Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Dale Franks’ QandO posts

Economic statistics for 28 Oct 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Personal income increased by 0.1% last month, while spending increased by 0.6%. Year-over-year income rose 4.4% while spending rose 5.3%. The core PCE price index was unchanged last month, and up 1.6% on a year-over-year basis.

Thanks to a slowdown in the growth of benefit costs, the Employment Cost Index rose far less than expected, 0.3%. ECI is up 2% on a year-over-year basis.

A little optimism is leaking into Consumer Sentiment, as it rose to 60.9 in the latest tally.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 27 Oct 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The big number today is obviously the advance estimate for 3rd quarter GDP. The BEA reported that GDP increased at an annualized 2.5% rate. The top three contributors to GDP growth were personal consumption expenditures, nonresidential fixed investment, and exports. So despite a bit of gloom as the economy slipped during the 2nd quarter, GDP, along with several other series of statistics, are showing a rebound.

The Kansas City Fed manufacturing index rose to 6 in September, up from 3 last month. The increase was mainly concentrated in durable goods.

Sadly, the rest of today’s numbers are a bit less cheerful.

Initial claims for unemployment held basically steady, though still unpleasantly high, at 402,000. The 4-week moving average dropped to 403,000 from 405,500 last week.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell to -51.1 last week, from -48.4 the previous week. This week’s reading is the lowest in the past month.

Contract signings are very weak for existing home sales, which shows ongoing trouble for housing and construction. Pending sales fell -4.6% in September, with weakness in all geographic areas. Weak consumer confidence combined with tight credit conditions are weighing down the market.

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Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 26 Oct 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association reports that mortgage applications bounced back from the short Columbus Day week, rising 4.9%.

Durable Goods Orders look sluggish, with a headline report of a -0.8% drop, but ex-transportation, orders rose   1.7%.

New home sales jumped 5.7% in September to a 313k annual rate, but the increase comes at the expense of a 3.1% drop in prices.

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Economic statistics for 25 Oct 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

In retail sales, ICSC-Goldman Store Sales fell to a 2.4% year on year rate, while Redbook reports 4.1%. Both are slightly below trend.

Case-Shiller data show no change in housing prices for the month, a sign that home prices may finally be bottoming out. The previous three months have see drops of -0.1%. Prices are still down -3.8% from last year. Conversely, according to the FHFA, house prices fell -0.1% in August, ending a string of four monthly gains in a row, after rising 0.1% last month.

The consumer confidence index fell 6.6 points in October to 39.8 on declines in consumer assessments of both current and future conditions.

Manufacturing is contracting for the fourth month in a row in the Richmond Fed district where the manufacturing index is unchanged at -6.

State Street’s confidence index for institutional investors rose 7points in October to 96.7, but remains below 100, still showing a bias towards a demand for safety.

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Dale Franks
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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 23 Oct 11

In this podcast, Bruce Michael, and Dale discuss el-Awlaki Herman Cain and OWS.

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 20 Oct 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Initial jobless claims dropped 6k from last week to 403k, but that was still 3k higher than analysts expected.

The Bloomberg index of consumer comfort fell to -48.4 from last week’s -50.8.

Existing home sales fell -3.0% to a 4.91 million annual rate in September, mainly due to a 3.6% drop in the key single-family component.

The Philadelphia Fed reports that the Mid-Atlantic manufacturing sector is stabilizing and improving as the general business conditions index rose to 8.7 from -9.8.

Most of the leading economic indicators point to sluggish growth ahead, but loose monetary policy boosted the overall index by 0.2%.

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Dale Franks
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The Stupid! It hurts!

Earlier today, New York Times columnist Nick Kristoff opined on Twitter about cuts in government services. It’s not every day that you see such stupidity displayed so confidently…except from the Left:

Imagine John Boehner home in OH, seeing an escaped tiger–and getting a msg that help is unavailable due to govt cutbacks.

Well, I don’t know about John Boehner. But I do know that if I received such a message, it’d be because I was trying to call up a government flunky to haul a tiger carcass away. And if I did get such a message, my very next call would be to a good taxidermist.

It’s an interesting glimpse into the worldview though. The unspoken assumption is that, without government tiger hunters, we’re all doomed to be mauled by wild beasts. Presumably, this is because we are all tiny, little children, utterly incapable of solving our problems without the intervention of our benevolent government overlords. It’s a worldview that operates on the assumption that the government is the only adult in the room.

Note especially the all-or-nothing mindset: Either we pay for massive government services, or we’re completely unprotected. There are no other conceivable options in Mr. Kristoff’s worldview. It’s as if the very concepts of self-help or mutual aid are inconceivable to him.

And I don’t get the feeling that Mr. Kristoff regards this as a bad thing. It’s just the way it is. We have to keep ponying up money to the government to provide services, or society will collapse. Apparently, we’re just too stupid to be trusted to take care of ourselves.

It’s always interesting how the same people who are so keen on "democracy" tend to believe that the electorate is too stupid to care for themselves, but wise enough to vote on policies that directly affect their lives. 

One of those things cannot be true.

Of course, spending much of his time in Manhattan, perhaps Mr. Kristoff is merely speaking from personal experience. After, they have created a city in which it is practically impossible for a law-abiding citizen to defend himself, so calling NYPD is about the only option when trouble arises. And I’m sure NYPD responds as quickly as they can, though, sadly, it probably won’t be before your wife gets a good raping. I’m certain they’ll investigate the hell out of it, though. After the fact.

You see, once you cede the power to defend yourself to others, you’re always a potential victim. This, however, is something about which Mr. Kristoff seems blissfully unaware.

What a sad, artificially constrained view of life.

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Dale Franks
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Economic statistics for 19 Oct 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

Consumer price inflation remains warm, with the overall CPI up 0.3% for the month, and 3.9% for the year. The core rate—less food and energy, or, stuff you don’t need to buy every day—rose 0.1% for the month and 2% for the year.

Housing starts in September were 658k, up 10.2% on a year-over-year basis. Housing permits, however, fell 5% to 594k, but up 5.7% from last year.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports a short Columbus Day week saw mortgage applications fall -14.9%.

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Dale Franks
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Memories of home

You may have noticed that there was no podcast this week, and that there haven’t been any economic statistics reports this week. That’s because I had to travel to Houston, Texas this weekend to attend the funeral of my grandmother, Mildred Davidson. Many years ago, my grandfather bought their funeral plots at Brookside funeral home, and, though the family migrated out to California, we took them back home after their deaths. My grandfather, Paul E. Davidson, died in 2003.  Now, he and my grandmother are finally together again.

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When I returned for my grandfather’s funeral, I didn’t have a lot of time to do much beyond see some family, and go to his funeral.  This time, I spent three days in Houston, and had time to travel back to all the places I remember from my childhood.

I was born in Houston, and grew up there. My parents divorced when I was two, and my father moved back to New Mexico, where he was from.  I spent most of the year living with my mother, and summers with my father, mainly in Albuquerque, NM. So, I sort of have two homes, and two sets of people—entirely unrelated to each other—who saw me grow up. It’s kind of weird. But, Houston was the place I identify as home. So, I went back to the places I remember.

Below the fold is a picture-heavy story; part travelogue, part history. If you’re interested in all about finding out about me, or my past, this is it.

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