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$5.25m For Senate Hair Care & 21 Other Ways Politicians Are Living The High Life At Your Expense





If you want to live the high life, you don't have to become a rap star, a professional athlete or a Wall Street banker.  All it really takes is winning an election.  Right now, more than half of all the members of Congress are millionaires, and most of them leave "public service" far wealthier than when they entered it.  Since most of them have so much money, you would think that they would be willing to do a little "belt-tightening" for the sake of the American people.  After all, things are supposedly "extremely tight" in Washington D.C. right now.  In fact, just the other day Nancy Pelosi insisted that there were "no more cuts to make" to the federal budget.  But even as they claim that things are so tough right now, our politicians continue to live the high life at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

 
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US Economic Confidence Slumps To Six-Month Low





After a small bounce earlier in the month, Gallup's US Economic Confidence Index has slumped back to its lowest level in 6 months. Combined with record misses in UMich Confidence and the slide in the Conference Board's sentiment measures, it would appear the animal spirits are fading as reality hits once again...

 
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Has Ron Paul Gone Mainstream?





In a world some thought we would never see, most Americans and much of Congress seem to agree with Ron Paul's foreign policy advice - at least on the question of a military strike against Syria...

 
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The "Real" America: Near Record 20% Struggle To Afford Food, Highest Since Crisis Began





With US equity markets on a 7-day roll and excited TV anchors proclaiming the worst over and new all-time highs must signal recovery as they 'celebrate' five years on from Lehman, the following two charts of the state of real America should open a few eyes to just how blinded American has become to the truth (unless you live it). A stunning 20.0% of Americans were found to have struggled to afford food in the last year - surging in recent months to its highest since the peak of the crisis in 2008 - as American's ability to consistently afford food has not recovered to pre-recession levels. Furthermore, Americans access to basic needs (13 factors including housing, healthcare, and food) hovers near record lows - dramatically lower than pre-recession levels. The Gallup polls point to a very different image of American than Dow 15,000 - and is set to get worse as the food stamp program is set to be cut in November.

 
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Guest Post: The American Public's Foreign-Policy Reawakening





Political analysts over the next year or so, and historians well into the future, are likely to point to the fall of 2013 as a fundamental inflection point in American politics. That period, they will say, is when the American people forced a major new direction in American foreign policy. Before the events of this fall, the country’s electorate largely delegated foreign policy to its political elite—and largely supported that elite as it projected American military power with more abandon than the country had ever before seen. Even as the government steadfastly expanded the range of international problems that it said required U.S. military action, the electorate accepted that expanded international role and that increasingly promiscuous use of force. Those days are gone now.

 
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Is This A Reason To Like Larry Summers... Or When 313 Economists Can Certainly Be Wrong





There is a saying: if in doubt, ask an economist, and do the opposite.

There is also consensus among the people inhabiting the real world -the one that is found outside the ivory towers of the economics departments of all US and global Tier 1, 2 and 3 universities - that the only reason the world is currently in its sad, deplorable and deteriorating economic state (which however keeps making the rich richer), is precisely due to these same economists, whose tinkering and experimentation with DSGE models, differential equations, curved lines, and all such things all of which have no real world equivalent, and specifically due to economists like Greenspan and Bernanke. These two men, both of whom barely have seen the real world for what it is or held a real job outside of their academic outposts, who surround themselves with brownnosing sycophants and who do the bidding of Wall Street, are the primary reason for the current centrally-planned quagmire. Which is why we wonder: is the fact that some 313 economists (and counting) have signed a petition pushing for Janet Yellen (aka Freudian slip "he" if you are the president), and against Larry Summers, sufficient grounds to actually like the outspoken former Harvard head?

 
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Fed Uberdove Admits Policy Causes Asset Bubbles (And They're Here To Stay) - Full Speech





San Francisco Fed head John Williams - known for his extremely dovish views on monetary policy (and support of record accomodation)  - appears to have taken some uncomfortable truth serum this morning. In a speech reminiscent of previous "froth" discussions and "irrational exuberance" admissions, Williams explained:

  • *WILLIAMS SAYS POLICY MAY YIELD ASSET BUBBLES, UNINTENDED RESULT
  • *WILLIAMS: ASSET-PRICE BUBBLES AND CRASHES 'ARE HERE TO STAY'
  • *WILLIAMS: ASSET-PRICE BUBBLES ARE 'CONSEQUENCE OF HUMAN NATURE'

His words appear to reflect heavily on the Fed's Advisory Letter (from the banks) from 3 months ago - warning of exactly this "unintended consequence." This, on the heels of Plosser's recent admission that the Fed was responsible for the last housing bubble, suggests with the black-out period before September's FOMC about to begin, the Fed is sending us a message that Taper is coming - as we know they are cornered for four reasons (sentiment, deficits, technicals, and international resentment).

 
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August Service ISM Soars To 58.6, Highest Since 2005, Second Biggest Two Month Surge In History





The data is getting painfully laughable: on one hand Gallup says unemployment is soaring to two year highs, on the other, the ISM non-manufacturing report just printed at 58.6: for those keeping track, and who enjoy laying along, this was the highest since December 2005, and the 2nd largest two month increase in the index on record.  Of course, this means unless NFP tomorro comes at -1,000,000, the Taper is a done deal as the 10 year, which just printed 2.969% and surging, indicate. Stocks continue to do their own thing, blissfully ignorant of the debalce that will take place once the 3.00% yield stops are hit. The good news for bond bulls: this index can only go down from these ridiculous levels.

 
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Unemployment Rate Surges To Highest Since 2011 - Gallup Polling





With ADP out of the way, and providing no guidance to an extreme NFP print one way or another, we once again turn to Gallup. As a reminder, a few days ago we showed that things are bad and getting worse for America's job prospects following direct polling land as relates to unemployment on a seasonally unadjusted basis. Today, the polling group has released its seasonally adjusted unemployment number and how it compares to the BLS' own estimation of the labor market. In a word: it is not pretty (which, again, is good for those who are hoping and praying St. Ben will keep the monetary Kool Aid running for a little bit longer): at 8.6% it is over 1% higher than the BLS' reported print, and is the highest since the end of 2011.

 
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Saxo Bank CEO Slams Merkel: "The Verdict Is Out, Need To Re-Evaluate The EU"





"I have met a number of politicians over the years, but lately it has dawned on me that very few of them are seriously prepared to stand up for their beliefs, if indeed they have any. ...

Ideologies and courage have been consigned to the past and, as I see it, Europe’s Achilles’ heel is the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the de facto leader of the EU, and her lack of vision for the single-currency bloc. ... Her lack of vision stands as a striking contrast to the emotional feelings that dominated much of post-war European political thinking. ...

As I see it, the research is done. The verdict is out. We have to re-evaluate the EU."

 
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Unemployment At One Year High, Gallup Finds





Gallup, which every week polls thousands of adults to get an unadjusted, snapshot picture of who has a job, who has a part-time job and who has no job has released its latest weekly results which have some good and some bad news. Good for those who fear that the NFP print on Friday will be so bad Bernanke will have no choice to delay (or reduce) the taper; bad for the economy. Because at 8.5%, unemployment for the week ended September 1 is now near the highest levels it has been in one year, following a spike in mid-August that sent it all the way to 8.8%.

 
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UMich Consumer Confidence 'Revised' From Worst Miss In 2013 To Best Beat In 4 Months





Consumer sentiment and confidence has been a smorgasbord of confusion recently. Bloomberg's Consumer Comfort index just had its biggest 3-week plunge in 16 months falling back to its lowest since the first week of April. Conference Board confidence was 'stable' at 5.5 year highs and now UMich Confidence, which missed expectations for the first time in 2013 last month in its preliminary print, has been revised up with its final data to the best level in 4 months. The schizophrenia is completed with this little beauty from Gallup. As we have warned before, beware 'the big con' and as these two charts suggest, confidence seems very much in the eye of the beholder.

 
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BLS, We Have A Problem: Polled Unemployment Soars To March 2012 Levels





Gallup tracks daily the percentage of U.S. adults, aged 18 and older, who are underemployed, unemployed, and employed full-time for an employer, without seasonal adjustment. Due to the lack of Arima-X 'magic' the results are specifically not comparable to the BLS data, but, as the chart below suggests, the correlation is high. What is most worrying about the latest data is the rapid rise in both unemployment and underemployment that the Gallup poll finds (to 8.9% unemployment and 17.9% underemployment. Unemployment rates have jumped notably in the last month to their highest in 13 months. Will the Fed 'allow' this data to filter into the BLS data and 'avoid the Taper' or are there non-economic reasons (G-20, deficits, technicals, sentiment) that the Fed needs to SepTaper.

 

 
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Congressional Confidence Collapses - The Infographic





With record-breaking gridlock a reality, it is not a great time to be a member of Congress if you like getting things done. Nor is it a great time to be in Congress if you like people thinking you’re doing a good job. In a recent Gallup poll, Americans gave the current Congress the lowest confidence rating ever measured for any institution in 40 years. But what does having “confidence” in Congress mean? How does confidence affect our legislature’s ability to implement new laws? In the Infographic below we walk through why Congress has such a low approval rating, how that affects legislators who want to pass bills, and how the leaders of the Senate and Congress compare.

 
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