Free Markets, Free People

Economy

Economic Statistics for 26 Feb 16

An upward revision to inventories moved the 1st revision of Q4 GDP to 1.0% annualized, while the GDP price index rose a tick to 0.9%.

January’s international trade in goods came in at a deficit of $-62.2 billion, as exports fell -2.9% and imports fell -1.5%.

Both personal income and spending rose 0.5% in January. The PCE Price Index rose 0.1% overall, and 0.3% at the core. On a year-over-year basis, the PC Price index is up 1.3% at the headline level, and 1.7% ex-food and -energy.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose 1.7 points to 91.7 in February.


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Economic Statistics for 25 Feb 16

Durable goods orders jumped 4.9% in January, while non-transportation orders rose 1.8%. Core capital goods rose 3.9%. On a year-over-year basis, orders are up 1.8% overall, but ex-transportation orders are down -0.6%, and core capital goods down -2.8%.

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.4% in December, up 5.7% on a year-ago basis.

The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index slipped deeper into negative territory, coming in at -12 for February.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 10,000 to 272,000. The 4-week average is also at 272,00. Continuing claims fell 19,000 to 2.253 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index held steady at 44.2 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $6.2 billion last week, with total assets of $4.490 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-11.4 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $48.8 billion in the latest week.


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Economic Statistics for 23 Feb 16

The Case-Shiller Home Price Index rose 0.8% in December, and is up 5.7% on a year-to-year basis.

Existing Home Sales rose 0.4% in January to a 5.47 million annualized rate. Sales were up 11.0% from a year ago.

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index turned negative in February, falling from 2 to -4.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index slipped from 108.8 to 106.5 in February.

February’s Consumer Confidence Index fell sharply, dropping -5.9 points to 92.2.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to a still weak 1.2% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.7%.


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Stray Voltage

A little reading for you about how awful the Obama Syrian policy (or lack thereof) has been using Samantha Powers own words against her and the administration.

Even die-hard supporters of President Barack Obama’s “realist” approach to foreign affairs are nauseated by the White House’s Syria policy. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, a vocal supporter of the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran, is fed up with nearly five years of the “fecklessness and purposelessness” of a Syria policy that “has become hard to distinguish” from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s. “Syria is now the Obama administration’s shame,” Cohen wrote last week, “a debacle of such dimensions that it may overshadow the president’s domestic achievements.” Ambassador Dennis Ross and New York Times military correspondent David Sanger also published articles excoriating Obama’s policies in Syria. There is a military solution, it’s “just not our military solution,” a senior U.S. security official admitted to Sanger. It’s Putin’s.

Think  of the charge of “war crimes”, something the Dems used to love to try and hang on George W. Bush.  It’s a pretty negative review.

Speaking of negative reviews, here’s one for the laughs it brings.  All you ever wanted to know about Kanye West and then some.  Kanye will not be happy, but I chuckled all the way through it. Some good points, in general, are made, not just about West:

West’s prepubescent views on everything Kanye haven’t stopped over the past decade, but everyone is too scared to mock him because he’s black and they don’t want to be called racist. He’s aware of this, so when his clothing line fails he says it’s because people were too “racist” to buy his stuff (this from a guy who gets to wear the Confederate flag on his bomber jacket). His clothing line was made up of people wearing brown nylons and strange “skin-colored” sweatshirts that looked like they were made out of Nazi lampshades. We recently learned that this foolish mistake put him $53 million in the hole and he took to social media to beg Mark Zuckerberg to bail him out to the tune of $1 billion. No word yet on why you get to be $947 million in the black when you screw up that badly. Forbes’ two cents is Yeezus might be able to get the money tax-free.

Read the whole thing … it’s worth it.  Another example of the Emperor having no clothes – in this case, literally.

Another example of the absurdity of the claim that ID laws “disenfranchise” minority voters:

On Tuesday, however, it was the state of Wisconsin that had the last laugh. Just one business day after Oliver predicted mass disenfranchisement due to voter-ID laws, Wisconsin held its first election with the voter-ID requirement. And according to a study by the University of My Eyeballs, turnout increased 55 percent statewide over the last similar spring-primary election.

In 2013 — the last contested statewide supreme-court election — around 364,000 voters turned out in Wisconsin. On Tuesday night, that number skyrocketed to about 564,000 voters. Even the 2011 Supreme Court primary, which took place during the electric Wisconsin public-union battle, drew only around 420,000 voters — well short of Tuesday’s total.

And the turnout bump wasn’t due to rural Caucasians flocking to the polls en masse. In the city of Milwaukee, which is 53 percent ethnic minority, the vote nearly doubled, from 34,000 to 65,000. Earlier, local election watchers had predicted a turnout of about 30,000.

Georgia, my home state, has had a voter ID law for a few years and have had exactly the same experience.  This is the “global warming” of voting.  Or said another way, if they keep repeating the big lie often enough, it has to be “true” doesn’t it – regardless of whether or not the facts destroy the myth.

So how are we doing economically and how is that reflected in the job market?  Well, Dems are going to tell you we’re at “full employment” because the fudged unemployment rate is around 5%.  This chart gives lie to the claim:

-1x-1

Women fare slightly better, but as you can see, the US is bottom of the barrel when it come to “employment to population ratio” for men. Heck of a job there, Dems. Oh, and Bernie says he’ll fix this.  Just sayin’.

Pertaining to the GOP and SCOTUS, file under “predictable” and cross-file under “stupid” as in “Stupid Party:

The playbook is the same every time. Even in the face of less consequential political fights, Republicans start out talking tough. Then, leadership allows the weakest liberal members to begin dissenting from the party line and even trash talking the party to the media. Next, leadership says they have to embark on the legislative process to be fair but still oppose the initiative and will personally fight against it. Then, depending on how many votes it needs to pass, they decide whether to throw in with the liberal Republicans.

And sure enough:

Yesterday, the dominos began to fall. While Sens. McConnell, Hatch, and other senior leadership members were still talking tough, liberal Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) announced his support for Obama to put forth a “consensus” nominee. And although Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Majority Whip, reiterated his desire that the next president fill the vacancy, he said that holding hearings is entirely up to the Judiciary Committee Chairman and scheduling a floor vote is entirely up to McConnell.

And then:

Obama knows how to push the RINO buttons. He will nominate someone who comes highly recommended in the legal field and it will be a big “first.” Perhaps the first transgendered Muslim immigrant to be picked. He knows Republicans are very sensitive to looking like “obstructionists,” especially in the face of such “historic” progress.    At that point, it will become a slow bleed. You will see Sens. Murkowski, Collins, Kirk, and other liberals join with Heller and call for “fair hearings.”  (How eerie that just two weeks ago, I called for Sen. Grassley to be replaced because his spot on the Judiciary Committee Chairman is too vital for someone so fickle.) Grassley will undoubtedly cave to pressure and that will get the ball rolling.

And once the nominee goes through the meat grinder of confirmation hearings, how can he not get a floor vote?  To that end, the weakest members of the committee, beginning with Lindsey Graham, will likely vote the nominee out of committee and onto the floor.

How many times have you seen this happen?

Freedom of speech is a wonderful and protected right.  But one thing some people seem never to understand is that it doesn’t shield you from the consequences of your “speech”:

In the wake of Beyonce’s controversial Super Bowl halftime performance of her new song “Formation” — which critics say contains an anti-cop message — police and politicians around the country have been speaking out against it.

But the criticism could be manifesting itself in practical ways, given what’s happened since police in Tampa, Florida, got a request to work her April 29 concert in town.

Usually off-duty officers sign up to work concerts and sporting events for extra cash, but to date no officers have signed up for the show, WTVT-TV reported. And given it’s expected to sell out, that could be a security issue.

That’s a great way for cops to get their message across.

Speaking of no one signing up, I got a huge laugh from this story.  You remember Ed Schultz don’t you?  Once with MSNBC and now with Russian (propaganda) TV?  Well, like Kanye West, Ed has become a little full of himself.  Ed decided to start a “Super PAC” feeling pretty sure he could save the middle class:

Last year Ed Schultz started the Americans for a Strong Middle Class Super PAC.

“I feel like I am perfectly positioned with my national platform, with my name and visibility and credibility with the middle class, to be the person to head up this super PAC,” he told  told the Fargo Forum. “We are a 527; we are a nonprofit; we are incorporated in Washington, D.C., and we are going to get involved in issues around the country that are vital to a strong middle class, with our focus on jobs and wages, health care, education, trade agreements and justice.”

“Middle class issues are here to stay,” Schultz continued.

Unfortunately for Ed, his PAC isn’t.  A couple of weeks ago, Big Ed quietly folded Americans for a Strong Middle Class Super PAC.

Only none of that actually happened. According to Mediate, Schultz ran up $10,345.44 in legal fees, $3,000 in web design fees, and a $100 loan and only collected $25 in donations to the organization which was apparently headquartered at a UPS store in downtown Washington D.C.

I’m sorry I coughed up a lung laughing at the donation total.  That’s about what Big Ed’s ideas are worth, and, in the market place of ideas, that’s what he was able to bring in.  Capitalism – don’t you love it?  No wonder the left hates it.

Finally, I love it when a loony law is field tested:

Seattle Parks and Recreation is facing a first-of-a-kind challenge to gender bathroom rules. A man undressed in a women’s locker room, citing a new state rule that allows people to choose a bathroom based on gender identity.

It was a busy time at Evans Pool around 5:30pm Monday February 8. The pool was open for lap swim. According to Seattle Parks and Recreation, a man wearing board shorts entered the women’s locker room and took off his shirt. Women alerted staff, who told the man to leave, but he said “the law has changed and I have a right to be here.”

“Really bizarre,” MaryAnne Sato said. “I can’t imagine why they would want to do that anyway!”

Oh, my … hoist on their own petard, eh?  The other lung was coughed up on this one.  This isn’t bizarre at all.  This is precisely what critics of this sort of stupidity said would happen.

According to the SJW’s who pushed this “gender inclusiveness” law, all one has to do is “feel” like another gender and they’re in like Flynn.  Apparently, at least that day, this guy was feeling particularly female.  And yet, those exposed to the “woman” felt the situation was “bizarre”.  Imagine.

Loved this quote – by the way, he’s talking about the new law and the SJWs:

“Sort of works against the point they’re trying to make. They’re causing people to feel exposed and vulnerable with the intention of reducing people feeling exposed and vulnerable,” said pool regular Aldan Shank.

Exactly right, sir.  This is how laws that sound wonderful in drunken dorm room bull sessions end up when put into practice.   As usual, never factored in is something called “human nature”.

Funny that.

Have a great weekend!

~McQ

Economic Statistics for 18 Feb 16

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

The Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey remained negative in February, coming in at -2.8.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 7,000 to 262,000. The 4-week average fell 8,000 to 273,250. Continuing claims  rose 30,000 to 2.273 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.2 points to 44.3 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-2.7 billion last week, with total assets of $4.484 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $12.6 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-73.1 billion in the latest week.


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Economic Statistics for 17 Feb 16

January housing starts fell -3.8% to a 1.099 million annual rate. Building permits fell -0.2% to a 1.202 million annual rate.

Producer prices rose 0.1% in January, and were up 0.4% less food and energy, and 0.2% less food, energy, and trade services. On a year-over-year basis, PPI-FD is down -0.2% overall, but up 0.6% less food and energy, and 0.8% less food, energy, and trade services.

With increased auto production, industrial production jumped 0.9% in January, while capacity utilization in the nation’s factories rose 0.6% to 77.1%. Manufacturing rose 0.5%, as well.

The Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations Survey was unchanged in January, at an annual 1.8%. 

E-commerce retail sales rose only 2.1% in the 4th Quarter of 2015, compared to the 3rd Quarter’s 4.2% rise.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales little changed at a weak 0.7% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.6%.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 8.2% last week, with purchases down -4.0% but refis up 16.0%.


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