Dale Franks’ QandO posts
The following US economic statistics were announced today:
Housing starts rose a worse-than-expected 2.3% in August to a 0.75 million annual rate, following July’s revised -2.8% drop. The August starts pace is up 29.1% on a year-ago basis.
The MBA reports mortgage applications fell -0.2% in the most recent week, with purchases down -4.0% and refinancings up 1.0%.
Existing home sales rose strongly in August, up 7.8% to an annual unit rate of 4.82 million. This is the second strong increase in a row, and is the highest since May 2010.
The following US economic statistics were announced today:
The U.S. current account deficit improved sharply to -$117.4 billion in the second quarter from a revised -$133.6 billion in the first quarter.
Net foreign demand for long-term U.S. securities rose from $9.3 billion in June to $676.0 billion in July.
The NAHB housing market index in September rose another 3 points to 40, for the fifth straight rise to the best level since early 2007.
Retail Sales: Redbook reports year-over-year retail sales growth of 2.4%, weaker than last week, but still moderately strong. ICSC-Goldman reports a -2.5% sales decrease from last week, and only a 2.1% increase over last year.
If you listen to the podcast, you may have noticed that, over the past couple of weeks, we’ve talked a lot about polling, and why Obama is doing so well. We’re not the only ones. A lot of people are wondering why Obama is polling well when the things are so bad. One of the criticisms I’m seeing about a lot of the polls is that they skew so heavily democratic. Except for Rasmussen, almost all of the polls coming out seem to have larger numbers of Democrats than one would expect. They have been as high as a D+11% advantage in the population.
This is seen by some as proof that the pollsters are skewing the respondent population towards Democrats. I’m not impressed by the argument, because most pollsters don’t actually try and set up a likely voter model for the poll. Instead, the poll is a sample of usually between 1,000 and 1,500 randomly selected voters. The Democratic advantage in this poll, therefore, is not an artifact of the selection method, but is actually the result of what the respondents identify themselves as. If you call 1,000 people, and 380 of them say they’re Democrats, then that’s the sample.
The poll, then, reports what the respondents say. It’s not the result of selecting a particular number of Democrats or Republicans. That’s a vitally important distinction, because voter identification changes over time. The poll reports what voters say their party affiliation is, but a voter may say he’s a Democrat this week, and a Republican or Independent two weeks from now.
So, the key here, it seems to me, is to look at a set of polls from a particular pollster and see if the party affiliation varies widely from poll to poll. If it does, then there’s probably a problem with their methodology. You might see a shift in party affiliation over time, but the change between consecutive individual polls should probably be fairly small. But in general, if a pollster uses the same methodology for every poll, and is not explicitly looking to create a voter response model, then the results are probably fairly accurate, and show small movements–if they occur–to party identification from poll to poll.
What I’m hearing from a lot of conservatives this week is the idea that the polls are horribly skewed, as if there’s some industry-wide conspiracy to make Obama look good. That doesn’t seem very likely, especially since nearly every pollster uses a bipartisan polling team, i.e. one Democrat and one Republican. So, what I’m hearing from conservatives sounds like the response Democrats made in the 2004 election, when John Kerry was polling badly. Then, as now, there was this feeling that the polls were horribly wrong, and their candidate wasn’t actually losing. But the losing candidate was, in fact, losing.
So if the polls are off, then it must be the result of either a gross, industry-wide incompetence that is causing them all to use a faulty methodology, or a gross, industry-wide conspiracy–between both Republican and Democrat pollsters–to push a pro-Obama narrative. The alternative is that the polls aren’t off, and within a 3% or so margin of error, are reporting accurately what the electorate is saying. The latter seems to me to be far more likely.
Now, as to why so many voters are identifying as Democrats, I don’t have a clue. But consider this: pretty much everyone knows Bill Clinton is smarmy liar, and if he could run for a 3rd term…he’d win.
Also, consider that everyone remembers the Bill Clinton presidency as a time of economic growth and balanced budgets. They remember the end of Bush’s two terms as a time of complete economic collapse. The underlying reasons don’t matter, because most voters neither understand nor care. It may be that voters simply trust Obama more on the economy than they do Romney, because they fear a return to economic collapse. Maybe they think Obama has done as well as could be done. But simply dismissing that with a "the polls can’t be right" explanation is just whistling past the graveyard.
UPDATE: More here, including this graphic.
Now, let’s split this out and look at correlation:
That’s a pretty weak correlation. Look at the blue diamonds for the Obama lead. What is that, a bell curve? Seriously?
No, unless the poll makes a specific effort to model a voter turnout, and specifically samples for a given percentage of R-D-I, then the poll is just telling you what the respondents are telling the pollsters. They may tell them something different next week or next month, but the R-D-I sample is simply a result of respondent self-identification.
Today’s only economic release is the Empire State manufacturing index, which fell sharply to -10.41 vice -5.85 in August. New orders plunged to -14.03 down 12 points since June. Unfilled orders have been falling for months now, and stand at -14.89. On the other hand, the 6-month expectation for new orders is up to 17.02, well into positive territory. Whether those expectations will be met remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the district’s manufacturing sector continues to bump along the bottom.
This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the week’s events.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
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I‘ve Just finished watching a documentary call "The End of the Road: How money became worthless" on Netflix. It’s 55 minutes long. It’s wonderfully educational, and horrifically frightening.
IT explains exactly why I’ve been harping on the coming hyperinflation for the last three years, and it tells you how close we are to seeing it happen. It explains the current situation we face extremely clearly and simply, so that anyone can understand it.
You need to watch it as soon as you possibly can.
The Los Angeles Times was there when the LASO came to pick up the "Innocence of Muslims" filmmaker for a "voluntary interview".
As the Times put it:
Just after midnight Saturday morning, authorities descended on the Cerritos home of the man believed to be the filmmaker behind the anti-Muslim movie that has sparked protests and rioting in the Muslim world.
Sheriff’s officials could not be reached by The Times, but department spokesman Steve Whitmore told KNBC News that deputies assisting the federal probation department took Nakoula to the sheriff’s substation in Cerritos for interviewing.
Apparently, they’re concerned about a possible probation violation, because he wasn’t supposed to access the Internet. But now his horrible movie is on YouTube, so he may in trouble. Hence, brown-shirted men showed up at midnight to "escort" him to a "voluntary interview".
There’s no free speech issue at all to be concerned with here. Move along citizen.
Instapundit has a round-up of reaction.
Chris and I went down to Oceanside today, and I took along the FZ200 to take a few pictures. This time though, rather than fill up the front page, all the pictures are below the fold. All the pics are clickable, so you can see a 1920×1280 larger version.
Below the fold is a NSFW image. It is obscenely offensive. It was posted by The Onion in one of the most brilliant satirical statements about the cultural difference between the Muslim world and everyone else I’ve ever seen. As The Onion writes:
The image of the Hebrew prophet Moses high-fiving Jesus Christ as both are having their erect penises vigorously masturbated by Ganesha, all while the Hindu deity anally penetrates Buddha with his fist, reportedly went online at 6:45 p.m. EDT, after which not a single bomb threat was made against the organization responsible, nor did the person who created the cartoon go home fearing for his life in any way. Though some members of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths were reportedly offended by the image, sources confirmed that upon seeing it, they simply shook their heads, rolled their eyes, and continued on with their day.
The FBI will not launch an investigation to find out the identity of the artist involved. The offices of The Onion will not be besieged by angry Christians, demanding death to the editors. No heads will be cut off. No Internet-wide debate will be sparked on whether or not this image should be reproduced. No calls for the arrest and imprisonment of the author will be made.
But, if you were to add a bearded fellow with a turban into this depraved scene, we all know the response would be far different.
So, you can take your multicultural "no culture is better than any other" nonsense and stick it where the sun don’t shine.
Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:
The Consumer Price Index rose sharply, up 0.6% for the month, though the year-over-year inflation rate is 1.7%. The core CPI, ex-food and –energy, rose just 0.1% last month, and 1.7% on a year-over-year basis.
Business inventories rose 0.8% in July, while sales rose 0.9%, trimming the stock-to-sales ratio down to 1.28.
The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose a sharp 4.9 points to 79.2.
The Fed reports that industrial production declined by -1.2% last month, erasing the previous two month’s production increases. Capacity utilization at the nation’s factories fell -1.0% to 78.2% from 79.2 percent.
Retail sales jumped 0.9% in August, and sales less cars were up 0.8%. But, sales less gas and cars only rose 0.1% showing underlying weakness in the headline number. On a year-over-year basis, sales were up 4.7%. When taking prices into effect, sales were soft for the month.