Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

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Economic Statistics for 4 Mar 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 0.1% last week, with purchases down -0.2% and refis up 1.0%.

ADP’s employment report estimates that 212,000 new private-payroll jobs were created in February.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index rose 1 point in February, to 29.

The US Services Purchasing Managers’ Index rose 2.9 points to 57.1 in February.

The ISM’s non-manufacturing index rose 0.2 points, little changed at 56.9.

The Fed’s Beige Book describes current economic expansion as “moderate.” Inflation is seen as flat. Consumer spending is up most Districts. 


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Economic Statistics for 3 Mar 15

Motor vehicle sales fell for the 3rd straight month in January, down -2.6 to a 16.2 million annual rate. Foreign vehicle sales fell -8.8% to a 3.1 million rate, while sales of vehicles made in North America fell 0.7% to a 13.5 million rate.

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index fell -2 points to 1 in February.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales fell -0.1% to 2.7% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 2.8%.


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Economic Statistics for 2 Mar 15

Personal income rose 0.3% in January, while consumer spending fell -0.2%. The PCE Price index, an inflation measure, fell -0.5%, though the core index, i.e., ex-food and -energy, rose 0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, income rose 4.6%, while spending rose 3.6%. ON the same basis, the PCE Price index is up 0.2% at the headline level, and 1.3% at the core.

Gallup’s self-reported Daily Consumer Spending measure was little changed in February, at $82, versus $81 in January.

The Markit PMI manufacturing index for February rose 1.2 points from the final January reading, coming in at 55.1. 

The ISM Manufacturing Index weakened by -0.6 points to 52.9 in February.

January construction spending was worse than expected, with a -1.1% decline. On a year-ago basis, spending is up only 1.8%.


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Economic Statistics for 27 Feb 15

The first revision to 4Q 2015 GDP was dropped to a 2.2% annualized rate, from the originally reported 2.6%. On the plus side, though, much of the decrease was in inventory investment revisions, while the final sales of domestic product component was revised up to 3.2% from 2.8%.

The Chicago PMI pounded into below-50 negative territory in February, falling from 59.4 to 45.8. Monday, we’ll see if the Chicago PMI presages a national decline in the PMI.

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose 1.8 points in February, to 95.4.

The National Association of Realtors’ pending home sales index rose 1.7% in January to a moderately strong 104.2.


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Economic Statistics for 26 Feb 15

Falling energy prices sent the Consumer Price index down -0.7% in January, while prices less food and energy fell -0.2%. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI rose 0.2% overall, while the core rate rose 1.6%.

Durable goods orders rose 2.8% in January, mainly on civilian aircraft orders, as orders less transportation rose 0.3%. On a year-over-year basis, orders are up 5.4% overall, while non-transportation orders are up 4.5%.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index rose 0.8% in December, which is 5.4% higher on a year-over-year basis.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 31,000 to a 313,000. The 4-week average rose 11,500 to 294,500. Continuing claims fell 21,000 to 2.401 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.9 points to 42.7 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-10.1 billion last week, with total assets of $4.487 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-14.5 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $29.0 billion in the latest week.


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fell 21,000 to 2.401

Economic Statistics for 25 Feb 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -3.5% last week, with purchases up 5.0%, but refis down -8.0%.

New home sales were little changed in January, at a better-than-expected 481,000 annual rate, nearly unchanged from December’s big jump of 8.1% to 482,000. Price concessions may have helped sales, as the median sales price fell 2.6% to $294,000. 


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Economic Statistics for 24 Feb 15

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales slowed to 2.8% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 3.2%.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.9% in December, with prices up 4.5%, year-over-year.

A strong rebound in new work helped boost to Markit’s PMI Services Flash for February 3 points to a 4-month high of 57.0. 

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell -7.4 points to 96.4 in February.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index shows no change in manufacturing activity in the Mid-Atlantic District, with the index at 0 for February.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index fell -1.5 points in January to 105.2, with weakness centered in Europe as uncertainty about Greece continues.


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Economic Statistics for 23 Feb 15

The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey stayed in negative territory in February, falling for the second straight month, down -6.8 points to -11.2.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index was positive in January, coming in at 0.13, vice -0.05 in December.

Sales of existing homes in January fell a sharp -4.9% to an annual rate of 4.82 million. That’s the lowest rate since April, 2014. 


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Resurrecting the past

Back in the 90s, I worked for a now-defunct radio station, KMNY AM 1600, in Pomona, which went by the name “Money Radio”, and was the main business and financial news radio station in Los Angeles. From 9am-1pm every weekday, I did a program called “The Business Day”.  Recently, I found several cassette tapes of various interviews and special reports I did at Money Radio from 1994 to 1996. Some of the material is the broadcast version, some of it is the raw interviews.

I’ve decided to digitize them, since they are all 20 year-old cassette tapes, and are really at the end of their useful lives. In fact, one of them broke simply by rewinding it, forcing me to repair it, something I haven’t had to do for years.

A couple of things leap out at me as I re-listen to the cassettes while recording them to MP3 format:

1. I’m not sure why my voice was so high. I think it’s a tape speed issue. Some of these sound like a frickin’ Mickey special on Radio Disney.

2. I’m surprised at how many of the issues are still relevant, and are almost unchanged from 20 years ago.

3. I don’t remember cassette sound quality sucking so bad at the time. Digital fidelity has made cassette sound quality appear awful. I think it’s because a) the cassettes are so old and b) the station used really crappy cassettes for air checks, so the sound probably wasn’t that great in 1995.

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in a taste of the stuff, So here’s some links to the digitized files. Most of these are 42-ish minutes long, as they are mainly 1-hour programs without commercials. There are some pauses between each segment of the hour.

1. An interview I did with then-Labor Secretary Robert Reich. This is the raw interview I did in the production studio, but it was broadcast exactly as recorded, with only a broadcast intro and outdo added to the interview when aired on 4/19/95. Link

2. Reform in Congress, broadcast on 6/17/94. Link

3. A collection of weekly interviews from 1995-1996 with Roger W. Robinson, President of RWR, Inc., and former Chief Economist for the National Security Council under Ronald Reagan. He was always a fascinating guy to talk to. The collection starts with an interview done on about 10/25/95. Link

4. Smoking and the tobacco industry, broadcast on 6/17/94. Link

5. The economy with Dr.  J.S. Butler, aired on 9/4/95. Link

6. Inflation, aired on Thanksgiving Day, 1994. Link

7. Foreign affairs with Roger W. Robinson, aired on 2/19/96. Link

8. Tort reform, aired on 12/2/94. Link

9. International trade, with Dr. Henry Nau, aired sometime in 1995. Link

NON-MONEY RADIO BONUS TRACK

I also have some even older stuff. Now this one is short, and has nothing at all to do with politics or economics. It’s what you heard if you were listening to me on the Canadian Forces Network in Brunssum, the Netherlands, at 8 o’clock on the morning of Saturday, 27 April, 1991. It’s the oldest air check I can find, so far. I edited out the music breaks, so it’s mainly my interstitials. I notice the sound quality on my CFNB air checks is way better than my KMNY ones. Probably because I didn’t use shitty cassettes when I made them. This is Memorex, baby. Link


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