Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 18 Dec 14

Markit’s PMI services flash for December fell -2.7 points from the final November reading to 53.6.

The Philadelphia Fed Survey fell to a very strong 24.5 in December, from November’s unusually high 40.8.

The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose 0.6% in December, following November’s 0.9% gain.

Initial weekly jobless claims  6,000 to 289,000. The 4-week average fell 500 to 298,750. Continuing claims fell 147,000 to 2.373 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.4 points to 41.7 in the latest week, hitting a 7-year high.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $13.4 billion last week, with total assets of 4.502 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $16.1 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $5.3 billion in the latest week.


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Love, inclusion and diversity in academia

In reality the left is everything it condemns and is apparently not bright enough to know it:

A University of Michigan department chairwoman has published an article titled, “It’s Okay To Hate Republicans,” which will probably make all of her conservative students feel really comfortable and totally certain that they’re being graded fairly.

“I hate Republicans,” communications department chairwoman and professor Susan J. Douglas boldly declares in the opening of the piece. “I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal ‘personhood.’”

She writes that although the fact that her “tendency is to blame the Republicans . . . may seem biased,” historical and psychological research back her up, and so it’s basically actually a fact that Republicans are bad! . . .

Republicans now, she writes, are focused on the “determined vilification” of others, and have “crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy.

Wow … irony anyone?

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 17 Dec 14

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -3.3% last week, with purchases down -7.0% and refis unchanged.

Consumer prices fell -0.3% overall in November, while the CPI less food and energy rose 0.1%. On a year over year basis, the CPI is up 1.3%, while the core rate is up 1.7%.

The nation’s current account deficit widened by $1.9 billion to $-100.3 billion in the 3rd Quarter from a slightly revised $98.4 billion in the 2nd Quarter. 

The Federal Open Markets Committee ended their meeting today, with the Fed Funds Rate target left unchanged at 0% to 0.25%.

The FOMC’s newest GDP forecasts: 2014: 2.3 to 2.4%; 2015: 2.6 to 3.0%; 2016: 2.5 to 3.0%; 2017: 2.3 to 2.5%; longer run: 2.0 to 2.2%. Essentally, sub-par economic growth will continue for as long as can be forecast.


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I continue to find this sad, pathetic and hilarious

No not Obama’s decision to improve relations with Cuba – that’s pretty par for this president.  If anyone is surprised, you shouldn’t be.   As one person noted, he has to be among the worst negotiators in the world – although Bowe Bergdahl might disagree (btw, what was the finding of that Army investigation?).

Instead I’m talking about this absurdity going on in academia where poor traumatized students expect their professors to delay or cancel their finals because, you know, there’s injustice in the world.  Another way to define “injustice” for these special snowflakes is any decision that goes against the narrative they prefer.

So, we have students demanding that their colleges and universities heed their trauma and give them what they want – delayed exams.

Of course there have been the usual capitulations – Harvard, Columbia.   But not, surprisingly, at liberal Oberlin College.  In fact, when a particular student wrote to a professor to ask that the school do what Harvard and Columbia have done, she got a very short, terse and to the point reply.  One word.  “No.”  I admit, I laughed.

The student then put the email on her Facebook account and issued a “trigger warning”.  No, seriously, a trigger warning.

“TRIGGER WARNING: Violent language regarding an extremely dismissive response from a professor. This is an email exchange I had with my professor this evening. … We are obviously not preaching to the choir. Professors and administration at Oberlin need to be held accountable for their words and actions and have a responsibility to their students.”

Yes, I laughed again.  She’s a Freshman and has decided she runs the place.  You can read her email and the prof’s reply here.

Speaking of “triggers”, this is what’s going on at Harvard in that regard:

Students seem more anxious about classroom discussion, and about approaching the law of sexual violence in particular, than they have ever been in my eight years as a law professor. Student organizations representing women’s interests now routinely advise students that they should not feel pressured to attend or participate in class sessions that focus on the law of sexual violence, and which might therefore be traumatic. These organizations also ask criminal-law teachers to warn their classes that the rape-law unit might “trigger” traumatic memories. Individual students often ask teachers not to include the law of rape on exams for fear that the material would cause them to perform less well. One teacher I know was recently asked by a student not to use the word “violate” in class—as in “Does this conduct violate the law?”—because the word was triggering. Some students have even suggested that rape law should not be taught because of its potential to cause distress.

You know, I thought academia was supposed to prepare students for the real world.  Instead, it appears it is all about letting them build their own fantasy world.  How in the world, given this line of “reasoning”, does someone who is a victim of this sort of crime hope to get competent representation from a bunch of pansies who are afraid to talk about it?

Robby Soave brings it home:

It’s time to admit that appeasing students’ seemingly unlimited senses of personal victimhood entitlement, unenlightened views about public discourse, and thinly-veiled laziness is not merely wrong, but actively dangerous. Colleges are supposed to prepare young people to succeed in the real world; they do students no favors by infantilizing them. But worse than that, by bending over backwards to satisfy the illiberal mob, colleges are doling out diplomas to people who are prepared for neither real life nor their eventual professions. Should medical colleges abdicate their responsibility to instruct students on how to administer a rape kit to a victim, or ask a victim difficult questions about her trauma, because that discussion is triggering to some of the students?

It would be better for professors to instruct students on how to confront their uncomfortable emotions and grow beyond them, but alas, that seems less and less common.

Ya think?!  However, what we have here is a bunch of academics hoist on their own petard.  They helped build this absurd world and now they’re stuck living with their creation.

~McQ

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Interesting, but not surprising

The first shoe drops on the President’s executive amnesty order:

According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals.  As a consequence,  Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.

Ya think?  So, now what?  Will this proceed up the line to the Supreme Court?  And if it does, will the “ObamaCare is a tax” court manage to actually rule as this judge has, that the executive has unconstitutionally exceeded his power?

Anymore, you never know.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 16 Dec 14

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales rose 3.0%, but fell to a weak 1.1% on a year-over-year basis. Conversely, Redbook reports retail sales rose 4.2% on a year-ago basis.

Housing starts fell -1.6% in November, erasing most of October’s 1.7% increase, as starts fell to a 1.028 million annual rate. Similarly, building permits, an indicator of future activity, slipped -5.2%, following a 5.9% jump in October. 

The Markit PMI manufacturing index flash for December fell -1.0 points to 53.7.


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Journalism – kingdom of fools

I’m sure you’ve been at least keeping tabs on the drama in Sidney, Australia (now thankfully concluded).  When you watch some of what passes for reporting these days, you sometimes get an indication of how poor the journalism of today is:

Despite the Sydney, Australia hostage-taker displaying a flag reading in Arabic, ”There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God,” despite his being a self-proclaimed sheikh and despite his demand that police give him an ISIS flag, MSNBC “The Rundown” host José Diaz-Balart wondered if Iranian-born Man Haron Monis is motivated by Islam at all. (VIDEO: NBC Journo: Islamic Lone Wolf Terrorism ‘Not A Religious Issue’)

“Could very well be he’s hiding behind the flag of Islam to just deal with his own criminal past,” Diaz-Balart said. “It may have very little to do with it. It’s still too early to tell.”

Yet, when it comes to lynch mobs on little other than here-say evidence, we get the full narrative treatment – take the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case, or better yet, Ferguson.  In both cases, the media played judge, jury and lynch mob with hysteria driven reports that had no real basis in fact.   In fact, precisely what all the talking heads and other experts claimed came to be absolutely false.

Meanwhile, Islam gets the benefit of the doubt even when it appears that perpetrator in this case had a history of religious fueled violence.  Like the shootings at Ft. Hood were a simple matter of “workplace violence”, this is just some guy using Islam as front to hide his “criminal past”.

The simple question I wish someone would put to the reporter is “why?”  If he’s simply a criminal, why would he care about his past?

Oh, I know – too early to tell.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 15 Dec 14

The Empire State manufacturing index for December fell more than 13 points to -3.58, the first negative reading since January, 2013.

November industrial production rose 1.3%, while capacity utilization in the nation’s factories rose 0.9% to 80.1%.

The Housing Market Index fell 1 point in December, to a still-solid 57.

Foreign demand for long-term US securities fell slightly in October, down $-1.4 billion, following September’s $164.3 billion gain.


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Economic Statistics for 12 Dec 14

Producer Prices for Final Demand fell -0.2% in November, while prices less food and gas were unchanged. Goods prices fell -0.7% while prices for services rose 0.1%. PPI-FD less food, energy & trade services was also unchanged. The decline in goods prices was led mainly by falling energy prices. On a year-over-year basis, the PPI-FD rose 1.4%, while prices less food and energy rose 1.7% and prices less food, energy & trade services rose 1.6%. Goods prices are up 0.4% and services prices rose 1.9%.

The Reuters/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index jumped a full 5 points to 93.8 in December.


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