Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

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Economic Statistics for 1 Oct 14

September motor vehicle sales fell a sharp -6.3% to a worse-than-expected 16.4 million annual rate. The domestic sales rate was 13.2 million annualized. September faced a tough comparison to a very strong August, but sales were expected to be stronger.

ADP’s estimate for private payroll growth for September is 213,000.

Markit’s PMI Manufacturing Index for September fell just -0.4 points to a still-strong 57.5.

The ISM Manufacturing Index fell -2.4 points to 56.6.

Construction spending fell -0.8% in August after a 1.2% increase in July. Market expectations were for a 0.5% increase. On a year-over-year basis, spending rose 5.0%.

The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI edged down -0.4 points to a still-positive 52.2.

Gallup’s US Job Creation Index reached a six-year high of 30 in September.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -0.2% last week, with purchases unchanged, but refis down -0.3%.


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Economic Statistics for 30 Sep 14

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales fell -0.2%, and rose 3.6% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports retail sales rose 4.3% on a year-ago basis.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index fell a sharp 0.5% in July, the steepest drop since November 2011. This is the third straight monthly decline. Once again, the numbers from the housing sector show a lot of weakness.  On a year-over-year basis, the index is up 6.7%.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index fell 3.8 points in September to 60.5.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index in fell sharply from 92.4 to 86.0 in September.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index rose 1.1 points to 123.9 in September, on rising confidence among European institutional investors.


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Economic Statistics for 29 Sep 14

Personal income rose 0.3% in August, while personal spending rose 0.5%. The PCE Price index was unchanged overall, but up 0.1% at the core level. On a year over year basis, personal income rose 4.3%, spending rose 4.1%, and the PCE Price index rose 1.5% at both the headline and core rate.

The pending home sales index for August fell 1.0% to 104.7, as the housing sector remains stubbornly flat.

The Dallas Fed general business activity index for September rose 3.7 points to 10.8, while the production index rocketed from 6.8 to 17.6.


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Economic Statistics for 25 Sep 14

Durable goods orders fell a sharp -18.2% in August, but ex-transportation orders rose a healthy 0.7%. On a year-over-year basis, new orders rose 8.9% overall, while ex-transportation orders rose 7.3%.

The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index rose 3 points to 6 in September.

The PMI Services Flash for September was unchanged at 58.5.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 12,000 to 293,000. The 4-week average fell 1,000 to 298,500. Continuing claims rose 7,000 to 2.439 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.8 points to 35.5 in the latest week, which is a 4-month low.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $9.5 billion last week, with total assets of $4.459 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $10.1 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $7.4 billion in the latest week.


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The science is not settled

Dr. Steven Koonin is the director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. Formerly, he was undersecretary for science in the Energy Department during President Barack Obama’s first term. So, not a guy you’d think would be a Koch-funded climate denier. Yet, he writes in the Wall Street Journal that the current state of climate science is not settled, despite what others may say.

After spending several paragraphs highlighting both our lack of scientific understanding of basic climate processes, and the unreliability of the different computer models and their predictions, he concludes:

These and many other open questions are in fact described in the IPCC research reports, although a detailed and knowledgeable reading is sometimes required to discern them. They are not “minor” issues to be “cleaned up” by further research. Rather, they are deficiencies that erode confidence in the computer projections. Work to resolve these shortcomings in climate models should be among the top priorities for climate research.

Yet a public official reading only the IPCC’s “Summary for Policy Makers” would gain little sense of the extent or implications of these deficiencies. These are fundamental challenges to our understanding of human impacts on the climate, and they should not be dismissed with the mantra that “climate science is settled.”

While the past two decades have seen progress in climate science, the field is not yet mature enough to usefully answer the difficult and important questions being asked of it. This decidedly unsettled state highlights what should be obvious: Understanding climate, at the level of detail relevant to human influences, is a very, very difficult problem.

This is not coming from some right-wing whack job. It is the sober assessment of the science from a former Obama Administration official. Claims that the “science is settled” are just that: claims. They are claims made to further a specific political agenda, not a realistic summation of what we actually know.

Yet we are told that massive government action is required—usually leavened with a generous dollop of socialism—to prevent disaster. A disaster, by the way, than cannot be confidently predicted. If that is so, the predictions of success for ameliorative actions cannot be confidently predicted either. Indeed, we cannot truly say that massive ameliorative actions are even needed.

“The science is settled,” therefore, is not a factual, scientific statement. It is a political one. It deserves no more respect than any other political assertion.


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Economic Statistics for 23 Sep 14

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales rose 0.1%, and rose 4.1% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports retail sales rose 3.7% on a year-ago basis.

The FHFA House Price Index rose a slight 0.1% in July. On a year-over-year basis, the index is up 4.4%.

The Markit PMI manufacturing index flash for September is unchanged from the August final reading of 57.9.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index rose 2 point to 14 in September.


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