I Visit Right-Wing Websites…

...and things like this show up in my email inbox in rapid order:

Why Is FEMA Hoarding Survival Food?

You're not going to believe what FEMA just tried to pull.

You won't believe what the government is doing now...

>> Click here to watch the banned video now.

It's true, Friend. They are coming. Like it or not.

And they won't leave empty-handed.

Don't wait. You snooze, you lose.

Get the truth about what the government is trying to get away with, before they yank it offline.

>> Secret video exposes what you need to know.

PS...It's going to be every man, woman and child for themselves... food mobs will strip store shelves bare... get prepared by watching this ground-breaking video before it's taken down by government hackers...

Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality 2015-06-30 22:55:42

Must-Read: I used to think Mark Duggan and company had a point about SSDI. But with more and more things like this coming across the desk--and with my inability to find any holes in them--I am coming more and more to the conclusion that he does not...

Monique Morrissey: Are Disability Rates Increasing?: "Congressional Republicans are trying to block a routine reallocation of funds to the SSDI Trust Fund...

Are Disability Rates Increasing Economic Policy Institute Are Disability Rates Increasing Economic Policy Institute

...insisting that they will only allow reallocation if ‘reforms’ to SSDI are implemented. The intellectual underpinning for their demands is that there is an unfolding fiscal crisis caused by workers who are able to earn a living but are instead choosing to claim disability benefits. A chief proponent of this view, Stanford economist Mark Duggan, testified before the Senate Budget Committee earlier this year....

SSDI benefits have become, if anything, less generous. Moreover, even research cited by critics shows SSDI receipt has a negligible impact on work effort because few applicants, including marginal applicants who were denied benefits, are able to earn a living afterward. Meanwhile, there are good explanations for the increase in the share of beneficiaries suffering from musculoskeletal disorders, including an aging population, rising obesity rates, and fewer workers able to retire early when their health deteriorates....

While ‘raw’ or unadjusted incidence–the number of new awards per thousand insured persons–increased as the large baby boomer cohort aged into the peak disability years before retirement, age-adjusted incidence hasn’t trended upward over the past 20 years, though it increased during periods of high unemployment.... It’s natural to assume that where there’s smoke there must be fire. But when it comes to Republicans claiming that ‘financial incentives’ are fueling a rise in disability, we should look for smoke and mirrors. As researchers at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have laid out in detail, Duggan and other critics have made much of a growth in enrollment that is mostly due to demographic and other identifiable factors that have nothing to do with people gaming the system...


Fannie Mae: Mortgage Serious Delinquency rate declined in May, Lowest since August 2008

Fannie Mae reported today that the Single-Family Serious Delinquency rate declined in May to 1.70% from 1.73% in April. The serious delinquency rate is down from 2.08% in May 2014, and this is the lowest level since August 2008.

The Fannie Mae serious delinquency rate peaked in February 2010 at 5.59%.

Last week, Freddie Mac reported that the Single-Family serious delinquency rate declined in May to 1.58%. Freddie's rate is down from 2.10% in May 2014, and is at the lowest level since November 2008. Freddie's serious delinquency rate peaked in February 2010 at 4.20%.

Note: These are mortgage loans that are "three monthly payments or more past due or in foreclosure".

Fannie Freddie Seriously Delinquent RateClick on graph for larger image

The Fannie Mae serious delinquency rate has only fallen 0.38 percentage points over the last year - the pace of improvement has slowed - and at that pace the serious delinquency rate will be below 1% in 2017.

The "normal" serious delinquency rate is under 1%, so maybe serious delinquencies will be close to normal in 2017.  This elevated delinquency rate is mostly related to older loans - the lenders are still working through the backlog.

Noted for Your Afternoon Procrastination for June 30, 2015

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Must- and Should-Reads:

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog


And Over Here:

Might Like to Be Aware of:

Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality 2015-06-30 21:22:21

Must-Read: As I first said back in 1995: Yes, Mexico had sinned against the Gods of Monetarism. But the punishment inflicted was way out of proportion to the initial sin, and strongly suggested deep fundamental flaws in the international macroeconomic order. The same is the case for Greece today.

Paul Krugman: The Awesome Gratuitousness of the Greek Crisis: "But doesn’t the ultimate cause lie in wild irresponsibility on the part of the Greek government?...

...What strikes me is how relatively mild Greek fiscal problems looked on the eve of crisis. In 2007... public debt of slightly more than 100 percent of GDP... [a] fiscal gap... around 3 points, not trivial but hardly something that should have been impossible to close.... So yes, Greece was overspending, but not by all that much. It was over indebted, but again not by all that much. How did this turn into a catastrophe that among other things saw debt soar to 170 percent of GDP despite savage austerity? The euro straitjacket, plus inadequately expansionary monetary policy within the eurozone, are the obvious culprits. But that, surely, is the deep question here. If Europe as currently organized can turn medium-sized fiscal failings into this kind of nightmare, the system is fundamentally unworkable.


Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality 2015-06-30 21:05:33

Must-Read: Mike Konczal: The Hard Work of Taking Apart Post-Work Fantasy: "The preponderance of stories about work ending...

...is itself doing a certain kind of labor, one that distracts us and leads us away from questions we need to answer. These stories, beyond being untethered to the current economy, distract from current problems in the workforce, push laborers to identify with capitalists while ignoring deeper transitional matters, and don’t even challenge what a serious, radical story of ownership this would bring into question.


Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality 2015-06-30 20:58:49

Must-Read: Danny Chrichton: Why Is The University Still Here?: "Universities... have been on Silicon Valley’s hit list...

...and disruption phasers... have... been set to kill.... And yet... we failed to ensure that motivation and primacy were built-in to these new products... failed to get adults to engage with education in the way that universities traditionally can.... The motivation problem should have been obvious from the start.... Primacy is making education the primary activity of a student’s day.... When we attend a physical university, we automatically give primacy to education.... There is also financial primacy that comes from paying large tuition bills.... New forms of online education like MOOCs lost both forms of primacy at once.... It doesn’t seem like we have the answers.... We need to think more deeply about motivation and primacy...


Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality 2015-06-30 20:34:02

Must-Read: Timothy B. Lee: The euro was a big mistake, and Greece is paying the price: "The problem is that the ECB is responsible for both Greece and Germany...

...and 17 other countries as well. The right policy for Greece will be a disaster for Germany, and vice versa. Any policy the ECB picks will be either too tight for some European countries or too loose for others. The ECB is headquartered in Germany and has strong ties to German policymakers. So in practice, it tends to pay more attention to the needs of Germany than other European countries. The result has been an economic disaster for Greece. And not just Greece. Spain's debt problems aren't nearly as bad as Greece's. But its 24 percent unemployment rate is nearly as high, and the Spanish unemployment rate has been above 20 percent for about five years...


Restaurant Performance Index indicates expansion in May

Here is a minor indicator I follow from the National Restaurant Association: Restaurant Performance Index Remained in Positive Territory in May
Although same-stores sales and customer traffic levels softened somewhat in May, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) remained in positive territory. The RPI – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 102.3 in May, down 0.4 percent from a level of 102.7 in April. Despite the decline, May represented the 27th consecutive month in which the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

“The outlook for the restaurant industry remains positive, as the RPI stood above the 102 level for the 8th consecutive month,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. “A majority of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales in May, and operators are generally optimistic about an improving business environment in the months ahead.”
emphasis added
Restaurant Performance Index Click on graph for larger image.

The index decreased to 102.3 in May, down from 102.7 in April. (above 100 indicates expansion).

Restaurant spending is discretionary, so even though this is "D-list" data, I like to check it every month. This is another solid reading.
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