The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The US Economy And Pew Research...Is Obama Derangement Working?

Life for the 44th US President is never blasé.  

A recent Pew Research survey shows the president's approval rating dropped to the lowest levels since his 2009 first term inauguration. In some categories the ratings are no surprise, in other categories we have a clear case of either faulty polling, or a poll respondent group influenced by "....what was on the news today," coupled with "I watch Fox News and CNN." Yet, Pew shows the survey respondents span the political spectrum (Republicans, Democrats and Independents) and generally responded negatively with the greatest dissatisfaction among Independents.

Before we go to Pew, we have embedded a video segment from MSNBC's Al Sharpton's Politics Nation.  While the political Right often refers to President Obama as a socialist, the US economy proves right-wing mantra is pure propaganda. Propaganda that in many cases works and works well. The following segment is a bit long for most. We have posted the segment based on the first half of the segment and its focus on the improving US economy. The second half of the segment may be of less interest as it is comprised of panel opining. Our intent in posting the video is also to show pathetic sadness related to people who suffer from right-wing politics and social insensitivity. 

A look at Pew....

Obama Approval on Economy: 31%, Health Care: 37%     Independents Sour on Obama in 2nd Term
Obama Approval Falls to New Low

End Pew Data

Basically, it appears Independents are not happy with President Obama as survey data indicates. While, not part of the survey, we have to wonder about the extent of "washback" from the NSA/CIA disclosures. We also notice that Immigration is an area of malcontent. 

More after the break below

Now, what is up with that? Are Independents holding the president responsible for GOP immigration obstruction?  Or, is the president catching hell for not simply plowing over the GOP via moving immigration reform at a much faster pace? 

We also notice a good degree of "what have you done for me lately" regarding the economy. Maybe, we at the TPI are naive to believe that presidents in and of themselves do not literally create jobs. We cannot get past positive private sector job improvement and we remember the harsh, harsh reality of the Bush economy on the public sector and the impact of GOP congressional obstruction in working to provide jobs. Therefore, our thoughts on the economy is admittedly jaded.

Of course, at the top of the Pew results (above) healthcare reform is an anvil that is probably deserving based on poor project management and insurance provider acumen at "playing the system." 

"Project management deserving?" 

Yes, while the president did not have direct responsibility for management of the enormous IT website project, President Obama has accepted ultimate "buck stops here" responsibility. While, an item for another post, we will state the ACA website flop reflects negatively on the Fed procurement and contract award process. The White House and HHS must have suffered a major internal lack of understanding of project needs. Of course, we should also factor-in GOP obstruction, as states that refused to setup ACA Exchanges must be held culpable. 

Again items for another screed, and all said Obama has publicly accepted full responsibility via his late week public interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd.

Anyone who feels the president intentionally mislead ("lied") about "keeping your coverage" probably also believes the president was not born in Hawaii. His misstatements were probably an indication of problems to come regarding the grandiose scope of the project. We believe he also seriously underestimated "big insurance" greed and historic disregard from those who hold their policies. If you ignore those who hold "junk policies" with the hope and a prayer of never needing the policy, you are not one who will never find value in the ACA.

Let's move to a critical Pew Research survey category that induces both frowns and wonderment about the motives of respondents. As stated before, we wonder about factors people may have considered that were outside the scope of survey questions. 

Of the two thousand respondents 65% indicated an unfavorable response about the economy. A mere 35% approved of the presidents handling of the US economy.

We will explain insertion of the following chart via discussion of Jobs as the basis and impetus for a healthy economy.

How many times have you heard President Obama referred to as a "socialist?"  How about the number of times you have heard members of the GOP and conservative pundits comment about, "The horrific US economy?" 

The following Facebook meme shows a definite contrast from the Bush final year in office. The meme does not indicate (label) the Obama Administration American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimulus) in late February and early March of 2009.

The US economy certainly has a lingering negative impact on millions. There is no solace in presenting record market indicators and slowly improving GDP, when millions are out of work or suffering from lower wages (and soon to come cuts in supplemental nutrition assistance benefits). However, the middle and lower income strata will only find economic relief with an improved macro economy. We do not in any way subscribe to fail trickle-down/supply side economics, but we certainly believe the tree can only exist if the upper branches and fauna feed the tree trunk and roots. Economic improvement since the dead leaves and branches of the Bush years is well noted and welcomed. 

The US economy is factually improving. 

Improvement, however, is not generally shared among people who do not seek information to anchor thought and opinion. Gallup recently (September 2013) published a piece about Consumer Confidence

We have no economist on staff for consultation on economic issues. Yet, we feel comfortable in our posit that the economy runs off jobs and productivity. Despite advances in technology, productivity is still dependent on jobs. Moreover, capitalism relies on people spending and jobs also drives one's ability to spend. Job growth in the private sector ha been steady, but certainly not robust. Steady growth is a far better experience than the dismal reality of public sector employment. 

The administration cannot pass legislation that would support improvements in public sector jobs. If public sector employment was reporting numbers at a fraction of private sector job numbers, the US economy would show performance at a moderately higher level. How can an Administration impact public sector employment without legislation from the US House and state legislators (many of which are run by republicans)? 

Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) report from September 2013 is laden with data for the novice, but the report includes cautious optimism regarding manufacturing productivity with an assumption of "no federal government shutdown". 

Excerpt (highlight added by The Pardu
.....Acceleration in manufacturing production during the second half of this year is expected, but nothing in the outlook suggests more than a return to moderate growth. 
The outlook for 2014 and 2015 calls for close to a percentage point improvement in the growth rate each year. Consumer spending growth has remained remarkably stable because of surprisingly robust employment growth in a sluggish economy. Thankfully, the payroll tax increase is in the rearview mirror, and spending will accelerate in 2014. Households have low debt burdens and their wealth position is rising. Businesses are well positioned for making new investments in structures and equipment. Firms have low debt, are profitable, and have relatively high utilization rates. What is needed is more confidence about the future. With the Eurozone coming out of recession, export activity should pick up and provide a boost to business sentiment. 
Government austerity, particularly at the federal level, is a necessary drag on economic growth. The forecast assumes there will not be a federal government shutdown and/or a debt ceiling crisis in October. And there is not yet another round of large, across-the-board discretionary federal spending cuts ahead for 2014. 
MAPI forecasts that manufacturing production will increase 2.2 percent in 2013, 3.2 percent in 2014, and 4.1 percent in 2015. High-tech production is forecast to increase 5.2 percent in 2013, 7.6 percent in 2014, and 8.9 percent in 2015. Non-high-tech or traditional manufacturing, which accounts for the vast bulk of value-added in the sector, will grow 2.1 percent in 2013, 3.1 percent in 2014, and 4.0 percent in 2015.
According to the   housing is on a steady upward trend. We concede interest rate creep is affecting housing sales and possible a more critical index of housing starts, we do not find dire reports nor dire prediction about housing. 

Bloomberg reported in September foreclosures were down 34% over the preceding eight year period. We also have seen data indicating home prices are rising.

As an indicator of an ailing economy we certainly cannot consider the auto industry. The industry is performing well. An industry completely abandoned by the GOP after the GOP/Bush economic collapse. Imagine the state of the economy and unemployment without a Chrysler or General Motors? Notice the top four on the table above!

Yet consumer confidence is down. As evidenced  by retail sales.

Floating Path Dot Com
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that retail sales decreased a seasonally adjusted -0.4% in March to $418.3 billion. This follows a +1.0% increase in February, and is the largest monthly decrease since June of 2012.
Retail Sales 4 12 2013 650x433 Retail Sales Decrease 0.4%
Reuters / University of Michigan report in the preliminary reading for April consumer sentiment that the index decreased to 72.3. This compares to a 78.6 reading in March, and continues what has been a very inconsistent trend of ups and downs.
Consumer Sentiment 4 12 2013 650x433 Consumer Sentiment Continues Zig Zag, Falls To 72.3
We noticed a deep dip in confidence in what appears a as (non recession period) 2011. Recession periods appear in highlighted blue. What you wager that is the affect of the 2011 budget crisis in which Boehner got "98% of what he wanted" and the US Credit rating was reduced?


The AP reports:
The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent from 7.2 percent in September, likely because furloughed federal workers were counted as unemployed. The report noted that the shutdown did not affect total jobs.
Employers also added 60,000 more jobs in the previous two months than earlier estimated.
The figures show hiring has picked up in the fall. Employers added an average of 202,000 jobs from August through October, up from 146,000 from May through July.
Stock futures fell after the report was released at 8:30 a.m. EDT, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose. That suggests investors are worried that the better job numbers will prompt the Federal Reserve to pull back on its stimulus efforts sooner than expected.
One troubling detail in the report: the percentage of Americans working or looking for work fell to a fresh 35-year low. But that figure was likely distorted by the shutdown, too.
About 800,000 government workers were furloughed for all or part of the shutdown, which lasted from Oct. 1 through Oct. 16. Many were counted as unemployed and on temporary layoff for purposes of the unemployment rate.
But the furloughed workers were still counted as employed by the government's survey that counts jobs because they were ultimately paid for their time off. Federal government jobs fell only 12,000 last month.
Some reports have hinted that hiring was improving. Retail stores, shipping companies, and other services firms stepped up hiring in October, according to private survey of service firms.
And the number of people seeking unemployment benefits has fallen back to pre-recession levels after four weeks of declines. Unemployment benefit applications are a proxy for layoffs. The steady decline suggests companies are cutting fewer jobs.
Economic growth accelerated in the July-September quarter to an annual rate of 2.8 percent, the government said Thursday. That's up from 2.5 percent in the April-June quarter.
But greater restocking by businesses drove much of the increase, a trend that may not be sustainable. Consumers and businesses both cut back on spending over the summer.
As the AP went to print, stock futures showed a stock futures prospect that was not born-out over the course of Friday November 8th. 

T Rowe Price 

U.S. Stocks
Index2Friday's CloseWeek's Change% Change
S&P 5001770.618.9724.15%
NASDAQ Composite3919.23-2.8129.80%
S&P MidCap 4001284.48-7.0325.88%
Russell 20001099.062.2329.40%

Our insertion of the T Rowe chart was not in any way aimed at snipping at the AP. Press deadlines often force such before market open suppositions. Fortunately, the AP's professionals left the comment stand as a comment before the markets open on Friday. 

As we fold the Pew Research into our minds and archives  we reflect on a Daily Kos piece related to the US economy.

In September 2012, The Daily Kos published a piece related to which political party has best managed the US economy. The results are "slam-dunk" Democrat Administrations win out.
While the U.S. recovery from the crippling Bush recession has been painfully slow, most economists--including the nonpartisan CBO and some of John McCain's own 2008 advisers--believe President Obama saved the American free-enterprise system from the abyss. And many economists are increasingly worried that businessman-turned-President Romney would lead the United States back into recession. 
Here's why the economic debate between Democrats and Republicans is no contest at all. (Click a link below for the details on each.)
Here's why the economic debate between Democrats and Republicans is no contest at all. (Click a link below for the details on each.)
Job Creation and Economic Growth
The Stock Market
Income Inequality
National Debt
The Bush Disaster and the Obama Recovery
Looking Ahead to the Romney-Ryan Recession

The Pew Data is as it stands.  We wonder, however, about the survey tool and whether the tool "force responded" people into manageable response categories that may not truly represent the extent to which the economy is viewed by the greater population. The impact of the NSA/CIA monitoring probably factors into any consideration of the Obama Administration for continuation of monitoring practices from the Bush years.

When all is stated and assimilated we are probably influence by the memory of the horrors of 2008/2009. A horror that is re-enforced by the fact the GOP will simply clone economic policy and administration of Bush and his economic team (and that is pursue supply side economics). Our horror turns into mortification as we consider many of those independents in the survey pool may have voted twice for George W. Bush.

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