Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Dale Franks’ QandO posts

Economic Statistics for 27 Mar 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

Retail sales look lackluster according to ICSC-Goldman, whose year-on-year same-store sales increase is only 2.7% for the week. Redbook is more positive, though, with a same-store sales increase of 3.8%.

The S&P Case-Shiller Home price index was unchanged for the month on a seasonally adjusted basis. Unadjusted, however, the index is down -0.8% for the month, and -3.8% from last year.

Consumer Confidence dipped slightly in March, to 70.2 from 70.8 last month.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index fell to 7 in March from 20 last month.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 26 Mar 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index fell to -0.09, mainly on a drop in production. The weakest factors, though, remain consumption and housing.

The Pending Home Sales Index fell -0.5% in February, to a reading of 96.5. All of the earlier optimism about a housing recovery seems to have been scorched by all the bad readings for February.

Expansion has slowed in the Dallas Fed region according to the Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey which fell to 10.8 from 17.8.

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Dale Franks
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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 25 Mar 12

This week, Michael, and Dale talk about the Trayvon Martin case, and the Supreme Court arguments on Obamacare.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

Economic Statistics for 23 Mar 12

Today’s economic release schedule is pretty sparse. The only thing on tap for today is new home sales. Speaking of which, new home sales fell 1.6% in February to a lower than expected 313,000 annual rate. Prices, though, rose by 8.3%, though this is counterbalanced by a 5.3 month supply of homes, the third lowest supply amount of what I laughingly refer to as "the recovery". February sales rose in the Northeast and West but fell sharply in the South, which is the key region for this series of data.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics

Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:

Initial claims for unemployment fell by 5,000, to a lower than expected level of 348,000 for the week. The four-week average fell 1,250 to 355,000.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell slightly to -34.9. But, more people said the economy was improving than at any time in eight years.

Some previous data indicated home prices were improving. That would be good news, if it were true. But, it isn’t. The FHFA reports house prices in January were unchanged.

The Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.7%, led by improvement in the labor market.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 21 Mar 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

A 13 basis-point rise in interest rates in the past week drove mortgage applications down -7.4%, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports. The purchase index fell -1.0%, the refinance index dropped -9.3%.

Existing home sales for February fell -0.9% to a 4.59 million annual rate. Sales are up 8.8% from a year ago.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 20 Mar 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

In retail sales, Redbook reports a strong 3.6% year-on-year same store sales increase for the latest week. ICSC-Goldman Store Sales show a strong 0.9% weekly sales increase, with the year-on-year rate rising to 3.3%.

Housing starts were weaker than expected in February, coming in at a 698,000 annual rate. Permits were higher than expected at 717,000 annualized.

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Dale Franks
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The will to power, exemplified

Stanley Fish, writing in the New York Times today, offers a refreshingly honest view of "slutgate", moral equivalency, and double standards. It is, in fact, a bold statement of what we’ve always imagined the Progressive view is, though they have, in the past, been ever so careful not to admit it. It is, frankly, nice to see such honesty. As Mr. Fish explains:

Schultz and Maher are the good guys; they are on the side of truth and justice. Limbaugh is the bad guy; he is on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy. Why should he get an even break?

There is no answer to that question once you step outside of the liberal calculus in which all persons, no matter what their moral status as you see it, are weighed in an equal balance. Rather than relaxing or soft-pedaling your convictions about what is right and wrong, stay with them, and treat people you see as morally different differently. Condemn Limbaugh and say that Schultz and Maher may have gone a bit too far but that they’re basically O.K. If you do that you will not be displaying a double standard; you will be affirming a single standard, and moreover it will be a moral one because you will be going with what you think is good rather than what you think is fair. “Fair” is a weak virtue; it is not even a virtue at all because it insists on a withdrawal from moral judgment.

I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule “don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you” the rule “be sure to do it to them first and more effectively.” It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.

There you have it. Conservatives are evil, progressives are good. It follows, therefore, that because progressives are good, then what they do in  combating conservatives is right.  Conservatives, being evil, deserve no respect and no attempts at courteous disagreement. They deserve nothing more than to be driven from the public sphere by any necessary means. Progressives are good, and if they commit what would otherwise be questionable acts, it is only the depravity of their political opponents that drives them to it.

Make no mistake: If the Stanley Fishes of this country could imprison you for holding contrary political beliefs, they’d do it in a second.  After all, you are "on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy". This is, of course, justification for a tyranny of the very worst sort. As C.S. Lewis pointed out:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Progressivism, for all its puffing about equality and justice, is nothing more than totalitarianism cloaked in modern, politically-correct pieties.

It’s nice to see a progressive honestly admit it.

The thing is, it is not possible to have a sustainable, self-governing polity when a substantial portion of the electorate denies the fundamental morality or legitimacy of their opponents. The ultimate outcome of such a belief in a society has historically been an inevitable slide to civil unrest, resulting in either totalitarian repression, civil war, or dissolution into competing states.

I am increasingly beginning to wonder which of those three outcomes is most likely in our case.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 19 Mar 12

The housing market index is the only statistic for the day. While the headline index is unchanged from last month’s 28, But the 6-month component is up to 36, more than double the reading of 17 back in September. On the other hand, any reading below 50 indicates recessionary conditions for the housing sector.  The trend is positive though, so there’s that.

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Dale Franks
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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 18 Mar 12

This week, Michael, and Dale talk about the Dharun Ravi conviction and President Obama.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.