Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Dale Franks’ QandO posts

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Economic Statistics for 26 Aug 14

Durable Goods orders for July soared by 22.6%, Sadly, it was all due to aircraft orders. Ex-transportation, orders fell -0.8%. On a year-over-year basis, orders were up 33.8% overall, but only 6.6% excluding transportation orders.

The FHFA purchase only house price index rose a respectable 0.4% in June, but the year-on-year rate slowed by -0.4% to 5.1%.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index fell -0.2% in June, though it was up 8.1% on a year-over-year basis.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index for August once again rose above expectations, up 1.5 points to 92.4.

The Richmond Fed manufacturing index rose 5 points to 12 in August, as manufacturing strengthened in the mid-Atlantic district.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index rose a very sharp 7.0 points in August to a very strong 122.8.

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales rose 0.6%, and were up 4.2% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports a 4.0% rise in retail sales over last year.


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Economic Statistics for 25 Aug 14

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index, a gauge of overall economic activity and inflationary pressure, rose 0.27 points to 0.39 in August.

The PMI Services Flash for August fell -1.5 points to 58.5.

New home sales rose for July rose less than expected, coming in at an annualized rate of 412,000.

The Dallas Fed general business activity index fell from 12.7 in July to 7.1 in August.


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Exactly how often do cops shoot people?

Well, actually, we really don’t know.

D.Brian Burghart is the editor of the Reno News & Review, the city’s alt-weekly. Driving home one day, he came across the aftermath of a police shooting, and became curious about it. So he started to look for the figures on how often officer-involved shootings happen. And he couldn’t find them. Anywhere.

Nowhere could I find out how many people died during interactions with police in the United States. Try as I might, I just couldn’t wrap my head around that idea. How was it that, in the 21st century, this data wasn’t being tracked, compiled, and made available to the public? How could journalists know if police were killing too many people in their town if they didn’t have a way to compare to other cities? Hell, how could citizens or police? How could cops possibly know “best practices” for dealing with any fluid situation? They couldn’t.

So, he decided to create one. He’s spent the last two years building a crowd-sourced database of officer-involved shootings at Fatal Encounters. And it hasn’t been easy, as he explains:

The biggest thing I’ve taken away from this project is something I’ll never be able to prove, but I’m convinced to my core: The lack of such a database is intentional. No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.

It’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence. What evidence? In attempting to collect this information, I was lied to and delayed by the FBI, even when I was only trying to find out the addresses of police departments to make public records requests. The government collects millions of bits of data annually about law enforcement in its Uniform Crime Report, but it doesn’t collect information about the most consequential act a law enforcer can do.

I’ve been lied to and delayed by state, county and local law enforcement agencies—almost every time. They’ve blatantly broken public records laws, and then thumbed their authoritarian noses at the temerity of a citizen asking for information that might embarrass the agency. And these are the people in charge of enforcing the law.

Frankly, I find this all too easy to believe. After all, a database of officer-involved shootings would be an enormously useful thing to have for the police, in order to draw lessons about best practices. But, an even more important use is for the public to use the data to provide better visibility and accountability for police operations. And the latter reason, I strongly suspect, is precisely why the police don’t want such a database. The police interest in coming up with best practices is far outweighed by their interest in preventing increased transparency.

The attitude of the police seems to be that of Colonel Jessup in “A Few Good Men”:

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it.

But, here’s the thing: The very essence of a free society is the open ability to question the manner of how those we entrust to defend us provide that defense. It’s what prevents us from becoming a police state. I would argue that we’re already on the cusp of becoming one.


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Economic Statistics for 21 Aug 14

The PMI Manufacturing Index Flash for August rose 1.7 points to 58.0.

The Philadelphia Fed Survey for August rose a sharp 4.1 points to 28.0, a rise not supported by the report’s underlying indices. Both new orders and shipments slowed by half, while unfilled orders are shrinking and delivery times are improving. All of these are symptomatic of slowing activity. The headline number is not a a composite of components but is based on a single subjective question in the survey. This month, at least, the answer to that question seems at variance with the other indices in the report.

Existing home sales rose 2.4% to an annualized rate of 5.15 million units in July.

Initial jobless claims fell 14,000 last week, to 298,000. The 4-week moving average rose 5,000 to 300,750. Continuing claims fell 49,000 to 2.500 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.2 points to 36.6 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-19.0 billion last week, with total assets of $4.412 trillion. Reserve Bank credit fell $-3.7 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 Money Supply fell by $-8.7 billion last week.


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Economic Statistics for 19 Aug 15

The Consumer Price Index rose 0.1% in July, at both the headline and core level. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is up 2.0% at the headline level, and up 1.9% less food and energy.

July housing starts jumped 15.7%, to a 1.093 million annual rate.

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales fell -1.3%, but were up a strong 3.8%% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook, meanwhile, reports a slowing to 3.7% in retail sales over last year, compared to 4.8% last week.


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