Free Markets, Free People


Economic Statistics for 16 Mar 16

The Consumer Price Index fell -0.2%, but prices less food and energy rose 0.3%. On a year-over-year basis, prices are up 1.0% overall, and 2.3% at the core.

Housing starts rose 5.2% to a 1.178 million annualized rate while permits dropped -3.1% to 1.167 million.

Industrial production fell -0.5% in February, as capacity utilization in the nation’s factories fell -4.0% to 76.7%.

The Federal Open Markets Committee left short-term interest rates unchanged, with a Fed Funds target rate of 0.25%-0.50%.

The Federal Open Markets Committee projected today that annual GDP growth will not exceed 2.3% for the foreseeable future.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -3.3% last week, with purchases up 0.3% and refis down -6.0%.

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Economic Statistics for 15 Mar 16

Producer Prices for Final Demand fell -0.2% in February, were unchanged less food and energy, and up 0.1% less food, energy, and trade services. On a Year-over-year basis, prices were unchanged overall, up 1.2% less food and energy, and up 0.9% less food, energy, and trade services.

Retail sales fell -0.1% in February, both at the headline level, and less autos. Sales less autos and gas rose 0.3%.

After 7 months of contraction, the Empire State Manufacturing survey rose from -16.64 to 0.62 in March.

Business inventories rose an unwanted 0.1% in January, while a -0.4% drop in sales drove the stock to sales ratio to a hefty 1.40, the highest since May 2009.

The Housing Market Index was unchanged at 58 in March.

Foreign Demand for Long-Term U.S. Securities fell -12.0 billion in January, mainly on sales of US Treasuries.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales fell to 0.6% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.7%. Sales remain weak.

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Economic Statistics for 10 Mar 16

Information revenue in the 4th Quarter of 2015 rose 1.8%, compared to the revised 0.7% in the 3rd Quarter.

The US Treasury reported a budget deficit of $-192.6 billion in February. The deficit is up 8.7% overall in 2016 compared to February 2015.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 18,000 to 259,000. The 4-week average fell 2,500 to 267,500. Continuing claims fell 32,000 to 2.225 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.2 points to 43.8 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $2.6 billion last week, with total assets of $4.481 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-0.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $14.0 billion in the latest week.

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Let’s make the US like Germany … er, Mississippi?

The “social democracy” or “democratic socialism” model that many of the left want so badly is showing it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  For instance:

Since Sweden is held up as a sort of promised land by American socialists, let’s compare it first. We find that, if it were to join the US as a state, Sweden would be poorer than all but 12 states, with a median income of $27,167.
Median residents in states like Colorado ($35,830), Massachusetts ($37,626), Virginia ($39,291), Washington ($36,343), and Utah ($36,036) have considerably higher incomes than Sweden.
With the exception of Luxembourg ($38,502), Norway ($35,528), and Switzerland ($35,083), all countries shown would fail to rank as high-income states were they to become part of the United States. In fact, most would fare worse than Mississippi, the poorest state.
Oh, my!  Say it ain’t so, Bernie!
Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, has a median income ($25,528) level below all but 9 US states. Finland ranks with Germany in this regard ($25,730), and France’s median income ($24,233) is lower than both Germany and Finland. Denmark fares better and has a median income ($27,304) below all but  13 US states.
And Mississippi? Well, when adjusted for purchasing power, we find a funny thing (heh … I couldn’t help myself):
Now that we’ve accounted for the low cost of living in Mississippi, we find that Mississippi ($26,517) is no longer the state with the lowest median income in real terms. New York ($26,152) is now the state with the lowest median income due to its very high cost of living.
More importantly, when the European countries are adjusted for purchasing power, they fare even worse:
Once purchasing power among the US states is taken into account, we find that Sweden’s median income ($27,167) is higher than only six states: Arkansas ($26,804), Louisiana ($25,643), Mississippi ($26,517), New Mexico ($26,762), New York ($26,152) and North Carolina ($26,819).
We find something similar when we look at Germany, but in Germany’s case, every single US state shows a higher median income than Germany. Germany’s median income is $25,528. Things look even worse for the United Kingdom which has a median income of $21,033, compared to $26,517 in Mississippi.
So? So, myth busted.  If you want everyone to be the equal of  … well, now, New York … just listen to the siren song of social democracy. High taxes, marginal benefits and low purchasing power.  When you can’t even point to them being better than Mississippi in terms of median income, maybe it would be better not to hold up European social democracies as something to “strive” to be like.

Economic Statistics for 4 Mar 16

A -2.1% decline in exports outpaced a -1.3% drop in imports to increase January’s trade deficit to $-45.7 billion.

242,000 net new jobs were created in February, as the unemployment rate held steady at 4.9%. The labor participation rate rose to 62.9%. On the negative side, however, average hourly earnings fell -0.1%, as did the average work week, down -0.2 hours to 34.4 hours. The U-6 unemployment rate, the broadest measure of underemployment, fell -0.2% to 9.7%.

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