In your opinion, what does this blog need more of?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Retailers rush to hire for holidays

WSJ - retailers rush to hire for holidays. Quote:

Retailers geared up to hire holiday-season workers in August this year, an unusually early start showing how competition has intensified for temporary help in a tight labor market.

Data from job-search site shows retailers, and the warehouse and logistics firms they compete with for seasonal labor, started searching for temporary workers a month earlier than in recent years. This suggests retailers and other firms “anticipate stronger consumer demand and expect that it will be harder to find the people they want to hire,” said Indeed economist Jed Kolko.

Last year, more than one in four retail workers hired in the fourth quarter of 2015 started their jobs in October, the highest share on records back to the 1930s.


The tighter labor market also is putting upward pressure on wages. Wages paid by retailers and other typically low-wage employers have increased in recent years as the pool of available workers shrank.

“Retailers, in general, are going to wind up paying more for their seasonal workforce than they have in the past, and probably more than they’re expecting,” said Joel Bines, co-head of consulting firm Alix Partners LLP’s retail practice.

I know that nowadays mainstream economics considers it the hallmark of an evil communist dictatorship for the working class to be paid a decent wage; but the fact is that it's good for consumption, and thus good for the economy.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Trump's chances continue to vanish

Battleground 270 - chances of a Clinton or Trump victory. As of today, the chance of a Trump victory is down to 2.4%.

Mainly because his chances are vanishing in Michigan, and Clinton has now drawn even-ish in Georgia.

So now he's threatening to sue everyone who accused him of sexual assault.

It's nice to know that all the Breitbart and Alex Jones in the world can't save you from reality.

As far as the third debate goes:

Disappointing that they didn't even use "no, you're the puppet". That was the best line in the whole debate.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

What happened to Wikileaks?

Gizmodo - what happened to Wikileaks?

Short answer? They sold out and became a tool of the Soviet Union's the Russian authoritarian kleptocracy's FUD machine.

Long answer?:

Once dedicated to careful vetting and redaction—sometimes too much redaction—the “whistleblower site” is now gleefully basking in its dump of thousands of emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee—most of which are full of personal, non-newsworthy information—published with the express intent of harming Hillary Clinton’s political campaign. In this latest release, there is no brave whistleblower in sight, just an anonymous hacker believed by the FBI and U.S. intelligence community to be a front for Russian intelligence services. The WikiLeaks project has fallen far from the lofty heights of its founding a decade ago, when Julian Assange promised to “facilitate safety in the ethical leaking movement.”

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way: It’s a good thing that, thanks to the leak, the public now knows the extent to which the DNC tilted the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary. It’s also a good thing that former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to step down as a result of these revelations. The DNC had an obligation to stay neutral during the nominating process, and these emails show that the organization failed at that. Much of what has been reported on out of the hack was newsworthy.

What isn’t good is that the documents released last week (19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments) were dumped in an extremely calculated manner by an organization that holds clear and obvious political motives. It’s also not good that these emails most likely came from hackers working with the Russian government in an attempt to influence the U.S. election. On top of that, WikiLeaks’ careless failure to vet the contents of what they were unleashing on the internet led to the dumping of credit card and social security numbers of individuals who had committed the crime of donating to the Democratic Party.

It hasn’t always been this way. In 2010, when Wikileaks published 15,000 classified field reports from the U.S. war in Afghanistan, it delayed the release until it could properly redact and vet the documents. In the case of the DNC emails, it appears that WikiLeaks was more interested in timing the release for maximum political damage than in combing through the trove to ensure that what it was releasing met its own goal of publishing “materials involving war, spying and corruption.”

The value in publishing the field reports, as well as the trove of State Department cables that WikiLeaks also obtained from Chelsea Manning, was in part the sheer volume of information: There were specific stories and details that were newsworthy, to be sure, but the bold act of tearing the cover of secrecy wholesale off of hundreds of thousands of official documents that were generated by a purportedly democratic government was breathtaking. They permitted global analysis of both our conduct of foreign policy and a largely undercovered war, and gave citizens a rare look inside the behaviors and thinking of officials who were acting in their name.


But this DNC dump is a different animal, reeking of the sort of “information vandalism” that anti-secrecy activist Steven Aftergood has accused Assange of perpetrating. These emails were not official documents, they were not created by government employees. The logic of wholesale non-consensual transparency does not apply as cleanly to the email inboxes of political workers who do not act in the name of the citizenry. Yes, the DNC is a powerful institution, and yes, its internal machinations are newsworthy. But innocuous exchanges between DNC employees and their spouses or partners do not become evidence of corruption simply by virtue of their adjacency in a database to more substantive conversations about kneecapping Bernie Sanders. Nor do the Social Security numbers of Democratic donors—even the rich ones!—whose donations are already public in Federal Election Commission databases.


According to Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on Edward Snowden’s NSA documents, it is now harder than ever to defend WikiLeaks.

“I used to defend WikiLeaks all the time on the grounds that they were not indiscriminate dumpers of information,” Greenwald told Slate. “They were carefully protecting people’s reputations. And they have changed their view on that—and no longer believe, as Julian says, in redacting any information of any kind for any reason—and I definitely do not agree with that approach and think that they can be harmful to innocent people or other individuals in ways that I don’t think is acceptable.”

It also shows a fair bit of stupidity. I've been to Wikileaks, and no average American citizen is going to spend days plowing through bullshit to look for a gem of information. And the only press who are going to bother are people looking for material for another hit piece on the Democrats; except the American press who'd typically be interested in such a thing don't need facts or evidence to write those stories anyway.

So in the end, the entire email release amounts to nothing more than a couple jackasses going "ha ha! I hax0red ur ema1ls and dropped ur dox0rs!"

Well, and also now Pooty-Poot is on Hillary's radar.

Friday, October 21, 2016

New Yorker article on Trump supporters

New Yorker - making peace with Trump's revolutionaries. It's amazing, from a sociological perspective. Most of these people are basically doing the 21st-century equivalent of speaking in tongues, as if there's some weird spirit inside them that they sometimes let take over their bodies, but which they don't even recognize as part of their identity:

In 2011, I moved with my family to Cairo, Egypt, although we came back for regular visits. This past summer, we returned to live in Colorado full-time. The transition has been so recent that I haven’t changed my business cards, and, when Bill Pope finally appeared at his gate, I decided to give him a trigger warning. I explained that I had just returned after working in the Middle East, and I flipped over the card and showed that the back was printed in Arabic.

“I have to kill you, motherfucker!” he said. “I don’t like Muslim cocksuckers!”

But he smiled broadly—saying these things seemed to make him happy.
And I realized he was right—if you were to analyze the mood of the event, without thinking about the actual principles of the campaign, it felt friendly and open. People were eager to talk to strangers, and, even when they complained or criticized, there wasn’t any sense of anger, at least not until Trump appeared.
After the rally was finished, a nice-looking blond woman made her way down the fence, shouting, “Journalism is dead! Journalism is dead!” But, when I stepped forward and asked her to explain what she meant, she immediately calmed down, and we had a pleasant conversation.

It's really just a rework of 19th-century big-tent Christian snake-charmer revivalism, with the content replaced.

And how does it survive?

As the veteran had told me on the college campus, a real revolution requires commitment—if you’re determined to overthrow Mubarak, then you have to stay on the square and fight his minions until it’s finished. But there’s no way to fight the vast international conspiracies of the Jews, the Turks, and the Americans.

So really it's just one great Game of Thrones fantasy world that these people let themselves inhabit, once it a while, just to rescue themselves from the boring bullshit of their everyday lives.

Friday video: London Grammar again

This time live:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

World's best buy signal just given

Antonio Fatas - on that Shiller bullshit. Read it, if you want.

I personally think the Shiller is a fantastic buy signal, in the following way:

The minute I see a bunch of fucking mainstream media idiots and incompetent hedge fund cokeheads screaming "the Shiller is too high! Sell sell sell!", I buy the S&P with both fists.

I.e., the minute anyone advances that Shiller bullshit as a reason to sell, it's a great buy signal.

I personally like the new "no fucks left to give" Obama

BBC - stop whining, Obama tells Trump. I like this new, no fucks left to give, Obama:

US President Barack Obama has told Donald Trump to "stop whining" as he rejected his claim that next month's White House election will be rigged.

He said Mr Trump's attempt to discredit a poll before it has even taken place was "unprecedented" for a US presidential candidate.

Also "unprecedented", said Mr Obama, was the Republican candidate's "flattery" of Russia's president.

Mr Trump is facing sinking poll numbers and accusations of sexual assault.

The businessman-turned-politician has claimed the 8 November election will be "absolutely rigged" for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

But in a White House Rose Garden news conference on Tuesday alongside visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Mr Obama said his assertions were "based on no facts".

"I'd advise Mr Trump to stop whining and try to make his case to get votes," Mr Obama said.

"By the way," he added, "[it] doesn't really show the kind of leadership and toughness that you want out of a president, if you start whining before the game's even over.

"If whenever things are going badly for you and you lose you start blaming somebody else, then
you don't have what it takes to be in this job."

It took him 2.5 years of reading my blog, but he's finally grown a pair and started telling it like it is.

Can we elect this guy for President again, maybe?

And by the way, all of you clowns reading this blog who still support Trump in any way whatsoever have to admit that Obama's got a point. "All my accusers are liars!" and "The election is rigged!" and "The Republican elite are all traitors!" and "The media is part of a global conspiracy!" and "Hitlary's done worse! She ran an email server!" are the words of a simpering, gutless fucking pussywimp who doesn't have the fucking guts to mow the lawn, let alone run a fucking country.

And being a wimp like that, Pooty-Poot would have Trump bent over his desk with his pants round his ankles in 5 minutes. That's why Putin supports Trump.

Monday, October 17, 2016

New Deal Demoncrat is being a bit of a pussy

NDD - DOOOOOM. Far as I'm concerned, he's being a bit of a pussy.

1. There are a lot of micro reasons why housing starts are horizontal. Partly, they lost a lot of their workforce and can't replace them. Also, I've read land is a bit scarce nowadays. Third, I've read the existing stock that was bought distressed for rental post-crisis is coming back on market. This time is not like last time.

2. LWV and housing starts may also be horizontal because we've finally filled in the slack in the economy that was caused by the crisis in 2008. Again, this time is not like last time.

3. Also, what little stimulus there was in 2009-2010 would have brought demand forward. Again, this time is not like last time.

4. When you say "housing starts did make just barely a new high several months ago", what you're doing is ignoring the error bars in that metric. I suspect the data is not precise enough for you to ever know when it made "just barely" a new high.

5. Next time Leamer talks about the housing cycle, ask him to clarify whether his mechanism is asset-price-like, or whether it's herp de derpity derp. Because I haven't read anything about housing prices dropping anywhere.

6. M2 is still growing. Why?

7. Wages are finally rising. Is that the prelude to a recession?

8. Blah blah something something demographics. Go ask Bill McBride.

Now sure, the US economy is still fragile enough to be easily tippable by an external shock.

But it is also fragile enough in the upward direction: if, say, Clinton wins the election and also takes the House & Senate, and swings the Supreme Court to her side, and maybe brings in some badly-needed infrastructure spending, while minimum wage hikes continue across the country, improving demand.

Your horizontal lines only prove that the hole has been filled in.

And if you want to reason by analogy, which is what you do when you use a time series, then FFS you can't pick worse than 2008. Compare your graphs to the 1990s, and yes I know the data series ain't always there.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Gutsy Trump election prediction: under 30% of the popular vote

I've been watching interviews of Trump supporters at rallies, and I've come to the conclusion that, despite Trump polling at 44% nationally as of yesterday, even if he doesn't dig his hole even deeper, he is still going to poll under 30% come election time.

Here's why.

I worked at a market research company for years when I was a kid, calling people to do surveys. Yes, the only political work I ever did was a very short Harris poll a few times, most of it was market research; and most of the time I only called Canada, though we did for a while have one big contract calling the USA (for a Canadian cigarette company, I think). But the principle of what I write below still holds.

There is a certain type of person who usually refuses to respond to surveys. They're sometimes just reticent, sometimes generally just pissed off at calls from strangers, sometimes just refuse as a matter of principle and that's okay. Some of those people will refuse to answer a specifically political poll, because they like to keep their political beliefs personal, and that's also okay.

However, a significant nonzero part of the refusing population are refusing simply because they're ignorant fucking fruitcakes.

Those fucking fruitcakes would refuse in 2000 when called for a Gore/Bush poll. They refused in 2008 for the Obama/McCain poll. Simply, that's what you do if you're a fucking fruitcake who hates politics: you refuse, mumble something incoherent or plain ignorant, and hang up the phone. Trust me, I experienced this.

In 2016, however, given what I've seen of Trump rallies, it seems to have become fashionable for fucking fruitcakes who hate politics to have a political opinion and espouse it for the whole world to see.

Those people used to self-select themselves out of polls, but now they're self-selecting themselves into polls.

And guess what? The fruitcake population doesn't vote. Some are nonvoting felons, some will be too drunk or lazy that day to go out, some are even ignorant of how to vote in the first place. You're seeing some of those people in the press today, blathering on about how they want to go to a polling station carrying guns to intimidate people for Trump, not understanding that this is the best way to get yourself shot ten times in the fucking face by an armoured fucking SWAT team. They have never been to a polling station.

Basically, nonvoters have self-selected themselves into the pool of counted Trump voters. So when the poll says "44% for Trump", you can count a certain number of those voters out come election day.

The people who do vote are little old ladies. And, I guess, business owners, people who like to exercise their civic duty, and maybe a few hardcore cranks.

They won't be voting Trump to the tune of 44%.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Gay lovers Putin & Trump find their Wikileaks strategy is backfiring

South China Morning Post - Clinton shows how to lay the smackdown on Chinese territorial ambitions. This is happening while Russia tries to get the American public to fap over Podesta's fwd:fwd:fwd:fwd:kitty.gif emails:

In the paid speech to Goldman Sachs, Clinton said she confronted Chinese officials about the South China Sea during her tenure as secretary.

“I said, by that argument, you know, the United States should claim all of the Pacific. We liberated it; we defended it. We have as much claim to all of the Pacific. And we could call it the American Sea, and it could go from the West Coast of California all the way to the Philippines.”

She said in the speech that she had told her Beijing counterparts the Chinese claims to the South China Sea were based on “pottery shards” from “some fishing vessel that ran aground in an atoll somewhere”, whereas the US claim to the Pacific would be based on “convoys of military strength” in the second world war and the claim Americans “discovered Japan”.

Thanks, Russkies! You just proved that Clinton has the balls to go toe-to-toe with China over the South China Sea!

Cut ties to Trump, big donors urge RNC

NY Times - cut ties to Trump, big donors urge RNC. This bit is rich:

To an elite group of Republican contributors who have donated millions of dollars to the party’s candidates and committees in recent years, the cascade of revelations related to Mr. Trump’s sexual conduct is grounds for the committee to cut ties with the party’s beleaguered standard-bearer, finally and fully.

“At some point, you have to look in the mirror and recognize that you cannot possibly justify support for Trump to your children — especially your daughters,” said David Humphreys, a Missouri business executive who contributed more than $2.5 million to Republicans from the 2012 campaign cycle through this spring and opposed Mr. Trump’s bid from the outset.

OK, so you had no problem justifying your support when Trump said he'd build a wall along the Mexican border, and make the Mexicans pay for it by confiscating cross-border remittances?

You had no problem explaining to your children what you liked about Trump's attacks on the family of a dead US muslim soldier?

More broadly speaking, you felt fine letting your children see you support candidates who advocate transvaginal ultrasounds, striking nonwhites off the voter lists, and taking medical insurance from 20 million people?

Friday video: more Birdy

A trillion times better than Bon Iver's original: