Fake President has nothing to do with the “Trump” Rally


Another Republican Golden Shower

❝ The other day, President Donald Trump shared a few thoughts about the stock market.

Like so many of the president’s statements, this one is objectively false. Our charge today is to set aside the political debate, and instead use his statement as an opportunity to explore ways to compare markets and rallies…

❝ No. 1. U.S. Presidential Rallies: As Bloomberg News reported the other day, “the ‘unprecedented’ stock market rally since his election right now isn’t big enough to crack the top five in presidential history.” As the accompanying chart shows, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has gained 19 percent since the 2016 election. That rates better than three other post-presidential elections: George W. Bush in 2004 (7 percent), Bill Clinton in 1992 (10 percent), and Barack Obama in 2012 (16 percent).

❝ …The Trump rally clocks in at No. 7. While that is pretty good — remember that markets fell after some presidents won election — it is hardly unprecedented.

Just as an aside — I am on record as reminding people that all presidents get too much credit when things go right and too much blame when they go wrong. Using market performance as a basis of presidential prestige or lack thereof is the refuge of partisan hacks and scoundrels.

❝ No. 2. Global Rallies: As we have discussed before, looking at a market rally in the U.S. while ignoring gains overseas is a foolish approach to performance analysis…

❝ The president seems to be naïvely making absolute performance claims while ignoring the data on relative performance. Imagine a mutual fund or hedge fund manager making similar claims. The disciplinary fines would be enormous.

Either way, the investing public deserves better.

RTFA for a bit more detail and illustration from Barry Ritholtz. No matter, market gains since Election Day simply have been nothing out of the ordinary.

Trump, as usual, lies like a rug. The fake news comes from a fake president.

Fun with math: What Ten Million Simulations Tell Us about Trump’s Chances of Achieving 3-Percent Economic Growth

❝ President Donald Trump’s budget is premised on the projection that the United States will be able to raise its long-run economic growth rate to 3 percent a year. This rate allows the budget to assume large tax cuts and still project a balanced budget after ten years. This long-run forecast represents the largest divergence between an administration forecast and that of either the consensus forecast of the Blue Chip survey of private forecasters (2.0 percent) or that of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO, 1.9 percent) in many decades…

❝ To assess how likely the United States is to experience 3-percent growth over the next decade, I estimated the likely range of future potential GDP growth by taking random draws from the history of productivity growth rates, changes in the labor force participation rate, and changes in average hours worked… In running 10,000,000 simulations, the estimated median annual growth rate over the next decade was 1.8 percent, while the 90-percent confidence interval ran from 0.7 percent to 3.0 percent… The odds of the growth rate being at or above 3 percent are only 4 percent — essentially requiring the economy to repeat some of the fastest productivity growth it has seen over the past seven decades.

Not that our so-called president or most of his so-called advisors are likely to consider any of these scenarios in their ideology. Even those few individuals accustomed to this level of arithmetic will challenge the boss on facts. He doesn’t want facts. He wants answers which fit his 6th grade-level semantics, economics understanding and a demographic base even more ignorant.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Billionaires Party(s) retain control of Congress

A new poll indicates that billionaires are likely to retain control of the United States government.

The poll, conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, shows that the proxy candidates of billionaires are likely to win ninety-eight per cent of…Tuesday’s races, with the remaining two per cent leaning billionaire.

Although the poll indicates that some races are still “too close to call,” the fact that billionaires funded candidates on both sides puts the races safely in their column.

Davis Logsdon, who supervised the poll for the University of Minnesota, said that…Tuesday should be “a big night for oligarchs” and that both houses of Congress can be expected to grovel at the feet of their money-gushing paymasters for at least the next two years.

Calling the billionaires’ upcoming electoral romp “historic,” Logsdon said, “We have not seen the super-rich maintain such a vise-like grip on the government since the days immediately preceding the French Revolution.”

I think most folks who wander by this blog would be hard-pressed to consider this piece to be satire. I think it’s as accurate as anything available through the whole bloody election cycle.

Let’s save it for 2016.

NSA has already tested tracking the GPS in your cellphone


You thought they were listening to a ballgame in there, eh?

The director of the U.S. National Security Agency has admitted the agency tracked the location of Americans’ cellphone calls as part of a pilot program.

NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander said the tracking took place in 2010 and 2011 and was authorized under a portion of the Patriot Act and with the knowledge and approval of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Those who were tracked were not suspected of any wrongdoing or had any known connection to terrorist elements abroad, The Hill reported Wednesday.

Alexander said the program was halted because the NSA doesn’t need to collect the information itself. Instead, Alexander said, the NSA passes phone data to the Federal Bureau of Investigations where agents can determine whether there’s probable cause to seek a warrant for cellphone data tracking, including GPS information.

“This may be something that would be a future requirement for the country, but it is not right now because when we identify a number, we can give that to the FBI,” Alexander said. “When they get their probable cause, they can get the location data they need.”

Alexander knows damned well he needn’t worry about any interference with the NSA’s star chamber permit. Neither the White House nor Congress will offer significant protest.

Continue reading

“China lands fighter jet on new carrier in show of force”

This has my nomination for dumb Cold War headline of the week!

China has carried out its first successful landing of a fighter jet on its first aircraft carrier, state media said on Sunday, a symbolically significant development as Asian neighbors fret about the world’s most populous country’s military ambitions.

The home-built J-15 fighter jet took off from and landed on the Liaoning, a reconditioned Soviet-era vessel from Ukraine which only came into service in September this year…

Spend some time searching around the world. The only people “fretting” are Cold Warriors and obedient editors.

China is embroiled in disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam over South China Sea islands believed to be surrounded by waters rich in natural gas. It has a similar dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea.

It has also warned the United States, with President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, not to get involved.

“We should make active planning for the use of military forces in peacetime, expand and intensify military preparedness, and enhance the capability to accomplish a wide range of military tasks, the most important of which is to win local war in an information age,” Hu said.

Oh. Such a scary quote about force of arms.

China has advertised its long-term military ambitions with shows of new hardware, including its first test flight of a stealth fighter jet in early 2011, an elite helicopter unit and the launch of the aircraft carrier.

I don’t fault the journalists at Reuters especially. They get paid to crank out what the editors demand – and they have more opportunity to produce useful, informative work than many of their peers. I’m a fan of Reuters going all the way back to Edward G. Robinson. 🙂

But, this Cold War crap isn’t worth the weight of electrons it consumes. Who is the foreign power sailing into these waters? Anyone recall how Japan originally took ownership of the islands in question in the East China Sea? Folks in Formosa [Taiwan] surely do. Who is bringing a battle flotilla into waters thousands of miles from home – at American taxpayers’ expense?

I occasionally report on military hardware. What geek doesn’t? The only military in this scenario that’s operating with imperial arrogance – is the United States Navy. Mail me a penny postcard when China sails an uninvited warcraft up Long Island or into Chesapeake Bay. Please.

Euro politicians vote to keep world’s best salaries and perks

European politicians rejected three cost-cutting measures, which would have seen salaries frozen and travel allowances cut, in a move branded as “shameful”.

The first amendment to be voted down called for MEPs and senior EU staff to fly economy class for journeys of less than four hours around Europe instead of business class – a proposal that would have saved an estimated £20m a year.

They then rejected an amendment which recommended that “savings in the Parliament should start by its own members”, which called for no further increases in MEP salaries and their various parliamentary allowances in 2012.

Finally they rejected a third amendment which stated MEPs should not be paid for both being in the Parliament and travelling to or from it. MEPs receive an average flat rate allowance of £168 to cover the cost of travelling from their homes to either Brussels or Strasbourg.

MEPs are paid an average £83,000 per year, compared to MPs in Britain, who have an annual salary of £65,738.

They also receive a daily “subsistence allowance” of £265, they can be refunded up to £3,600 per year for other travel outside their own country, and be reimbursed for up to 24 return journeys within their own country. Members also receive up to £242,000 annually in staff salaries and office expenses and benefit from a generous health care and pension system. It is estimated that an MEP can cost around £400,000-a-year

Marta Andreasen said: “This proves categorically and unambiguously that when the European Parliament speaks of austerity measures it applies to everybody else except the institution itself…

At the same time, MEPs gave their blessing to the multi-million-pound House of European History museum project and also voted to approve a 2.3 per cent increase in the Parliament’s budget for 2012 to £1.5bn.

I’m certain everyone who gets to contribute to the maintenance of politicians to this standard feels just tip-top about the expense. Right?

Blogging Is Dead just like the Web Is Dead

Blogging is on the decline, according to a New York Times story published this weekend — citing research from the Pew Center’s Internet and American Life Project — and it is declining particularly among young people, who are using social networks such as Facebook instead. Pretty straightforward, right? Except that the actual story said something quite different: even according to the figures used by the New York Times itself, blogging activity is actually increasing, not decreasing. And as the story points out, plenty of young people are still blogging via the Tumblr platform, even though they may not think of it as “blogging.” What blogging is really doing is evolving.

The NYT story notes that blogging among those aged 12 to 17 fell by half between 2006 and 2009 according to the Pew report, but among 18 to 33-year-olds it only dropped by two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier — which isn’t exactly a huge decline. And among 34 to 45-year-olds, blogging activity rose by six percentage points. The story also admits that the Blogger platform, which is owned by Google, had fewer unique visitors in the U.S. in December than it had a year earlier (a 2-percent decline), but globally its traffic climbed by 9 percent to 323 million.

In many ways, this “blogging is dying” theory is similar s to the “web is dead” argument that Wired magazine tried to float last year, which really was about the web evolving and expanding into different areas. It’s true that Facebook and Twitter have led many away from blogging because they are so fast and easy to use, but they have also both helped to reinforce blogging in many ways.

What’s really happening, as Toni Schneider of Automattic — the corporate parent of the WordPress publishing platform (see disclosure behind the article link) — noted in the NYT piece, is that what blogging represented even four or five years ago has evolved into much more of a continuum of publishing. People post content on their blogs, or their “Tumblrs,” and then share links to it via Twitter and Facebook; or they may post thoughts via social networks and then collect those thoughts into a longer post on a blog. Blog networks such as The Huffington Post get a lot of attention, but plenty of individuals are still making use of the longer-form publishing abilities that blogs allow…

So what we really have now is a multitude of platforms: there are the “micro-blogging” ones like Twitter, then there are those that allow for more interaction or multimedia content like Facebook, and both of those in turn can enhance existing blogging tools like WordPress and Blogger. And then there is Tumblr, which is like a combination of multiple formats. The fact that there are so many different choices means there is even more opportunity for people to find a publishing method they like. So while “blogging” may be on the decline, personal publishing has arguably never been healthier.

I guess Mathew is inspired to post his comments as a reaction to the ancient newspaper practice of having someone write headlines other than the journalist who wrote the article. The NY TIMES article contains a boatload of contradictions to the headline. Something that always trips my trigger.

“…internet users in Gen X (those ages 34-45) and older cohorts are more likely than Millennials to engage in several online activities, including visiting government websites and getting financial information online.” and in the PR release accompanying the report – “the biggest online trend is that, while the very youngest and oldest cohorts may differ, certain key internet uses are becoming more uniformly popular across all age groups. These online activities include seeking health information, purchasing products, making travel reservations, and downloading podcasts.”

Even the analysis of growing use of social networks is incorrect – since the fastest growth is among geezers my age. Damned if I know why, though. 🙂