Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 25 Nov 14

GDP growth in the 3rd Quarter was revised upwards unexpectedly, coming in at 3.9% annualized. The GDP Price index was also revised upwards slightly to 1.4%.

Corporate profits in the 3rd Quarter came in at $1.873 trillion, following $1.842 trillion for the 2nd Quarter. 

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell -5.8 points to 88.7 in November.

FHFA House Price Index was unchanged in September. On a year-over-year basis, the index is up 4.3%.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index rose 0.3% in September, and is up 4.9% from a year ago.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index declined sharply from 20 to 4 in November.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index fell -1.1 points to 114.0 in November. 

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales rose 2.2%, but on only rose 1.7% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports retail sales rose 4.2% on a year-ago basis.


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A few thoughts on Ferguson

As I watch this nonsense in Ferguson, I’m simply reminded of the daily fare of poor television that reality shows bring us.  That’s all Ferguson is.  Give a promise of fame, indulge self-importance, ignore facts and film. That’s the formula.  It’s “good TV” and the media has been as complicit as anyone in the result.  In fact, they’ve egged it on.  Remove the spotlight and the interest wanes.

Instead we’ve seen a steady drumbeat of coverage, almost a countdown to the Grand Jury findings and, as usual, a trial by media.

The facts don’t matter.  The findings of the Grand Jury have to be racist because the court of public opinion, sans few if any concrete facts, has already found the officer guilty.  Does anyone even pretend to believe that if that crowd last night had been able to find officer Wilson that he wouldn’t have later been found hanging from a lamp post?

This, as with the Trayvon Martin case, is a media event.   You only have to look at all the disparate groups who’ve camped out in Ferguson since the Brown killing to gather that.  The usual groups have gone through some incredible contortions to make Brown’s death relevant to their cause.   And, of course, with the media lights on, the usual suspects among the race baiters are there as well, preening and goading.

Are there grievances?  I’m sure there are.  But burning out your neighborhood isn’t the way to settle them.  I’m still trying to figure out what Panera Bread did to deserve to be torched other than be in the wrong location.  This is beyond “civil disobedience”.  This is criminal destruction.  And yet, when this is all said and done, the denizens of the neighborhood are going to demand these businesses build again.  I know what my answer would be – “you made a desert, now live in it”.

Anyway, the bottom line here is I don’t take reality shows seriously.  Nor should you.

~McQ

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Legalizing their servants

Short one today (Hagel is gone … meh, no surprise), but so indicative of the leftists we’re most familiar with – in this case Hillary Clinton:

While speaking at a swanky event Friday night in New York City, Hillary Clinton speculated about the immigration status of the people serving food and beverages at the gala.

“This is about people’s lives, people, I would venture to guess, who served us tonight.”

Ah, the “little people.”  The people there to serve her highness and her ilk (and to fall in line and vote properly, of course).  Can’t have a plantation without a few slaves.

What do you say about something like that? Amazingly disconnected.  Absurdly condescending.  And, of course, a slap in the face of all those who played by the rules and did it within the law.

But she wants to be your chief law enforcer if you’ll just vote for her.

~McQ

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Poverty at 50 year high, labor participation at 36 year low – we need more low wage workers!

It simply doesn’t make sense in any sort of context that says the job of the President of the United States is to look after the welfare of the country’s citizens:

The official U.S. unemployment rate has indeed fallen steadily during the past few years, but the economic recovery has created the fewest jobs relative to the previous employment peak of any prior recovery. The labor-force participation rate recently touched a 36-year low of 62.7%. The number of Americans not in the labor force set a record high of 92.6 million in September. Part-time work and long-term unemployment are still well above levels from before the financial crisis.

Worse, middle-class incomes continue to fall during the recovery, losing even more ground than during the December 2007 to June 2009 recession. The number in poverty has also continued to soar, to about 50 million Americans. That is the highest level in the more than 50 years that the U.S. Census has been tracking poverty. Income inequality has risen more in the past few years than at any recent time.

The true indicator of the actual unemployment rate is the labor participation rate. It is at a 36 year low. The fudged numbers used by the US government hides the actual depth of joblessness problem. And, frankly, it’s a “buyers market” in the labor market. Lots of labor competition for few jobs. That’s one reason you don’t see incomes rising and you do see underemployed Americans.

So let’s introduce about 5 million illegal workers from other countries and enable them to compete in an already depressed labor market and while we’re at it, let’s agitate for a raise in the minimum wage.

Mind blown.  How do you square that sort of action with your oath of office if you’re the President of the United States?

Idiot-in-chief.

~McQ

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“This isn’t about legalizing Latin American immigrants, it’s about legalizing Latin American-style government.”

That’s Dave Burge’s take (IowaHawk) on last night’s venture into banana-republic style government by Obama.

Hard to beat that. So I just visualized it:

ObamaGeneralissimo

You just know he really, really wants to wear that suit, but Valerie Jarrett won’t let him

Billy

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Economic Statistics for 20 Nov 14

Consumer prices were unchanged at the headline level in October, while prices less food and energy rose 0.2%. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is up 1.7%, while the core rate is up 1.8%.

Markit’s PMI Manufacturing Index Flash for November is down 1.8 points from October’s final reading, coming in at 54.7.

The Philadelphia Fed Survey surged a spectacular 20.1 points to 40.8, contrasting wildly with the falling PMI Manufacturing flash.

Existing home sales rose 1.5% in October to a 5.260 million annual rate.

The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose a very strong 0.9% in October, following September’s 0.8% increase.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 2,000 to 291,000. The 4-week average rose 2,500 to 287,500. Continuing claims fell 73,000 to 2.330 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.3 points to 38.5 in the latest week, the highest since January, 2008.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $3.9 billion last week, with total assets of $4.493 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $14.8 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $63.5 billion in the latest week.


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The media strikes back

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise:

Several networks won’t be carrying President Obama’s prime-time address on immigration Thursday night from the White House.

ABC, CBS and Fox are saying they won’t air the president’s speech live; NBC also reportedly isn’t planning to carry his address.

With polls saying that only 38% of Americans support his intent to use his executive power to provide amnesty to a portion of illegal aliens here in the US, there’s certainly no ratings upside to televising it.  And, in fact, there may be a little payback involved:

There was also griping among the White House press corps Wednesday at Mr. Obama using a Facebook video post to announce the timing of tonight’s address, rather than using the traditional media.

A television correspondent asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest if the move was “a thank you” to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who helped launch the immigration reform advocacy group FWD.us that is aiding the administration’s push for immigration changes.

Mr. Earnest denied the White House was playing favorites with Facebook, but said it was a good way to reach the president’s audience.

“The good news is that the wires, the networks and the press corp are all on Facebook,” Mr. Earnest said. “We don’t have to choose.”

The denial comes as no particular surprise – this administration denies everything.  As for choice, the White House did choose, and it chose to snub the White House press corps and the networks.  Apparently it finds their reaction to the snub problematic.

White House officials are expressing annoyance with the networks’ decision, saying that all major networks aired a prime-time address by Republican President George W. Bush in 2006 when he announced the deployment of national guard troops at the U.S-Mexico border.

Well perhaps that was because the Bush administration included the networks in its announcement of his speech.  The fact that the big 4 (if NBC refuses to carry it as well) are not going to carry it doesn’t mean it can’t be seen live if you’re so inclined to view it:

Two networks with Hispanic audiences, Univision and Telemundo, will air the president’s address live. CNN, MSNBC and PBS also plan to broadcast live.

But the bottom line of this little dust up is it appears that at least some of the networks are willing to strike back a bit at the White House press operation and it’s treatment of an unhappy White House press corps.  Now if we could get some actual unbiased and factual coverage from that press corps that would be a bonus.  Being water carriers hasn’t worked out very well for them, has it?

~McQ

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