Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Weekly Address and Fractured Fairy Tale

Until further notice Big Guy’s weekly addresses will be unpaid campaign messages. So for now our informal “No bad news Monday thru Friday” policy has been revised to “No bad news Monday thru Saturday.”

“The good news is, we’ve been making progress.  Take a look at this chart.  Six years ago, 60% of the oil we used was imported.  Since I took office, America’s dependence on foreign oil has decreased every single year.  In fact, in 2010, for the first time in thirteen years, less than half the petroleum we consumed was imported.  Part of that is because we’re producing more oil here at home than at any time in the last eight years.”                           Weekly Address, March 4,2012


20120302-weeklyMy Little Goat?

I hate to do this, again,

hero_foreign_oilBig Guy’s favorite new “good news” chart

butt we’re going to have to do the math here before the Republicans do it for us. So stay with me here: when domestic production  goes up, (thanks to the frackin’ oil companies, no thanks to our anti-drilling policy) and total oil demand goes down (because the economy stinks), well, you don’t need to import as much foreign oil anymore, hence the percentage of foreign oil goes down. Get it?

US crude imports have fallen to their lowest level for a decade as a result of weak demand and growth in domestic production…

Butt no matter how many times I explain this to the smartest man ever elected to the presidency of the United States, Big Guy still insists that his chart will persuade the children that things are good.

gas D.C. mar 2D.C. gas prices on Friday. Stay tuned for Monday’s numbers.

He may be right. So far the wizards of the West Wing have applied the same mathemagics to unemployment to persuade the little people who are just waiting for a fair shot that we’re in a recovery.

Butt because there is so much evidence to the contrary we needed to get a little more creative here and the mathemagicians came through for us. We’ve got a ton of new tricks up our sleeve to make this mess look like news. Here are just a few:

Drop the number of people “officially” in the labor force:

The very weak recovery means the official unemployment rate is an unreliable barometer of the labor market. People are only counted as unemployed if they have been actively looking for work in the past four weeks. It is good news when the number of unemployed falls due to more hires. It is not so good if the number falls due to people giving up looking for work.

While 1.66 million net jobs have been added during the Obama "recovery,” over that same time the number of working age Americans not in the labor force rose by 7.14 million. There is no comparable post-World War II "recovery" where this type of exodus has occurred.


Do “seasonal adjustments”  advantageously:

It’s useful to try accounting for the well-known layoffs that occur at different times of the year, such as right after Christmas, but how you make the adjustment is important…

The big news this month was that “seasonally adjusted” payroll employment increased by 243,000 in January. Yet, the “unadjusted” or actual raw totals showed a loss of 2.7 million jobs.


Calculate the number of “jobs created” on a bogus assumption:

Take initial unemployment insurance claims. As the Wall Street Journal reported the end of last month: “Analysts generally believe the economy is adding jobs when jobless claims are consistently below 400,000.”…

But the “below 400,000” rule only makes sense if new hiring parallels growth during past recoveries. [ed. they don’t]


Set the floor a little lower:

the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has collected data on new hires since December 2000. From that date to the recent recession, 5.2 million Americans were hired on average each month. The recession dropped this number substantially, with the average falling to 4.3 million hires per month. In December 2008, just before Obama took office, only 4.1 million Americans were hired.

But hiring has fallen even further during the “recovery” -- falling to an average of just 3.9 million per month. The number of hires was still stuck at 3.9 million during the last month for which data are available, December 2011.


And just like that, voila! High-fives all around! Big Guy get’s Bush’s economy out of the ditch!


It’s good to be the Won – you can be innovative and unconstrained by the rules of physics:

volt plugStill in search of the perpetual motion machine: until then, gotta plug it into something

Or math:

 Forecasting the number of people employed by focusing on workers filing for unemployment insurance is like guessing a pool’s water level by measuring how much flows out but ignoring the rate at which water is being added.


2 plus 2Math: It’s more of a concept than a hard and fast rule

Tune in later when we’ll deconstruct the mathemagicals involved in Big Guy’s incredible shrinking inflation rate too!

Until then, I leave you with this perennial partisan question: which fairy tale scenario would you prefer?

perry-bush-readingOnce upon a time in America


bomoreadOnce upon a time in an Amerika…

Oh – and more good news: Since Big Guy took office and started giving reading demonstrations several times a week, our national readin’ scores seem to be going up. ‘Rithmetic, not so much. Maybe we can work on that next term.

Linked By: Larwyn’s Linx on Doug Ross@Journal, and GUEST on iOwnTheWorld, Thanks!