Sunday, June 7, 2020

Calling BS on the Unemployment Rate

On Friday U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released their monthly headline unemployment rate based on their household survey and it came in at 13.3% down from 14.8% in April. The release was followed by moronic headlines like....

"Economists predicted 20% employment in May. How did they get it so wrong?"

"Economists have biggest miss ever in U.S. jobs-report shocker"

However, the reality is that these headlines should have been written about how wrong the SURVEY WAS!

The published rate is straight nonsense and can EASILY be proven so.....and not only is their published number nonsense, so is their disclosed error. While their disclosed misclassification is a step in the right direction, it's completely inadequate. Below is the disclosure at the bottom of their press release.


So essentially we know the 13.3% is BS, but I'm also saying the claim that unemployment is only 3% higher is also BS!

This is easily provable by just looking at the governments OWN numbers. We don't need a 'survey'. Obviously a subset of the total unemployed will receive unemployment insurance and this number can be found from the Department of Labor. On June 4th, they released their most recent advanced figure on claims. Finalized numbers on all people that received unemployment benefits are reported with a 2 week lag, so this report showed those claiming Unemployment Insurance benefits as of the week ending May 16th. This roughly lines up with the date of the household survey, which is done around the middle of every month. Below is a look at the number of unemployed based on the household survey vs the number of unemployed based only on those receiving unemployment benefits (This is primarily made up completely from those receiving regular state unemployment benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance). Here is what we see since the start of the year. I used the 3rd week of every month as the date to represent the household survey and filled the in between dates using trend.

And here is another look at that data but translating that to an implied unemployment rate rather than total number of people

As you can see, obviously not every unemployed person is going to receive unemployment insurance and generally the total number of unemployed had been 3-4 million higher which translated to about a 2-3% higher unemployment rate than implied by solely looking at those getting benefits. And as you can see that trend stood even after the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance went into effect in April. 

It is CLEAR that this most recent unemployment report based off the household survey is complete BS. Looking only at insured unemployed we can tell that total unemployment went UP dramatically from April's report to May's report. Unemployment only started dropping slightly starting May 9th. 

Even if we were to conservatively and stupidly assume that every unemployed person receives benefits then the unemployment rate stood at 18.9% around the time of the household survey....not 13.3%. And if we added the regular 3-4 million uninsured unemployed that existed in every prior report this year we would have an unemployment rate more like 21-22%.

So let's just call this household survey what it is.....Bullshit.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Why is the CDC Suppressing Coronavirus testing in Washington State?

As many of you may know, Washington State has been ground zero for the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in the US. As of this writing 16 of the 17 deaths in the US are from Washington State (and 15 from a single county in the state). Below is total attributed deaths worldwide. You can view the most recent numbers here.

Washington State also makes up the largest portion of confirmed cases in the US.

These numbers will change by the time I post this since some more limited testing is finally starting to take place but in reality these 'confirmed' numbers are pretty useless at this point because they are grossly under-reported due to a complete and total lack of testing.

It wasn't only a problem of test was also a problem of policy.

Until very recently the CDC only allowed people to be tested if they had visited an affected foreign country or could prove they were in contact with someone who had. A completely idiotic policy.
"The new criteria allow people to be tested who have severe respiratory illness with no other explanation, even if they have not traveled to affected countries or have been in contact with a known coronavirus patient, he noted."
Ok, that sounds promising right? It's obviously on US soil so we should be testing a much broader range of people to better gauge the spread, right? However, not even a week later local hospitals are ALREADY putting a break on testing at the guidance of the CDC for a completely opposite reason.

H/T to twitter user @Noneya_Mindyers (highlighting is mine)
That is from EvergreenHealth which includes the hospital in Kirkland, WA where the majority of Coronavirus deaths in the region have occurred. EvergreenHealth also has a network of outpatient clinics and urgent care locations throughout the region.

So at first the CDC doesn't want people tested because they don't think it has spread enough to warrant testing unless you have traveled.....but NOW they don't want people tested because IT HAS SPREAD TOO MUCH?!? 

After seeing that post I went to look for myself and saw the message described in that tweet. But now this is what you get....
However, google still has it indexed

And fortunately the internet rarely forgets. While I wasn't able to pull-up that exact page....I was able to get their Community Message for  3-4-20 from the way-back machine internet archive which contained largely the same message

The more concerning questions is WHY WAS THIS MESSAGE DELETED? I have received no response via twitter. It doesn't appear that it is because this policy has been appears that it was deleted because it had received attention and they don't want the policy on public display. 

Why is the CDC so set on limiting testing? Would love for EvergreenHealth to clear up this confusion.....As they should know, communication is key during a public health crisis.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Obama Dominated Trump In Job Growth

Trump loves to pretend job growth has been unprecedented under his watch. However, pesky facts tell another story. I looked at job growth for every monthly rolling 3-year period starting when Obama took office in the depths of the Financial Crisis in 2009.

Just The Facts......

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Trump on Unemployment. Then vs Now. Don't Forget....

Very little time goes by these days without Trump bragging about the official unemployment numbers.........

This despite the fact he went around his whole campaign attacking those numbers as "Fake" and "Phony" because it had been falling under Obama......

Just another day in Trump gaslighting the American people. The reality is the unemployment rate is correct, people just need to understand the nuances in the way in which it is measured (which is why there are so many different variations). However, regardless of how you measure it....It's all going to point to some variation of this....showing Trump has had NO EFFECT on the trend....
Chart via @TBPInvictus

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Some Serious Thoughts on Bitcoin

Is Bitcoin in a bubble? Here are some things to consider....provided without comment.....

Saturday, April 29, 2017

How Global Investor Allocations Have Changed Since the Financial Crisis

Here are some charts I put together using global Morningstar data on all worldwide open-end funds, ETFs and Money Markets. 
To better illustrate the change in values I have segmented the period prior to the Global Financial Crisis, the bottom of the Global Financial Crisis and Today.
Total worldwide fund assets have grown from about 15 Trillion prior to the Global Financial Crisis to over 30 Trillion today. Meanwhile, as the chart below illustrates, despite the never ending talk of mysterious "cash on the sidelines" the percentage of global fund assets in cash today is lower than prior to the Financial Crisis.
 Food for thought.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Where Active Fund Investors Were Flocking to & Fleeing From in 2016

We all have heard about the ongoing industry shift from Active to Passive Funds as illustrated below via Morningstar
However, despite Active funds as a whole being in net redemptions...there are still net winners and losers. Below I have highlighted the Active Mutual Funds within the largest 15 Morningstar categories with the most net inflow and most net outflows in 2016.

While this does tell you investor preference for also might just highlight investor short-termism. While some may have been due to legit concerns about a recent manager departure (Virtus Emerging Markets Opp and Pimco Total Return come to mind). A lot could have simply had to do with bad performance the year before in 2015. In fact, of those listed with the most outflows....11 of the 15 lost to their benchmark in 2015.

However, it seems investors may be overly focused on shorter term returns, because heading into 2016 12 of those 15 funds with the most outflows had records of 10yrs or more.....and 9 of those 12 beat their benchmarks over that timeframe. While each situation is unique, history says investors shouldn't be given the benefit of the doubt....they historically make bad timing decisions when it comes to hiring or firing managers.