Free Markets, Free People

Economy

Economic Statistics for 10 Jun 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 8.4% last week, with purchases up 10.0% and refis up 7.0%.

Information revenue rose 0.4% in the 1st Quarter. Year-on-year, information revenue rose 3.0%.

The Treasury reports an $-82.4 billion deficit for may, with tax receipts up 12.4% and spending up 4.0%. The deficit is running 16.3% below last fiscal year, at $365.2 billion vice $436.4 billion this time last year.


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Economic Statistics for 9 Jun 15

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales continued to disappoint, down to 1.2% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.7%.

The NFIB’s small business optimism index came in well above expectations, at 98.3 for a very solid 1.4 point gain in May.

Wholesale inventories rose 0.4% in April but far below a giant 1.6% surge in sales. The stock-to-sales ratio edged down to 1.29 from 1.30.

The Labor Department’s JOLTS Report shows April job openings at 5.376 million, the highest reading in the history of the series since 2000.


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Economic Statistics for 5 Jun 15

The Employment Situation in May perked up, with 280,000 net new jobs created, though unemployment rate rose 0.1% to 5.5%. The labor force participation rate rose to 62.9%, with 397,000 entrants to the labor force, of which 208,000 were re-entrants. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3%, while the average workweek remained steady at 34.5 hours.

Consumer credit rose by $20.5 billion in April, helped by an $8.6 billion increase in revolving credit.


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Economic Statistics for 4 Jun 15

Chain stores are reporting no better than mixed results for May, offering no clear signal for the May retail sales report. 

The layoff count in the Challenger Job Cut Report fell to 41,034 in May, vice 61,582 in April.

Productivity in the 1st Quarter of 2015 dropped -3.1%, while unit labor costs jumped 6.7%.

Gallup’s U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate fell -0.6% to 44.5% in May, identical to the rate measured in May 2014.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 8,000 to 276,000. The 4-week average rose 3,250 to 274,250. Continuing claims fell 30,000 to 2.196 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.4 points to 40.5 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $1.4 billion last week, with total assets of $4.465 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-11.3 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $19.2 billion in the latest week.


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Economic Statistics for 3 Jun 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -7.6% last week, with purchases down -3.0% and refis down -12%.

ADP estimates that private payrolls rose a moderate 201,000 in May. We’ll see how true that is in Friday’s Employment Situation.

Rising imports lowered the April trade deficit to $-40.9 billion from $-51.4 billion in March.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index reached a new high of 32 in May, up from 31 in April.

Markit’s PMI Services Index fell from 57.4 in April to 56.2 in May.

The ISM non-manufacturing index for May, at 55.7, came in at the low end of Econoday expectations, falling -2.1 points.

The Fed’s Beige Book downgrades the strength of the economy today, with four of the Fed’s twelve districts reporting slowing growth.


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Economic Statistics for 2 Jun 15

Motor vehicle sales made a big 7.9% jump in May, to an annual sales rate of 17.8 million. North American-made vehicles also jumped 7.6% to a 14.2 million rate.

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index dropped -4 points in May to -7.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth remained weak, rising to just 1.7% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.6%.

Factory orders fell -0.4% in April for the 8th decline in 9 months. Ex-transportation, factory orders were unchanged.


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Economic Statistics for 1 Jun 15

Personal income rose 0.4% in April, while personal spending—and the PCE Price Index—was unchanged. The core price index, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, prices are up 0.1% overall, while the core price index is up 1.2%.

 The PMI Manufacturing Index fell -0.1 points in May to 54.0.

The ISM Manufacturing index, in contrast to the PMI, rose 1.3 points to 52.8 in May.

Construction spending rose a much better-than-expected 2.2% in April, compared to March’s -0.6% decline. On a year-over-year basis, construction spending rose 4.8%.

Gallup’s self-reported Consumer Spending measure was unchanged at $91 per day in May.


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Economic Statistics for 29 May 15

The final revision of 1st Quarter 2015 GDP came in at -0.7%, while the GDP Price Index fell -0.1%.

Corporate profits in the 1st Quarter of 2015 came in at $1.894 trillion, up 2.7% from the prior quarter.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index fell sharply to 46.2 in May from 52.3.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose from 88.6 to 90.7 in May.


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This and that

Apparently the Orange County school district (Florida/Orlando) has plans to  monitor students’ social media messages in an effort to curb cyberbullying, crime on campus and suicide.  Because, you know, that’s what they’re there for:

Orange County Public Schools announced Thursday that it has acquired software to monitor social media “to proactively prevent, intervene and (watch) situations that may impact students and staff.”  The district has obtained an annual license with SnapTrends, software that monitors Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

The district said it plans to use the software to conduct routine monitoring for the purposes of prevention or early intervention of potential issues in which students or staff could be at risk to themselves or to others.

OCPS said the company will assist district law enforcement and security personnel in monitoring publicly available social media communications that are relevant to school operations and personnel.

“This is a tool that gives the district intelligence into a situation that could possibly prevent something more serious from happening,” Orange County Public Schools Senior Director of Safety and Security Doug Tripp said.

“Safety in and around school campuses is the top priority for Orange County school leaders,” OCPS said in a news release.  “Recognizing social media is a major communication system, the district has acquired social media monitoring software.”

School officials acknowledge the online snooping might raise privacy questions. But board member Linda Kobert said the district is taking advantage of “new tools to protect our children.”

Might raise some privacy questions?  Well, social media are indeed made up of public postings.  But let me ask you a more important question?  Is this a role for a school district?  Or is this another example of a creeping bureaucratic mission?  And what will the school district do with any information it gleans from its “monitoring?”

Note again, that we have a public official putting “safety” over supposed privacy concerns.  Oh, and btw, do you suppose that potential or real cyber-bullies don’t know how to set up fake accounts?  And is this a good use of school funds with the literacy problems most public school districts face?  The questions are endless.

Some people feel they have to take everything to an extreme.  Why, I’m not sure.  And I’m also pretty sure I think this particular extreme is both unnecessary and provocative.  If there’s trouble, will it rise to the level of “incitement”?

Jon Ritzheimer is a former Marine, and he has no middle ground when it comes to Islam.

A T-shirt he wears pretty much says it all: “F— Islam.”

Ritzheimer is the organizer of Friday’s “Freedom of Speech Rally” outside the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix.

It’s the mosque that Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofiattended for a time. They’re the men who drove from Arizona to a Dallas suburb to shoot up a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest there. Both were killed by police early this month.

Many Muslims consider any depiction of Mohammed to be blasphemous and banned by the Islamic holy book, the Quran.

“This is in response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorist(s), with ties to ISIS, attempted Jihad,” the event’s Facebook page said.

Some 600 people say they’re attending.

It is one thing to hold an event in another part of the state and end up being attacked by people/terrorists who chose to travel there and do so.  It is another thing to go to a group’s home and intentionally antagonize and invite an attack by showing up uninvited and attempting to provoke a response.

Other reports have said the group will be heavily armed, quoting Ritzheimer as saying they are going to exercise their First Amendment rights and back them with their Second Amendment rights.

I support both rights, but I think this is foolish, stupid and deliberately antagonistic as well as being unnecessary.  The point has been made.  It will continue to be made.  But this is not the right way to make it again.

Nice economic growth we had in the first quarter, no?  Apparently adjustments have seen the reported GDP numbers fall from 0.2 growth to a 0.7 contraction.  Economists want to argue that its just the way the government computes this stuff:

Economists, however, caution against reading too much into the slump in output. They argue the GDP figure for the first quarter was held down by a confluence of temporary factors, including a problem with the model the government uses to smooth the data for seasonal fluctuations.

Economists, including those at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, have cast doubts on the accuracy of GDP estimates for the first quarter, which have tended to show weakness over the last several years.

They argued the so-called seasonal adjustment is not fully stripping out seasonal patterns, leaving “residual” seasonality. The government said last week it was aware of the potential problem and was working to minimize it.

I’m sorry, boys and girls, since when is 0.2 growth in any quarter “good news”.  Its sort of like the unemployment figures.  Mostly fudged.  And apparently that’s precisely what the government will now attempt to do to show better numbers.  These bad numbers just don’t help the government tell you how well it’s doing, do they?  What’s this, our 6th or 7th “summer of recovery?”

Excellent Kevin D. Williamson article about the old and discredited ideas of Bernie Sanders, which he ends with a caution that we should all understand by now:

Senator Sanders may insist on living in the dark ages, and his view is not without its partisans. But those views are crude, they are backward, and they are, objectively speaking, incorrect about the way the economic world works. They are barely a step above superstition, and they merit consideration for only one reason: “Voters — all they gotta be is eighteen.”

And if they’re illegal, the Democrats say, “meh”.

Meanwhile in liberal bastions, things are just going swimmingly.  Detroit:

No getting around it: Filling up your gas tank at certain stations in Detroit can be hazardous to your health.

Police Chief James Craig said at a Tuesday media conference that he’d avoid getting gas late at night in the city unless he had to, and he urged residents to be careful at the pump, according to Tom Greenwood of The Detroit News.

“I wouldn’t, but if I had to, I would,” Craig said. “But I’d probably be very aware of my surroundings.”

Craig’s commented after a driver was killed early Monday evening while trying to flee a carjacking attempt at an east-side gas station.

A wasteland run by Democrats for decades.

Baltimore:

Baltimore was seeing a slight rise in homicides this year even before Gray’s death April 19. But the 38 homicides so far in May is a major spike, after 22 in April, 15 in March, 13 in February and 23 in January.

With one weekend still to go, May 2015 is already the deadliest month in 15 years, surpassing the November 1999 total of 36.

Ten of May’s homicides happened in the Western District, which has had as many homicides in the first five months of this year as it did all of last year.

Non-fatal shootings are spiking as well – 91 so far in May, 58 of them in the Western District.

The mayor said her office is “examining” the relationship between the homicide spike and the dwindling arrest rate.

I’m sure they are “examining” it – and they’ll likely conclude its a matter of racism at some level.  While she is “examining” the relationship, she should ponder the statistic that says child victims of shootings are up 500% this year.  Well done!

NYC:

While overall crime is down almost seven percent, shootings are up 7.1 percent so far this year. Murders are up 15.3 percent. Even with the increase, it’s a much lower number than the 1980s and 1990s.

The mayor blames it on gangs.  Why have gangs again become a problem?

Of course each of these cities can look to the midwest and say, “hey, at least we’re not Chicago.”

~McQ