Thursday, October 30, 2014

Trends in World Health Organization Situation reports: Ebola response roadmap

There are some particularly encouraging trends emerging in the WHO sitreps on the West Africa ebola outbreak, which suggest a break from the exponential curve and increase in the doubling time initially seen.

Using the data from the reports on the total number of cases and the percentage of cases in the past 21 days, we see this for the total number of cases:

Early on, we were near 50% for total cases - if we took 50% as the value (to keep the math easy), that would have indicated that cases had doubled over the last 21 days as of that report.  As of the last sitrep, if that number was about 25% (math simplification op. cit.), which would indicate a doubling time about twice as long.  At the value of 20% that we observe, this would ballpark a doubling time about 2,5 times as long.

Disaggregating the data by country is revealing, with what appears to be unambiguous slowing of transmission in Liberia:

Somewhat equivocal slowing in Sierra Leone:

And re-acceleration in Guinea:

These conclusions are all subject to the accuracy of the data collection, but it would seem that as more world attention and resources begin to be focused on stopping the current outbreak that initial signs of improvement can be seen.  This should not lead to complacency but rather encourage the investment of additional resources.

Data source:
WHO Situation reports: Ebola response roadmap

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gasoline price update

So once again we'll take a look at the US All Grades weekly average price per gallon, and my fixation with the 52 week moving average (MA).  This makes sense to me as a proxy for the annual cost of gasoline to US households at most aggregate level.

Takeaway is on the plot above - for the last 1.75 years that 52 week MA has exceeded the peak 52 week MA from 2008 - even though we have avoided the national average cost per gallon of $4.00/gallon.  I will posit this is a big part of what is driving several trends, from the largely flat Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) to the reduced rate of driver's license acquisition to the move to city cores (particularly in intersection with wretched employment and wage statistics for youth and new college grads).

Additionally, the experience of the impact across the US consumer economy will vary dramatically by income quintile as a function of the amount of disposable income (or what would otherwise be disposable income) these sustained high prices absorb.  I admit to having a jaundiced view of US reported consumer sales growth as the pool of reporting companies has been reduced by those who have chosen to no longer report them (with no attempts to correct for survivors' bias).

Finally, the great China rebalancing may be underway, which would materially reduce commodities demand in general.  The picture seems less clear on the impact for oil and gasoline prices, as the increase in purchasing power for the consumer sector that a rebalancing would represent suggests increased demand for status and lifestyle purchases.  At the current time, automobiles appear to be high up on that list.

[Side bar:  It is difficult for me to see a sustained period of low oil prices due to the likelihood of increased instability in many exporting countries - current social spending needs to mollify populations require high prices to maintain - once currency reserves are exhausted and the ability to borrow/sell forward...]

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Space. the final frontier... ARKYD Kickstarter from Planetary Resources

OK, for any STEM nerds out there this is just cool:

ARKYD Space Telescope Kickstarter from Planetary Resources

Please feel free to repost the link - oh yeah, and throw some pennies in the pot - for $25 they will take a picture you provide that will displayed on a screen on the telescope in space with the Earth in the background.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Retail Gasoline Prices Revisited

Been awhile, but here is an update of the all in average retail price per gallon of gasoline in the USA.  I like to look at the 52 week MA as a proxy for the cost of gasoline over the last year... and we have sustained an a 52 week MA in excess of the 52 week MA from the 2008 price spike for 1.33 years,

So for more than a year, the annual cost of gasoline has exceeded the maximum annual cost from the 2008 peak.  Expect to see continuing declines in gasoline demand in the USA.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Philly Fed 3 Month Coincident Diffusion Indices

So I was looking at the Philly Fed conincident indices for the states on Calculated Risk this morning, and it got me to thinking I wanted to dig into the numbers... (usually when the trouble starts).  Above, we have the 1 month and 3 month diffusion indices for the state coincident indices from the Philly Fed.

I wanted to see more trend activity and reduce the noise, so I took the 3 month diffusion index and examined the quarter over quarter (or 3 month) change in that value, plotted against NBER called recessions in the time series data available.

Conclusion:  I observe a change of -50, a value that has previously only been represented in recessions.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Motor Gasoline Prices Revisited

A quick look at motor gasoline prices, trying to assess whether the cumulative impact of the price trajectory has been more severe than in 2008.  This appears likely, though it will be a long grind down.  Using the monthly price series for all grades of gasoline from the EIA, and looking at the 12 month moving average (MA).  It surpassed the 12 month MA peak from 2008 10 months ago and has stayed there since.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Price for Motor Gasoline in 2012

So there has been huge amounts of financial press discussion of motor gasoline prices, and the prospects for relief for the remainder of 2012. I decided to take a look at the data, and based on the EIA data series for the price of all grades, all formulations the prospects decidedly favor paying more, not less for the remainder of the year.

Using monthly price data, I took the average for the first three months (1Q of each year), the annual average, and the average of the remaining nine months (2Q to 4Q of each year). The linear fits for 1Q vs full year and 1Q vs 2Q to 4Q are at the end of the post, but those results provided the point estimates seen in the plot below (the EIA data series EMM_EPM0_PTE_NUS_DPG).

Punchline: $3.97/gallon for the full year, and $4.07 for the remaining nine months.

What we see is that in in only 4 of the 18 years (1994 to 2011) did annual average gas prices decline from the first quarter, and when they did the maximum decline for the full year average price was 2%, and for the 2Q to 4Q average price it was 3%.

The confidence interval results from the linear regression for the point estimates follow:

 The aforementioned data plots: