The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for June, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $360.2 billion, a decrease of 0.5 percent from the previous month, but 4.8 percent above June 2009.
Total sales for the April through June 2010 period were up 6.8 percent from the same period a year ago. The April to May 2010 percent change was revised from -1.2 percent to -1.1 percent.
Retail trade sales were down 0.6 percent from May 2010, but 5.0 percent above last year. Nonstore retailers sales were up 12.1 percent from June 2009 and gasoline stations sales were up 8.8 percent from last year.
The only believable number in the report is gasoline sales. Otherwise the problem is in Census Bureau methodology.
The advance estimates are based on a subsample of the Census Bureau’s full retail and food services sample. A stratified random sampling method is used to select approximately 5,000 retail and food services firms whose sales are then weighted and benchmarked to represent the complete universe of over three million retail and food services firms. Responding firms account for approximately 65% of the MARTS dollar volume estimate.
The methodology misses stores that went out of business and have no retail sales. Circuit City is a prime example but also note that thousands of small strip mall stores are now shuttered as well. Some of that volume went to the surveyed stores making it appear sales went up.
The only accurate way of computing retail sales is to look at state sales tax data. Even then, tax data can be misleading because one needs to factor in changes in tax policy, notably states increasing sales tax rates.
For example, a rise in the sales tax rate from 7% to 8% would result in a 14% increase in sales tax collections (all other things being equal).
The Rockefeller Institute reports "The growth in state tax revenues is not an indication of broad state fiscal recovery, but is mostly driven by legislated changes [massive tax increases] in two states — California and New York."
The Census Bureau came out this morning with a report on “Manufacturer’s Shipments, Inventories and Orders” for October. The report was bullish as it showed new orders for manufactured goods rising for the sixth time in seven months. But, more importantly, it also showed that manufacturers are adding inventory which means that production is now outstripping demand, adding to upside potential for GDP this quarter.
The report states:
New orders for manufactured goods in October, up six of the last seven months, increased $2.1 billion or 0.6 percent to $360.5 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. This followed a 1.6 percent September increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.5 percent.
Shipments, up four of the last five months, increased $3.1 billion or 0.8 percent to $368.0 billion. This followed a 1.3 percent September increase.
Unfilled orders, down thirteen consecutive months, decreased $2.9 billion or 0.4 percent to $730.8 billion. This was the longest streak of consecutive monthly decreases since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992. This followed a 0.4 percent September decrease. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio was 5.82, up from 5.79 in September.
Inventories, up following thirteen consecutive monthly decreases, increased $1.8 billion or 0.4 percent to $493.0 billion. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.34, down from 1.35 in September.
While inventories have been pared less slowly in the past, they have now dropped to the point where producers are increasing production so much they are adding inventories.
We should expect this to increase hours worked and income for existing workers first. Only then will temp staff and then permanent staff be taken on. Nevertheless, this is another welcome sign of recovery.
"We’re leveling off! We’re leveling off!"—so is the hope of TTT, Helicopter Ben, Larry the Wall Street Lackey and the rest of Team Obama. "This recession is leveling off!"
No it’s not: The unemployment figures just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are totally cosmetic: We lost a whole lot more than 531,000 unemployed.
First, the "seasonal adjustment", which is a black box that can tweek me into looking like Dumbo the flying elephant. They’re knocking off ±65,000 workers for no clearly discernible reason. Second, notice that the Census Bureau hired 60,000 people last month. Those workers (by definition) are temporary, and are a net cost to the economy, as they will not be adding marginal utility to any economic sector, the census being merely a social expenditure.
Those two items alone turn 530,000 new unemployed into 655,000.
Now notice how, once again, previous months’ figures have been readjusted. This time, the readjustments weren’t so bad—a mere 30,000 more unemployed in February, turning that month’s official totals to 681,000, and another 30,000 for March, making that month’s official number 699,000, just shy of that magic 700,000 monthly number (BTW, remember back in the good old days when 300,000 monthly unemployed was"shocking"?)
But notice too: When those more realistic numbers were released, the markets were more or less copacetic—at least they weren’t nervously contemplating another suicidal round of cliff-diving, as we currently are. Ever since the October ’08 release of Sept. ’08 unemployment, when arguably the BLS numbers had a role in triggering the sell-off of that very nasty month, the unemployment numbers have been generally rosy whenever there’s been general nervousness in the markets around the time of the number’s release. I know this sounds crazy-man paranoid, but bear with me: Every time the markets have been nervous,the BLS numbers look pretty good, or at least not that bad, relatively speaking—and then the next month the figures are very quietly revised, sometimes by as much as 35% on the upward side.
I will bet one double Quarter Pounder with cheese and bacon that next month, the revisions of the April numbers will be on the order of an additional 85,000 unemployed. My guess is that, discounting the Census Bureau hirings, April saw 680,000 newly unemployed workers.
One person controls Illinois more than any other. That person is not the Governor. Rather it’s Michael Madigan, Speaker of the House. And it’s been that way for 33 years.
This is a guest post by Austin Berg, of the Illinois Policy Institute.
Madigan’s rules: How one man controls Illinois
Illinoisans may elect who goes to the House of Representatives, but they don’t choose their representation – at least not in any meaningful sense. The power belongs to Madigan. And he represents himself.
On a single day in 2011, Illinois lawmakers introduced and passed the largest tax hike in modern state history in a matter of hours.
And on May 25, 2016, House Democrats introduced and passed a 500-page bill in an evening.
There are three ways for a person to obtain something of value from another person: receive it as a donation, steal it by force or fraud, or exchange for it. It’s not much of an oversimplification to say that the advance of civilization has hinged on its movement from the first two methods to the third. The right to exchange, and the right to promi...
By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.
Billionaire Stephen Schwartzman How To Spot the Trends that Other Miss
Published on Mar 27, 2016
Billionaire Stephen Schwartzman How To Spot the Trends that Other Miss [HD]
Stephen Allen Schwarzman (born February 14, 1947) is an American business magnate and financier. He is the chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group, a global private equity and financial advisory firm he established in 1985 with former US Secretary of Commerce Pete Peterson. His personal fortune is estimated at $12.9 billion, according to Forbes.As of 2015, Forbes ranked Schwarzman at 100th on its World’s Billionaires List.
We continue to receive requests for updates to the "Best Stock Market Indicator", which used to be a regular guest post from John Carlucci. Here is an update of the "Carlucci" indicator along with a summary of John's explanation on how he uses it.
As John described it: "The $OEXA200R (the percentage of S&P 100 stocks above their 200 DMA) is a technical indicator available on StockCharts.com used to find the "sweet spot" time period in the market when you have the best chance of making money."
The rally in mining stocks since the first of the year has been very impressive.
The rally has taken Gold Miners ETF GDX up to test the 23% retracement of the collapse over the past 5-years. At the same time it is hitting the 23% level, two other resistance lines are being put to a test, with momentum at the highest levels in the past 5-years.
"There's still a lot of pessimism," Paulsen said. "We're an eyelash away from all-time highs and there's a lot of people still in the bear market camp." If too many people shift to the bull camp, he said he might get more cautious.
Graham Media Group, Inc., a Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC) subsidiary, said it struck a deal with Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc. and Media General, Inc. to purchase WCWJ, a CW affiliate television station in Jacksonville, Florida and WSLS, an NBC affiliate television station in Roanoke, Virginia for $60 million in cash and the assumption of certain liabilities.
The agreement to acquire Nextar Broadcasting included pension obligations. Graham Media Group, Inc. would continue to operate both stations under their current network affiliations.
Graham Media said the acquisition is subject to approval by the FCC, other regulatory appr...
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Do you remember when you were growing up and all your friends were allowed Atari game consoles but you weren’t?
Well, I do and the things seemed as foreign to me as Venus. Mostly because the little time I managed to spend on the gaming consoles when my friends weren’t hogging them I found it all a bit silly. I never “got” computer games, and to this day still have poor comprehension of things like Angry Birds.
I suspect that many people around the world view Bitcoin in the same way as I view Angry Birds: with mild amusement and a general lack of understanding as to what the hell all the fuss is about.
I was thinking of this since a buddy of mine recently started ...
After a three-year bull run that more than quadrupled its value by its peak last July, IBD’s Medical-Biomed/Biotech Industry Group plunged 50% by early February, hurt by backlashes against high drug prices and mergers that seek to lower corporate taxes.
Although we try to stay focused on finding and managing promising trade ideas, the comments in the comment section sometimes take a political turn (for access, try PSW — click here!). So today, Jean Luc writes,
The GOP debate last night was just unreal – are these people running to be president of the US or to lead a college fraternity! Comparing tool size? The only guy that looks semi-sane is Kasich. The other guys are just like 3 jackals right now.
And something else – if Trump is the candidate, that little Romney speech yesterday is probably already being made into a commercial. And all these little snippets from the debate will also make some nice ads! If you are a conservative, you have to be scared now.
Phil writes back,
I was expecting them to start throwing poop at each other &n...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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