Posts filed under “Mathematics”

Media Hall of Shame: Black Friday Reporting

I am writing up my BBRG coverage of the innumerate business reporting of Black Friday and the holiday shopping weekend. The press as per usual got it wrong again this year.

Here is the press release from the  NRF, pushing their usual survey silliness as if it were actual retail sales data:

“More than 141 million unique shoppers have already or will have shopped by the end of the big Thanksgiving weekend, up from 139 million over the same time frame last year. For those who shopped multiple times over the weekend, the survey found more than 248 million** waited in line, took advantage of big discounts offered throughout the mall and shopped on retailers websites, up from 247 million shoppers last year. According to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics over the weekend, traffic on Thanksgiving Day itself grew 27 percent as nearly 45 million shoppers, or 31.8 percent of holiday shoppers, took advantage of special “turkey day” savings offers, up from 35 million in 2012. Black Friday was the biggest day: more than 92 million people shopped (65.2%) for apparel, electronics and more, up from nearly 89 million last year.

Low prices helped keep Americans’ budgets in check this weekend: on average, shoppers spent $407.02 from Thursday through Sunday (planned), down from $423.55 last year. Total spending is estimated to reach $57.4 billion.”

Here is the NYT, dutifully acting as stenographer for the trade group:

“More than 141 million people shopped online or in stores between Thursday and Sunday, according to a survey released Sunday afternoon by the retail federation, an increase of about 1 percent over last year. And the average amount each consumer spent, or planned to spend by the end of Sunday, went down, dropping to $407.02 from $423.55. Total spending for the weekend this year was expected to be $57.4 billion, a decrease of nearly 3 percent from last year’s $59.1 billion.”

The WSJ was no better, literally wrong from the very first sentence:

Retail spending over Thanksgiving weekend dropped for the first time in at least seven years, the industry’s main trade group said, as the blitz of deals and earlier opening hours apparently failed to pry more dollars out of the hands of budget-conscious shoppers.

Even Bloomberg got this wrong:

“U.S. retailers eked out a 2.3 percent sales gain on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, in line with a prediction for the weakest holiday results since 2009.

Sales at brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday rose to $12.3 billion, according to a report yesterday from ShopperTrak. The Chicago-based researcher reiterated its prediction that sales for the entire holiday season will gain 2.4 percent, the smallest increase since the last recession.”

There are lots of others but I expect more from these 3.  My morning commentary at Bloomberg View goes into greater detail. It should be posted later this morning.

 

Recently:
Ignore the Black Friday Hype Bloomberg View Nov 25, 2013 8:05 AM ET

Retail theater: Beware of bad Shopmas data! Washington Post, November 29, 2013

 

Previously:
Did Black Friday save the season? Beware the retail hype. (Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2011)

Retail Sales Disappoint on False Black Friday Reports (Dec. 13th, 2011)

No, Black Friday Sales Were Not Up 16% (not even 6%) (Nov. 28th, 2011)

Entering the Holiday Shopping Season (Beware Surveys!) (Oct. 28th, 2009)

Spinning Black Friday Retail Sales (Dec. 1, 2008)

Repeat After Me: Spending Surveys Are Meaningless (Oct. 2007)

More Bad Data from the NRF? (Nov. 2006)

Holiday Sales Numbers Don’t Add Up (Dec. 1, 2005)

 

Category: Bad Math, Consumer Spending, Data Analysis, Financial Press, Really, really bad calls

Enjoy Black Friday But Ignore NRF Surveys

Thanksgiving is but a few days away. We celebrate by the giving of thanks for whatever bounty has come your way. It is a warm and wonderful holiday full of family and tryptophan and good cheer. Black Friday, the day after turkey day, is the official kick off of the season I like to call…Read More

Category: Bad Math, Consumer Spending, Really, really bad calls

Benoît Mandelbrot, Father of Fractals

IBM and http://IBMblr.Tumblr.com celebrate the life of Benoit B. Mandelbrot, IBM Fellow Emeritus and Fractal Pioneer. In this final interview shot by filmmaker Erol Morris, Mandelbrot shares his love for mathematics and how it led him to his wondrous discovery of fractals. His work lives on today in many innovations in science, design, telecommunications, medicine, renewable energy, film (special effects), gaming (computer graphics) and more.

Category: Mathematics, Quantitative, Video

The Beauty of Mathematics

“Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music.” —Bertrand Russell   BEAUTY OF MATHEMATICS from PARACHUTES.TV on Vimeo.

Category: Mathematics, Weekend

About Our “Spending Problem” (Revisited)

@TBPInvictus here It’s a well established fact that the Obama administration has been spending like a drunken sailor since the day he was inaugurated. I first wrote about his spendthrift ways here, toward the end of 2010 (has it already been three years?). Some time has now passed, so how’s it going? Let’s take another…Read More

Category: Bad Math, Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Really, really bad calls

What Do Hedge Funds Spend On Regulatory Compliance?

Every now and then, I read an article that is factually accurate, technically correct — and utterly misleading. Items like this are “accurate but false” as they leave the reader with an impression of something that is incorrect. Because the world is nuanced and not black and white, the sum of many facts, statistics and…Read More

Category: Bad Math, Hedge Funds, Regulation

Tax Rates, Inequality, and US Deficits

Its Friday, after what was for me a long and annoying 17 days. But the shutdown is over, US markets are at all time highs, and Bob Shiller got his Nobel (more on this tomorrow). You might think that I would be at peace with the current state of the world, but life is never…Read More

Category: Economy, Mathematics, Philosophy, Taxes and Policy

The Truth About the Deficit

Yesterday, I was on Pete Dominick’s Sirius XM Satellite radio show (audio below). A caller asked about how to close the deficit. His comments revealed that his concern about the deficit was merely a ruse, a tool to be used to achieve very different goals. If you are truly concerned about deficit, then what you…Read More

Category: Mathematics, Politics, Really, really bad calls

What makes us bad investors?

What makes us bad investors? from morganhousel by morganhousel on Jul 14, 2013

Category: Investing, Mathematics, Psychology, Think Tank

Twelve Musical Tones

Vi Hart, explores the nature of randomness and pattern, using Stravinsky’s 12-tone music as a starting-point and rocketing through constellations, the nature of reality. Twelve Tones hat tip boingboing

Category: Mathematics, Music, Weekend