Posts filed under “Really, really bad calls”

Lying About Geography and Minimum Wage

@TBPInvictus here

As those who have been following along already know, Seattle has been ground zero for the minimum wage battle, having raised it earlier this year.

Critics of the higher minimum – of any minimum at all, actually – have been twisting and torturing data in a pathetic attempt to prove the higher wage is having a deleterious effect. I’ve been addressing those idiotic arguments for over six months now, and it appears there’s no end in sight.

The Atlantic runs with a story that leans on a “report” out of the American Action Forum that purports to demonstrate that “hiring has slowed in the cities that changed their policies this year,” although “it’s probably too early to tell, economists say.”

As an aside, here’s a brief rant to those – like The Atlantic’s Russell Berman – who call themselves journalists: Data can be like women. They can be somewhat hard to understand. It can be hard to figure out exactly what they’re saying to you. You can easily misinterpret them. Sometimes you need someone else to explain them to you. Sometimes you think they’re saying one thing, when in fact they’re saying something else entirely. Sometimes, for whatever reason, you’re looking in the wrong places, at the wrong things. And while understanding women probably isn’t essential to your job, understanding data is. So, my suggestion to you is that you spend a bit of time understanding what it is you’re writing about before you write it so I don’t have to waste my time, and embarrass you, debunking it.

Moving on, the piece on which Berman relied, at the American Action Forum, has no problem acknowledging its own worthlessness. While the piece purports to analyze the early effects of a higher minimum wage in cities that have enacted one, we see the AAF has actually done no such thing:


Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 11.34.49 AM


I know what you’re thinking – how can a report analyzing the effects of a higher minimum wage in certain cities not have “directly analyze[d] the cities that raised the minimum wages?” An excellent question. And to answer your next question, “analyzing employment trends in the entire metropolitan areas” yields virtually no reliable, dependable data on how the minimum wage is impacting the areas that enacted it. In short, the whole exercise is a waste of everyone’s time (most definitely including mine).

Since I’ve already done the city of Seattle versus Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) thing to death, let’s have a little fun with the AAF’s use of the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metropolitan Division.

Here’s how the government defines the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metropolitan Division:


Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 11.45.32 AM


By my count, that’s a total of six (6) counties that comprise the MD. Geographically, visually, it looks like this:


Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 4.18.21 PM


Here are the numbers behind the visual:


Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 12.07.01 PM


So, some 2,000,000 people reside outside the area in which the minimum wage was raised. And that area, at 3,951 square miles, is some 17 times larger than Chicago proper. The numbers aren’t as dramatic as the situation in Seattle, where the city proper is much smaller in population and square mileage than its MSA, but making inferences from the Chicago data are as useless as they are in Seattle, to be sure.

None of this, of course, will stop ideologues like Mark Perry or the American Action Forum from disseminating shoddy and useless information. But perhaps it will give some pause before they believe everything they see or hear, and beyond that, maybe it will give “journalists” like Mr. Berman a bit of a kick in the pants to do their jobs better and understand the subject matter about which they write. And a special shout-out to the AAF’s Ben Gitis, who wrote the “paper” that would line the bottom of my bird’s cage, if I had one.

Category: Data Analysis, Really, really bad calls, Wages & Income

The Grinch Will Set you Straight About Holiday Retail Sales

Thanksgiving is next week. Along with the family and turkey and fixin’s comes the annual — and historically terrible — holiday shopping forecasts. One of my favorite traditions is to wait until the National Retail Federation posts its annual holiday spending forecast, and then write a few columns dissecting both the methodology (it’s pretty awful) and…Read More

Category: Consumer Spending, Data Analysis, Really, really bad calls, Retail

Uneven Recovery, Noise & Ignorance: Why People Missed the Recovery

There has been a steady drumbeat of dissatisfaction about the post-credit-crisis recovery. No matter how much the economy improves, a good number of people insist it hasn’t. Now, in the midst of the political silly season, it has intensified as candidates pander to voters. This is a subject near and dear to me (see this, this, this, this, this, andthis),…Read More

Category: Cognitive Foibles, Currency, Economy, Inflation, Politics, Psychology, Really, really bad calls

The Long (Behavioral) History of Long Yields

I love this long term chart via Ben Carlson looking at the various behavioral issues that arise around every major Treasury peak over the past few centuries.   click for ginormous chart Source: A Wealth of Common Sense  

Category: Cognitive Foibles, Fixed Income/Interest Rates, Psychology, Really, really bad calls

Hedge Funds Cost Pensions $15 Billion in Lost Opportunities

A new report poses an interesting question: “Would public pension funds have fared better if they had never invested in hedge funds at all?” This is a subject we have investigated numerous times. The conclusion of the report confirms our earlier commentary: a small number of elite funds generate alpha (market-beating returns) after fees for their clients…Read More

Category: Hedge Funds, Investing, Really, really bad calls

Dori Monson Flogs Faulty Seattle Min Wage Data

@TBPInvictus here. Conservative Seattle talk show host Dori Monson had the (conservative) Washington Policy Center’s (WPC) Erin Shannon on his show to discuss the city’s minimum wage initiative. Hilarity ensued. There can be no doubt that Monson hosted Shannon because of this piece that she’d authored several days ago at WPC’s website. Shannon, sadly, had…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Data Analysis, Economy, Employment, Media, Really, really bad calls, Wages & Income

Iowa GOP Shuts Out The Daily Show; Hilarity Ensues

Iowa Republican Chairman Jeff Kaufmann denies The Daily Show access to a GOP event in Des Moines out of fear that the show would mock the state.

Source: TDS, 11/03/2015 (5:47)


After Iowa Representative Jeff Kaufmann bans The Daily Show from a GOP gathering, Jordan Klepper explains why the state might be apprehensive to let the show visit.


Source: TDS, 11/03/2015 (2:19)

Category: Humor, Politics, Really, really bad calls, Video

Beware the Fine Print

Source: In Arbitration, a ‘Privatization of the Justice System’

Category: Legal, Really, really bad calls, Video

John Oliver: Medicaid Gap


The election in 2016 decides our new president, but the one this year could determine whether many Americans will have healthcare.

Category: Humor, Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy, Video

Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch . . .

Deep down inside, you already know this: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, financially or otherwise. Yes, of course, you understand that. You have heard it over and over your whole life. If you want anything – especially something lots of other people want, too, like money – there is a simple…Read More

Category: Investing, Psychology, Really, really bad calls