Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Dale Franks’ QandO posts

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 18 Dec 11

This week–our last podcast before we go on hiatus for the Christmas Holidays–Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the end of the Iraq war, and the Republican nomination race.

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.

GOP Candidate Thumbnails

After watching last night’s debate, I think I’ve finally nailed down my final impressions of the candidates.

I can’t help it, but every time I see Michelle Bachmann, she strikes me as being minutes away from boiling a bunny. But she hides the whole Fatal Attraction vibe pretty well.

Newt Gingrich seems to have a high opinion of himself, and the massively weighty thoughts that spring from his Olympian brow. He seems to content to let other people follow up on those ideas, as he’s too busy producing new deep thoughts to craft the old ones into reality. Thank God.

When Ron Paul starts his inevitable tirade against the Freemasons/Jews, I can’t say I will be surprised.

Mitt Romney almost convinces me that he does have core conservative principles. Almost.

If I close my eyes when Rick Perry speaks, the foremost image in my mind is George W. Bush. A slightly more eloquent one, of course.

A Rick Santorum/John Edwards ticket would have been the prettiest campaign team EVER. And talk about a "big tent"!

What can I say about Jon…um…Hunter? Hu….mmmm…Huntsman! Yes. Huntsman—that hasn’t already been said? Very distinguished hair.

Gary Johnson is a way friendlier face for libertarianism than Ron Paul. Or would be, if anyone outside New Mexico had ever heard of him.

If Jeb Bush could change his last name to "Rogers" or something, and jump into the race, he would probably lock up the nomination in days.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 15 Dec 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Initial jobless claims dropped sharply for the 2nd week in a row, falling 19,000 to 381,000. The four-week average is down 6,500 to 387,750, and has dropped for 10 of the past 12 weeks. One note of caution, however, is that the holiday period can make the numbers volatile, and there are lots of special factors that can affect the numbers. Still, the trend is positive, overall, and is looking better than it has at any time since the recovery—such as it is—began.

Food prices pushed the Producer Price Index higher, up 0.3% for the month and 5.7% for the year. The core rate, which ignores food and energy prices, was up 0.1% last month, and 2.9% over the last year.

Industrial production fell -0.2% last month, well below expectations for a 0.2% increase. Manufacturing was down across the board, but auto manufacturing particularly declined. Capacity utilization also dropped slightly to 77.8%. In contrast to this morning’s industrial production numbers, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey rose well above expectations to 9.53. Especially heartening is new orders which rose to 5.1 versus -2.07 last month. In addition, the Philly Fed’s general activity index rose to 10.3 from November’s 3.6, as manufacturing in the Philly Fed district grew at a faster rate.

The nation’s current account deficit narrowed to $110.3 billion in the third quarter, the smallest gap since Q4 2009.

Inflow of investment income into the US slowed sharply in October, to a net $4.8 billion compared to $68.3 billion in September.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to the highest level in two months, to -49.9. Of course, -49.9 still isn’t good.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 14 Dec 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Mortgage applications rose 4.1% last week, with purchases dropping -8.2% and re-finance applications up 9.3%. The 30-year mortgage rate averaged 4.12%., the lowest rate of the year.

Import prices rose 0.7% last month—9.9% for the year—due to spikes in petroleum prices. Ex-Petroleum, prices fell -0.2%, following a 0.3 percent ex-petroleum decline in the prior month. Export prices rose 0.1% for the month and 4.7% over last year.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 13 Dec 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

November retail sales weren’t as strong as expected, rising 0.2% both overall, and ex-autos. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales were up 6.6%. Despite the rather disappointing November sales, both September and October sales were revised upwards.

The post-Black Friday sales slump continued last week. Redbook reports that the year-on-year same-store sales rate slowed by -0.3% to 2.9% this week. Similarly, ICSC-Goldman Store Sales are slowing, just like Redbook, with sales down -2.3% last week, and up only 2.8% year-over year.

Business inventories continue to build at a moderate rate, up 0.8% last month. The stock-to-sales ratio is unchanged at 1.27, as inventory build-up continues to match the rate of sales.

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index indicates easing pessimism among businesses, with the index up 1.8 points to 92.0.

The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index rose only 0.1% in November, to 94.84. The index is only up 0.9% over last November.

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Dale Franks
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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 11 Dec 11

This week, Bruce Michael, and Dale record talk about China, illegal immigration, and Egypt.

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 8 Dec 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Initial jobless claims fell 23,000 last week to 381,000, the lowest weekly level since February.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index held steady for a second week, at 50.3 compared to the previous 50.2. That’s still a recessionary level of consumer confidence.

Wholesale inventories jumped 1.6% with a strong 0.9% rise in wholesale sales, increasing the stock-to-sales ratio by one tenth to 1.16.

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Dale Franks
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