Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Dale Franks’ QandO posts

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Loss of Will

Via Instapundit, I saw this story which irked me. It’s an AP story, so I won’t quote it directly. You can go read it if you want. The upshot is that UN forces were besieged by Syrian Rebels in the Golan heights.The commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, or UNDOF, who supervises the UN peacekeeping forces in Golan, ordered the peacekeepers to surrender to the rebels.

Last week, the detachment from Fiji were surrounded by the Rebels and surrendered, and are still prisoners of the rebels. The rebels then besieged the Philippine detachment of UNDOF. As part of the negotiations to secure the release of the Fijian peacekeepers, the UNDOF commander told the the Philippine detachment to surrender as well. The Philippine detachment, conversely, told the UNDOF commander to go screw, and…extricated themselves from the siege, during which time they were…ahem…forced to fire on the rebels in self defense.

So, first off, kudos to the Philippine troops, and their big boss, Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, who said that Philippine soldiers do not surrender their firearms.

Second, how useless is the UN and its “Peacekeeping Forces”? Rebel attacks have been on the rise, causing several UNDOF member nations to withdraw their troops. These withdrawals, have, surprisingly, not kept the peace, and rebel attacks have been on the rise.

The UN is supposed to provide peacekeeping troops to, if necessary, enforce the rules of decent civilization on barbarians. Clearly, they are a failure at that. One can’t help but remember that in other, happier days, the defenders of civilization, when attacked by barbarians, would keep the peace by hunting down and killing the barbarians to the last man, killing him, then killing his pet goat, as Ralph Peters has put it. Not any more, apparently. The job of UN peacekeeping has seemingly been reduced to molesting underage girls and surrendering to barbarians.

The thing is, there are men who only want to see the world burn. To surrender to them does not gain peace, but gives them the world.

We spoke about piracy at sea on the podcast this week, and how, after obliterating it in the 19th century, we have allowed it to flourish in the 21st. We are squandering–indeed have mostly squandered–the legacy of of civilization, and with it the notion that civilization must be defended. There is never a shortage of barbarians, but there is an increasing shortage of nations willing to defend against them with the only thing barbarians understand: naked, brutal, death-dealing violence.

I do not see a bright future for civilization if this continues. Future generations may very well regard us as men of the Middle Ages did the Romans, wondering how they built all those roads and aqueducts.

Civilization may not be perfect, but as the example of ISIS/ISIL in Iraq is instructing us, it is generally better than the alternative.


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Economic Statistics for 2 Sep 14

Construction spending rose 1.8% in July, and is up 8.2% on a year-over-year basis.

The ISM Manufacturing Index rose 1.9 points in August to 59.0.

Markit’s August PMI manufacturing Index rose 2.1 points to 57.9.

The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI rose a slight 0.1 points to 52.6 in August.

Gallup’s self-reported Consumer Spending measure was unchanged at $94 average daily spending.

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index rose 1 point to -16 for August.


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Economic Statistics for 29 Aug 14

Personal Income rose 0.2% in July, while consumer spending fell -0.1%. The PCE price index rose 0.1% at both the headline and core levels. On a year-over-year basis, personal income is up 4.3%, while personal spending is up 3.6%. The PCE Price index is up 1.6% at the headline level, and 1.5% at the core.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index jumped from 52.6 to 64.3 in July.

The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for August rose 3.3 points to 82.5.


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Economic Statistics for 28 Aug 14

The Commerce Department’s second estimate of First Quarter 2014 GDP came in at 4.2%, annualized. This is stronger than expected and stronger than the initial 4.0% estimate. The GDP Price Index rose at a 2.1% annualized rate.

Corporate profits in the Second Quarter of 2014 came in at $1.840 trillion, following $1.735 trillion for the First Quarter.

The pending home sales index for existing home sales rose a strong 3.3% in July to 105.9, up from 102.7 in June.

The Kansas City Fed manufacturing index slipped from 9 in July to 3 August.

Weekly initial jobless claims fell 1,000 to 298,000. The 4-week average fell 1,250 to 299,750. Continuing claims rose 25,000 to 2.53 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.7 points to 37.3 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $0.8 billion last week, with total assets of $4.414 trillion. Total reserve bank credit rose by $2.5 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose $32.0 billion in the latest week.


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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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