Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Dale Franks’ QandO posts

We’re creating green jobs!

The president’s Green Jobs loan guarantee program, which we’re hearing a lot about, thanks to the Solyndra fiasco, does not appear to be a complete bust.  In all fairness, it has to be said that this program has been instrumental in directly creating jobs.  Indeed, the Washington Post reports that, after having spent  $17.2 billion of the original $38.6 billion appropriated for the green jobs program, the Administration can now claim the creation of 3,545 permanent new jobs as a direct result. That’s 3,545 of our fellow Americans who now have gainful employment, thanks to the Obama Administration’s Green Jobs program.  I’m sure they, and their families, are grateful.

Of course, if you do the math, that comes out to a cost of $4,851,904.09 per job. That seems…inefficient.  I’m pretty sure that if the government gave me $4.8 million, I could at least double that rate of job creation.

At this rate, once the entire $36.8 billion is spent, we may employ 7,000 people via the Green Jobs program. Or to put it in other terms, 4,000 fewer people than the increase in those who claimed unemployment compensation for the first time this past week.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 15 Sep 11

Today’s economic statistical releases—and there are a number of them, none of them particularly good:

Consumer inflation remains a bit heated with the headline CPI increase at 0.4% for the past month, while the core rate—less food and energy—rose by 0.2%. On a year-over-year basis, inflation rose to 3.8%. worries about Stagflation are not eased by this report.

Business conditions in the New York manufacturing region continue to contract. The Empire State Manufacturing Index fell to -8.82 from last month’s –7.72.

Jobless claims jumped 11,000 in the September 10 week to an unexpectedly high 428,000. The four-week average rose 1,000 to 3.741 million.

Manufacturing slowed significantly in August, as industrial production rose only 0.2%, compared to last month’s 0.9%. Capacity Utilization also fell slightly, to  77.4%.

The nation’s current account deficit narrowed slightly in the second quarter to $118.0 billion.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index in the September 11 period was -49.3, near this year’s low of -49.4.

The Philadelphia Fed Survey indicates that business conditions in the Mid-Atlantic region continue to contract, with the General Business Conditions Index at –17.5.

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Dale Franks
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The Decapitalization of the West

There is an implicit, if unspoken consensus among many—if not most—in the economic community of the west that the worst portion of our current economic difficulty is behind us. That the economy, weak and shaky as it may be, has avoided the danger of complete collapse. The opinion holds that we can look forward resignedly, if not confidently, to a period, however long, of subpar economic growth, but growth nonetheless.

I fear that confidence is misplaced. The fiscal and monetary policy mix we seem determined to pursue, is not only unwise, but presents grave economic risks that should not be overlooked. I am not the only one to feel this way.  On Monday, Professor Kevin Dowd gave the address shown below at the Adam Smith Institute, the UK’s leading Libertarian think tank. It’s entitled The Decapitalization of the West, and it’s primary theme, as a survey of the economies of the West, and their policy results, can best be encapsulated with the lyrics of a Noel Coward song: " There are bad times just around the corner, There are dark clouds hurtling through the sky".

It takes an hour of your time to watch this. You owe yourself that hour, if for no other reason than to learn how you might prepare for the economic troubles for which 2009 was just a prelude.

The Decapitalization of the West

"Keynesianism has been tested to destruction," and we’re about to pay the price for that testing.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 14 Sep 11

Today’s statistical releases:

Producer prices were restrained last month, with the overall PPI remaining unchanged, and the core rate rising only 0.1%.

Retail sales were weaker than expected, with the month-over-month sales rate increase in August unchanged from July. Less autos, the change was only a 0.1% increase.

Business inventories rose only 0.4% in July against a 0.7% rise for business sales.

MBA Purchase Applications for the September 9 week rose by 6.3%, the first overall increase in several weeks.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 12 Sep

As it happens, there are no statistical releases for today, so we get a slight breather. But we are awaiting some important releases over the course of the week, with the most important of them hitting Wednesday and Thursday.  The highlights of the coming week are as follows:

  • Tomorrow’s Import/Export prices is of moderate importance, as is the afternoon’s release of the Treasury budget
  • Wednesday brings us the PPI and Retail Sales
  • Thursday is the big day of the week, with the release of the CPI, Philly Fed, Industrial Production, and Jobless Claims.
  • Consumer sentiment closes the week out on Friday.

Obviously, the inflation numbers for producers and consumers are the key data for this week. The consensus estimate for the PPI is for a –0.1% drop in prices, and a 0.2% price increase at the consumer level.

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Dale Franks
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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 11 Sep 11

In this podcast, Bruce Michael, and Dale discuss discuss the president’s proposed jobs bill, Gunwalker, and Solyndra.

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.

Blackout diary

You may have heard that, at about 15:38 Pacific time yesterday, an APS worker outside of Yuma, AZ, accidentally tripped a fault that shut off power to parts of Arizona, California, and Baja California in Mexico. So, one guy, apparently, can shut down power to 3 states in 2 countries. That really fills me with confidence about the robustness of the electrical grid.

Anyway, I was one of the 6 million people who lost power during this horrific crisis. In an instant, we were thrown into the stone age by the loss of modern technology, living in a world lit only by fire. I kept a diary of this  frightening experience. Below are my diary notes, written contemporaneously during the collapse. I append it here so that historians can know how it really was.

1538: Crap! I just lost all electrical power at my house! So much for liveblogging tonight. My netbook and 4G modem work though.

1550: Can’t get to the SDG&E web site, or through on the phone. Odd.

1605: Liveblogging president’s jobs speech. Streaming video from White House via 4G modem on my netbook with its tiny screen. Inconvenient. Like being a settler in a covered wagon. Will the power ever come back?

1724: I’m learning how people lived in Oldy Days without electricity. This sucks. Why do these things always happen to me?

1745: Power outages throughout San Diego County, reports of outages in Mexico, AZ, NM. Millions without power. Trolleys dead. Massive traffic.

1840: Went out on my motorcycle for a pack of smokes. Stores closed, smokes hard to acquire. Had to go to 2 stores to find them. Civilization is breaking down. Loading my rifles now.

1930: Darkness is falling. Dinner time approaching. Must resist cannibalistic urges.

2018: So, ONE GUY can cut off power to three states in two countries? One guy? Seriously?

2100: SDG&E says, "If you have a personal family emergency plan, activate it now." My personal family emergency plan is to kill my neighbors for their food. Too soon? Or do they already suspect my plans?

2140: No power for 6 hours. Veneer of civilization crumbling away. Typing on a netbook via 4G in candlelight like some sort of animal.

2230: 7 hours without power. My white wines are perilously close to room temperature. We’re just living like wild beasts now.

2316: Must go to bed and try to sleep now. All windows are open to try to cool the house. Temperature must be approaching 80°. May start sweating at any minute. Physical torture affecting my thought processes.

2330: With the candles out, it’s pitch black. Strange noises outside the windows. What was once civilization may now be infested by wolves and mountain lions. Or possums.

2340: Must try to sleep. Thank God for the protection offered by my four large dogs. If I am alive in the morning, it is thanks to them.

0230: Am awoken by lights, television. Air conditioning back on, so I have to get up and close all the windows. That sucks, ’cause I have to be up at 0700. Will this horror never end!?

0231: Oh, wait…

Some may try to trivialize this blackout in the future. But now you know how it really was.

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Dale Franks
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The White House stimulus chart

The gift that keeps on giving: The White House’s chart of unemployment predictions in the Stimulus/no Stimulus world. Superimposed is the graph of actual unemployment, but now, with wall street economists predictions for the near-term future.

romney1

I think a big speech will help, though. ‘Cause that’s what we’ve been missing. Speeches.

The analysis of that speech is pretty straightforward and simple. We’ve spent $800 billion for TARP, $1.4 trillion in the stimulus package, and $2 trillion in quantitative easing from the Fed. Now, if we spend another $430 billion on the American Jobs Act, that’ll be the fix we’ve been looking for, and everything will be peachy.

The president’s child-like faith in the power of government is touching. And frightening.

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Dale Franks
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