Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 29 Aug 14

Personal Income rose 0.2% in July, while consumer spending fell -0.1%. The PCE price index rose 0.1% at both the headline and core levels. On a year-over-year basis, personal income is up 4.3%, while personal spending is up 3.6%. The PCE Price index is up 1.6% at the headline level, and 1.5% at the core.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index jumped from 52.6 to 64.3 in July.

The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for August rose 3.3 points to 82.5.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

FYI: Reality may be about to slap the Democrats and Obama in the face

The problem, of course, is because of their refusal to secure the southern border and enforce immigration law, it will be innocent Americans who will pay the price if such an attack unfolds.   From Judicial Watch via NRO’s “The Corner”:

Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued.  Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.

Specifically, Judicial Watch sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas. Violent crimes are so rampant in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The last one was issued just a few days ago.

Intelligence officials have picked up radio talk and chatter indicating that the terrorist groups are going to “carry out an attack on the border,” according to one JW source.  “It’s coming very soon,” according to this high-level source, who clearly identified the groups planning the plots as “ISIS and Al Qaeda.” An attack is so imminent that the commanding general at Ft. Bliss, the U.S. Army post in El Paso, is being briefed, another source confirms. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not respond to multiple inquiries from Judicial Watch, both telephonic and in writing, about this information.

The disturbing inside intelligence comes on the heels of news reports revealing that U.S. intelligence has picked up increased chatter among Islamist terror networks approaching the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. While these terrorists reportedly plan their attack just outside the U.S., President Obama admits that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to combat ISIS. “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” the commander-in-chief said this week during a White House press briefing. “I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggest that folks are getting a little further ahead of what we’re at than what we currently are.”

Mr. Obama, you can’t put the cart before the horse, because you have neither.  Neither.  You’ve completely failed to secure our borders and you’ve invited this sort of thing to happen for years.  You have no strategy for national security, one of your primary jobs.

Any blood from an attack now is completely on your hands.  And should an attack come, given all the warnings about the consequences of not securing that border, I think the term “high crimes and misdemeanors” would certainly apply.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Hypocrisy endemic in leftist enviro position on solar and wind power

How many times have we been treated to hissy fits by the environmental left when it comes to species other than humans and their endangerment?  What group has constantly pushed for laws that protect animals from humans?  And where have the enviros been mostly silent as a particular group of animals is wantonly slaughtered daily in the name of green, renewable energy?

California’s massive Ivanpah solar power plant can produce enough electricity for 140,000 households — but the environmental cost is nothing less than an avian slaughter.

The plant’s 350,000 mirrors bounce sizzling sunlight to the tops of three 40-story boiler towers, heating steam for turbine electricity generators. Temperatures near the towers can reach up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, heat certainly sufficient to fry a fowl.

“Workers at the state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — ‘streamers,’ for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair,” the Associated Press reports this week.

That’s a common occurrence, the AP continues; federal investigators saw a bird burn roughly every two minutes. Ivanpah owner BrightSource estimates that “about a thousand” die each year, and one environmental group says the plant kills up to 28,000 birds each year.

Of course, if you do the math (and account for 12 hours of darkness each day) it comes out to about 130,000 a year – assuming the observation that one bird “burns” every two minutes.  And the outcry?  Yeah, not so much.

And some of the birds it is killing are, among others, endangered:

As the plant prepared to begin operations, workers found the winged corpses of “a peregrine falcon, a grebe, two hawks, four nighthawks, and a variety of warblers and sparrows,” the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year.

You want a “silent spring”?  Keep building these sorts of installations.

What about wind turbines?  Well, Ivanpah comes up a piker in comparison:

Ivanpah isn’t the only green darling with a lot of bird blood on its hands, either. The American Bird Conservancy estimates wind turbines slay 440,000 birds each year, and the an analyst writing in the Wildlife Society Bulletin says it’s closer to 573,000 — in addition to 888,000 bats.

And, as usual, our federal government makes exceptions to the law for favored industries:

Federal wildlife officials on Friday for the first time agreed not to prosecute a developer if an endangered California condor is struck and killed by turbine blades at its proposed wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles.

You accidentally do it and watch how much of an exception they make for you.

In the meantime, with all this data showing massive bird kills among solar and wind turbine installations?

Crickets – unless they find some other sort of “green energy” source that happens to wipe them out too.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 28 Aug 14

The Commerce Department’s second estimate of First Quarter 2014 GDP came in at 4.2%, annualized. This is stronger than expected and stronger than the initial 4.0% estimate. The GDP Price Index rose at a 2.1% annualized rate.

Corporate profits in the Second Quarter of 2014 came in at $1.840 trillion, following $1.735 trillion for the First Quarter.

The pending home sales index for existing home sales rose a strong 3.3% in July to 105.9, up from 102.7 in June.

The Kansas City Fed manufacturing index slipped from 9 in July to 3 August.

Weekly initial jobless claims fell 1,000 to 298,000. The 4-week average fell 1,250 to 299,750. Continuing claims rose 25,000 to 2.53 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.7 points to 37.3 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $0.8 billion last week, with total assets of $4.414 trillion. Total reserve bank credit rose by $2.5 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose $32.0 billion in the latest week.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Climate change treaty: “Constitution? Obama don’t need no stinkin’ Constitution!”

Well, if reports are true it appears our self-crowned king has decided he’s found a way to obligate us to a treaty without following the Constitution’s proviso for doing so.

In seeking to go around Congress to push his international climate change agenda, Mr. Obama is echoing his domestic climate strategy. In June, he bypassed Congress and used his executive authority to order a far-reaching regulation forcing American coal-fired power plants to curb their carbon emissions….

American negotiators are instead homing in on a hybrid agreement — a proposal to blend legally binding conditions from an existing 1992 treaty with new voluntary pledges. The mix would create a deal that would update the treaty, and thus, negotiators say, not require a new vote of ratification.

Countries would be legally required to enact domestic climate change policies — but would voluntarily pledge to specific levels of emissions cuts and to channel money to poor countries to help them adapt to climate change. Countries might then be legally obligated to report their progress toward meeting those pledges at meetings held to identify those nations that did not meet their cuts.

“There’s some legal and political magic to this,” said Jake Schmidt, an expert in global climate negotiations with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. “They’re trying to move this as far as possible without having to reach the 67-vote threshold” in the Senate.

“Political magic”?  Is that the state of our nation now – we resort to “political magic” when we can’t get our way as the Constitution requires?  Well, yes.

Here’s how:

President Obama seems to be following a script laid out in May, 2014 by former Undersecretary for Global Affairs Timothy Wirth, who was the Clinton Administration’s lead negotiator for the Kyoto Protocol, and former South Dakota Senator Thomas Daschle who astutely asserted that “the international community should stop chasing the chimera of a binding treaty to limit CO2 emissions.” They further noted that more than two decades of U.N. climate negotiations have failed because “nations could not agree on who is to blame, on how to allocate emissions, or on projections for the future.”

Wirth and Daschle are advocating that the climate negotiators adopt a system of “pledge and review” at the 2015 Paris conference of the parties to the UNFCCC. In such a scheme nations would make specific pledges to cut their carbon emissions, to adopt clean energy technologies, and to wring more GDP out of each ton of carbon emitted. The parties would review their progress toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions every three years and make further pledges as necessary to achieve the goal of keeping the increase in average global temperature under 2°C. Since there would be no legally binding targets, there would be no treaty that would require politically difficult ratification. If insufficient progress is being made by 2020 they argue that countries should consider adopting globally coordinated price on carbon.

Now this isn’t to say that this is going to work or even have an effect, but it is a blatant attempt to have one’s way (via “political magic”) while avoiding the unpleasantness of a failure to get a ratification by tw0-thirds of the Senate (its all about getting the leverage to pass a carbon tax).

And, as usual, Mr. Obama doesn’t care one whit about much more than getting his way – just ask Senate Democrats:

President Obama’s election-year plan to win a new international climate change accord is making vulnerable Democrats nervous.

The administration is in talks at the United Nations about a deal that would seek to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by “naming and shaming” governments that fail to take significant action.

The State Department on Wednesday denied a report in The New York Times that the plan is to come up with a treaty that would not require Senate confirmation, but that appeared to provide cold comfort to Democrats worried the issue will revive GOP cries about an imperial Obama presidency.

One Democratic strategist said the proposal would put swing-state candidates who are critical to the party keeping its Senate majority “in front of the firing squad.”

“You’re … making it more difficult for them to win and certainty putting them in a position to lose,” the strategist said.

Silver linings … always look for the silver lining to those storm clouds.

And then there’s immigration …

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

In support of Burger King

I’ve never really been much of a Burger King fan, but guess what I’m having for lunch today?

Why?  Because Burger King has given us an opportunity to point out one reason why our economy is lagging. And, as usual, it has to do with government policy.  Politicians would like to play the blame game and point at corporations like Burger King moving to Canada (after a merger with Canadian based Tim Hortons) as the reason.  Instead, it is the federal government’s oppressive and unprecedented corporate tax rate that is helping to keep our economy floundering by providing incentive for corporations to leave.

Megan McArdle writes a great column today.  To begin with she cites a paragraph from Matt Levine that makes the point that most in the media and almost all politicians opposing the merger fail to make:

The purpose of an inversion has never been, and never could be, and never will be, “ooh, Canada has a 15 percent tax rate, and the U.S. has a 35 percent tax rate, so we can save 20 points of taxes on all our income by moving.” Instead the main purpose is always: “If we’re incorporated in the U.S., we’ll pay 35 percent taxes on our income in the U.S. and Canada and Mexico and Ireland and Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, but if we’re incorporated in Canada, we’ll pay 35 percent on our income in the U.S. but 15 percent in Canada and 30 percent in Mexico and 12.5 percent in Ireland and zero percent in Bermuda and zero percent in the Cayman Islands.”

Got it?  The US government does something no other first world government does.  McArdle explains:

The U.S., unlike most developed-world governments, insists on taxing the global income of its citizens and corporations that have U.S. headquarters. And because the U.S. has some of the highest tax rates in the world, especially on corporate income, this amounts to demanding that everyone who got their start here owes us taxes, forever, on anything they earn abroad.

This is a great deal for the U.S. government, which gets to collect income tax even though it’s not providing the companies sewers or roads or courts or no-knock raids on their abodes. On the other hand, it’s not a very good deal for said citizens and corporations, especially because our government has made increasingly obnoxious demands on foreign institutions to help them collect that tax. Both private citizens and corporations who have a lot of income abroad are deciding that they’d rather renounce their ties to the U.S. than deal with the expense and hassle of letting it tap into income that they have earned using some other country’s roads and sewers and police protection.

Practically speaking, global taxation is hard to enforce and loaded with bad incentives, which is why our fellow members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have moved away from global taxation of corporate income, and abandoned global taxation of personal income. If anything, the U.S. has gone in the other direction — by insisting, for instance, that foreign companies report various financial transactions with U.S. citizens to the Internal Revenue Service, and taxing foreign cost of living allowances, which makes it more expensive for companies to employ expats. On the corporate side, the Barack Obama administration has repeatedly suggested tightening up on tax deferral of foreign income and other credits, which would make it even more expensive to be a corporation based in the U.S.

So why base in the US with this being the case?  Why wouldn’t any sane US based corporation be trying to find a remedy to this pernicious and oppressive tax code?  In reality, this describes it rather well:

[I]t boils down to “the police kept people from sacking your first headquarters, so therefore you owe us 35 percent of everything you make, forever.” Loan sharks and protection rackets offer more reasonable terms than this.

Yes, they likely do.   You know you have a problem when more and more of government begins to resemble criminal gangs.  And that’s where we are headed.  Instead of looking at a solution that will benefit a corporation and give them an incentive to remain and pay taxes, our government and the politicians seem bound and determined to make the corporation the bad guy with absurdly Orwellian insults like “economic patriotism” and “corporate deserters”.  This, instead, should be the bottom line:

If we’re worried about inversion, then the U.S. government should follow the lead of other developed countries, and move to territorial taxation. Otherwise, we should stop complaining when people and corporations decide that they’d rather be a citizen of some more sane system somewhere else.

Indeed.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone
1 2 3 541

Buy Dale’s Book!