Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Dale Franks’ QandO posts

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 19 Aug 12

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the election.

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.

Style Evolves

As you can see, the blog, once again, has changed. It seems as we go along it keeps getting cleaner, less cluttered, and less graphic intensive. It’s even less banner-y now, mainly because the Ammo guys’ one-year ad buy expired 2 weeks ago, as did the CWTT fundraising drive, several months ago.

The overall trend for web design seems to be getting cleaner and plainer. It’s funny, the web started as plain pages with no graphics, got hugely over-designed, and now is trending towards a simple, more content-centric design model. At this rate, in another couple of years, everything on the web will be plain white pieces of paper.

Another thing I’ve done is changed the width to a screen percentage, rather than a fixed 1000 pixels. It should fill 90% of the screen no matter what your resolution. There are also only two font, Georgia and Verdana, so text should look exactly the same on…well…every computer that exists, since those are the two universal fonts, whether you’re on Linus, Windows, or OS Civet cat, or feline incarnation Apple is currently in.

I wasn’t going to change the template tonight, but I did something I tell my clients NEVER to do. Never upgrade WordPress. If everything’s working let it work. But, no I decided to update some plug-ins and, lo and behold, they all work with the newest version of WordPress, but not this one. And I can’t upgrade to the newest version of WordPress, because it uses a newer PHP version than is installed on this server. And I can’t move the site to a new server, because then I’d have to upgrade all the old version of QandO to the most recent version of SQL Server. Which means I’d have to go in a reprogram the data connections for the old version of the site, which runs on .Blog, the ASP.NET blogging platform I created back in 2004.

So, I just whipped out Artisteer and created a new template. That opened a whole new can of worms. Trying to edit the PHP to add back in the Google+ buttons, the author pics, Google Ads, etc., became an enormous pain. Because I had a new version of Artisteer that wrote the PHP files for the template differently, doing things the way I did them in the old template blew up this new one. So, then I had to re-learn how to edit the right PHP files, which got so frustrating that about halfway through, I said, "Screw it", and switched back to the old template. Then, I thought, there’s no way I’m going to let PHP beat me. I’m a professional software developer for cripes’ sake. So I dove back in, figured it out, and finished it.

So here we are with the new, minimalist QandO. I’m not going to say "I hope you like it", because it’s now 2:21am, and I’ve been working on this for 6 straight hours. There’s no way I’m going to change it again after putting myself through all that.

Not with what you guys are paying me, anyway.

So here it is. Like it. Or Not. I don’t care. I’m sleepy and grouchy.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 17 Aug 12

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

The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose slightly to 73.6, on improved current conditions. But optimism seems to be waning as the expectations index fell 1.1 points to 64.5.

The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose 0.4% in July, led by improvements in jobless claims and building permits.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 16 Aug 12

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

The general business conditions index of the Philadelphia Fed’s Business Outlook Survey improved to-7.1 from July’s -12.9. In other words, the rate of contraction isn’t as bad as it was less month.

Housing starts in July fell -1.1% after rising 6.9% in June. The July pace of 0.746 million units was up 21.5% on a year-ago basis.

Initial jobless claims rose 2,000 last week to 366,000, but the 4-week average, at 363,750, was down 5,500 from the prior week.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell to -44.4, which is its lowest reading since January 29.

E-commerce sales rose 3.3% in the second quarter, with year-on-year growth at 15.3%. E-commerce sales were 5.1% of total retail sales.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 15 Aug 12

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

The consumer price index was unchanged in July, after being unchanged in June and falling -0.3% in May. Excluding food and energy, the core CPI rose 0.1%, following 0.2% in the last two months. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is up 1.7%, with the core CPI rising 2.2%

Industrial production rose 0.6% in July following a 0.4% increase in June. Overall capacity utilization improved to 79.4% from 78.9% in June.

The Empire State manufacturing index for August fell sharply to -5.85 from July’s 7.39, indicating weakness in the manufacturing sector.

The net capital inflow of long-term securities rose only $9.3 billion in June, the the weakest since October, 2011.

The NAHB housing market index rose 2 points this month to 37, nearly the highest since early 2007.

The MBA reports mortgage applications declined last week, falling a sharp -4.5%. Purchase apps fell -2.0%, while re-fi apps fell -5.0%.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 14 Aug 12

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

In weekly retail sales, Redbook year-year chain store sales growth came in at a 1.8% rate, the 4th time in five weeks it’s been below 2%. ICSC-Goldman showed a -0.3% sales decrease for the week, but an improved year-on-year rate of 3.6%.

Business inventories in June rose 0.1%, outpacing sales which fell 1.1%. The mismatch for June raised the stock-to-sales ratio to 1.29, the highest in 2 1/2 years. This inventory accumulation will hold down GDP, and slow sales will hold down business confidence.

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell -0.2 points in July to 91.2, after two months of improvement.

The Producer Price Index in July jumped 0.3% percent, following a 0.1% increase in June. The core PPI rose 0.4%, following June’s 0.2% gain. On a year-over-year basis, the PPI is up 0.5%, but the core PPI is up 2.5%.

Retail sales in July jumped 0.8 %, following a weak -0.2% drop in May and a weaker -0.5% decrease in June. Retail sales ex-autos also rose 0.8%, while ex-auto and ex-gas sales rose 0.9%.

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Dale Franks
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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 12 Aug 12

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the Paul Ryan VP pick.

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 9 Aug 12

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

The U.S. international trade gap in June narrowed to $42.9 billion from $48.7 billion, mainly from lower fuel prices and imports.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell to -41.9 in the latest period, the lowest reading in two months.

Wholesale sales fell -1.4% in June, while inventories declined only -0.2%, a mismatch that increases the inventory-to-sales ratio to 1.20.

Initial jobless claims fell 6,000 to 361,000 last week. The 4-week average rose 2,250 to 367,000. Continuing claims rose 53,000 to 3.32M.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 8 Aug 12

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

2nd Quarter nonfarm productivity rose an annualized 1.6%, primarily on a slowing in hours worked. Unit labor costs rose an annualized 1.6% on slower compensation growth.

The MBA reports mortgage applications fell by -1.8%. Purchase apps fell -1.0%, while re-financing apps fell -2.0%.

Total consumer credit outstanding rose $6.5 billion in June, driven by students who are aggressively—and probably unwisely—taking out loans.

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Dale Franks
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