Happy Jobs Day! Ed’s Daily Notes for May 2nd   1 comment

Jobfun-5(hat tip to Sand, Cider and Spaceships for the pic)

We get the April U.S. Employment Report at 8:30 am EST today. Here is what to expect (from Bloomberg):

Nonfarm Payrolls – M/M change: Prior +192,000, Consensus +215,000, Consensus Range +190,000 to +279,000
Unemployment Rate – Level: Prior 6.7%, Consensus +6.6%, Consensus Range 6.5% to 6.7%
Average Hourly Earnings – M/M change: Prior 0.0%, Consensus +0.2%, Consensus Range +0.2% to +0.3%
Avg Workweek – All Employees: Prior 34.5 hours, Consensus 34.5 hours, Consensus Range 34.4 to 34.5 hours

Is this important? Keep in mind the Federal Reserve made their policy decision this week with this information available to them. If it is a particularly bad report, the markets could look at this as Fed insanity, especially since April was after most of the so-called “weather excuse” which the Fed blamed for the 1st quarter economic results.

On the other hand, a good report could have any number of results in the markets. It could reinforce the Fed’s message that the economy is turning around. Or it could scare the markets by showing the Fed is about to pull liquidity off the table, potentially sooner than anyone expects.

Washington Post: Apple, Facebook, others defy authorities, notify users of secret data demands

Major U.S. technology companies have largely ended the practice of quietly complying with investigators’ demands for e-mail records and other online data, saying that users have a right to know in advance when their information is targeted for government seizure.

This increasingly defiant industry stand is giving some of the tens of thousands of Americans whose Internet data gets swept into criminal investigations each year the opportunity to fight in court to prevent disclosures. Prosecutors, however, warn that tech companies may undermine cases by tipping off criminals, giving them time to destroy vital electronic evidence before it can be gathered.

Fueling the shift is the industry’s eagerness to distance itself from the government after last year’s disclosures about National Security Agency surveillance of online services. Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google all are updating their policies to expand routine notification of users about government data seizures, unless specifically gagged by a judge or other legal authority, officials at all four companies said. Yahoo announced similar changes in July.

As this position becomes uniform across the industry, U.S. tech companies will ignore the instructions stamped on the fronts of subpoenas urging them not to alert subjects about data requests, industry lawyers say. Companies that already routinely notify users have found that investigators often drop data demands to avoid having suspects learn of inquiries.

“It serves to chill the unbridled, cost-free collection of data,” said Albert Gidari Jr., a partner at Perkins Coie who represents several technology companies. “And I think that’s a good thing.”

I agree. Unfortunately, there is bad news:

The changing tech company policies do not affect data requests approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which are automatically kept secret by law. National security letters, which are administrative subpoenas issued by the FBI for national security investigations, also carry binding gag orders.

I give credit to the tech companies for trying to do the right thing. When the government sets up illegal courts like the FISA court, the tech companies have their hands tied.

Ronald T. Hosko, a former FBI special agent who until his recent retirement oversaw the criminal division at the Washington field office, said the development of cases has been hurt by the threat of user notification, especially during early phases when investigators try to work discreetly, before a suspect potentially can destroy evidence. He said the shift among tech companies has been driven mainly by concern about their public images, at the expense of public safety — an issue he said was particularly acute when it came to cases involving child predators or terrorists.

“My fear is that we will be less secure in our country, in our houses, because of political decisions, because of the politics of the day, rather than what will keep us safe,” Hosko said. “I’m concerned that that gets people killed, that that gets people hurt.”

And who protects us from the government? This blind assumption that the government is well-intentioned is dangerous. Would you assume that if J. Edgar Hoover was in charge of the FBI? Would you assume it if Richard Nixon was in the White House?

Bloomberg: Watch Obamacare Make Health-Care Costs Soar

Meg McArdle strikes again:

The good news about health-care expenditures is that they’re propping up gross domestic product: Without soaring expenditure on health care, [Wednesday’s] lackluster GDP estimates would have been negative, instead of a paltry 0.1 percent.

The bad news about health-care expenditures is that they’re, well, soaring:

Healthcare

Spending grew 9.9 percent in the first quarter, the highest rate in decades. That follows a 5.6 percent increase at the end of last year.

The big increase was driven by the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion. Expect to see robust growth again next quarter, as the March surge in enrollment translates into an April-through-June surge in health-care consumption.

Let’s hope that 10% surge is just a one-time thing.

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One response to “Happy Jobs Day! Ed’s Daily Notes for May 2nd

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  1. Ukraine starts to worry me. What surprised me in this story is the western arrogance and stupidity. When IMF told Ukraine it wouldn’t get their 17 billion dollars to play with when they didn’t control East-Ukraine , what did they had in mind Ukraine would do? That was an outright third-person war-declarement. People started war for far less money. Did IMF really think Putin will say “ok, now you have won?” What is the West doing there? If you look at all the fighter-planes deployed in that region, it’s getting a bit messy. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, we really shouldn’t be there.
    The only logic explanation to all this mess to me is actually the West really wants an excuse for war.
    Oh well, look at me whining 🙂

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