Lies, Damned Lies, and Wingnut Statistics

Whenever the fringe right doesn’t like something, they simply fudge the numbers:

As a heavy user of many government databases, I can attest to the fact that one doesn’t draw data “from two different data sources” by accident. Far, far from it. As good as most government databases are (and they are good), it can be a bit of a laborious undertaking to drill down to exactly what one is looking for.

Its not an accident that the two different datasets Perry’s been abusing have been mixed – they need to be accessed separately and then combined; mined from two very different locations at BLS.gov.

The takeaway here is that Professor Perry has been a dishonest broker of information on Seattle’s minimum wage hike from the very start. This was only the most recent, and most egregious, affront to honest, objective and reasoned analysis of data.

To the NY Post, Fox News, Stuart Varney, Dori Monson, Jazz Shaw, Tim Worstall, IBD, AEI, and myriad other outlets, know – if you didn’t already – that you’ve hitched your wagons to a fraud.

This will change nothing to many of these folks, because neither facts nor fraud matter to ideological zealots. The record will now reflect beyond a shadow of a doubt that data abuse and manipulation are simply business as usual to advance that agenda and pursue an ideology.

Go get em, Barry.






122 replies
  1. 1
    Calouste says:

    To the NY Post, Fox News, Stuart Varney, Dori Monson, Jazz Shaw, Tim Worstall, IBD, AEI, and myriad other outlets, know – if you didn’t already – that you’ve hitched your wagons to a fraud.

    Feature, not bug.

  2. 2
    Librarian says:

    Mmmmmm. fudge.

  3. 3
    p.a. says:

    TBP is a daily must-read. Ritholtz himself did yeoman work debunking the ‘CRA & Messicans’ Mortgages Caused the Great Recession’ puke funneled out by the usual suspects.

  4. 4
    MattF says:

    I’ve become a fan of Ritholtz. His personal finance columns in the WaPo are excellent– he gets the basics right and is merciless towards the frauds and the ‘experts’ who are always wrong yet always seem to make a profit off the muppets.

    A rare bird indeed– very much a participant in the financial industry, while staying honest and intelligent.

  5. 5
    Detroit Adam says:

    @p.a.:

    TBP?

  6. 6
    tedmentele@gmail.com says:

    Just a note that this is from TBPInvictus, not Ritholtz.

  7. 7
    Adam L Silverman says:

    This surprises anyone?

  8. 8
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Detroit Adam: The Big Picture, which is the name of his website.

  9. 9
    Citizen_X says:

    What do you mean, “fringe right?” These people are the right.

  10. 10
    Doug R says:

    http://ritholtz.com/2016/03/158477/
    Check out the Huuuge difference between five cities around Seattle, remembering only Seattle raised their minimum wage. They start to vary around the fourth decimal place. ….

  11. 11
    Detroit Adam says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Ah! Thanks.

  12. 12
    p.a. says:

    @Detroit Adam: linky

    the link thru google was tempermental last week; the above works.

    I believe BR still calls himself Libertarian, but he’s a reality-based one. If the evidence supports a gvt operation/regulation function he has no issue with it.

  13. 13
    pharniel says:

    That’s @TBPInvictus doing yeoman’s work on the whole thing.
    These should be on the Maddow & other outlets. His(?) work has been outstanding and I’m not sure why John Oliver hasn’t made a segment out of it because it’d be fucking hilarious (while you cry)

  14. 14
    Eric U. says:

    @Citizen_X: they are at the gates, hungry for brainz

  15. 15
    Brachiator says:

    Great takedown. The use of bad data was clearly explained. Too bad that this won’t slow Fox and their friends down at all.

  16. 16
  17. 17
    dr. bloor says:

    Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed by reality.

  18. 18
    D58826 says:

    As Fake-President Cheney said the GOP creates it’s own reality. Or something like that

  19. 19
    Ex Libris says:

    @dr. bloor:
    That is so much true. You can show to the precise detail why the numbers are wrong or the policy is ineffective or the Republicans have made things worse and the answer is always either 1) no, that can’t be right because it can’t be right; or 2) the lying lies of the left or more lying, so this wrongness you speak of is not as wrong as the other wrongness. Some variation of this all the time.

  20. 20

    Don’t you guys remember the UMass grad student who found the error (or was it a lie) that blew off Rogoff and Reihart’s entire thesis about austerity? I don’t think R and R suffered any negative consequences for that.

  21. 21
    Mnemosyne says:

    @p.a.:

    There was another famous online libertarian who ended up largely renouncing the economic part because he ended up with a chronic illness and had to take a lot of public transportation around Los Angeles, which woke him up to the reality of what his life would have been like in a libertarian city. I can’t remember his name right now, though. Arthur somebody, maybe?

  22. 22
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I think it was an error with Excel formulas in different columns.

  23. 23
    singfoom says:

    Awesome. Invictus and Ritholtz have been calling this out for a long time. The Big Picture is a great blog and BRs take on the financial meltdown and the zombie lies that surround it are great reading.

  24. 24
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Mnemosyne: @schrodinger’s cat: Speaking of “austerity”…I’m listening to Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” right now and grinding my teeth (protip: don’t drive and listen to this one if you have high blood pressure). It’s making me want to dig up “Uncle Miltie” Friedman and kill, kill, kill him all over again.

  25. 25
    p.a. says:

    @Mnemosyne: Theory is easy. Reality is a fothermucker. Similar to Rethugs who are against X until a family member needs X.

  26. 26

    @FlipYrWhig: That was their cover story, alright.

    ETA: It was a very convenient mistake, that pushed the narrative that their wealthy sponsors at the Peterson Institute were trying to push at that time.

  27. 27
    p.a. says:

    @Miss Bianca: if the meteor hits the whole Chi School of Economics the world will be a better place. Can’t trust a U that doesn’t have a football team!

  28. 28

    @p.a.: Their influence is not limited to just one school, it is what passes for conventional wisdom in econ right now.

  29. 29
    JustRuss says:

    From the article:

    Ed note: I’ve long maintained that patience and analysis would be paramount in drawing conclusions about Seattle’s minimum wage hike.

    Silly. Every good conservative knows that patience and analysis only applies to alleged global warming, which must be studied and analyzed times infinity before we actually do anything about it.

  30. 30
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    Just wait until you see The Big Short. I never realized a movie could make me laugh and feel murderous at the same time.

  31. 31
    Miss Bianca says:

    @p.a.: Well, I don’t know about the football team, but I second the emotion re the Chicago School.

  32. 32
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Mnemosyne: Where is Bertolt Brecht when I need him, damn it…

    ETA: How BB would have eviscerated the notion that economics was a science with “observable natural laws” like physics!

  33. 33
    p.a. says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: @Miss Bianca:
    gotta start somewhere. best to hit the wellspring ;-/

  34. 34
    singfoom says:

    @Mnemosyne: Great movie, the book it’s based on and another All The Devils Are Here have caused me to basically melt down and start foaming at the mouth when I hear people blame the government or give up the other zombie lies about the causes of the financial collapse.

    But I’m sure someone will come in and say that nobody did anything illegal and it was just all too complicated to prosecute (simmering rage)….

  35. 35
    raven says:

    @p.a.: Heckman’s work on the GED prompted me to do my grad research. He and Cameron said “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” in reference to GED grads.

  36. 36
    Linnaeus says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    Yeah, that book does get one’s dander up.

  37. 37
    Linnaeus says:

    @singfoom:

    Did you see Inside Job? I thought it was pretty good.

  38. 38

    @Mnemosyne: I fail to understand as to why the hedge funders who shorted the housing market are supposed to be heroes?

  39. 39
    raven says:

    Looks like Watson is playing with a mini-soccer ball!

  40. 40
  41. 41
    Jackmac says:

    @p.a.: U of C does have a football team. But it plays in NCAA Division III.

  42. 42
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Linnaeus: Yeah, and I’m only a little ways into it…

    Not to flog a dying horse *too* badly, but this book outlines for me *why* I think it’s too bad that the great BS isn’t a better candidate. Because he’s shown that a strong message about the real evils of corporatism is ready to resonate with the American people…but his rhetoric just strikes me as way stronger than his political chops.

  43. 43
    Mnemosyne says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    It makes sense in the movie — basically, they were the only ones who realized the housing market was a house of cards, but even the hedge funders didn’t realize how bad it was until they’d started making the bets. It helps that they have Ryan Gosling playing a complete and utter douchebag so it’s not all “hedge funders good!”

    It’s presented as (and I think the movie is right) that the whole thing was going to collapse no matter what, so at least these guys survived the crash so they could explain what happened.

  44. 44

    @Miss Bianca: NK is a bit too sensationalist for my liking. As for Friedman, its not just him but Lucas and Barro and many others. The current Republican party are well to the right of Milton Friedman since they are against monetary policy as well not just fiscal.

    I like Krughthulu.

  45. 45
    JustRuss says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Well, if they were managing your money, they’d be heroes to you. But yeah.

  46. 46
    Miss Bianca says:

    @raven: What specifically was your grad research on?

  47. 47
    varminito says:

    I’ll let one of Seattle’s favorite sons have the final word on this and the RW puke funnel in general:

    “She’ll come back as fire, burn all the liars, leave a pile of ash on the ground.”

    Nirvana, Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle

  48. 48
    p.a. says:

    @Jackmac: tks! Bernie’s an alum!

  49. 49
    Miss Bianca says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: yeah, I can see why you’d think that, but I usually take a grain of salt to a good dose of righteous wrath, so it’s all good. ; )

  50. 50
    raven says:

    @Miss Bianca: Life history of a group of GED grads. Why they quit, why they went back and what they made of the process.

  51. 51
    Mnemosyne says:

    Another good (fiction) movie along the same lines is Margin Call, where a company basically has to dump a bunch of bad bonds because they fired the one guy who understood the algorithm. Has a great cast, too — Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Spacey, and more.

  52. 52
    JustRuss says:

    basically, they were the only ones who realized the housing market was a house of cards,

    This just boggles my brain. I had a good friend who was a mortgage broker, in ’06 I visited her and she told me about the deals she was making. I was horrified, it was obvious that the housing market was due for a very painful reckoning, that could easily impact the whole economy.

    That was a 90 minute conversation that included catching up on family, friends, and life. And I’m not all that brilliant, how did everybody else miss this?

  53. 53
    Miss Bianca says:

    @raven: Interesting. As a once and future GED teacher, that might be some enlightening reading!

  54. 54
    raven says:

    @Miss Bianca: I got mine in 1967 in Korea! I also did an annotated bibliography of GED Outcome Studies many moons ago.

  55. 55
    Mnemosyne says:

    @JustRuss:

    That’s kind of the point of the movie — the hedge fund guys keep pointing out that it’s a house of cards, and people keep replying, “What, you think you’re smarter than Alan Greenspan?” Of course, we now know that, yeah, a lot of people were smarter than Greenspan.

    The other way the movie makes their protagonists not quite as despicable is by putting them up against even worse assholes, and there is a plentiful supply of them. And they’re also careful to make the actual victims — like the tenants who just wanted a better school district for their kids — very sympathetic.

    And, thirdly, the characters played by Steve Carrell and Christian Bale are played as being a bit on the autism spectrum, which at first makes them concentrate on the numbers without thinking through the human aspect.

  56. 56
    scav says:

    Ahhhh! that little pig at CR! I’ve been away too long.

  57. 57

    @Mnemosyne: That movie reminded me of books like Lolita where point of view leads you to cheer for the protagonist and then afterwards you’re horrified you did that.

  58. 58
    Miss Bianca says:

    @raven: Ah, *very* interesting! I’ll bookmark your bibliography for future reference. Adult education is kind of a hobbyhorse of mine…

  59. 59
    joel hanes says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Are you maybe thinking of Jim Henley at Unqualified Offerings ?
    (still open for business, although Henley’s struggle with cancer has left “Thoreau” as the only front-pager, and they got rid of the sideways-dog banner; and it’s still absolutely worth reading)

    Henley always differed from most of the on-ine libertarians in that he has considerable empathy and understands that luck is a big determiner of outcomes, and in that he is emotionally adult. So his libertarianism was always thoughtful and tempered by contact with reality.

  60. 60
    hitchhiker says:

    Seattle resident here. I just need to say for those lucky enough never to have heard the smug, idiotic voice of one Dori Monson, be grateful. The man is dumb as a post. He’s like a very stupid person’s version of Bill O’Reilly. There was a time in the late 80s when his show was more local fluff and silly themes, but he’s been flogging the conservative horse for all he’s worth since the first Clinton administration.

    Just. Ugh. I never thought I’d see his name in a BJ headline.

  61. 61
    raven says:

    @Miss Bianca: It’s not exactly compelling reading. The studies I looked at were old at the time so they are really old now. If you want to read something interesting try “Lives on the Boundaries” by Mike Rose.

    Having grown up poor and been labeled this way, nationally acclaimed educator and author Mike Rose takes us into classrooms and communities to reveal what really lies behind the labels and test scores. With rich detail, Rose demonstrates innovative methods to initiate “problem” students into the world of language, literature, and written expression. This book challenges educators, policymakers, and parents to re-examine their assumptions about the capacities of a wide range of students.
    Already a classic, Lives on the Boundary offers a truly democratic vision, one that should be heeded by anyone concerned with America’s future.

    or

    “The Teachers, They All Had Their
    Pets”: Concepts of Gender, Knowledge,
    and Power
    by Wendy Lutrell

  62. 62
    Doug R says:

    @scav: CR saw it coming.

  63. 63
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Iowa Old Lady:

    Yeah, they basically only manage it by making the other people around them even worse and showing that a couple of the hedge funders have the vestiges of a conscience, unlike the assholes selling crap real estate to strippers who are just trying to get a best egg started.

  64. 64
    raven says:

    @Miss Bianca: Try “The Teachers, They all Had Their Pets by Wendy Lutrell

    and Life on the Boundaries by Mike Rose.

  65. 65
    raven says:

    Because a teacher believed in him, Rose (writing program, UCLA) was able to escape from poverty and go to college. There he floundered, unfamiliar with the conventions and demands of academic discourse, until another teacher realized his potential and took a personal interest in him. In Lives , Rose talks about the tremendous barriers to learning which handicap the underprivileged in their striving to educate themselves. Rose uses examples from his own and his students’ lives to show how change takes place through a dialogue of possibility between teacher and pupil. “Knowledge gained its meaning, at least initially, through a touch on the shoulder.” Rose impresses upon us the importance of reaching these students and convinces us that they can be saved. An admirable, life-affirming book, deserving a wide readership.
    – David Keymer, Coll. of Technology, Utica

  66. 66
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @raven:

    Tom Watson is on the bubble to make the cut at the Masters!

  67. 67
    joel hanes says:

    @JustRuss:

    how did everybody else miss this?

    Most pundits and economists are homeowners.

    It’s sometimes difficult to see the foundational flaws of a structure when you are enjoying the view from your upper-floor residence. And of course there’s the madness-of-crowds effect; only the little boy with no respect relationships to the rest of the audience can say outright that the king has no clothes.

  68. 68
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @raven:

    Tom Watson is on the bubble to make the cut at the Masters!

    Warning: his surname triggers FYWP moderation.

  69. 69
    raven says:

    @Steeplejack (phone): I’m so glad I got to walk the course, it makes watching very different.

  70. 70
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    basically, they were the only ones who realized the housing market was a house of cards

    @Mnemosyne: No, they weren’t, but nobody was listening to the people who were saying it was. I knew by 2005, when the condo across the street from mine, in a neighborhood referred to in seriousness by the locals as “The Ghetto”, 900 square feet, two bedrooms…went for a half million dollars.

    I just about crapped my pants at that point because I knew that a 250% increase in housing prices over only three years wasn’t a boom that would last forever, but a catastrophe that was going to destroy the economy. SOMEBODY was going to pay when it all took a dive.

    CR saw it coming.

    @Doug R: Tanta, RIP. She sure did. McBride got on board real fast. It was there for anyone who would bother to look. I have to credit CR and Bonddad with saving my retirement account.

  71. 71
    scav says:

    @Doug R: Oh yes, that was my place du haunting when politics was driving me nuts and I needed a different obsession. I have marvelous bad luck when choosing topics of sublimation. Might as well take up in-situ down-slope avalanche-watching.

  72. 72
    Trollhattan says:

    @JustRuss:
    Circa 2005, 2006 a fellow kept a blog (long since forgot his or the blog name) tracking the Las Vegas and California Central Valley housing markets and demonstrating its unsustainability. IIRC he found instances of individuals in contract for several houses, financed at or near 100%, relying on insta-flipping to stay above water. It made for chilling reading.

    My mortgage broker spouse would have nothing to do with neg-am, zero-percent down and the other risky products of the time. Can’t count how many folks she talked back form the ledge or simply refused to do their loans.

    I like this Ritholtz guy, will have to follow him. His US CoC takedown is practically epic. Did not know it was started at the request of President Taft to stem organized labor. Well done, mister president. You win, you fat dead bastard.

  73. 73
    raven says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: My mom had a condo like that in Torrance. She died and left ot to my sister and my sis froze and didn’t sell it until is lost more than half it’s (bullshit) value.

  74. 74
    Miss Bianca says:

    @raven: this is the sort of thing that leads me to keep arguing with the folks who sneer that “education isn’t going to solve our economic problems”…it’s like, “fine, fuck the economic angle. What’s important to remember is that education is itself a GOOD and a GOAL worthy to be pursued on its own merits.”

  75. 75
    Mike R says:

    To me it seemed obvious something wasn’t right, does anyone else remember the commercials for home equity loans. You know need a vacation, finance up to 125 per cent of equity. I also remember the 5 year balloon loan craze in the 80’s. Hey borrow cheap then will foreclose when you can’t refinance and we will take your house and leave your credit score a smoking ruin, good times.

  76. 76
    Mnemosyne says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    Sorry, I should have been more clear that I was talking about within the context and world of the movie. Yes, there were plenty of people outside of finance who knew the housing bubble was unsustainable, but inside the world that the movie’s characters live in, Alan Greenspan is a genius and there’s no way mortgages can go bad, so they’re seen as whiners who don’t understand how bidness really works.

  77. 77
    raven says:

    @Miss Bianca: Lutrell’s piece has some really interesting information in that arena. She worked with female domestic workers in dorms at NC State. Despite the fact that education had not really helped them they had a belief in it anyway. I think an accurate way to view the GED is that is it “necessary but not sufficient”.

  78. 78
    Mike R says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    What’s important to remember is that education is itself a GOOD and a GOAL worthy to be pursued on its own merits.

    Agree 100 %.

  79. 79
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:

    @Trollhattan:

    I think you mean the Irvine Housing Blog. I read it daily, along with Calculated Risk, which kept pointing to the Baltic Dry Index gyrations, and saved my retirement funds from the steep ride to the bottom.

  80. 80
    TG Chicago says:

    Go get em, Barry.

    Pretty sure that wasn’t posted by Barry Ritholz. It’s under the byline Invictus, the author refers to the blog’s host, then BR adds an editorial comment.

    EDIT: Whoops, beaten by tedmentele@gmail.com at #6. I did a page search for “Barry”, not “Ritholz”.

  81. 81
    dogwood says:

    @Miss Bianca:
    I used to cringe when I would walk into a few collegues’ classrooms and see this poster of shiny, expensive cars in front of a mansion. Stay in School

  82. 82
    🌷 Martin says:

    @the Conster, la Citoyenne: Yep. Irvine housing blog was extra fun to watch when you are living in Irvine and seeing all the details of the terrible decisions the neighbors you know were making.

  83. 83

    @JustRuss: They missed it because they were on the make, while the bubble was inflating. What no one knew was the exact time the bubble would burst. When an asset is appreciating very few want to bet against it.

  84. 84
    Miss Bianca says:

    @raven: Agreed. The GED really doesn’t work as a HS equivalency *unless* you go on to higher ed, IMHO.

  85. 85
    🌷 Martin says:

    SpaceX just landed a rocket on a boat.

  86. 86
    Linnaeus says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    I agree with you on the inherent value of education. The thing is, there’s something to the statement that education will not solve our economic problems, because it seems that education is more and more being sold as a magic bullet that cures most or all of our economic and social ills. So we increasingly offload the responsibility for dealing with those ills on our educational institutions, which are not set up to deal with them.

  87. 87
    The Ancient Randonneur says:

    @🌷 Martin: Yes! Big day for space travel.

  88. 88
    Mike J says:

    @🌷 Martin: A boat named Of Course I still Love You, sister ship of Just Read the Instructions.

    I really enjoyed the Culture books.

  89. 89
    raven says:

    @Miss Bianca: It depends on why you pursue it in the first place. I had a woman who promised her son that she’s get it if he stayed in school. Another was 50, had a good job and just always felt something was missing. It be complicated.

  90. 90
    bemused says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    We sold our very small car dealership in 2007. First prospective buyer had to pull out a year earlier so we were very anxious. I had been reading and watching reliable economists, etc who were warning of trouble on the horizon and we knew it was time to get out. We were very relieved when a bigger dealer bought our shop plus another small shop. I think that confirmed my feeling the bigger dealer was a typical conservative because he didn’t see the crash coming nor the tense times for car dealerships before car manufacturers got loan relief.

  91. 91
    Prescott Cactus says:

    @🌷 Martin: Amazon’s Bezos ships, Blue Origin has been active lately too. Thanks !

  92. 92
    🌷 Martin says:

    Oh, and the punchline on the Irvine Housing Blog is that Irvine housing prices hardly fell at all. We had some new neighborhoods with underwater homeowners but most older neighborhoods like mine were effectively untouched.

    Irvine benefits from being a highly desirable place to live – a big focus on education with more than enough households willing to pick up their family and move here. Any weakness in the market is pretty quickly filled.

    So for all the shenanigans with mortgages and HELOCs (a ton of subprime lenders are here, and we were the home of Lincoln Savings which helped create the 80s S&L crisis) they actually turned out to be good investments for the majority of people, and that’s why they were pursued in the first place – we have a market that is much harder to fail than the surrounding ones. At the end of the day the people that pushed the envelope weren’t punished because they weren’t wrong for their neighborhood, but when they exported it to other cities, the local market resiliency just wasn’t there and those people got crushed.

  93. 93
    singfoom says:

    @Mike J: @🌷 Martin: RIP Iain M. Banks. The Culture series was great and Musk’s naming his drone ships after Culture Ships is just great. My PC is named Mistake Not…

    This is indeed a great day for space travel.

  94. 94
    raven says:

    @🌷 Martin: Hasn’t most of the state recovered?

  95. 95
    Eric U. says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: fortunately we didn’t have much of a bubble here, but I knew there was a problem when I saw a crappy little house with a great view of Interstate 5 listed for $1/2 mil on one of the home flipping shows. Then they showed secret camera footage of the buyers, and they were the kind of people I expect to meet in trailer parks around here. I forget when that was, but sometime after that Atrios started linking to CR and making similar observations. But that went on for years before it actually blew up.

    I never really could figure out when to short something. Knowing it will crash sometime in the next 5 years really isn’t too profitable, or at least I don’t know how to pull that off. Actually coming to the understanding that there is going to be a crash much later in the game can be much more lucrative.

  96. 96
    raven says:

    Tommy won’t make it. If you want to watch him walk up 18 for the last time as a player turn it on now.

  97. 97
    Prescott Cactus says:

    @The Ancient Randonneur: at around 36 minutes in Space X lands

    Nailed it.

    USA, USA, USA, ! ! !

  98. 98
    Mai.naem.mobile says:

    Don’t worry. As usual the GOP mofos work around these city minimum wage hikes involves having a GOP governor if available sign legislation not allowing cities to have their own minimum wage. Or other progressive legislation. They do it by extortion. They tell the city you won’t get any state sales tax money. My city in AZ was trying to pass a no plastic grocery bags and the governor said no. They always want local control when it comes to the feds and abortion and trans gen bathrooms but plastic bags, hell no! There was also talk about a hike in the minimum wage in a couple of cities and Gov Dougy Douchebag put a stop to it.

  99. 99
    elmo says:

    @Eric U.: I lived in Mammoth Lakes at the time, and the bubble was even more pronounced up there. From about 1999 to the crash, housing prices were going up on average more than 5% per month.

    I bought a 4-plex (with a business partner) in 1999, to live in one unit and rent out the rest. When I couldn’t stand the tension anymore, because there was no way this kind of rocket increase was sustainable, I sold my half to my business partner in 2003. Way too early, as it turned out, because it had only tripled in value instead of quintupling like it would have done if I had held out until 2006.

    But still. Even though I didn’t time it right, I could see the handwriting on the wall four years before the “experts.”

  100. 100
    🌷 Martin says:

    @raven: For the most part, but some parts haven’t so well.

    The worst cycle that occurred out of that was this FOMO rush. A new development would go in (CA developments tend to be huge – hundreds or thousands of homes all spring up at once) and the lenders would push pretty aggressively to get people into these homes. The pitch was that this would be yet another California housing gold rush and they don’t want to wait and have prices go up. They would get subprime loans, and sure enough, prices would go up because they pushed these people into homes, and that would just feed on itself. The lenders needed the prices to go up and they basically guaranteed they would by making it easier and easier to buy. Eventually that momentum had to end and the bottom fall out, and the degree to which it would was based on what the natural demand for that market was. In Irvine, the natural demand was high, so the fallout was minimal.

    The worst cities were those on the edges of the metro areas. Cities like Temecula saw this cycle which was also fueled by cheap gas prices up through ’05 or so. The real trouble in these cities started in 2006 when gas prices spiked up over $4. People living in these cities were commuting 50-100 miles a day, and relied on the $10-$20/day gas bills to make it work. But when those bills ran up to $20-$40/day – maybe an extra $500/month for gas, they could no longer make it work. They stretched, but slowly they started moving out of those cities, which is what triggered the upward price momentum to break. You were then left with homeowners that were both underwater and facing massive gas bills to get to work. It just collapsed in a heap.

    The cities that were dependent on cheap gas to get their residents to jobs haven’t really recovered. The cities that had local jobs like Irvine did much better.

  101. 101
    cbear says:

    @raven: Do you play often? What hdcp do you play to? And, yeah, I know that 2nd question is a hanging curveball. lol

  102. 102
    Doug R says:

    @scav: I am still waiting for the housing reality that hit California in 2006 to come to our corner of the NW.

  103. 103
    raven says:

    @🌷 Martin: Whew, I think my mom worked in Temecula and lived in Torrance. She had someone she stayed with there to ease the commute but it wasn’t easy and that was a while ago.

    eta Check that, Simi Valley.

  104. 104
    raven says:

    @cbear: Nope, haven’t played in years. Takes too much time away from my bride and dogs. There was a time though. . .

  105. 105
    scav says:

    @Doug R: Which corner? Just as the big bubble masked local bubbles/trends (both up and down) any local bubble could mask the bigger popping. Geography still matters.

  106. 106
  107. 107
    p.a. says:

    @Eric U.: yeah I was reading CR at the time, it helped. I looked at my 401 investment breakdowns and shifted out of anything with mortgage-related issues. 401 still got whacked; a collapsing market collapses, but I think I was marginally better off, and psychologically it felt like I accomplished something.

  108. 108
    cbear says:

    @raven: Gotcha. Very cool that you were able visit Augusta.

  109. 109
    liberal says:

    I’d wager Dean Baker was ahead of any of these guys; he started blogging about the divergence between rents and prices in about 2003 or even earlier.

    And there’s some British Georgist who predicted the bubble about 17 years earlier.

  110. 110
    J R in WV says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Because they were right? Maybe?

    And not heros, just millionaires many times over, by seeing what was going on, betting everything on it, and being right. Little guys against the big guys who caused the crash.

  111. 111
    Doug R says:

    @scav: This game is from 2010, it’s only gotten worse:
    http://www.crackshackormansion.com/

  112. 112
  113. 113
    JustRuss says:

    @Trollhattan: Good for your wife. My friend wrote a mortgage for a mutual friend and he lost his house. As for the Chamber of Commerce, my daughter did an internship there, she was already turning into a lefty but that really pushed her in the right direction. Horrible people.

  114. 114
    J R in WV says:

    The eastern panhandle of WV is a bedroom community for Washington, DC now. It used to be peach orchards mostly. Mrs J’s friend told us that the developments were going to people with “interest only” loans!

    I knew we were screwed right then. Who does that? No one with a thought in their head! Designed for flipping, no other way to make that work. What bank makes that loan? No one… with a financial plan makes that, or takes that loan. No one!

  115. 115
    mclaren says:

    None of this rational logical debunking makes the slightest difference to most people. Scott Adams has a great post explaining why:

    Trump knows psychology. He knows facts don’t matter. He knows people are irrational. So while his opponents are losing sleep trying to memorize the names of foreign leaders – in case someone asks – Trump knows that is a waste of time. No one ever voted for a president based on his or her ability to name heads of state. People vote based on emotion. Period.

    You used to think Trump ignored facts because he doesn’t know them. That’s partly true. There are plenty of important facts Trump does not know. But the reason he doesn’t know those facts is – in part – because he knows facts don’t matter. They never have and they never will. So he ignores them.

    Right in front of you.

    And he doesn’t apologize or correct himself. If you are not trained in persuasion, Trump looks stupid, evil, and maybe crazy. If you understand persuasion, Trump is pitch-perfect most of the time. He ignores unnecessary rational thought and objective data and incessantly hammers on what matters (emotions).

    Did Trump’s involvement in the birther thing confuse you? Were you wondering how Trump could believe Obama was not a citizen? The answer is that Trump never believed anything about Obama’s place of birth. The facts were irrelevant, so he ignored them while finding a place in the hearts of conservatives. For later.

    This is later. He plans ahead.

    Do you remember a year ago when you thought humans were rational most of the time – let’s say 90% of the time – and irrational the rest of the time? That was how most people saw the world, and still do. But Trump is teaching you that you had it backwards. The truth is that humans are irrational 90% of the time.

    Source: “Donald Trump, Con, Man,” Scott Adams, the Dilbert blog, 15 March 2016.

  116. 116
    mclaren says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    this is the sort of thing that leads me to keep arguing with the folks who sneer that “education isn’t going to solve our economic problems”…it’s like, “fine, fuck the economic angle. What’s important to remember is that education is itself a GOOD and a GOAL worthy to be pursued on its own merits.”

    It’s not a sneer, it’s a documented fact. More education merely produces degree inflation. It’s not my opinion, you can see it in the statistics: college-educated workers have watched their wages drop since 2001, and the drop continues. Why? Because more education turns the job market into a game of musical chairs. More and more people with degrees chase the same number of jobs. It’s useless

    The biggest impediment to reducing inequality, poverty, and social immobility is our country’s misplaced obsession with college education. Arne Duncan spoke for every other peddler of generic platitudes when he remarked in August of last year that “the only way to end poverty is through education.” Duncan singles out poverty, but you can hear the same chorus for all of our other distributive woes. For this post, I thought I’d share three short reasons why right-thinking people should reject this conventional wisdom about the ability of college education in particular to fix these kinds of economic injustices.

    First, college attainment does not actually level the social mobility playing field. The running narrative is that the reason rich and poor kids tend to remain that way into adulthood is the education achievement gap. Rich kids have the money and other resources to get college educations while poor kids do not. Therefore, to achieve social mobility, we need to put a heavy focus on getting poor kids into and through college.

    This story is flatly contradicted by the data we have on social mobility. Differential rates of college completion are certainly a substantial part of the story, but we have data that controls for college completion, and it too shows a major class disparity in life outcomes. Of kids who do not complete college, those from the richest fifth of families are more than 8x more likely to wind up in the richest fifth as adults than kids from the poorest fifth. Of kids who do complete college, the rich kids are more than 5x more likely to wind up as rich adults than poor kids. And now the real kicker: rich kids who do not complete college are 2.5x more likely to wind up rich than poor kids who do complete college. That’s right: you are better off being born rich and not going to college then being born poor and getting a degree. The college education fix is not sufficient to fix our social mobility problems.

    Second, there is no reason to expect running more kids through college will reduce inequality or low-end poverty. The narrative on this one is as simple as it is naive. The idea is that those who attend college do well economically, and that therefore putting nearly everyone through college will mean nearly everyone does well. It doesn’t take a genius to see how that solution doesn’t really scale. If educational attainment increases, but the supply of good jobs does not, all that results is credential inflation. The bar for securing one of the few good jobs moves ever-higher, requiring Master’s degrees or a long string of unpaid internships. It’s not hard to guess what class of people wins the credential inflation arms race: the same one that doesn’t even need to go to college to have a decent shot at winding up on top.

    Beyond that more theoretical exposition, the last 4 decades has been an excellent experiment for this idea. In that period, we nearly tripled overall college attainment. That tripling coincided with substantial productivity gains, but also coincided with forty years of income stagnation, growing inequality, and flat poverty rates. More recently, we’ve even seen labor’s share of the national income take a plunge. With productivity gains flowing almost entirely to the top 10 percent and now to capital, the college education solution to our distributive problems looks to be even more of a dead-end than it has been in the recent past.

    Source: “College Isn’t the Answer to Inequality,” Matt Breuning, Policyshop website, 4 June 2013.

  117. 117
    mclaren says:

    More education is not just worthless, it’s detrimental to the workers under current bankruptcy laws and with current sky-high tuitions. The new bankruptcy laws make it impossible for a college grad to discharge expensive college loans through bankruptcy, and college tuition has risen even faster since 2001 than home prices — 12 times faster than inflation.

    Calling for more college education today in the U.S. economy’s collapsing dying job market with today’s stratospheric tuition rates is a call for young people to feed themselves into a financial meatgrinder — it’s a giant con game perpetrated on behalf of predatory loan companies that specialize in victimizing young people who will wind up spending their lives working part-time as baristas and xerox clerks.

    Calling for more education as a bulwark against job offshoring is an intuitively appealing but fundamentally misdirected policy response. A more educated populace is certainly a desirable social goal but will do little to “protect” American jobs.

    Invest in innovative research in the U.S. and stimulate demand for domestic products and services.
    Offshoring now encompasses work across the skill spectrum. As leading firms open research and development labs around the world to meet global needs, we should expect science and engineering job growth to also occur around the world and no longer concentrated in just the U.S.

    For some fields where doing work remotely is more difficult, like medicine, we see offshore hospitals attracting traveling patients; in fields like law, documents can be researched and drafted by expert legal teams sitting in Delhi and a lawyer in-country of the client is necessary only to meet, greet and execute. Thus, there are now few jobs for which education alone provides U.S. workers an advantage.

    Moreover, there is neither a shortage of U.S. students who are world-class in their educational performance nor of college graduates with science and engineering degrees. The U.S. can claim the lion’s share of the world’s highest performing (domestic) science students and continues to graduate more than two times the number of scientists and engineers than are hired each year. Meanwhile, we produce an astounding number of very low performing students. Improving education is important but focusing on top tier skills is not a panacea for unemployment or poor economic performance.

    Source: “More Education Isn’t the Answer,” Hal Salzman, The New York Times, 14 September 2010.

  118. 118
    mclaren says:

    But I’ll outsource the really heavy-hitting rebuttal of the myth that more education will help our economy to Nobel laureate Paul Krugman:

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that education is the key to economic success. Everyone knows that the jobs of the future will require ever higher levels of skill. That’s why, in an appearance Friday with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, President Obama declared that “If we want more good news on the jobs front then we’ve got to make more investments in education.”

    But what everyone knows is wrong.

    The day after the Obama-Bush event, The Times published an article about the growing use of software to perform legal research. Computers, it turns out, can quickly analyze millions of documents, cheaply performing a task that used to require armies of lawyers and paralegals. In this case, then, technological progress is actually reducing the demand for highly educated workers.

    And legal research isn’t an isolated example. As the article points out, software has also been replacing engineers in such tasks as chip design. More broadly, the idea that modern technology eliminates only menial jobs, that well-educated workers are clear winners, may dominate popular discussion, but it’s actually decades out of date.

    The fact is that since 1990 or so the U.S. job market has been characterized not by a general rise in the demand for skill, but by “hollowing out”: both high-wage and low-wage employment have grown rapidly, but medium-wage jobs — the kinds of jobs we count on to support a strong middle class — have lagged behind. And the hole in the middle has been getting wider: many of the high-wage occupations that grew rapidly in the 1990s have seen much slower growth recently, even as growth in low-wage employment has accelerated.

    Why is this happening? The belief that education is becoming ever more important rests on the plausible-sounding notion that advances in technology increase job opportunities for those who work with information — loosely speaking, that computers help those who work with their minds, while hurting those who work with their hands.

    Some years ago, however, the economists David Autor, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane argued that this was the wrong way to think about it. Computers, they pointed out, excel at routine tasks, “cognitive and manual tasks that can be accomplished by following explicit rules.” Therefore, any routine task — a category that includes many white-collar, nonmanual jobs — is in the firing line. Conversely, jobs that can’t be carried out by following explicit rules — a category that includes many kinds of manual labor, from truck drivers to janitors — will tend to grow even in the face of technological progress.

    And here’s the thing: Most of the manual labor still being done in our economy seems to be of the kind that’s hard to automate. Notably, with production workers in manufacturing down to about 6 percent of U.S. employment, there aren’t many assembly-line jobs left to lose. Meanwhile, quite a lot of white-collar work currently carried out by well-educated, relatively well-paid workers may soon be computerized. Roombas are cute, but robot janitors are a long way off; computerized legal research and computer-aided medical diagnosis are already here.

    And then there’s globalization. Once, only manufacturing workers needed to worry about competition from overseas, but the combination of computers and telecommunications has made it possible to provide many services at long range. And research by my Princeton colleagues Alan Blinder and Alan Krueger suggests that high-wage jobs performed by highly educated workers are, if anything, more “offshorable” than jobs done by low-paid, less-educated workers. If they’re right, growing international trade in services will further hollow out the U.S. job market.

    Source: “Degrees and Dollars,” Paul Krugman, The New York Times, 6 March 2011.

    The “let-them-eat-cake” attitude that “education is a good in and of itself” sounds very nice…until you realize that all that wonderful education costs a fantastic amount of money in Shithole America. Long gone are the days when I went to college for $400 a semester. Today, a newly-minted college graduate can easily wind up with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, and that’s without going to an Ivy League school. All they need to do is default on their college loans, and the legalized loan-sharking misnamed the 1998 Bankruptcy Reform Act kicks in and all the extra fines and fees will blast a $20,000 college loan into $100,000 or more in debt.

    Surging above $1 trillion, U.S. student loan debt has surpassed credit card and auto-loan debt. This debt explosion jeopardizes the fragile recovery, increases the burden on taxpayers and possibly sets the stage for a new economic crisis.

    With a still-wobbly jobs market, these loans are increasingly hard to pay off. Unable to find work, many students have returned to school, further driving up their indebtedness.

    Average student loan debt recently topped $25,000, up 25 percent in 10 years. And the mushrooming debt has direct implications for taxpayers, since 8 in 10 of these loans are government-issued or guaranteed.

    Source: “The Explosion In Student Loan Debt Is Reaching Crisis Proportions,” Business Insider, 4 April 2012.

  119. 119
    mclaren says:

    The premium for bachelors degrees has now evaporated. The masters degree is the new B.A. or B.S.

    “Wages For College Grads Are Now Lower Than They Were 15 Years Ago,” Huffington Post, 2 June, 2015.

    Wages for university grads are 2.5 percent lower than what they were 15 years ago, according to the latest edition of the Economic Policy Institute’s annual report on the labor market prospects of new workers. The research found that young college grads’ hourly wages currently sit at an average of $17.94, or just over $37,000 annually. In 2000, the average hourly rate was $18.41.

    This drop has hit female grads hardest: Their wages fell from $17.74 in 2000 to $16.56 in 2015 — a 6.7 percent decrease. Wages for their male counterparts actually increased by 1 percent over the same time period — from $19.44 to $19.64.

    Why have college wages for women dropped faster than for male graduates? Because more women than men are graduating from college — 61% of current college students are women nationwide.

    “Why More Bachelor’s Degrees Won’t Solve Inequality,” Jordan Weissman, Moneybox website, 31 March 2015.

    But the head shot, the true smoking gun, comes from the statistical work done by Richard Vedder:

    With the help of a small army of researchers and associates (most importantly, Chris Matgouranis, Jonathan Robe, and Chris Denhart) and starting with help from Douglas Himes of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) has unearthed what I think is the single most scandalous statistic in higher education. It reveals many current problems and ones that will grow enormously as policymakers mindlessly push enrollment expansion amidst what must become greater public-sector resource limits.

    Here it is: approximately 60 percent of the increase in the number of college graduates from 1992 to 2008 worked in jobs that the BLS considers relatively low skilled—occupations where many participants have only high school diplomas and often even less. Only a minority of the increment in our nation’s stock of college graduates is filling jobs historically considered as requiring a bachelor’s degree or more.

    Source: “The Great College-Degree Scam,” Richard Vedder, Chronicle of Higher Education, 9 December 2010.

    As more and more higher-educated grads spew out of our university system, it pushes down the wages of people with less education. Meanwhile, automation increasingly drives out of existence formerly high-paid jobs, now wiped out by computers + robots + Big Data + offshoring.

    See “College Grads Taking Low-Wage Jobs Displace Less Educated,” Bloomberg News, 12 March 2014:

    Jeanina Jenkins, a 20-year-old high-school graduate from St. Louis, is stuck in a $7.82-an-hour part-time job at McDonald’s Corp. that she calls a “last resort” because nobody would offer her anything better.
    Stephen O’Malley, 26, a West Virginia University graduate, wants to put his history degree to use teaching high school. What he’s found instead is a bartender’s job in his home town of Manasquan, New Jersey.
    Jenkins and O’Malley are at opposite ends of a dynamic that is pushing those with college degrees down into competition with high-school graduates for low-wage jobs that don’t require college. As this competition has intensified during and after the recession, it’s meant relatively higher unemployment, declining labor market participation and lower wages for those with less education.

    The jobless rate of Americans ages 25 to 34 who have only completed high school grew 4.3 percentage points to 10.6 percent in 2013 from 2007, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Unemployment for those in that age group with a college degree rose 1.5 percentage points to 3.7 percent in the same period.
    “The underemployment of college graduates affects lesser educated parts of the labor force,” said economist Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a not-for-profit research organization in Washington. “Those with high-school diplomas that normally would have no problem getting jobs as bartenders or taxi drivers are sometimes kept from getting the jobs by people with college diplomas,” said Vedder, who is also a Bloomberg View contributor.

    Recent college graduates are ending up in more low-wage and part-time positions as it’s become harder to find education-level appropriate jobs, according to a January study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    The share of Americans ages 22 to 27 with at least a bachelor’s degree in jobs that don’t require that level of education was 44 percent in 2012, up from 34 percent in 2001, the study found.

  120. 120
    PNW_WarriorWoman says:

    Ritz, Yves, BJ and company. It’s a 7-day a week thing.

  121. 121
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Short version of the post at Ritholtz’ blog: Mark Perry of the AEI mixed data from a Bureau of Labor Statistics household survey, the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program, with a BLS business establishment survey, the Current Employment Statistics survey.

    It’s obviously not common public knowledge, but it is a basic fact that anyone with a passing familiarity with BLS data knows: you don’t mix statistics from household surveys with statistics from business establishment surveys. Their methodology is sufficiently different that the numbers just aren’t going to work and play well together. You’re going to get screwy and nonsensical results if you mix them.

    Which in Perry’s case, may well have been his goal.

  122. 122
    Miss Bianca says:

    Jesus, mclaren…you jump to so goddamn many conclusions about what I said I that I don’t think I can keep up…and I don’t think I’m going to bother feeling fussed about trying to.

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