Dale Franks’ QandO posts
Non-farm payrolls increased by 204,000 in October, while the unemployment rate rose to 7.3%. Average hourly earnings rose 0.1%, while the average workweek declined to 34.4 hours. These headlines hide a lot. 720,000 people left the labor force, bringing the labor force participation rate down to 62.8%, the lowest since March, 1978. Meanwhile, an additional 17,000 people were counted as unemployed, while an additional 735,000 dropped out of the ranks of the employed. Overall, the total number of persons not in the labor force increased by 932,000. As a result, using the historical average labor force participation rate, the real unemployment rate rose from 11.45% to 11.98%, the highest in two years. Much of this oddness probably comes from skewing from the government shutdown.
Personal income rose 0.5% in September, while personal spending rose 0.2%. The PCE Price Index rose 0.1% both at the headline and core level. On a year-over-year basis, prices are up 0.9% overall, and 1.2% at the core level, i.e., ex-food and -gas.
The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index fell 1.2 points to 72.0 in the early November reading.
Chain stores reported October sales today. They were slightly positive, though the government shutdown seems to have had a negative effect.
3rd Quarter real GDP came is surprisingly high at an annual 2.8%, but inventory increases played an outsized role, contribution 0.83%. Personal consumption expenditure growth declined from 1.8% last quarter to 1.5% in the 3rd quarter. The GDP Price Index rose 1.9%
Initial jobless claims fell 9,000 last week, to 336,000. The 4-week moving average fell 12,000 to 348,250. Continuing claims rose 4,000 to 2.868 million.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was essentially unchanged at -37.9 for the week.
The government’s expanding student loan portfolio is inflating consumer credit, which was up $13.7 billion in September.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $8.2 billion last week, with total assets of $3.852 trillion. Reserve Bank credit increased $7.6 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 Money Supply fell by $-7.8 billion last week.
Thanks to an unfortunate set of circumstances, I’m in the market to buy a replacement car. I wrote about my short list of prospective cars at the other place. Please feel free to go there and offer comments and suggestions.
In other news, next week I begin a new part-time job. Assuming the students sign up for the course, I will start my first class as Adjunct Professor of Business for Park University. I will be teaching MGT352, “Principles of Management”, in the Fall 2 Alternative term at the Camp Pendleton Campus.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -7.0% last week, with purchases falling -5.0% and refinancings -8.0%. The index is now at its lowest reading of the year.
The Challenger Job-Cut Report shows that layoffs are trending up, with 45,730 in October. Layoffs have averaged more than 45,000 per month for the last three months, vice the previous four months, when layoffs averaged under 38,000.
The Gallup U.S. Job Creation Index fell 2 points to 19 in October.
The Conference Board’s index of Leading Indicators rose 0.7% for the second straight month.
Well, I suppose this was inevitable.
FYI last night at the Great Falls Grange debate, Democrat delegate candidate Kathleen Murphy said that since many doctors are not accepting Medicaid and Medicare patients, she advocates making it a legal requirement for those people to be accepted.
But of course she is. What other option could there possibly be but forcing doctors to see those patients? It’s clearly not possible to pay doctors an economically justifiable payment for seeing such patients. I mean, if you’re not willing to take substandard payment for Medicare patients, you probably shouldn’t be a doctor anyway, what with being a greedy bastard and all. You have a $250,000 annual malpractice insurance payment? Too bad. You got a couple of nurses that cost you $100,000 per year, and $50,000 a year in office rent? That’s on you, bucko. You’ll take my $50 Medicare payment and be happy to get it, or maybe we’ll just levy some really serious fines on you.
If you’re a doctor—and really, if you’re, well, anyone—you belong to the state. Oh, we might not lower the boom on you until we really need to, but let’s make no mistake. The collective has a claim on you. Your labor. Your income. Maybe we let you keep most of it. Maybe we don’t. Either way, if we need your stuff, we’ll take it, because we have a right to it. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one, man. And if you don’t think so, we can always just clap you in prison to help you come around to the right way of thinking.
We’re gonna get our medical care. And our unemployment benefits and food stamps. And our social security. Somebody’s gotta pay for it. If we decide that somebody is you, then you just need to suck it up. That’s what we got the law for, after all: to make you suck it up whenever we say.
In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a strong 3.8% increase in same-store sales from the last year. ICSC-Goldman’s chain-sample is much weaker, with a weekly sales decrease of -0.6%, and only a 1.9% increase on a year-over-year basis.
Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index fell a sharp 16 points to -35 in October, the sharpest monthly drop since 2008, when the index began.
The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index rose a point in October to 55.4.
Gallup reports that Americans’ self-reported daily spending averaged $88 in October, up from $84 in September.
Factory Orders fell -0.1% in August, but in September jumped 1.7% on larger aircraft orders. The August report was originally delayed by the government shutdown.
The Democrats’ newest line in the peeling onion of fail that is Obamacare is that its failure is all the Republicans’ fault because…they sabotaged it. This line has been taken up by Politico in an article by Todd S. Purdum.
From the moment the bill was introduced, Republican leaders in both houses of Congress announced their intention to kill it. Republican troops pressed this cause all the way to the Supreme Court — which upheld the law, but weakened a key part of it by giving states the option to reject an expansion of Medicaid. The GOP faithful then kept up their crusade past the president’s reelection, in a pattern of “massive resistance” not seen since the Southern states’ defiance of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954…
Most Republican governors declined to create their own state insurance exchanges — an option inserted in the bill in the Senate to appeal to the classic conservative preference for local control — forcing the federal government to take at least partial responsibility for creating marketplaces serving 36 states — far more than ever intended.
Then congressional Republicans refused repeatedly to appropriate dedicated funds to do all that extra work, leaving the Health and Human Services Department and other agencies to cobble together HealthCare.gov by redirecting funds from existing programs. On top of that, nearly half of the states declined to expand their Medicaid programs using federal funds, as the law envisioned.
Then, in the months leading up to the program’s debut, some states refused to do anything at all to educate the public about the law. And congressional Republicans sent so many burdensome queries to local hospitals and nonprofits gearing up to help consumers navigate the new system face-to-face that at least two such groups returned their federal grants and gave up the effort.
So, political opposition to a law that Republicans always opposed is now "sabotage’. That’s simply nonsense on stilts. The law was passed without a single Republican vote. That should’ve been a big signal to Democrats that the law was going to be on shaky ground, but of course, in their arrogance, it didn’t.
Back in 1993, when Hillary Clinton was working on Health Care Reform, Daniel Patrick Moynihan gave her some sage advice. He told her that without support from a large, non-partisan majority, no large-scale reform can ever be successfully concluded. She ignored him at the time, just as Democrats ignored that advice when they passed Obamacare on a strictly party-line vote.
But no Congress can ever bind a succeeding Congress. This has been a black-letter principle of American politics for two centuries. The only way a succeeding congress can be bound is if the support for a particular law is widespread and bi-partisan. And in the case of Obamacare, not only have the Republicans been opposed since the beginning so has a majority of the American people. Obamacare has never polled with majority support among the electorate, and as its implementation date has drawn closer, the majority of the electorate that opposes it has increased.
Howard Dean, recently suggested that Republican opposition to Obamacare is a sign that Republicans have "forgotten that they’re actually supposed to serve the American people." But since, by all the polling results I’ve ever seen, a substantial majority of the public opposes Obamacare, it would seem to me that Republican opposition is actually the precise opposite of what Howard Dean suggests.
Defining opposition to Obamacare as "sabotage" is simply sour grapes from an arrogant political party that imposed an unpopular law against the apparent wishes of the electorate.
Obamacare is a disaster. I predicted it was an unworkable disaster before it was passed, as did anyone who took the time to look at the perverse incentives it created. The amount of wishful thinking that went in to passing this stupid law is incomprehensible to me. It could not have been more clearly prone to failure if it had been intentionally designed to fail.
Make no mistake: if you support Obamacare, you are a complete dolt, or so lacking in fundamental knowledge that your opinion about it is irrelevant. It is a law that literally cannot accomplish its stated purpose, because it ignores essential and fundamental economic and political realities. Moreover, it was passed in opposition to a majority of Americans.
Opposition to this disaster is not sabotage. It is the only rational response to the utter stupidity it encapsulates.
But framing opposition as sabotage does have a darker, more nefarious purpose. The whole point of such charges is to delegitimize the opposition. Frankly, it’s part of what I see as an ongoing Democratic strategy to define opposition to any policy they support as un-American, at the very least, if not somehow criminal. The Left in this country could not be doing more to foment a civil war if they were intentionally trying to do so.
I have very little hope for the future of this country. I have very little left but anger.