Gallup Finds Obama, Romney In Dead Heat As Daily Tracking Begins, With Independents Leaning Toward GOPSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/16/2012 15:05 -0400
Now that the GOP primary is essentially over, and Mitt Romney is set, for better or worse, to be the Republican frontrunner, Gallup has launched its daily tracking poll to keep an eye on each one's presidential prospects. Not surprisingly, the result is a dead heat. "Mitt Romney is supported by 47% of national registered voters and Barack Obama by 45% in the inaugural Gallup Daily tracking results from April 11-15. Both Obama and Romney are supported by 90% of their respective partisans." What is curious is that "The crucial voting bloc of independents breaks toward Romney by 45% to 39%, giving the GOP challenger his slight overall edge." So will Obama now be forced to make a moderate push to attract what will likely be the critical voter constituency in November? We will find out over the next few months.
It’s tough out there. The giants are losing. But there is an astonishing winner....
For every semi-positive data point the bulls have emphasized since the market rally began, there's a counter-point that makes us question what all the fuss is about. The bulls will cite expanding US GDP in late 2011, while the bears can cite US food stamp participation reaching an all-time record of 46,514,238 in December 2011, up 227,922 participantsfrom the month before, and up 6% year-over-year. The bulls can praise February's 15.7% year-over-year increase in US auto sales, while the bears can cite Europe's 9.7% year-over-year decrease in auto sales, led by a 20.2% slump in France. The bulls can exclaim somewhat firmer housing starts in February (as if the US needs more new houses), while the bears can cite the unexpected 100bp drop in the March consumer confidence index five consecutive months of manufacturing contraction in China, and more recently, a 0.9% drop in US February existing home sales. Give us a half-baked bullish indicator and we can provide at least two bearish indicators of equal or greater significance. It has become fairly evident over the past several months that most new jobs created in the US tend to be low-paying, while the jobs lost are generally higher-paying. This seems to be confirmed by the monthly US Treasury Tax Receipts, which are lower so far this year despite the seeming improvement in unemployment. Take February 2012, for example, where the Treasury reported $103.4 billion in tax receipts, versus $110.6 billion in February 2011. BLS had unemployment running at 9% in February 2011, versus 8.3% in February 2012. Barring some major tax break we've missed, the only way these numbers balance out is if the new jobs created produce less income to tax, because they're lower paying, OR, if the unemployment numbers are wrong. The bulls won't dwell on these details, but they cannot be ignored.
While it appears to us that Bernanke's message was loud and clear, there are those who need validation and peer-confirmation. Such as that from the firm whose alumni run the Fed, namely Goldman Sachs. Below is Jan Hatzius' take on the "surprising" Chairman speech which essentially said QE can and will come at any time there is a downtick in the market, masked by the unemployment rate rising to its fair value, as estimated by Gallup, somewhere around 9%.
The first session of this 112th Congress was spent with Democrats and Republicans at loggerheads over the debt ceiling, taxes, spending cuts, the deficit super committee, appropriations bills and finally the extension of unemployment compensation and a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. Standard and Poor's downgrade of the United States' federal debt was due in part to all the haggling over how, and actually whether, to reduce the debt. No One Is Willing to Pay the Political Price to Cut Spending This year Obama asked Congress for, and was given, an additional $1.2 trillion of borrowing authority, which will increase the debt limit to $16.4 trillion, just enough to get him past the 2012 election. It could be close, however. If budget projections prove to be overly optimistic, Obama could face another cliffhanger over a further increase in the debt ceiling in the midst of the presidential election in November. How embarrassing to have to say "re-elect me – and by the way, I need to borrow some more money to pay this month's bills."
An economic fiasco, a political football ... and (quietly) a growing export product in a declining market.
While the recent employment report will most assuredly give the current Administration plenty to boast about the underlying trends are far more disturbing. The ongoing structural realities, the fact that many of the jobs that have been destroyed will never return, combined with the demographic shift make the headline number much less important compared with the emerging trends. Take a look at a recent Gallup Organization poll which polls weekly, rather than one week out of a month with BLS, in regards to the emerging trends of employment. The most recent poll update shows the trend of the percentage of unemployed rising. As you can see the Gallup survey tends to lead movements in the BLS poll by about 4 weeks or so. Therefore, it is highly likely that in the coming month as the massive seasonal adjustments in January and February fade out we will see the unemployment rate rise back towards 8.5%.
NFP 227,000 on expectations of 210,000; Previous revised from 243K to 284K; Unemployment Rate (U-3%) at 8.3%, U-6 at 14.9%. While for the first time in a long time those not in the labor force declined (from 87,874 to 87,564) and the participation rate rose as a result from 63.7% to 63.9%, here is what the market is focusing on currently: "Professional and business services added 82,000 jobs in February. Just over half of the increase occurred in temporary help services (+45,000)." Also, that Birth Death added 91K is also taking away from the lustre of the headline which is diamtetrically opposite of what Gallup found yesterday. The market reaction is one indicative of the realization that QE3 may have been delayed once again, and this time substantially.
If a Greek default is not enough for the compulsive speculators out there, as a reminder today we have that all important February NFP number release, which on one hand we have ADP as indicating in line with expectations of a +210,000 print, on the other we saw both Gallup, Initial claims and the ISM as well as various diffusion indices as pointing to a weaker print. Here is Goldman, which has come in slightly below expectations, with a forecast of 200,000 offset by a further reduction in the unemployment rate to 8.2%. Of course, as we noted last month, once the US participation rate hits 58%, the unemployment rate will actually mathematically go negative. And strangers years have happened in an election year... From Goldman: "We expect tomorrow's employment report to show solid nonfarm payroll growth of 200,000 in February after 243,000 in January. Although unseasonably warm weather should again boost payroll growth in February, we expect a moderation in the rate of job creation due to (1) a likely payback in manufacturing employment; and (2) mixed labor-market news since the last report. Uncertainty around the extent and timing of the weather effect and manufacturing payback suggest risks are probably tilted to the downside of our forecast. We expect the gain in employment to push down the unemployment rate by 0.1 point to 8.2% in February."
When it comes to economic data, there is the BLS's seasonally-adjusted, Birth/Death-ed, Arima-factored, goal-seeked, election year propaganda, or there is real time polling such as that conducted every month by Gallup. And while there is no doubt tomorrow's NFP number will be just better than expected (after all it is an election year for the Derpartment of Truth), the reality is that in February unemployment, that measured by the impartial polling agency Gallup, soared by 0.5%, the most since late 2010, from 8.6% to 9.1%, and back to August 2011 levels. As for the U-6 BLS equivalent, Gallup's underemployment metric rose to 19.1% from 18.7% in January, and a 18% low in mid 2011. The good news, it is just modestly better than the 19.9% in February 2011. Gallup's conclusion, which should be pretty obvious: "Regardless of what the government reports, Gallup's unemployment and underemployment measures show a substantial deterioration since mid-January. In this context, the increase in unemployment as measured by Gallup may, at least partly, reflect growth in the workforce, as more Americans who had given up looking for work become slightly more optimistic and start looking for work again. So while there may be positive signs, the reality Gallup finds is that more Americans are looking for work now than were doing so just six weeks ago....In mid-February, Gallup reported that its U.S. unemployment rate had increased to 9.0% from 8.3% in mid-January. The mid-month reading normally provides a relatively good estimate of the government's unadjusted unemployment rate for the month." Ahh.. Unadjusted. As for tomorrow, expect the BLS to continue in treating seasonally-adjusted Americans like idiots, and pushing the disconnect between the economy as seen by DC bureaucrats and Joe Sixpack to record spreads.
"It Ain't Over Till It's Over": Empirical Observations On Who The Next Occupant Of The White House May Be And WhySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/28/2012 22:44 -0400
It is appropriate that as a post-mortem to tonight's GOP primary, which according to initial reports has Romney as winning both Michigan and Arizona, we have ConvergEx' Nick Colas providing an extensive summary of the factors in favor and against both the presidential incumbent, and the challenger, and in doing so handicap the possibility of election victory for either Obama or the Republican candidate, whoever he may end up being. As Colas says, 'it ain't over till it's over' - "As the battle for the 2012 Presidential election begins to pick up speed, we read a flood of reports that President Obama is a lock for reelection. And just as many that he is destined to be a one-termer. Those who believe that the winner of the 2012 election will be Republican claim that the keys to Obama’s downfall will be unemployment, skyrocketing oil prices, and increased federal spending. However, according to historical data and some political science theory, it looks like Obama has a pretty good chance of staying in the White House.... The GOP isn’t out of the race yet, but it’s up against some strong historical opposition." And while we would agree that all else equal Obama likely is a shoo-in, never before will there have been a full blown debt ceiling crisis in a repeat of August 2011 in the weeks and months leading into the election - that factor alone, in our humble opinion, could end up being the swing variable that pulls the otherwise ironclad victory away from Obama's clutch, and explains why the GOP caved so quickly on the payroll tax extension which will add $100 billion in debt, and force a debt ceiling breach ahead of November, as was first predicted on Zero Hedge. That, of course, and runaway oil: should crude continue its relentless surge, which it will if QE3 occurs, or an invasion or Iran becomes reality, Obama can kiss another 4 years goodbye.
Americans participating in a recent Gallup poll showed the highest level of confidence in an economic recovery in a year. Sounds great, but you can’t ignore the nearly 13 million unemployed, the 46 million people on food stamps and the roughly 29% of the country’s homeowners whose mortgages are under water. They would find it hard to subscribe to the poll’s sunny conclusion. On the other hand, there’s no getting away from a bevy of seemingly increasingly favorable economic data, which, more recently, includes falling weekly jobless claims, four consecutive monthly gains in the leading economic indicators, somewhat perkier retail sales and a pickup in housing starts and business permits. Pounding home this cheerful view is the media’s growing drumbeat of increased economic vigor....Confused? How can you not be?
The BLS better have some tricks up its statistical sleeve.
Are we really in an economic recovery or is it a figment of the Fed's quantitative easing? This will be the biggest factor in the 2012 elections.
Even Greek politicians scored higher.