Unemployment Claims: More of the Same, For Now

Headline unemployment claims looked pretty rosy at a seasonally adjusted 388,000, which brought the four week moving average down by 8% since last week. However, non-seasonally adjusted claims broke through 500,000 for the first time since February 2010, with the four week average increasing by nearly 5% over last week. Ouch. 

As we’ve pointed out previously, the seasonally adjusted (“SA”) and non-seasonally adjusted (“NSA”) data continue to paint very different pictures of the labor market, and the divergence is evident in the following two charts. Simple linear trend models of the seasonally adjusted data project a steady decline in claims into the first quarter of 2011 (good!), while the same models applied to the unadjusted data forecast a steep rise in first quarter claims (not good!): 

 

 

Assuming the statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Services are doing their jobs well, we should place more confidence in the seasonally adjusted figures, but not blind faith. Looking more closely at the raw data, the seasonal pattern in layoffs is readily apparent, demonstrating an almost EKG-like regularity. The four week moving average of unadjusted initial claims tends to decline sharply in February and August of every year. As long as that pattern remains relatively intact, we should be able to accept the BLS seasonal adjustments at face value. 

However, when comparing the past year to the last ten years of data, it’s clear that the second half decline was not nearly as pronounced this time around, and our statistical testing found a fairly significant difference between the average change in August 2010 and the average change from every August over 2000-2009. That would be cause for concern, except that there was also an unusually steep decline in early May. So despite an apparent breakdown in the regularity of the raw data, unadjusted claims for the year don’t look like they’ve broken too hard with past experience. 


 

A shorter timeline shows even more clearly that with the declines in both Q2 and Q3 taken into account, the raw data doesn’t look quite so bad: 

 

Thus, while the claims data continues to paint a mixed picture, we expect that the February 2011 data could help us discern an underlying trend more clearly. If we see the normally steep seasonal drop in claims, that would be a positive sign for labor markets. If it’s shallower than expected, it would imply that structural factors deserve a closer look, and that the labor market recovery could remain notably subpar.

Regarding structural factors, we decided to take a closer look at the seasonal adjustment factors used by the BLS. At this point, we’re not sure if we’re seeing a statistical artifact or a significant shift in labor market dynamics, but the adjustment factors have been far more volatile since 1989. While this chart exaggerates the difference because of the shortened range of values on the vertical axis, the standard deviation of the average annual adjustment factors is 1.5 times higher in the post-1988 period: 

 

We’re not sure what significance this has, if any, but at the very least, the lower adjustment factors in recent years imply that the BLS isn’t padding the numbers, as a lower number makes the seasonally adjusted figures look worse, not better. Any additional insights from readers are welcomed and appreciated.

In conclusion, the most important takeaway for investors is that the long term trend in non-seasonally adjusted initial claims is still down–the rate of increase, though still positive, has been falling since January 2010, which tends to be bullish for risky assets (though we are cautious in the short term, as valuations and sentiment have become somewhat stretched, and political risks abound globally). The most important takeaway from an economic standpoint is that despite continuing improvement, the labor market recovery is still slow and shallow, and that’s despite the double digit federal deficits of 2010 and 2011 (as we continue to point out, things could get worse in a hurry if policymakers overdo it on fiscal austerity–that’s a key risk in 2011 and the years beyond).

This confirms that the dynamic plaguing this recovery (not to mention the country for the last couple of decades) remains intact: stagnating median incomes alongside financial asset appreciation and healthy returns to the owners and managers of capital.  

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES: Symmetry Capital Management, LLC (“SCM”) is a Pennsylvania registered investment advisor that offers discretionary investment management to individuals and institutions. This publication is for informational, educational, and entertainment purposes only. It is not an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy securities, or to engage in any investment strategy. Past performance is not indicative of future results.  This material does not take into account your personal investment objectives, your personal financial situation and needs, or your personal tolerance for risk. Thus, any investment strategies or securities discussed may not be suitable for you.  You should be aware of the real risk of loss that accompanies any investment strategy or security. It is strongly recommended that you consider seeking advice from your own investment advisor(s) when considering any particular strategy or investment.  We do not guarantee any specific outcome or profit from any strategy or security discussed herein.  The opinions expressed are based on information believed to be reliable, but SCM does not warrant its completeness or accuracy, and you should not rely on it as such.    

Galbraith vs Obama

In a recent speech, economist Jamie Galbraith offered a brutal assessment of President Obama and his economic team. I’ve emphasized our points of agreement:

On the topics that I know most about, the administration is beyond being a disappointment. It’s beyond inept, unprepared, weak, and ineffective…What we got was George W. Bush’s policies without Bush’s toughness, without his in-your-face refusal to compromise prematurely. Without what he himself calls his understanding that you do not negotiate with yourself.It’s a measure of where we are, I think, that at a meeting of Americans for Democratic Action, you find me comparing President Obama unfavorably to President George W. Bush…

The president deprived himself of any chance to develop [an economic] narrative from the beginning by surrounding himself with holdover appointments from the Bush and even the Clinton administrations: Secretary Geithner, Chairman Bernanke, and, since we’re here at Harvard, I’ll call him by his highest title, President Summers. These men have no commitment to the base, no commitment to the Democratic Party as a whole, no particular commitment to Barack Obama, and none to the broad objective of national economic recovery that can be detected from their actions.

With this team the President also chose to cover up economic crime. Not only has the greatest wave of financial fraud in our history gone largely uninvestigated and unpunished, the government and this administration with its stress tests (which were fakes), its relaxation of accounting standards which permitted banks to hold toxic assets on their books at far higher prices than any investor would pay, with its failure to make criminal referrals where these were clearly warranted, with its continuation in office — sometimes in acting capacities — of some of the leading non-regulators of the earlier era, has continued an ongoing active complicity in financial fraud. And the perpetrators, of course, prospered as never before: reporting profits that they would not have been able to report under honest accounting standards and converting tax payer support into bonuses; while at the same time cutting back savagely on loans to businesses and individuals, and ramping up foreclosures, much of that accomplished with forged documents and perjured affidavits.

Could the President and his administration have done something? Yes, they could have. Where was the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation? Why did they choose not to implement the law — the Prompt Corrective Action law — which requires the federal government to take into receivership financial institutions when there is a significant risk of large taxpayer losses to the insurance fund? Where were the FBI and the Department of Justice? Did the President do anything? No. Is he doing anything now? No. Why not? The most likely answer is that he did not want to. My understanding, in fact, is that there was one meeting where this issue was raised, and the President stated that his economic team had assured him they had the situation under control.

On the larger economic policy front, the White House gave away the game from the beginning. How? First by guessing at the scale of the disaster. When leading economic advisers (I believe, in fact, it was President Summers) announced that the unemployment rate would peak at 8%, they not only guessed wrong, but gave away the right to assign responsibility to the previous administration when things got worse. This was either elementary bad politics or deliberate self-sabotage. But it gets worse. The optimistic forecast helped to justify a weak program. Useful things were done, but not nearly enough to convey the impression of a forceful policy to the broader public. Then once the banks were taken care of and the stock market took off again, it seems clear that the team at the White House didn’t care anymore.

As I wrote in September:

What Obama could have said [to Velma Hart] was that the massive budget deficits of the past two years helped mitigate an even worse outcome, and that the even larger stimulus measures recommended by his departed CEA chair Christina Romer should have been pursued (if he really wanted to make a splash, he could have said that Larry Summers would be summarily fired for not bringing all of her proposals to his attention).  But he can’t say this, as he has been busily indulging the widespread fallacy (which he also appears to be a victim of) that federal budget deficits are an evil to be avoided, for example, with his clever quip about the prior administration leaving him a multi-trillion dollar deficit “wrapped in a bow”.

Back to Galbraith:

President Obama has set his course. He has surrounded himself with the advisers of his choice and as he moves to replace President Summers we hear from the press that the priority is to “repair the rift with his investors on Wall Street.” What does that tell you? It tells me that he does not have President Clinton’s fighting and survival instincts. I’ve not heard one good reason all day to believe that we are going to see from this White House the fight that we want, that he could win in two years, or any reason we should be backing him now.

The Democratic Party has become too associated with Wall Street. This is a fact. It is a structural problem. It seems to me that we as progressives need — this is my personal position — we need to draw a line and decide that we would be better off with an under-funded, fighting progressive minority party than a party marked by obvious duplicity and constant losses on every policy front as a result of the reversals in our own leadership.

Below, I’ve appended links to articles we’ve written that deal with the influence of Wall Street on the Democratic party, with Bob Rubin as the poster child. On Bob, one of our favorite quotes of 2010 is this one from Marshall Auerback: “Letting [Robert Rubin] publicly expound on getting the global economy back on track is akin to providing Kim Il Jong-il a public platform on human rights.”

Back to Galbraith:

…in the long run we need to recognize that the fate of the entire country is at stake. Its governance can’t be entrusted indefinitely to incompetents, hacks, and lobbyists. Large countries can and do fail, they have done so in our own time. And the consequences are very grave: drastic declines in services, in living standards, in life expectancies, huge increases in social tension, in repression, and in violence. These are the consequences of following through with crackpot ideas such as those embodied in the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission…[and] such notions as putting arbitrary limits on the scale of government…

This isn’t a parlor game. The outcome isn’t destined to be alright. It will not necessarily end in progress whatever happens. What we do, how we proceed, and how we effectively resist what is plainly about to happen, matters very greatly for the future of our country, of our children, and of another generation to come. We need to lose our fear, our hesitation, and our unwillingness to face the facts. If we thereby lose some of our hopes, let’s remember the dictum of William of Orange that “it is not necessary to hope in order to persevere.”

The President should know that, as Lincoln said to the Congress in the dark winter of 1862, he “cannot escape history.” And we are heading now into a very dark time, so let’s face it with eyes open. And if we must, let’s seek leadership that shares our values, fights for our principles, and deserves our trust.

This was a firebrand speech, and one that points to a potentially interesting (and as Galbraith points out, rocky) future for the Democratic party and/or political progressives. I think it will depend heavily upon the timing and the bite of eventual austerity measures. We’ll be watching the debt ceiling limit issue very closely in the new year.

Links to our catalogof Rubin/Rubinomics/Rubinista posts:

http://symmetrycapital.net/index.php/blog/2006/12/more-on-the-political-landscape/

http://symmetrycapital.net/index.php/blog/2007/04/american-prospect-beware-rubinomics/

http://symmetrycapital.net/index.php/blog/2010/01/rubin-to-the-rescue/

http://symmetrycapital.net/index.php/blog/2010/05/merkley-levin-bailouts-and-austerity-fever/

http://symmetrycapital.net/index.php/blog/2010/07/when-smart-people-are-wrong/

http://symmetrycapital.net/index.php/blog/2010/08/the-rising-ratio-of-continuing-to-initial-claims-how-sustainable/

http://symmetrycapital.net/index.php/blog/2010/11/midterm-election-reflections-and-outlook/

http://symmetrycapital.net/index.php/blog/2010/12/rubinista-voodoo/

http://symmetrycapital.net/index.php/blog/2010/12/auerback-real-change/

No “Game Change” in Long Bond Yields

Technical analysis website StockTiming.com offered the following in their free Tuesday update yesterday:

Very few things happen that can be a “game changer” in a macro sense.  

However, there is a potential “game changer” that is at the cusp of signaling one of the most important changes in 15 years…

It is the current challenge to the 15 year down trend on 30 year Bond yields.   Fifteen years is a pretty long time, but that could come to an end if today’s 30 Year Bond Yield chart breaks out to the upside…

It would mean the end of the down trend, higher mortgage rates, and a sign that inflation is on the way. 

Such an event would be a “game changer” because it would cause duress in many economic sectors, along with the necessary re-evaluation of future economic forecasts.  This could result in a large scale rotation of stock sectors and rising commodity prices in 2011.

They offered the following chart as evidence:

 

Source: StockTiming.com

The risks of inflation and rising mortgage rates are always worth thinking about. But we’re clearly on record as believing that the deficit, debt, and inflation phobes have it all wrong on long term rates. We also have argued that the recent back up in treasury yields presented a nice opportunity for income oriented investors and prudent asset allocators. And if yesterday’s Treasury market action is any indication, our thesis appears to be the more credible one at the moment:

 

Admittedly, one day is nothing to hang your hat on. But recent market action seems to indicate that the long bond yield is looking for a temporary (as always) equilibrium in the low to mid-4’s: 

And while the trend since the end of summer has clearly been up…

 

…it’s important to keep it in context. Looking at a five year chart, and taking into account the flights to safety that occurred during the financial crisis (large circle) and the echo crisis in Europe (small circle), there still hasn’t been a notable trend break in 30 year Treasury yields: 

 

Source: Yahoo!, Symmetry Capital Management LLC

As we’ve pointed out previously, on top of the slow and grinding recovery that inevitably follows a balance sheet recession, the world is entering what could be a long period of “right shoulder level” rates of economic growth and financial asset returns. As a result, we’re unlikely to see (except in a few regions or countries) the boisterous numbers we’ve been used to since the baby boomers and their predecessors appeared, starting way back in the mid-19th century (primarily a function of technological innovations like plumbing and internal combustion, and medicine later on).

So those double digit long term Treasury rates of the late 1970s and early 1980s were indeed a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. And while lower nominal yields might take some getting used to, consider that at a constant reinvestment yield of 4.5% (and a zero tax rate), an investment will double in value in only about 16 years. That’s not an unreasonable return in a “right shoulder level” world.

Of course, if the deficit hawks get their way and Congress starts raising taxes out of an irrational fear of the debt and deficit boogeymen, it could take over 25 years for a security compounding at 4.5% to double…

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES: Symmetry Capital Management, LLC (“SCM”) is a Pennsylvania registered investment advisor that offers discretionary investment management to individuals and institutions. This publication is for informational, educational, and entertainment purposes only. It is not an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy securities, or to engage in any investment strategy. Past performance is not indicative of future results.  This material does not take into account your personal investment objectives, your personal financial situation and needs, or your personal tolerance for risk. Thus, any investment strategies or securities discussed may not be suitable for you.  You should be aware of the real risk of loss that accompanies any investment strategy or security. It is strongly recommended that you consider seeking advice from your own investment advisor(s) when considering any particular strategy or investment.  We do not guarantee any specific outcome or profit from any strategy or security discussed herein.  The opinions expressed are based on information believed to be reliable, but SCM does not warrant its completeness or accuracy, and you should not rely on it as such.  At the time of writing, some clients of the firm hold long positions in TLT and/or individual Treasury securities, while neither the firm nor its principals hold positions in any securities mentioned.

Auerback: Real Change

This is one of the most powerful articles on political economy that I’ve read in a long time. In it, Marshall Auerback assails Obama and his fellow Democrats’ utter mismanagement of ecoconomic policy, and highlights the risks that continuing adherence to Rubinomics poses to them in future elections (not to mention, more importantly, current and future generations in terms of economic performance). Choice excerpts follow. This is highly, highly recommended reading.

Obama still genuinely does not have a clue as to why he has lost the trust of so many progressives. Many would have been prepared to cut him some slack if he had given them anything over the past two years, rather than a perpetuation of Rubinomics — an economically regressive blend of crony capitalism and deficit reduction fetishism…

Obama loves cutting deals, claiming that he is “getting things done for the American people”, even when the actual substance of his legislative efforts come to virtually nothing (as in the case of both financial regulation and health care). His presidency is all about form and presentation over substance.

I can offer some anecdotal evidence to support this criticism of Obama.  Shortly after the fiscal compromise was announced, while estimating the net impact on our household’s monthly cash flows (a slight but welcome bump), I learned that our health insurance premiums are going up 50% in 2011, plus another 36% on top of that as my stepson, a recent engineering grad from a very prestigious school, has not been able to find employment yet. So personally speaking, the tax compromise leaves my household slightly less worse off in 2011 than it would otherwise be. There’s really not a lot of discretionary spending left for us to cut at this point, though I know there are many families in far worse shape than we are, which is distressing.

From the little bit of research I’ve done, we’re not the only ones in this situation. Apparently a lot of small and medium business plan participants and individual policyholders are getting (and have previously gotten) a similar reaming from insurers, which would probably not have happened (at least not to the same extent) if a basic public option had been included in the legislation (whether it’s gouging or the government’s fault should show up in industry profit margins in 2011). It’s also well established that young adults are having a horrible time in the job market right now, so it’s safe to assume that many households are facing the same kinds of decisions we are. And a one-year, 2% payroll tax cut, with expiration of Making Work Pay netted out, is only going to ease the pain very marginally. Gee thanks, Mr. President.

Back to Marshall:

That said, the anger of the president’s base is somewhat misdirected right now. The real problem is that the repeal of the Bush tax cuts at the upper end wouldn’t have solved income inequality…Any good accountant worth his salt can always find a clever tax avoidance strategy for the super wealthy. The tax system’s very complexity facilitates this…To deal with income inequality, you need something more radical. You need reforms such as caps on executive pay and probably a system that simplifies the tax structure (to avoid creative tax avoidance), along with a broad base and a few basic, low rates to ensure a modicum of compliance.

Additionally, the notion that these tax cut extensions will “add” $700 billion to the deficit is nonsensical. One cannot predict the impact of government spending decisions absent a broader economic context. Applying a static revenue analysis to the deficit embraces deficit hawks’ logic, who make comparable claims when they argue that cutting government spending absent any consideration of the economy’s underlying condition will automatically reduce the budget shortfall as a percentage of GDP.

There have been scads of news stories with headlines about what this agreement will “cost” the federal government. As Marshall points out, that’s an utterly meaningless construct. The U.S. government is self-financing and has been for almost four decades.  Marshall then makes the critical point (emphasis added):

Ultimately, the president (and what’s left of his rapidly imploding party) needs to get off this deficit fixation. It muddles the Keynesian message to say that we don’t need fiscal austerity in the midst of a serious recession — except we urgently need to reduce the dangerous deficit by taxing the rich.

The whole focus on the deficit itself is profoundly misconceived. One of the state’s most important elements of public purpose is to maximize employment. Once the private sector has made its spending and saving decisions based on its expectations for the future, the government has to render them consistent with the objective of full employment. It can’t do this if it continues to focus on bogus questions of “affordability” and “national insolvency”.

Take that, Rubinistas everywhere! Marshall and his fellow ‘modern monetary economists’ still face a long Sysiphian struggle in bringing their views to the mainstream. But hopefully this piece will get enough attention from both the left and the right (personally, I’d be happy to see either party demonstrate an understanding of these dynamics) to at least ameliorate some of the prevailing nonsense about–and hysteria over–U.S. budget deficits.

Mosler vs Roubini

A calm, cool takedown of Roubini’s latest twittering on deficits and bond vigilantes: http://moslereconomics.com/2010/12/08/bond-vigilantes-could-target-us-roubini/

See also: http://symmetrycapital.net/index.php/blog/2010/12/treasuries-in-a-steep-fall/

Rubinista Voodoo

In a piece for CNN, Professor Len Burman asks, “Will Dems fall for temporary tax cut gambit (again)?”  Burman is right to question the strategic vision of the White House brain trust.  But he’s also a hopeless Rubinite:

Permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts would do considerable harm to the economy. The debt is projected to rise by $10 trillion over the next decade. The tax cuts represent 40% of that total.

We need to cut spending too. But halting the clearly unaffordable tax cuts – all of them, not just for the rich — would be a good start at getting the budget under control.

If we don’t, under the best case scenario, interest rates will rise pushing up the cost of homeownership and business investment, and thus slowing economic growth.

Burman apparently has a crystal ball on this stuff, despite the fact that there is essentially no empirical evidence to support his and others’ hysteria over debt-to-GDP reaching 90%, 100%, or some other magical level. None. Nada. Zip. Meanwhile, returning tax rates to the level that prevailed at the end of the Clinton administration is all but guaranteed to do economic harm. Let’s not forget what those vaunted “surpluses” got us, folks.

In the worst case, rates will stay low for a while [sic], and then explode when investors figure out that we’ve passed a point of no return. When the bubble bursts, we will be an economic basket case like Greece or Ireland. Unlike those small countries, however, we’ll bring down the world economy with us.

Burman’s crystal ball apparently knows nothing about monetary systems.  Neither Ireland nor Greece would be in their current situations if they hadn’t joined the malformed EMU. And the U.S. is not even remotely like those countries or any other in the eurozone.  If there’s an example we risk emulating, it’s Japan.  And for decades, Japan’s policy elites fretted about deficits, debt, and interest rates and enacted far more tightening measures than proactive stimulus.  That’s the road Burman is pointing us down.

The Dems are burdened with a weighty handicap these days, but it’s not susceptibility to GOP tactics. Rather, it’s the fact that the party is still firmly in the grip of Rubinistas like Burman who dispense garbage economics and garbage policy advice. The result could well be a GOP sweep in 2012 and the permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts which, from a deficit standpoint, would be a positive (I can hear the Rubinistas–not to mention Ron and Rand Paul–starting to gnash their teeth on that one). Unfortunately, a sweep would also perpetuate some of the wealth and income distribution problems the country has long struggled with (thanks in no small part to the shenanigans of Bob’s industry and mine), and it would roll back some of the positive things that Dems have tried to do (however feeble or ham handed) such as re-regulating the financial industry, expanding access to health care, etc. 

If the Dems want to avoid Burman’s “nightmare scenario”, they ought to consider cleaning house now, starting with all of those Rubinistas who believe that tax cuts are somehow “unaffordable”, or that the U.S. in any way resembles a captive eurozone or U.S. state, as both assertions are utter fallacies.

Treasuries in a “steep fall”?

Associated Press reports this morning that “Treasurys [sic] bonds are in a steep fall,” as “Investors expect the tax-cut deal to boost economic growth but also widen the budget deficit.” This idea, which is definitely the prevailing meme at the moment, deserves closer scrutiny.

Here’s a 5 year chart of the yield on the 30 year US Treasury bond. When the yield is rising, that means the price is falling, and vice versa:

Chart forTreasury Yield 30 Years (^TYX)

The yield is still below where it was in the first quarter of 2010, and well below the highs of 2006 and 2007.

It will be interesting to look at traders’ current activities in the futures market when the data becomes available.  If this “selloff” is anything like the 1Q2010’s, large speculators could be pushing yields temporarily higher.  In our view, that’s a potentially risky trade if the first quarter’s experience–not to mention the past twenty years’ experience in Japan–is any indication.  While the proposed components of the tax cut compromise are positives at the margin, its effects on the real economy will not be sufficient or lasting enough to push real interest rates or economic growth much higher. 

As for inflation fears? Fuggedaboudit.  Commodity markets, apart from some actual temporary shortages, are giving a head fake, as low interest rates, increasing investor demand, and leveraged Ponzi speculation create artificial scarcities. Even if some projected supply constraints in 2011 turn out to be valid, in the longer term, we’re entering a right-shoulder-level future, in which we think that current nominal yields on Treasuries will look pretty healthy ex-post.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES: Symmetry Capital Management, LLC (“SCM”) is a Pennsylvania registered investment advisor that offers discretionary investment management to individuals and institutions. This publication is for informational, educational, and entertainment purposes only. It is not an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy securities, or to engage in any investment strategy. Past performance is not indicative of future results.  This material does not take into account your personal investment objectives, your personal financial situation and needs, or your personal tolerance for risk. Thus, any investment strategies or securities discussed may not be suitable for you.  You should be aware of the real risk of loss that accompanies any investment strategy or security. It is strongly recommended that you consider seeking advice from your own investment advisor(s) when considering any particular strategy or investment.  We do not guarantee any specific outcome or profit from any strategy or security discussed herein.  The opinions expressed are based on information believed to be reliable, but SCM does not warrant its completeness or accuracy, and you should not rely on it as such.  Some clients of the firm hold long positions in DBC, TLT, individual Treasury securities, and/or call options on UUP. Neither the firm nor its principals hold positions in any securities mentioned.

“Do Something Good”

Yesterday was the birthday of Jaron Taaffe, a close friend of ours who passed away in 2007.  He was a classmate in Villanova University’s first cohort MBA, and he played an instrumental role in convincing us to start Symmetry Capital.  An excerpt from a tribute written by Jaron’s older brother Damon follows below.  At his memorial service, Damon implored all of us to remember Jaron by making December 7th “Do Something Good” day.  It’s a great way to remember him, but to truly emulate him, we try to do good things year round.  We miss you JT.

When I remember my younger brother Jaron, I remember the fearless novice on the ski slope, always looking for the steepest cliff from which to fling himself. Then, careening wildly down the mountain as he tried to keep upright, before joyously tumbling into an explosion of loose powder and ski poles.

I remember the collegiate football kicker who made an ESPN-worthy one-on-one flying tackle to prevent a return for a touchdown; and the kid against whom I used to play soccer in the yard in six inches of snow. I wear a jersey dedicated to him to remind me, and anyone who asks, of how precious and precarious life can be, and of the importance of living each moment to its utmost…

Jaron was more full of life than anyone I’ve ever known.

http://www.triteamz.com/highlights.php?news=34