The nonexistent recovery

RGD readers will know that I’m very skeptical of the reliability of government economic statistics, mostly because they are a constantly moving target that mutate over time. However, a closer look at everything from TOTLL to today’s GDP Advance (3.2% annual) makes it appear as if the statistical shenanigans are growing exponentially:

I’m concerned with these numbers – quite concerned in fact. The Federal Government borrowed (and presumably spent) $462 billion in excess of tax receipts over the first three months of 2010. But PCE – personal consumption expenditures – was up $83 billion and federal spending was up only 3.5 billion.

Where did the other $375 billion go?

Into a black hole of covering existing obligations, it appears, and the final private demand GDP deficit covered by this is almost exactly 10% (GDP for the quarter is ~3.650 trillion, so $375 billion is roughly 10% of that.)

Karl Denninger isn’t the only one to notice anomalies with regards to today’s BEA release. Calculated Risk notices that Residential Investment isn’t behaving in its usual post-recessionary manner: “RI as a percent of GDP is at a new record low. And there is no reason to expect a sustained increase in RI until the excess housing inventory is absorbed. Notice that RI usually recovers very quickly coming out of a recession. This time RI is moving sideways – not a good sign for a robust recovery in 2010.”

When rape is comedy gold

The ability of the progressive white woman to stare objective reality in the face and insist it doesn’t exist never ceases to amuse:

Two weeks ago, on a Monday morning, I started to write what I thought was a very clever editorial about violence against women in Haiti. The case, I believed, was being overstated by women’s organizations in need of additional resources. Ever committed to preserving the dignity of Black men in a world which constantly stereotypes them as violent savages, I viewed this writing as yet one more opportunity to fight “the man” on behalf of my brothers. That night, before I could finish the piece, I was held on a rooftop in Haiti and raped repeatedly by one of the very men who I had spent the bulk of my life advocating for.

It hurt. The experience was almost more than I could bear. I begged him to stop. Afraid he would kill me, I pleaded with him to honor my commitment to Haiti, to him as a brother in the mutual struggle for an end to our common oppression, but to no avail. He didn’t care that I was a Malcolm X scholar. He told me to shut up, and then slapped me in the face….

I went to Haiti after the earthquake to empower Haitians to self-sufficiency. I went to remind them of the many great contributions that Afro-descendants have made to this world, and of their amazing resilience and strength as a people. Not once did I envision myself becoming a receptacle for a Black man’s rage at the white world, but that is what I became. While I take issue with my brother’s behavior, I’m grateful for the experience.

Yes, it’s always a tragedy when a sex tour goes awry…. Compounding the humor here is the way in which the grateful rapee believes it is the fault of “the [white] man” that violent, savage black men rape silly white women who believe in the myth of equality. We can only conclude from this that she believes black men and white women alike are non-sapient animals incapable of making their own decisions or controlling their own behavior. It’s probably just as well that this dimwitted woman happened to choose race relations over the environment as her cretinous crusade. She is clearly that special sort of environmental activist that ends up eaten by bears.

But, even though she avoided a career in ursine digestion, I should nevertheless like to congratulate Ms Kijera on her award-winning entry into the Peace Bride Club, for excellence in female naivete.

Forward to the past

You can always count on the fact that some idiot in authority, somewhere, is going to try to destroy the fabric of civilization:

Lord Justice Laws condemned any attempt to protect believers who take a stand on matters of conscience under the law as “irrational” and “capricious”. In comments likely to set the church on a collision course with the courts, he claimed that doing so could set Britain on the road to a “theocracy”, or religious rule. His comments came as he dismissed a legal challenge by a Christian relationship counsellor who was sacked after refusing to offer sex therapy sessions to homosexual couples because it was against his beliefs.

The views expressed by the amusingly mistitled Lord Justice Laws are largely the same views previously expressed by every totalitarian leader or bureaucrat throughout history. For it is empirically and demonstrably obvious that what is capricious and irrational are the many vagaries of present UK/EU “law”, not belief systems that have been much more clearly codified and accepted by far more people for centuries.

Every intelligent individual, religious or irreligious, should be able to see the very clear danger involved in declaring the right of the state to override conscience and that “no religious belief itself could be protected under the law ‘however long its tradition, however rich its culture'”. This is overt totalitarian madness and is a direct conceptual strike at every cherished freedom of Western civilization. If there is no room for the law to respect religious beliefs, there is no room for it to respect beliefs of any kind and it rests upon a foundation of nothing more than the law of tooth and claw. It is not only absurd, but downright backwards to claim that respecting religious beliefs would put the UK “on the road to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic.” Most historical theocracies have been less autocratic than the current EU, and far less autocratic than dozens of the bloodthirsty anti-religious regimes of the 20th century.

Secularists should beware of celebrating this form of superficially secular form of jurisprudence, as it isn not indicative of a movement towards a rational and progressive secular humanist society, but rather the unlimited state power formerly seen in ancient pagan societies.

Mailvox: to call or not to call

Ex-NY makes me wonder when this place turned into Dear Vox:

Hi Vox,

Are you ready to dish-out some dating – rather than econ – advice? If yes, here’s the story: about three years ago I dated a very nice, Christian beta male. He was cute and fit and honorable and I really, really liked him. He really liked me too, but there was one big problem: I lived in NYC and didn’t have a car. He lived far away in my old hometown (a moderately-sized city) and it was really hard for us to see each other. After three months, I was frustrated about the distance, and I ended it with him. I know now that was stupid. My only excuse is that I was young and I wanted a boyfriend with whom I could do fun stuff whenever I wanted, like other girls. Also, I thought nice, stable, Christian, honorable beta-males were everywhere in NYC. More fool me! I soon regretted it, but was too embarrassed to call him.

Now it’s three years later, and a new job has brought me back to my old hometown. I was talking to a friend the other day and I heard my old beau is still in my old hometown and still single. I’d like to call him and tell him I have moved back and see if he’d like to get together. He may or may not be interested. But is making the call stupid and self-defeating on its face? Guys? How would you react?

Oh, sweet Darwin… all right, my opinion is that it can’t hurt to take a shot. Contacting him is neither stupid nor self-defeating. You have nothing to lose but your pride, and that’s simply not worth a lifetime of cat-collecting. To be young is to be stupid; we all make absurd decisions and do ridiculous things that we subsequently come to regret. Most men understand that. I think that if he is still as honorable as you say he was, he will be naturally inclined to at least hear you out. And besides, you say that he’s a beta so he’s probably not going to be overly put out by the assumption that you’ve been off chasing alphas in New York City for the past three years. (Whether you truly have or haven’t been is irrelevant. Most men correctly interpret “fun”, in female terms, to mean sex with alphas. Or at least marriage-inappropriate non-beta providers.)

So, once you’ve made the decision to contact him, what to say? I would simply recommend calling him up, apologizing for being too young and foolish to recognize his true value, and asking him if he’d be amenable to letting you take him out to dinner or meeting him for drinks by way of apology. If he seems open to the idea but reluctant, remind him that at worst, he’ll get free food and drinks for an evening. No harm no foul. Now, you don’t need to grovel – in fact you shouldn’t – but you will need to be open and apologetic about what you now regard as your regrettable stupidity and superficiality. And, of course, if he agrees, you will have to bring your A-game with regards to your dress and appearance. Stylish, sexy, and contrite is what you’re going for, not sackcloth, ashes, and “New York kicked my ass so I guess you losers in the sticks are my best option now”.

It may work. Or it may not. If he’s not embittered by the experience and your looks haven’t declined too drastically over the three years, I suspect your odds are pretty good. But whether it works or not, in the long run you will almost certainly feel much, much better for having made the effort. At least you will know; it is not our failures that we regret so much as our failures to even try.

Anyhow, that’s my take. Other opinions may vary. And on a tangential note: ladies, stop going to the Big City to pursue your big adventure before beginning your “real life”! I’ve seen it again and again. You are very unlikely to meet anyone interested in building a future with you there, you’re primarily going to encounter men who are in the Big City to have as many adventures as possible. So, if you’re interested in pursuing marriage and children some day, keep in mind that the Big City Adventure is nothing more than a total waste of your market peak.

Mailvox: prayer request

Regular reader LP sends this one out to the Ilk:

My mom was hit by 2 cars Tuesday evening. She is not ok, we are not sure about the extent of her injuries. She broke around 6 to 9 ribs, to top it all off, today is her 60th b-day. Her car was totaled as were the other cars. The two cars sandwiched my mother’s car. She may have cardio thoracic surgery, not sure on that, but her hip and pelvis are fractured. She was sent to Allegheny ICU in Pittsburgh. Dad and I have been there and so far she is looking so-so. Keep her in your prayers. Do pray for the other 2 to 3 people in the wreck as well as they were sent to UPMC ICU that night.

Here is hoping she will make a full recovery.

Homeschool or Die, VI

All forms of centralization comes with inherent risks:

A man armed with a knife went on a slashing and stabbing rampage in a kindergarten in southern China this morning, injuring 28 children, two teachers and a caretaker. It was the second such attack in two days on a school in China, and the third in a month…. One expert attributed the string of attacks on schoolchildren to increasing social problems in recent years. He said the choice of schoolchildren as targets could be a form of copycat phenomenon.

Fortunately nothing like that would never happen in your child’s school. Because, after all, crazy people live only in China. And, of course, all those wonderful and caring teachers will surely keep them safe… or perhaps not:

Just yesterday, a teacher on sick leave due to mental illness broke into a primary school in Guangdong province’s Leizhou city in southern China and wounded 15 students and a teacher in a knife attack.

A moment of clarity

Gordon Brown’s “bigoted woman” remark demonstrates the contempt of the modern transnationalist politician for the very people who keep him in power:

There is intense anger among large parts of the electorate at what is happening to this country, and in Mrs Duffy that discontent found its voice. In her encounter with Gordon Brown, she raised the two issues – the deficit and immigration – that have until now hardly featured in the campaign, even though they are of overwhelming concern to millions of voters. Rarely has the gulf between the political elite at Westminster and the people they are supposed to represent been more graphically illustrated.

Such encounters used to be the stuff of election campaigns and, in truth, Mr Brown handled the exchanges perfectly well. It was his extraordinary private remarks to an aide afterwards, picked up by an open microphone, that did the damage. His own insecurity was exposed when he described the encounter with Mrs Duffy as a “disaster”. It was not; he was courteous and they parted on good terms. Mr Brown’s curious over-reaction seems to confirm the view, widespread in Whitehall, that he regards a contrary point of view as a personal affront.

But it was his characterisation of this Labour-voting pensioner as “just a sort of bigoted woman” that is genuinely shocking. What message does it send when the Prime Minister (who once talked of “British jobs for British workers”) brands as “bigoted” anyone who dares raise the issue of immigration in a conversation with him? Such arrogance plays straight into the hands of the British National Party.

It is ironic, of course, that aside from the BNP and UKIP, the British political parties, Conservative, Labour, and Liberal-Democrat, are all hell-bent on destroying Great Britain and rendering it nothing more than a non-sovereign county in the great trans-European nation at the very same time that the fundamental economic idiosyncrasies are threatening to tear apart its bureaucrat-imposed political structure. I can’t imagine the Greek/Portugese/Spanish debt crisis is doing wonders for the pro-Euro stance of the major parties either.

It is long past time that people like Mrs. Duffy learn to stop voting for people who despise them and are working to their detriment.

Ender’s Arena

After a speedy game of old favorite War at Sea in which the brilliant and extraordinarily handsome Axis admiral took advantage of Ender’s inexplicable failure to control the Mediterranean in order to steal an early Turn 5 Axis Major Victory, it was decided that we would give the Avalon Hill classic Gladiator a try.

Ender’s first attempt in the Arena was remarkably short, coming as it did to a speedy end in the fifth phase of the first turn. His medium gladiator, Felix, was arguably the most inaptly named gladiator to ever stumble across the sands of the Colosseo. Felix collided twice with my champion Varius, a light gladiator who didn’t wear much armor but carried a large shield that gives +2 Impact Factors. Felix stumbled after the first collision, at which point Varius charged him, crashed into him behind the weight of that large shield, and Felix was out cold. Ender was more amused than disgusted, but wouldn’t even bother to consult the Moment of Truth chart to determine the unlucky Felix’s fate. *schlunk*

The undefeated Varius, whose wins date back over a period of ten years thanks to some old battles with Big Chilly and the Missile Digit, next met Ender’s light, but brawny Aptus. Aptus quickly put his massive +4 Strength to work, smashing into Varius and stunning him, then methodically bashing Varius’s large shield to bits. Varius repeatedly sought to get positional advantage to counteract the stun penalty he could not seem to shake, but to little avail.

After a few furious engagements, the two gladiators found themselves facing each other. Varius was vision-impaired, bleeding from a serious head wound, and was lacking both his shield and his weapon, which had been knocked from his grasp when parrying a thunderous head stroke. Aptus had clearly been getting the better of the combat, but was badly wounded in the chest due to four targeted attacks that had been inadequately blocked. Varius managed to elude Aptus’s subsequent charge and circled around behind to retrieve his sword, then immediately spun around to score with an all-or-nothing thrust to the chest that brought Aptus to death’s door.

In the first two phases of the fifth turn, Aptus tried to retreat, but Varius successfully anticipated his loss of nerve and forced two more engagements that both came within a single point of finishing Aptus off. But in the third phase, Varius made the mistake of sidestepping forward while Aptus turned and plowed straight ahead into the smaller, lighter, and shieldless gladiator. The combination of strength, shield, and movement advantages gave Aptus a +7 mod to the collision roll; Ender picked the perfect time to roll boxcars for a 19 that sent Varius sprawling unconscious on the bloody sands.

We were in accord that Varius merited Missus, as his Attack CF – Defense CF was +44 in only eight engagements. But the fans in the Colosseo were apparently in a bloodthirsty mood that day, as they nevertheless turned their thumbs down. *schlunk* And Varius the light gladiator was no more.

And now Spain

First Greece. Then Portugal. Now Spain. It shouldn’t be long before Ireland’s credit rating appears in the news, as per RGD.

Spain’s credit rating was cut to AA from AA+ by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services. The outlook is negative, S&P said.

It’s going to go lower than AA….

Here we go again

Another much-ballyhooed bazooka fails:

“We have gone past the point of no return,” said Jacques Cailloux, chief Europe economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland.“There is a complete loss of confidence. The bond markets are in disintegration and it is getting worse every day. “The ECB has been side-lined in the Greek crisis so far but do you allow a bond crash in your region if you are the lender-of-last resort? They may have to act as contagion spreads to larger countries such as Italy. We started to see the first glimpse of that today.”

Mr Cailloux said the ECB should resort to its “nuclear option” of intervening directly in the markets to purchase government bonds. This is prohibited in normal times under the EU Treaties but the bank can buy a wide range of assets under its “structural operations” mandate in times of systemic crisis, theoretically in unlimited quantities.

And here is a perfect example of the inherent danger – and stupidity – in centralizing any form of power. In the pre-Euro days, Greece could have devalued the drakhma and relieved the pressure on its bond market. The effects would have been negative, but limited solely to Greece. Now, thanks to the centralized structure of the EU, the bail-out expense threatens the pocketbooks of Germans and the debt contagion threatens Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, and Irish bonds.

The worst thing is that the proposed “emergency” solution involves further centralization, which involves kicking the problem down the road for a while. This means that when the debt issue resurfaces, it will threaten the ECB directly. The ECB would be wise to do what the Fed did not have the courage to do and let Greece default. Unfortunately, wisdom and central bankers appear to be mutually exclusive concepts these days.

I am amused by the continued expansion of the financial analogies, though. First the Fed had a “gun”, then the EU had a “bazooka”. Now the ECB has a “nuclear option”. But, like previous analogical armaments that were brandished so futilely, it can only be perceived as effective so long as it isn’t used. It’s an empty bluff, just like all the previous ones.

Here’s a few more details on the latest in the ongoing Euromeltodown:

ATHENS — Greece was pushed to the brink of a financial abyss and started dragging another eurozone country – Portugal – down with it Tuesday, fueling fears of a continent-wide debt meltdown. Stocks around the world tanked when ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded Greek bonds to junk status and downgraded Portugese bonds two notches, showing investors that Greece’s financial contagion is spreading. Major European exchanges fell more than 2.5 percent, and on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average finished down more than 200 points. The euro slid more than 1 percent to nearly an eight-month low.

“We have the makings of a market crisis here,” said Neil Mackinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital.

Greece is struggling with massive debt, and with prospects for economic growth weak it could end up in default. Its 15 eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund have tried to calm the markets with a euro45 billion rescue package, but it hasn’t worked.

Standard & Poor’s warned that holders of Greek debt could take large losses in any restructuring, but a greater worry is that Greece’s debt crisis is mushrooming to other debt-laden members of the eurozone.

One bailout can be dealt with but two will be stretching it, and there are fears that other weak economies could be pulled down in the Greek spiral – including Europe’s fifth-largest, Spain. Can Germany, Europe’s effective paymaster, continue to bail out the weaker members of the eurozone?

The crisis threatens to undermine the euro and make it harder and more expensive for all eurozone governments to borrow money.

It has also disrupted cooperation between eurozone governments, with Germany resisting the idea of bailing out Greece unless strict conditions are met. Many investors think Greece will have enough money to avoid default in the coming weeks, but the future is cloudier. Both Standard & Poor’s and the Greek finance ministry insisted that the country will have enough money to make the euro8.5 billion bond payments due on May 19.

Beware the post-Ides of May….