Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Dale Franks’ QandO posts

Economic Statistics for 27 Feb 15

The first revision to 4Q 2015 GDP was dropped to a 2.2% annualized rate, from the originally reported 2.6%. On the plus side, though, much of the decrease was in inventory investment revisions, while the final sales of domestic product component was revised up to 3.2% from 2.8%.

The Chicago PMI pounded into below-50 negative territory in February, falling from 59.4 to 45.8. Monday, we’ll see if the Chicago PMI presages a national decline in the PMI.

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose 1.8 points in February, to 95.4.

The National Association of Realtors’ pending home sales index rose 1.7% in January to a moderately strong 104.2.

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Economic Statistics for 25 Feb 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -3.5% last week, with purchases up 5.0%, but refis down -8.0%.

New home sales were little changed in January, at a better-than-expected 481,000 annual rate, nearly unchanged from December’s big jump of 8.1% to 482,000. Price concessions may have helped sales, as the median sales price fell 2.6% to $294,000. 

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Economic Statistics for 24 Feb 15

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales slowed to 2.8% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 3.2%.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.9% in December, with prices up 4.5%, year-over-year.

A strong rebound in new work helped boost to Markit’s PMI Services Flash for February 3 points to a 4-month high of 57.0. 

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell -7.4 points to 96.4 in February.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index shows no change in manufacturing activity in the Mid-Atlantic District, with the index at 0 for February.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index fell -1.5 points in January to 105.2, with weakness centered in Europe as uncertainty about Greece continues.

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Economic Statistics for 23 Feb 15

The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey stayed in negative territory in February, falling for the second straight month, down -6.8 points to -11.2.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index was positive in January, coming in at 0.13, vice -0.05 in December.

Sales of existing homes in January fell a sharp -4.9% to an annual rate of 4.82 million. That’s the lowest rate since April, 2014. 

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Resurrecting the past

Back in the 90s, I worked for a now-defunct radio station, KMNY AM 1600, in Pomona, which went by the name “Money Radio”, and was the main business and financial news radio station in Los Angeles. From 9am-1pm every weekday, I did a program called “The Business Day”.  Recently, I found several cassette tapes of various interviews and special reports I did at Money Radio from 1994 to 1996. Some of the material is the broadcast version, some of it is the raw interviews.

I’ve decided to digitize them, since they are all 20 year-old cassette tapes, and are really at the end of their useful lives. In fact, one of them broke simply by rewinding it, forcing me to repair it, something I haven’t had to do for years.

A couple of things leap out at me as I re-listen to the cassettes while recording them to MP3 format:

1. I’m not sure why my voice was so high. I think it’s a tape speed issue. Some of these sound like a frickin’ Mickey special on Radio Disney.

2. I’m surprised at how many of the issues are still relevant, and are almost unchanged from 20 years ago.

3. I don’t remember cassette sound quality sucking so bad at the time. Digital fidelity has made cassette sound quality appear awful. I think it’s because a) the cassettes are so old and b) the station used really crappy cassettes for air checks, so the sound probably wasn’t that great in 1995.

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in a taste of the stuff, So here’s some links to the digitized files. Most of these are 42-ish minutes long, as they are mainly 1-hour programs without commercials. There are some pauses between each segment of the hour.

1. An interview I did with then-Labor Secretary Robert Reich. This is the raw interview I did in the production studio, but it was broadcast exactly as recorded, with only a broadcast intro and outdo added to the interview when aired on 4/19/95. Link

2. Reform in Congress, broadcast on 6/17/94. Link

3. A collection of weekly interviews from 1995-1996 with Roger W. Robinson, President of RWR, Inc., and former Chief Economist for the National Security Council under Ronald Reagan. He was always a fascinating guy to talk to. The collection starts with an interview done on about 10/25/95. Link

4. Smoking and the tobacco industry, broadcast on 6/17/94. Link

5. The economy with Dr.  J.S. Butler, aired on 9/4/95. Link

6. Inflation, aired on Thanksgiving Day, 1994. Link

7. Foreign affairs with Roger W. Robinson, aired on 2/19/96. Link

8. Tort reform, aired on 12/2/94. Link

9. International trade, with Dr. Henry Nau, aired sometime in 1995. Link


I also have some even older stuff. Now this one is short, and has nothing at all to do with politics or economics. It’s what you heard if you were listening to me on the Canadian Forces Network in Brunssum, the Netherlands, at 8 o’clock on the morning of Saturday, 27 April, 1991. It’s the oldest air check I can find, so far. I edited out the music breaks, so it’s mainly my interstitials. I notice the sound quality on my CFNB air checks is way better than my KMNY ones. Probably because I didn’t use shitty cassettes when I made them. This is Memorex, baby. Link

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Economic Statistics for 19 Feb 15

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 21,000 to 283,000. The 4-week average fell 6,500 to 283,250. Continuing claims rose 58,000 to 2.425 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.3 points to 44.6 in the latest week.

The general business conditions index of the Philadelphia Fed’s Business Outlook Survey fell 1.1 points to 5.2 in February.

The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose 0.2% in January.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-4.8 billion last week, with total assets of $4.497 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $11.5 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-9.8 billion in the latest week.

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Economic Statistics for 18 Feb 15

Net foreign demand for long-term US securities rose $35.4 billion in December, mainly on US selling of foreign securities. Foreign accounts were actually net sellers in the month.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell for the 5th straight week, down -13.2%, with purchases down 7.0% and refis down 16%.

Housing starts fell -2.0%in January, to a 1.065 million annual rate, though that is an 18.7% increase over a year ago.

The Producer Price Index for Final Demand fell -0.8% in January, while prices less food and energy fell -0.1%. Prices less food, energy & trade services fell -0.3%. Overall, prices for Goods fell -2.1% while Services prices fell -0.2%. Prices on a year-over-year basis:

PPI-FD: -0.1%
PPI-FD less food & energy: 1.5%
PPI-FD less food, energy & trade services: 0.9%
PPI-FD Goods: -3.9%
PPI-FD Services: 1.9%

Redbook reports retail sales rose 3.2% on a year-ago basis, up from last week’s 2.1%.

The Fed reports that Industrial production rose 0.2% in January, while capacity utilization in the nation’s factories fell -0.3% to 79.4%. Manufacturing output rose 0.2%.

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