Thanks to the government shutdown, there were two new home sales reports issued today, one for September and one for October. New home sales fell -6.6% in September to a 354,000 annual rate. New home sales rose dramatically in October, up 25.4% to a very solid 444,000 annual rate.
The US trade deficit narrowed by $1.2 billion in October, to $-40.6 billion, mainly on a 1.8% rebound in exports.
The Fed’s Beige Book report on the economy concludes that "the economy continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace from early October through mid-November." So, basically, below-trend economic growth continues.
The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index fell -1.5 points to 53.9 in November.
MBA Mortgage Applications fell -12.8% last week, with purchases down -4.0% and re-fis down -18.0%.
ADP reports that private payroll growth was higher than expected in November, with an estimated 215,000 net new jobs.
Gallup’s Job Creation Index rose 1 point to 20 in November.
A primary reason for structuring our government with the checks and balances it has was to prevent a concentration of power. The POTUS was specifically limited because of the position’s duties, and the danger exercising them could mean to the freedom of the people. America didn’t want a king. Well, we may gotten one anyway.
The House of Representatives held a hearing yesterday on the Obama Administration’s exercise (or non-exercise) of it powers, and asked whether or not the Executive branch was properly following the “take care” clause of the Constitution. AllahPundit provides some commentary on the hearing, focusing Prof. Jonathan Turley’s testimony:
If you have time for only one snippet, though, skip to 2:33:00 for his list of Obama’s five most egregious violations of separation of powers. Some are familiar to you — declaring that he wouldn’t deport illegals who might qualify for DREAM, refusing to enforce the employer mandate, etc — but the ones about him shifting money around without regard to how Congress has appropriated it might not be. Turley makes two valuable points here. One: Courts tend to give the executive a wide berth in separation-of-powers challenges on the theory that Congress has the power of the purse and can defund any executive agency it likes. But that’s not true anymore, he says. Obama, by defying appropriations, has claimed some of that power for himself. What check does Congress have left? That brings us to point two: Even if Congress can’t stop Obama, the courts can. The problem there, though, says Turley, is that O and the DOJ have argued successfully in many cases that no one has standing to sue him because no one can show an injury from his power grabs that’s concrete enough to justify a federal lawsuit. So the courts can’t check him either.
The only check left, it would seem, is through elections. Which isn’t a check at all on a term-limited President. Of course, there’s always the impeachment route, but that doesn’t seem likely (despite what some in the media think). Turley thinks it’s not even being considered:
Now, I was the lead witness but I was testifying in through the haze of a raging flu. So I went back and checked. Impeachment was mentioned in passing but it was quickly discounted. Indeed, I specifically testified that, as someone who testified at the Clinton impeachment, I did not view such a measure as warranted given the ambiguity of past decisions. Indeed, the references to impeachment were made in the context of the loss of meaningful options for Congress to respond to such encroachments when the President reserved the right to suspend portions of laws and fought access to the courts in challenging such decisions. Yet, the Post simply reported that the word impeachment came up (not surprisingly) in a discussion of the options given by Framers to Congress in dealing with unlawful presidential conduct.
During the hearing, not only did I discount impeachment as an option, but a Democratic member specifically asked the panel about the references to impeachment. No one could remember how it came up but it was clear that no one thought it was a substantial issue — or significant part of the hearing.
In a discussion of checks on the presidency, impeachment is one of the enumerated options given to Congress. Notably, past judicial opinions involving such separation of powers controversies have also discussed impeachment with the power of the purse as devices given to the Congress. In discussing impeachment with these other powers, courts were not advocating impeachment or suggesting that it was a viable solution in that given case.
In the end, since the Senate is held by the same party as the President, impeachment isn’t a serious option. But the Obama Administration’s unwillingness to faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress remains a serious issue. At this point, the only options left would seem to be either shutting the government down, or refusing to pass any new laws since the POTUS won’t execute them anyway. And whither goes the Republic.
Motor vehicle sales were much higher than expectations, at an annual sales rate of 16.4 million units. Sales increases from last year: GM 14%, Ford 7.2%, Chrysler 16%, Toyota 10.1%, Nissan 10.7%, Honda -0.1%, Subaru 29.9%, Hyundai 5.0%, Kia 1.3%, Audi 13.4%, BMW, -0.4%, VW -16.3%, Mazda -4.5%, Mitsubishi 69.9%, Jaguar/Land Rover 37%.
In weekly retail sales, Redbook showed 4.9% annual sales growth, while ICSC-Goldman showed a -2.8% drop for the week, and only a 2.5% annual increase.
The Gallup Economic Confidence Index rose from -35 to -25 in November.
I lost my best friend last night. My brother, Doug, passed away in his sleep. He was two years younger than me, but had been in ill health for quite some time. That’s one reason i moved him down here near me. He and I grew up together and always had each other’s back. I’ll miss him.
So I won’t be blogging for a few days. I’m sure the other regulars will fill in as necessary.
The ISM manufacturing index rose to 57.3 in November, the strongest reading in 2 1/2 years.
The PMI Manufacturing Index rose 4 points to 54.7.
Construction spending rose 0.8% in October, mainly on government outlays. Spending is up 5.3% from a year ago.
The Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure indicates that self-reported daily spending averaged $91 in November, up $3 from October.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and I know you’ll rest much better knowing the ObamaCare website is now “fixed”. No. Really. They say so:
The White House announced on Sunday that it had met its goal for improving HealthCare.gov so the website “will work smoothly for the vast majority of users.”
In effect, the administration gave itself a passing grade. Because of hundreds of software fixes and hardware upgrades in the last month, it said, the website — the main channel for people to buy insurance under the 2010 health care law — is now working more than 90 percent of the time, up from 40 percent during some weeks in October.
So there. We’re at 90% and have been declared to be “working smoothly”.
Well, except for the part that actually gets you enrolled in an insurance program:
The problem is that so-called back end systems, which are supposed to deliver consumer information to insurers, still have not been fixed. And with coverage for many people scheduled to begin in just 30 days, insurers are worried the repairs may not be completed in time.
“Until the enrollment process is working from end to end, many consumers will not be able to enroll in coverage,” said Karen M. Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group.
The issues are vexing and complex. Some insurers say they have been deluged with phone calls from people who believe they have signed up for a particular health plan, only to find that the company has no record of the enrollment. Others say information they received about new enrollees was inaccurate or incomplete, so they had to track down additional data — a laborious task that would not be feasible if data is missing for tens of thousands of consumers.
In still other cases, insurers said, they have not been told how much of a customer’s premium will be subsidized by the government, so they do not know how much to charge the policyholder.
Details, details. What’s wrong with you people. It’s fixed! We say so. This other stuff is, well, something that is the insurance companies problem. Or maybe Bush is at fault. Certainly the Republicans.
But now that the White House has declared all its problems addressed — and on time too — well they don’t want to hear anything more about it.
“Health plans can’t process enrollments they don’t receive,” said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans.
It’s fixed. End of story.
Time to move on. Change the subject.
Oh, and don’t call it ObamaCare anymore.
This week, all of us just talk about stuff.
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The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -0.3% last week, with purchases down -0.2% and re-fis up 0.1%.
Durable goods orders dropped -2.0% in October, with ex-transportation orders also down -0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, orders are up 5.3%, while orders ex-transportation are up 4.3%.
Initial jobless claims fell 10,000 to 316,000. The 4-week average fell 7,500 to 331,750, while continuing claims fell 91,000 to 2.776 million.
The Chicago Fed National Activity Index fell from 0.14 to -0.18 for October.
The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index fell -2.9 points in November to 63.0.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose a point to -33.7 in the latest week.
The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose 3.1 points to 75.1 in November.
The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose 0.2% in October.
This week’s car review is special. I just bought a 2006 Pontiac GTO, It’s not really a Pontiac. It’s a Holden Monaro. So, I reviewed it. How does it stack up to modern cars? How fun is it? Most importantly, do I regret my purchase? Well, let’s put it this way. Since I bought it, I’ve ridden my motorcycle once.
In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a 3.8% increase from the previous year. ICSC-Goldman reports a weekly sales increase of 2.6%, and a 2.1% increase on a year-over-year basis.
There are two months of Housing Starts data released today, but the shutdown is holding up the starts data. Permits data is available, however, with September permits up 5.2% to an 0.974 million annual rate. October permits jumped 6.2% to a 1.034 million annual rate.
The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.3% in September, which is an 8.5% year-over-year gain.
The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 1.0% in September, showing accelerating appreciation in home prices.
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index in November fell -0.8 points to 70.4.
The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index jumped 12 points to 13 in November.
The State Street Investor Confidence Index fell more than four points to 91.3.