Friday, December 26, 2014

Billions and billions of... dollars

LA Metro Orange Line bus eventually to be light rail line. 
Bus trips are down since 1985.  Bus plus rail trips are down since 1985.  LA has invested $15b making that happen.  Imagine if they spent more. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Carnage

Not a wrapper left wrapped.
And even teh kittehs were exhausted. 

He came! He really does Exist!

Ahhh... first world problems. 

The scribes have confirmed this joyous occasion. The days are no longer getting shorter. The Earth will indeed be reborn and not slip into that dark night. 

Wishing everyone a solemn Alban Arthan as we honor the souls of the trees we sacrifice then deify in our living rooms. Hang the revered kerm-oak, drink the blessed wassail. "Yule" feel so much better. The Norse had the right idea taking 12 days for Jole. The oak was the ‘king of the forest.’ One possible source of the word ‘Druid’ is in the Gaelic word for oak, ‘drui.’ So the burning of the Yule log of oak signified the return of the Oak King at the rebirth of the Sun. Oh and all the recent religion adherents that have since renamed these Christmas, Christmas Trees, holly, sacramental wine and the 12 days of Christmas as if changing the name makes a difference; Merry Christmas.

Anyway, We got the Druids covered and I need to add Joyous Saturnalia so the pagans are taken care of as well so all that remains is... to open presents!

Hopefully stag_mark is relieved at the improved present to tree ratio.   As to the first tree seen above.  Mrs Dawg's mom passed this year and we inherited the childhood legacy.  So it is a two tree year.  I suspect a new tradition in the making. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Broken Watch Still Broken

Dallas News

Martin believes holiday sales will rise 3.8 percent. The National Retailer Federation says sales will increase 4.1 percent and IHS Global Insight predicts sales will increase 4.2 percent.
Sales rose 3.1 percent in each of the last two years.

Anyone see a pattern here?  

Complete Regulatory Capture

 BBC Reports:

The US Federal Reserve has given Wall Street banks even more time to comply with parts of the Volcker Rule, a key provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. The rule prevents federally-insured banks from using their own money when investing in certain risky assets. The Fed had already announced banks would have until 2017 to deal with one type of trading product. It will now grant an extension to other types of funds.


 They don't even pretend anymore. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Adair Turner on Inequality

Festival of Economics 2014: Adair Turner
 Some interesting theories on inequality, saving, debt, leverage, etc.  Video here

They Say It Like It's a Bad Thing

Bankers See $1 Trillion of Investments Stranded in the Oil Fields  

In a stunning analysis this week, Goldman Sachs found almost $1 trillion in investments in future oil projects at risk. They looked at 400 of the world’s largest new oil and gas fields -- excluding U.S. shale -- and found projects representing $930 billion of future investment that are no longer profitable with Brent crude at $70. In the U.S., the shale-oil party isn’t over yet, but zombies are beginning to crash it.

That's $930 billion in mal-investment that would have gone to maintaining the status quo in the energy sector that can now find a more useful place to invest.   Of course from the money supply perspective this is just more loose money in a world awash with the stuff. From the consumer perspective it means lower costs for just about everything, more money left over for raises, and lower interest rates.  No wonder Vampire Squid Corp hates the idea. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Surprise? Work longer & harder for less

Joseph Wharton
Everyone has a Wharton subscription right? Here's their latest:
  In order to protect their retirement savings, today’s workers will have to stay longer in the workforce, save more and expect less in pension benefits, according to Olivia S. Mitchell, Wharton professor of business economics and public policy.

Further down:
Over the years, the government has tried to keep the PBGC afloat by raising premiums, but other circumstances came into play. “The financial crisis didn’t help at all. There were caps on contributions that employers were allowed to put in, and many employers have pulled out,” she said. Some, like the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund, is about $17 billion underfunded, she noted. “The problem is that any employers that can remain in business will want to try to withdraw; no new firm would try to enter that problematic pension fund because of the unfunded liabilities.”

It doesn't stop there.  California:
The state controller’s office says California is now on the hook for more than $70 billion in health care costs for retired state workers. That’s a 10 percent increase from last year. Gov. Jerry Brown plans to take the issue on in his new budget proposal next month.
The sharp increase in retiree health care costs comes mostly because we’re all living longer. Controller John Chiang says the state must start pre-funding its retiree health care benefits – just as it does with pensions. He compares it to making credit card payments:
“We know that the debt service increases over a period of time – and that you ought to fully pay each bill monthly with your credit card,” Chiang says.

 The "mere" $18 trillion Federal debt is but the tip of the iceberg.  This isn't tinfoil.  Thi is about charting a path out of the forest.  Some of California's $70 billion is 30 plus years in the future and would be imprudent to pre-fund at this time.  Yes, I am saying -outright- the best course for some of this obligation is to kick the can.  So sue me.  Sustainable polices are never clean and well defined.  Especially when you are trying to clean up past excesses. 

Who are we to disagree?








Wednesday Placeholder

The view from my garden shed Dec 17, 2014. 
Trying to get a few posts up later this morning.  In the mean time enjoy the view of the snow here in Southern California. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Good Idea Bad Idea

Falling Fruit identifies urban public domain food sources. 

Falling Fruit

... is a celebration of the overlooked culinary bounty of our city streets. By quantifying this resource on an interactive map, we hope to facilitate intimate connections between people, food, and the natural organisms growing in our neighborhoods. Not just a free lunch! Foraging in the 21st century is an opportunity for urban exploration, to fight the scourge of stained sidewalks, and to reconnect with the botanical origins of food.
Our edible map is not the first of its kind, but it aspires to be the world's most comprehensive. While our users contribute locations of their own, we comb the internet for pre-existing knowledge, seeking to unite the efforts of foragers, foresters, and freegans everywhere. The imported datasets range from small neighborhood foraging maps to vast professionally-compiled tree inventories. This so far amounts to 1,121 different types of edibles (most, but not all, plant species) distributed over 786,019 locations. Beyond the cultivated and commonplace to the exotic flavors of foreign plants and long-forgotten native plants, foraging in your neighborhood is a journey through time and across cultures. 


Okay.  This is great.  I do this kind of thing all the time (within limits).  More on that later.  Oranges dangling over the fence is a common sight in my ghetto.  On the golf course there are any number of figs or apples and such.  There is a hedgerow of pomegranates that -used- to be a community treasure for many years.  More on that later.  So, what are the good and bad aspects?  Well the good should be obvious to anyone.  Fresh local produce.  Free.  The bad?  Where to begin?  Let's go from most selfish to most egalitarian in order.  Come the Bankopolypse™you don't want "them" to know where "your" potential food sources may be.  You also don't want crazies to know where anonymous food is just laying around.  Especially food you might want to eat.  Those tasty morsels are attractive nuisances.  The fact that they have value means someone is going to abuse the system.  That is an issue locally with the pomegranates.  Assholes have come in and stripped the local pomegranate trees these last two years.  Finally is the slippery slope and the first "more on that" issue.  I would never take food from a commercial planting.  Not only is it stealing but I don't want them to put up fences and such.  And it goes without saying that the tragedy of the commons will always be with "us" as long as there are "them." 

Apologies  for the partial nudity.  Exceptions are the rule on EN. 

Sustainable Surprise

All-electric cars may be worse for environment

R&D Magazine.  Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:02am
An electric plug charges a Smart Car electric drive vehicle in New York. People buying all-electric cars where coal supplies the power may think they are helping the environment. But a new study shows those coal-powered plug-in vehicles can be making the air dirtier and worsening global warming.
People who own all-electric cars where coal generates the power may think they are helping the environment. But a new study finds their vehicles actually make the air dirtier, worsening global warming.

Ethanol isn't so green, either.

"It's kind of hard to beat gasoline" for public and environmental health, said study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the Univ. of Minnesota. "A lot of the technologies that we think of as being clean... are not better than gasoline."

The key is where the source of the electricity all-electric cars. If it comes from coal, the electric cars produce 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gas, because of the pollution made in generating the electricity, according to the study that is published in PNAS. They also are significantly worse at heat-trapping carbon dioxide that worsens global warming, it found.

The study examines environmental costs for cars' entire lifecycle, including where power comes from and the environmental effects of building batteries.

"Unfortunately, when a wire is connected to an electric vehicle at one end and a coal-fired power plant at the other end, the environmental consequences are worse than driving a normal gasoline-powered car," said Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who wasn't part of the study but praised it.


We've gone over all this seen above before.  At least the MSM is still trying to keep up.  Anyway, I for one am grateful for the bleeding edge types for several reasons.  First they pay for advancing the manufacturing processes.  Second they don't compete for gas.  Third they have the attention of the people who produce gas. 

Everyone here has a subscription to R&D magazine right? 

Mortgage Rate v 10 year Rate Spread

Banks making bank. 
"Mind the gap."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Spreading the Stupid #004

KP says "I can't move my brain!"
The stupid, it never stops.

No snow:
Climate Prediction Center - seasonal Outlook

  Idiot thinks prediction trumps truth:

NOAA Snow Cover Map

Spreading the Stupid #003

In its never ceasing quest to make the rest of the world near as stupid Karma Police recent intoned:

Of course OPEC is winning.
Did you think that they didn't know that the entire shale "revolution" was built on overvalued debt and 50 year old technology?

Correct me if I am wrong but GPS, earth penetrating radar, supercomputing, 3d visualization, gravimetric satellites and the like are a bit newer than circa 1964.

Speaking of which, where's my flying car?  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Why the US is in Decline

Hot Wheels loses Ferrari diecast contract to Chinese company

Doubly sad as Ferrari is reported to be considering corporate relocation as part of the planned IPO next spring.   Probably true given the vociferous denials. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

You Might Be One of "Them" If...

Stagflationary Mark and I have been trading "them vs us" comments for some time and I thought we should expand on just exactly who "THEY" are.  So, here's a quick list to hlp get the suggestions rolling in:

You might be one of "them if...

• The rent going up is a good thing.

• "Lost the remote" means filing a missing persons report.

• News that your teenager dented the Maybach is met with "Which one?" 

• "Buying a Dell" means an entire county in Ireland.

• Depth charts for the Panama canal cause you to change you boating plans.  

• When informed on your yacht "The crew are revolting" you reply "Yes but at least they aren't unionizing."  

• The rent going up is a good thing.

Best entertain me with suggestions in the comments lest I throw a tantrum for being ignored. 

Spreading the Stupid #002

KP's choice of avatar. 
Stupider by post Karma Police has thus intoned:

dilbert dogbert wrote:
Coming to a week near you. Snow! Wonderful Snow!
That's the problem with the Pineapple snow.

 What does the site have to say?

Thanks to an atmospheric river known as the Pineapple Express, more soaking rain and mountain snow is on the way for California, the epicenter of the nation's most widespread exceptional drought.


How about those pineapples?  

My Glob! They've killed Kenny Mortgages!

Source Thompson Reuters.  (Updates with latest data).

Look at the top graph.  Back in early 2012 rates were 4% and activity was index 800.  Now, with rates again at 4% the activity is index 400.  Stop worrying about the absolute rate.  It doesn't matter. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Spreading the Stupid #001

Don't be delinquent.
Given the amount of stupid Karma Police at Hoocoodanode is paid to promulgate I hope a three digit numbering scheme in the title is enough.


Sebastian wrote:
This suggests that the best tool to increase home ownership, particularly among individuals and families who don't currently own a home, is to reduce the down payment requirements on mortgage loans...
Just a matter of time as the process continues.
I will respectfully disagree with you. Loan performance is at a historical high. Why? Because loan requirements are appropriate.
The US housing market has been in a bubble for 50 years...and it's coming to an end. 


Well, what about the truth?  Unsurprisingly quite the opposite:

Federal Reserve Loan Performance most recent data (updates)

Residential delinquencies are higher than any time prior to Q4 2008.  Ever.  Since records began.  

As a side observation; there is probably an epic parabolic fail in there someplace. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Electric Car Environmental Impact

Any questions?

This is a lithium mine in Nevada. 

This is an oil well on Pico Blvd in Los Angeles. 

Models All the Way Down

The latest from the climate modeling idiots:

A new study by researchers at the University of Exeter has found early warning signals of a reorganisation of the Atlantic oceans’ circulation which could have a profound impact on the global climate system.
The research, published today in the journal Nature Communications, used a simulation from a highly complex model to analyse the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), an important component of the Earth’s climate system.

 Need we continue?  
It showed that early warning signals are present up to 250 years before it collapses, suggesting that scientists could monitor the real world overturning circulation for the same signals.

Great.  Let us observe 2 or 3 cycles and make some rough predictions.  

“We don’t know how close we are to a collapse of the circulation, but a real world early warning could help us prevent it, or at least prepare for the consequences” adds co-author Professor Tim Lenton.   
 Well... duh.  
The study is the most realistic simulation of the climate system in which this type of early warning signal has been tested.

 Okay, up until now I've just been snarky but this, this is a crime against humanity.  I am serious.   It is a model.  An untested/untetable model.  This is shouting "FIRE!" in a theater. 
“The best early warning signals in the model world are in places where major efforts are going into monitoring the circulation in the real world – so these efforts could have unexpected added value’ adds Professor Lenton.

Bulshit.  The number of climate measuring locations have been drastically scaled back.  
‘Early warning signals of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation collapse in a fully coupled climate model’ by Chris Boulton, Lesley Allison and Timothy Lenton is published today in the journal Nature Communications.
Date: 8 December 2014

Peer reviewed no doubt.  

Friday, December 05, 2014

Party Like It's 1999? Not

The number of people Unemployd and marginally employed, U-6.  Not percent but number:
We are a long way from 1999. 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

There is No Climate!

There now that the presumed denial is out of the way, a serious discussion.  

One of the things I never noticed before.  There are far fewer reporting sites contribution to the world temperature database.  For a long time I thought it unfortunate but necessary.  After all a properly sited station can only degrade until it is no longer considered reliable for the purposes of measuring climate temperatures.  Often these are places like airports where the stations continue to do important work like keeping airplanes from crashing but not for climate measurement.  So, this never raised my interest until...

Coincidence?  A massive "purge" of the reporting stations and a simultaneous spike in temperature?  

Okay, then how about the second graph?  One location reporting since 1659 and do you see where humans started driving climate?  

Employment Report 04 Dec '14

Today's DoL report (pdf) has an interesting year over year comparison:
The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending November 15 was 2,249,458, an increase of 128,753 from the previous week. There were 4,112,807 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2013.

 Nearly 2 million people off the rolls.  Notice I didn't say they found employment. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Rainfall Tracking Website

Seven day rainfall totals as of 3 Dec 14. 

Repeated for those interested,  Ventura Watershed District Precipitation Interactive

Give and Take Retail Sales

It will be a few days before we settle out on the figures for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Wild Weekend, Cyber Monday, and now Giving Tuesday.  Early reports are for modest net gains year over year.  One strong component is new vehicle sales.  Good for the totals but likely to pull from other retail spending.  Cyber Monday sales preliminary +8% which is a big miss for analysts expecting +13% but not for people who weren't impressed by the stuff and prices.

What I expect is a strong falloff in general retail sales over the next several weeks.

Update 2: Black Friday Fatigue? Thanksgiving Weekend Sales Slide 11 Percent
Sales, both in stores and online, from Thanksgiving through the weekend were estimated to have dropped 11 percent, to $50.9 billion, from $57.4 billion last year, according to preliminary survey results released Sunday by the National Retail Federation. Sales fell despite many stores’ opening earlier than ever on Thanksgiving Day.
And though many retailers offered the same aggressive discounts online as they did in their stores, the web failed to attract more shoppers or spending over the four-day holiday weekend than it did last year, the group said. The average person who shopped over the weekend spent $159.55 at online retailers, down 10.2 percent from last year.

Update 1: CNBC talking heads in CYA mode.

Analysts casted doubt Monday about a widely watched shopping poll that indicated Black Friday weekend sales fell 11 percent from last year.
"I don't believe any way whatsoever sales were down 11 percent over the weekend," Gerald Storch, CEO of Storch Advisors, told CNBC. "That number is a bad outlier."
The projection came from a survey by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation. The survey of shoppers reported that total spending in stores and online for the weekend through Sunday fell to $50.9 billion from $57.4 billion last year. It also indicated the average person spent $159.55 online, down 10 percent from last year.
 Gotta love it.  "Casted."

Zillow "Culture" Not a Role Model for Anything

A disturbing article on SFGate spotlighting Zillow's corporate environment. 


Kremer, an Orange County resident who worked in sales at Zillow, claims her managers did nothing to stop the abuse. Her attorneys described a “culture of degrading women … pervasive throughout Zillow’s leadership.”

Text – and photo – messages filed along with the lawsuit appear to support Kremer’s claims of harassment. In them, male employees proposition Kremer, text her a sexually explicit photo and discuss misogynistic behavior by their coworkers.

Zillow on Tuesday acknowledged Kremer was mistreated while denying her claims that the sexual harassment is widespread at the company.

“When this allegation was first made, we immediately investigated these claims and as a result took quick action and terminated a sales employee in our Irvine (California) office,” Zillow spokeswoman Jill Simmons said by email. “The allegations in the complaint do not reflect Zillow’s culture or workplace and are completely inconsistent with our values.

“We don’t tolerate harassment of any kind.”
 Hat Tip to an anonymous source for bringing this to my attention.  As Zillow is poised to vastly enlarge its presenc in the Real Estate arena this is one of many issues to watch carefully.  I am strong in standing against demonstrated cultures of abuse.  That said let' see how this plays.  Young brash companies make mistakes just like people.  There are growing pains.  Zillow needs to be proactive.  They are betting very large at disrupting the RE space and this is the kind of leverage the entrenched interests will exploit.  "Just another black hat" won't effect positive change. 

ADP Nov '14

Oh the contortions some go through to score a point.
The ADP report for November 2014 is out.  Let the spin begin. 

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, “Steady as she goes in the job market. Monthly job gains remain consistently over 200,000. At this pace the unemployment rate will drop by half a percentage point per annum. The tightening in the job market will soon prompt acceleration in wage growth.” 

Of course that is what used to be called static analysis.  There are nearly 400,000 new worker age monthly entrants and nowhere near that number retiring.  But who am I to call out my betters?   ADP: Private Employment increased 208,000 in November
 And don't worry that concensus (misspelling on purpose) was was too high.  They are merely the best economists the field has to offer. Hat Tip to CincoX for pointing out the CR called this an "increase."