Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Observations: The QandO Podcast for 18 May 14

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about Ukraine, the Bundy case in Nevada, and the increasing arbitrariness of the Federal government.

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Economic Statistics for 15 May 14

Consumer prices rose 0.3% in April, with prices less food and energy–the “core” rate–rising 0.2%. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is up 2.0%, while the core rate is up 1.8%.

Weekly initial jobless claims fell 24,000 to 297,000. The 4-week average fell 750 to 323,250. Continuing claims fell 9,000 to 2.667 million, a recovery low. Or what would be a recovery low had we ever had an actual recovery. But, I digress.

The General Business Conditions Index of the New York manufacturing survey made a rare jump of almost 18 points to 19.01 in May.

The General Conditions Index of the Philadelphia Fed Survey fell -1.2 points to 15.4 in May.

The Treasury Department reports that foreign demand for long-term U.S. securities was a net $4.0 billion in March.

The Fed reports that industrial production fell -0.6% in April, as capacity utilization in the nation’s factories fell to 78.6%. Manufacturing declined by -0.4%.

The National Association of Home Builders reports that the Housing Market Index fell -2 points to 45 in May.

E-Commerce retail sales in the 1st Quarter of 2014 rose 2.8%, versus 3.4% in the 4th Quarter of 2013.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $33.5 billion last week, with total assets of $4.337 trillion. Total reserve bank credit rose by $18.0 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose $22.6 billion in the latest week.

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Economic Statistics for 14 May 14

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 3.6% last week. Purchases were down -1.0% but re-fis rose 7.0%.

Producer prices rose 0.6% overall in April, with both goods and services prices up 0.6%. Ex-food and -energy, prices rose 0.5%. Less food, energy, and trade services, prices rose 0.3% On a year-over-year basis, the overall PPI is up 2.1%, with goods prices up 2.5% and services prices up 2.0%.

The Atlanta Fed’s Business Inflation Expectations survey shows inflation expectations in May are unchanged at 1.9%.

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Hot gay sex

Michael Sam is a college football player. He’s was a good player in college. Good enough, in any event, to barely make it into the NFL draft at number 249 of 256. Which means he probably isn’t a great player, and probably won’t make it in the NFL. After he finished his college football career at Mizzou, he announced he was openly gay.

So, when he was waiting to hear whether or not he’d be drafted, with his boyfriend at his side, TV cameras were there to broadcast live on ESPN, when he heard he’d squeeked into the NFL and exchanged several kisses with his boyfriend.

Now, TV cameras don’t usually show up to see the reaction of guys who get picked #249, mainly because no one usually gives a crap that they got picked. But Michael Sam is different. They decided they were going to cover him, well before the day of coverage.

“We are very aware that in those last two rounds potentially — maybe even before that — Michael will get drafted and we will definitely spend time on that draft pick,’’ said Eric Weinberger, who is running NFL Network’s draft coverage. “We will spend as much time as we think we have to.”

They were there solely because he is openly gay, hoping to get something good out of it. What they got was several good closeups of gay man-kissing. I’m sure they were very happy with that.

Others were less so. The Dolphins’ Defensive Back Don Jones tweeted his displeasure at the scene, which was broadcast live on ESPN. This got him fined and suspended. Apparently, we are no longer allowed to express our opinions in polite society any more, unless that opinion is anything other than fully politically correct. Personally, I feel pretty much the way Bill Burr does in this comedy bit. I don’t have a problem with gays doing whatever they do. Just don’t care. Looking to get upset at whatever gay people are up to doesn’t interest me.

But, I also don’t want to see gay guys kissing or having sex, because I think sex with guys is icky. That’s not something you’re supposed to express publicly. I’m not sure why, but it’s now hateful to state that you might be a little uncomfortable with gay things. I think heterosexual sex that includes golden showers is icky, too. Not being German, I don’t wanna watch that, either. Nobody will yammer for me to lose my job if say say something negative about golden showers, but saying something less that fully accepting about homosexuality can get you a quick trip to “sensitivity training”, or even the unemployment line. Our limits of acceptable opinion are being circumscribed by political correctness. The government doesn’t have to attack free speech. Our culture is doing that job just fine.

It also irks me how the media handles this. They go out of their way to highlight things that stir up controversy, then gleefully report on the controversy they intentionally ginned up, being sure to point out people who say the “wrong” things about it. Those people then have to make elaborate public apologies for saying something politically incorrect. Then they get suspended or fired. It’s getting pretty constant now. The Opie and Anthony radio show are doing a bit where they are trying to go ten days without one of these cycles of apology. So far, they haven’t made it for three days without resetting the clock.

The Framers of the Constitution were terrified the government would stifle free speech. Turns out, they should’ve been worried about the rest of us. Apparently, it’s not something we really want.

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Economic Statistics for 13 May 14

The NFIB small business optimism index rose a sharp 1.8 points to 95.2 in April. It’s the highest reading since since 2007.

ICSC-Goldman’s read on retail sales shows a weak -0.1 sales drop from last week, but a strong year-over-year 3.9% increase. Redbook’s weekly retail sales figure shows year-on-year strength, with a 4.2% sales increase.

The Census Bureau’s April retail sales report shows a soft 0.1% increase. Sales ex-autos were unchanged. sales ex-autos and -gas fell -0.1%.

April export prices fell -0.1%, and import prices fell -0.4%. On a year-over-year basis, export prices rose 0.1%, while import prices fell -0.3%.

Business inventories rose 0.4% in March, while a 1.0% rise in sales kept the inventory-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.30.

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Economic Statistics for 8 May 14

Those chain stores that still report monthly sales showed exceptionally good April sales, helped by warmer weather and a late Easter.

Weekly initial jobless claims fell 26,000 to 319,000. The 4-week average rose 4,7540 to 324,750. Continuing claims fell 76,000 to 2.685 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.8 points to 37.1 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $7.1 billion last week, with total assets of $4.303 trillion. Total reserve bank credit rose by $5.6 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose $51.2 billion in the latest week.

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Economic Statistics for 7 May 14

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 5.3% last week. Purchases rose 9.0% and re-fis 2.0%.

Gallup’s Job Creation Index rose 2 points to 25 in April.

Non-farm productivity fell a sharp -1.7% annualized in the 1st Quarter of 2014 while unit labor costs rose 4.2%. Weather distortions are being blamed. On a year-over-year basis, productivity is up 1.4%.

The JP Morgan Global Composite PMI fell -0.7 points to 52.8 in April. The Global Services PMI fell -0.8 points to 52.7.

Consumer credit expanded by a sharp $17.5 billion in March, but it’s mainly in non-revolving credit.

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