Free Markets, Free People

Economy

Economic Statistics for 4 Feb 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 1.3% last week, with purchases down -2.0%, but refis up 3.0%.

ADP sees slowing job growth with a lower-than-expected 213,000 private payroll jobs added in January.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index rose 1 point to 28 for January. 

The Markit PMI services index for January rose 0.9 points to 54.2.

The ISM non-manufacturing index rose 0.5 points to 56.7 in January.

J.P. Morgan’s Global Composite PMI rose 0.5 points to 52.8, while the Global Services PMI rose 0.6 points to 52.9 in January.


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Economic Statistics for 3 Feb 15

January auto sales weakened by -1.2% to 16.7 million annual rate, following December’s -0.7% decline. Having said that, sales are still strong compared to a year ago, and the weakness is centered in foreign-made vehicles.

Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index rose from -5 to 3 in January, the first positive reading since 2008.

Redbook reports retail sales rose 3.8% on a year-ago basis, from last week’s 3.2%.

Factory orders are weak at the headline level, down -3.4% in December, and the fifth straight decline. Excluding defense goods and civilian aircraft, however, orders are actually up 0.1%.


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Economic Statistics for 2 Feb 15

Gallup’s self-reported daily consumer spending measure fell to $81 in January from $98 in December.

Personal Income rose by 0.3% in January, while personal spending fell by -0.3%. The PCE Price index, and inflation measure, fell by -0.2% at the headline level, while the core rate, excluding food and energy, was unchanged. On a year-over-year basis, personal income is up 4.6% while spending is up 3.6%. The PCE price index is 0.7% higher than a year ago, while the core PCE is up 1.3%.

The Markit PMI manufacturing index for January was unchanged at 53.9. 

The ISM Manufacturing index fell -2.0 points in January to 53.5.

The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI rose just 0.1 points in January to 51.7.


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Economic Statistics for 27 Jan 15

Durable goods orders continue to fall, down -3.4% overall in December following November’s -2.1%. Excluding transportation, orders fell -0.8%. On a year-over-year basis, orders are up only 0.3%, though non-transportation orders are up 3.8%.

Redbook reports retail sales continue to weaken, rising just 3.2% on a year-ago basis, the weakest reading since July.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index rose 0.7% in November, and is up 4.3% on  year-over-year basis.

The Markit PMI services flash for January is up 0.4points to 54.0.

New home sales surged by a better-than-expected 11.6% in December to a 481,000 annual rate, while the median price rose 2.2%  to $298,100.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index for January rose a sharp 10.3 points to 102.9.

The Richmond Fed manufacturing index slipped -1 point in January to 6.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index fell from 112.1 to 106.7 in January, almost entirely on confidence slipping back in Europe. That said, the European index still remains quite high at 113.9.


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Economic Statistics for 22 Jan 15

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 10,000 to 307,000. The 4-week average rose 6,500 to 306,500. Continuing claims rose 15,000 to 2.443 million.

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.8% in November, following October’s 0.6% increase.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.7 points to 44.7 in the latest week.

The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index fell -5 points to 3 in January.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-3.141 billion last week, with total assets of 4.513 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $5.4 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $67.5 billion in the latest week.


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Even more this and that

Not sure how you stick with one topic a day when so much is going on, thus the appeal of commenting on lots of topics.

For instance, we find out that President Obama is the reason gas prices are down … if his SOTU is to be believed (yeah, it’s not).  The fact that you happened to be hanging out in Washington DC and your title is “President of the United States” doesn’t mean you did anything to make that happen.   As I pointed out earlier, his EPA will soon take care of that anyway.

There were a lot of other bits of fun and fantasy as well – free community college.  Because, you know, its free.  And not to worry, it’s those greedy rich folks that will pay for it.  Mr. Obama wants $320 billion in new taxes.  Capital gains tax – up.  Death tax – up.  Bank tax – up.  And  your 529 savings plan for your kids college?  Yeah, no longer tax free.

That, dear friends, is how you get “free” college.  Isn’t free stuff wonderful?

 

Rob-Peter-NRD-600-w-logo

On to your retirement savings:

There would be a new cap in the amount one could accumulate in the aggregate in all IRA and 401(k) type accounts of $3.4 million. After that, you can’t save any more new dollars. The idea is that this is enough to secure a $210,000 annual distribution in retirement, which the government apparently deems “enough” for a retiree.

Because, of course, nanny knows best.

Finally, if  you’re an employer:

In addition, all employers with more than 10 workers and who do not have a 401(k) type plan would be mandated to set up payroll deduction Traditional IRAs for their employees. Also, part-time workers would have to be covered under retirement plans if they have been working someplace long enough. These two things are a new kind of employer mandate from Obama.

Nice plan, no?  No.  As usual, that means precisely what the cartoon shows.  Someone has to pay for all of this and it isn’t just going to be the employer.

Of course the concept that someone must actually “pay” for these things is always left out of the discussion.  It’s “free” after all.

For a completely different subject, and in case you were wondering, yes, liberals in Hollywood (almost redundant, isn’t it) are still wringing their hands about the all white Oscars.  Or at least doing a good imitation of it.  My favorite theory?  “Racial fatigue”.

The unknowable question is whether the same voters who supported “12 Years a Slave” had racial fatigue after supporting a black film last year.

Because, you know, there’s only so much support those white Hollywood liberals can dole out a year, or something. They gave their all last year.  And you black folks just need to understand that!  By the way, I believe “racial fatigue” does indeed play a part.   People are tired of everything being made to be about race.

Speaking of culture, I found article to be very entertaining.  Is there a civil war brewing on the “progressive” left (one dearly hopes so)?  Why the question?  Dilemmas such as this:

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens were once known as the “Four Horsemen” of New Atheism. For a long while, there was nothing more amusing to a young liberal than watching one of them debate against a creationist, or someone who objected to abortion or gay marriage on religious grounds. Dawkins, for a while, was the darling of the British media.

Then things started to sour. Christopher Hitchens, in his full-throated defences of the second Iraq war, was the first to lose left-wing support. Notoriously, Feminist Frequency producer Jonathan McIntosh celebrated Hitchens’ death, saying he was a “despicable, warmongering, hateful human being. Good riddance.” (To put that in perspective, McIntosh had just a few months earlier refused to celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden.)

Dawkins, who recently discovered the joys of deliberately offending people on Twitter, has become an even greater figure of hate for progressives. This is probably due to his indiscriminate rationalism: he is just as willing to poke holes in theories of post-modern feminism as he is to attack religion. And when he does attack religion, he insists that Islam is probably the worst one out there. He has become persona non grata in progressive circles as a result.

2014 saw atheists and progressives embroiled in what looked like an all-out war. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a female genital mutilation survivor and one of the fiercest critics of Islam in the atheist movement, was disinvited from a planned speaking engagement at Brandeis University for her criticism of Islam, and was stripped of her honorary degree. Salon.com immediately applauded the decision.

Students at UC Berkeley attempted to do the same to Bill Maher over his alleged islamophobia, but were stopped by the college administration. Sam Harris, another of the “four horsemen”, felt compelled to engage in a three-hour debate with progressive commentator Cenk Uygur after enduring a wave of hatchet-jobs from media progressives for his own comments on Islam.

Progressives may be overwhelmingly atheist, but there is only so much heresy they can stand. One of their core beliefs is that you do not “punch down”–that is, attack vulnerable or marginalised communities. Islam, despite being the dominant religion of dozens of nation-states, is said by progressives to fall into this category.

We’ve watched this sort of cognitive dissonance have its way with the left before.  That’s because they aren’t really about principles as much as they are about biases.  Oh, and limiting your freedom:

A YouGov poll taken just last fall found that equal amounts of Americans support and oppose “hate speech laws,” defined as laws that would “make it a crime for people to make comments that advocate genocide or hatred against an identifiable group based on such things as their race, gender, religion, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.” Thirty-six percent said sure and 38 percent said no way. That’s disturbing enough on its own, but here’s something even more unsettling: Fully 51 percent of self-identified Democrats supported hate-speech laws.

Somehow I’m not at all surprised, given the examples above … are you?

~McQ

Economic Statistics for 21 Jan 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose% last week, with purchases down -3.0%, but refis up 22.0%.

Housing starts rose by 4.4% in December to an annual rate of 1.089 million, but building permits fell -1.9% to 1.032 million annualized.

Redbook reports retail sales rose 3.0% on a year-ago basis, down from last week’s 3.8%, as sales continue to decline in January.


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