abacus), and the American people are adapting themselves to the New Suckitude. All that’s about to change:

While the open-enrollment is now scheduled to begin until 11 days after the November election there will be plenty of renewal and cancellation letters going out in October––not the least will be more pre-Obamacare policies being cancelled this year now that their one-year extension is up––carriers aren’t necessarily allowing policies to be extended further.

Does this all sound confusing? Just wait until we approach the next open-enrollment with millions of people hearing about all of this complexity and having just four weeks to get their enrollment validated for January 1. The Obamacare anxiety index is going to be off the charts well before November 15th.

Add to all of this bigger deductibles for 2015 (those go up with cost trend as well as the rates) and more narrow networks as well as generally larger rate increases for the plans that got the most enrollment and there will be lots to talk about.

You’re gonna need a bigger drink.

Friday Night Videos

August 29th, 2014 - 10:13 pm

I have a Brilliant Playlist for every possible occasion, activity, or mix of party guests. If putting all of them together and lovingly maintaining them is an obsession, at least it’s an obsession everybody gets to tap their feet to.

Even for housecleaning, you ask? Even for housecleaning.

It’s a special mix of nothing but R&B, funk, disco, and New Wave from the ’70s and ’80s. Nothing from before when Melissa was born, nothing after graduating from high school. Nothing downtempo. Nothing sappy. High energy all the way, baby — that kitchen floor isn’t going to clean itself.

And it seems like every time we go through this, this nearly-forgotten song from a nearly-forgotten band comes on.

The band is Roman Holliday — the early ’80s British act, not the current Seattle alt-rock group with the proper spelling. The song is “Stand By,” and it couldn’t be any bouncier if the band had recorded it high on cocaine and jumping up and down on pogo sticks. Which for all I know, they did. Anyway, it’s a fun little pop number which probably deserved to chart somewhere, but never did.

Just don’t blame me if it keeps you up late, tidying the closets.

Sailing the Good Ship QE4

August 15th, 2014 - 12:04 pm

L.A. Little says that despite the taper, there might still be more quantitative easing to come:

Looking back at the SPDR Gold Trust and iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF chart, there was one period during this ongoing experiment that is noteworthy and that is when both bonds and gold exploded higher during the first six months of 2011. Looking back, we know that QE1 underwent a tapering phase throughout late 2009 – 2010. But, the Fed reversed course in late 2010 and introduced another round of QE — this time focusing specifically on Treasury debt to push interest rates lower. By 2011, bonds and gold were leaping higher driving bond yields to historic lows.

If we fast forward to today, once more we are tapering again and QE3 should be finished up this year but if we look over to the gold and bond markets, both seem to be suggesting that our three experiments with QE may not be the end of it.

We’re addicted to stimulus.

Is that a Spy in Your Pocket?

August 13th, 2014 - 8:37 am


A leaked Gamma Group study indicates which smartphones are the easiest to hack with FinSpy spyware:

Among the major mobile platforms cited in a chart in the document, all of them were susceptible to FinSpy. The spyware was able to bully its way into Android (all versions from 2.x.x to 4.4.x), BlackBerry (versions 5.x, 6.x., and 7.x), Symbian, and Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5 (Windows Phone 8 is not yet supported by the software).

And what of iOS? Apple’s mobile OS did make the list but only in jailbroken mode.

And what can FinSpy do? Read:

FinSpy is “designed to help Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies to remotely monitor mobile phones and tablet devices.”

FinSpy can gain full access to phone calls, text messages, the address book, and even the microphone via silent phone calls. It can also trace a device to determine its location. Used by law enforcement and government agencies, FinSpy has earned a reputation for itself as a powerful but controversial tool for sneaking into mobile devices.

Scary stuff.

If you need Android’s openness, there’s probably no better alternative. But the vast majority of Android buyers don’t need open — they aren’t even really smartphone users. They buy Android because it’s inexpensive and it’s good enough and it works on their carrier. But what those buyers really are is feature phone users. They’d probably be better off, and they’d certainly be more secure, sticking with simpler Symbian devices.

Required Reading

August 6th, 2014 - 10:29 am

Noemie Emery on the Smartest Man in Any Room:

That he is brilliant is something we already knew. “This is a guy whose IQ is off the charts,” Michael Beschloss said of Obama, who was the “smartest guy” to be president. Christopher Buckley said he was first class in temperament and intellectual prowess, boosting him two slots above Franklin D. Roosevelt in the gray matter arena. “You could see him as a New Republic writer,” said David Brooks, closing the argument.

But fact that this genius has become a disaster became clear in mid-June when the Middle East imploded, matching his health care debacle with its foreign equivalent. The non-connection of political wisdom to what intellectuals think makes for intelligence was never more painfully clear.

“Intelligence” is “proven” amongst the progressives by saying cleverly what everyone already agrees on, or at least saying it without looking at one’s notes too frequently.

If that’s too high a hurdle, a well-creased pant will do.

Beware the Debt Bomb

August 5th, 2014 - 6:37 am

Chart of Doom

Brett Arends reports:

For the past five years, U.S. corporations have been living in a financial paradise. Interest rates have been on the floor. Wages have been flat. Companies have been able to lay off workers and slash costs. Profits have skyrocketed to record levels. And they’ve spent almost nothing on new capital equipment, either.

And what effect has this had?

In 2007, at the peak of the last credit mania, U.S. nonfinancial corporations owed $7.2 trillion according to data compiled by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Today? After years of this bonanza, those debts have tumbled all the way down to… er… $9.6 trillion.

All that talk you hear about how corporate balance sheets are in great shape is a bunch of hooey.

By the time that aging capital equipment absolutely must be replaced, interest rates will probably be significantly higher.

That could lead to… issues.