Free Markets, Free People


Economic Statistics for 3 Mar 14

US auto sales remained relatively flat for the 3rd straight month, at a 15.3 million annual rate.

Gallup’s self-reported Consumer Spending measure rose to $87 per day in February, vice $78 in January.

Personal income rose 0.3% in February, while spending rose 0.4%. The PCE Price index rose 0.3% overall, but only 0.1% at the core level. On a year-over-year basis, income rose4.1%, while spending rose 3.5%. The PCE Price index rose 1.2% overall, and 1.1% at the core level.

Markit’s PMI Manufacturing Index for February rose to 57.1  from January’s 53.7.

The ISM manufacturing index for February rose to 53.2  from January’s 51.3.

The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI was 53.3 for March, up from 53.0 in February.

Construction spending rose 0.1% in January. On a year-ago basis, spending is up 9.3%.

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Economic Statistics for 28 Feb 14

Real GDP growth for the 4th quarter of 2013 was revised down sharply to an annualized 2.4% from the initial estimate of 3.2%. That means that GDP growth was, in fact, as sub-par as it seemed. The GDP Price index was revised upwards to 1.6%.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index rose 3.2 points to 59.8 in February.

The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose 0.4 points to 81.6 in February.

The Pending Home Sales Index rose 0.1% to 95.0 in January, the first increase since last May.

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It is official: Welcome to the Obama economy

We’ve been told over the last few years that our economy is in a slump but not to worry.  It’s temporary.  The administration is on it.  It’s going to be fixed.

What, we’ve had 5 recovery summers and are heading into our 6th?

Well, the CBO, that office the administration loves to cite when it suits them, has decided that this economy, the Obama economy, isn’t an outlier and we should get used to it:

The part of the past that you deem most relevant can be critical in determining your outlook for the future. And nowhere is that clearer than in the changing economic forecasts that come out of the Congressional Budget Office.

This year’s short-term and long-term economic forecasts are substantially worse than last year’s, even though the economy performed better than expected in 2013. What changed was that the C.B.O. economists essentially decided that they would no longer treat the recent years of poor economic performance as a sort of outlier. They have seen enough of a slow economy to begin to think that we should get used to sluggishness.

They think that Americans will earn less than they previously expected, that fewer of them will want jobs and that fewer will get them. They think companies will invest less and earn less. The economy, as measured by growth in real gross domestic product, will settle into a prolonged period in which it grows at an average rate of just 2.1 percent. From 2019 through 2024, job growth will average less than 70,000 a month.

So, how does it feel?  You’ve lived through the “Golden age” and are now relegated to … this.  Slow to non-existent job growth.  Regulation out the wazoo. Rising health care costs.  Taxes eating into earnings and no end in sight.

This is the economy this administration has helped fashion with an insensitivity to the economy and a policy cluelessness that is second to none.  The fact that they’re still pushing a raise in the minimum wage in the face of half a million job losses (conservative estimate) says it all.

You reap what you sow, or don’t sow, in this case.  What they didn’t sow was economic policies that would get the economy moving, create jobs and keep us in that Golden age.  Instead we got ideology first, regardless of the economic consequences.

And this is the result.

As CBO says, get used to it.


Economic Statistics for 27 Feb 14

Durable goods orders fell -1.0% in January on weak transportation orders. Ex-transportation orders rose 1.1%. On a year-over-year basis, orders are up 4.6%, with ex-transportation orders up 1.2%.

Initial jobless claims rose 14,000 to 328,000. The 4-week average fell 250 to 338,250, while continuing claims rose 8,000 to 2.964 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 2.0 points to -28.6 in the latest week.

The Kansas City Fed manufacturing index fell 1 point to 4 in February.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $10.7 billion last week, with total assets of $4.160 trillion. Reserve Bank credit increased $8.4 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $35.9 billion in the latest week.

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Economic Statistics for 25 Feb 14

Despite the recent downbeat economic news, the State Street Investor Confidence Index rose 8.6 points to 123.0 in February.

In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a 2.9% increase from the previous year. ICSC-Goldman reports a weekly sales drop of -0.6%, and a weak 1.4% increase on a year-over-year basis.

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.8% in December, a 7.7% increase from the previous year.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.8% in December, which was 13.4 higher than the previous year.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index for February fell from 80.7 to 78.1.

The Richmond Fed manufacturing index for February plunged from 12 to -6, the first negative reading since July.

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A story of how this administration misuses “science”

But first a fond farewell to Piers Morgan – don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass as you head back to the UK, you jackwagon.  Oh, and would you mind taking Alex Baldwin and that Beiber thing with you?

Now to the point.  One of the things that the Obama administration told us in the beginning is that it planned on putting “science” back in its proper place as something serious and non-political (an obvious political shot at the opposition who, candidate Obama claimed, used it for political purposes).

How’s that gone?  Well we’ve watched the global warming bunkem.  And the Keystone Pipeline nonsense.  But here’s a story that will demonstrate best how much of a lie (and I don’t know how you describe what’s happened any other way) that original promise was:

A case in point is the story of DOI science adviser and scientific integrity officer, Dr. Paul Houser, who found out that by simply doing his job can be hazardous to one’s career. Dr. Houser is an expert in hydrology who was hired by DOI’s Bureau of Reclamation to evaluate scientific data used in the department’s decision making process. He was assigned several Western State projects including a scheme to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in Northern California—the largest dam removal project in U.S. history. When a summary of science posted on the web to support DOI’s claim for removal of the dams omitted several crucial factors from expert panel reports, Dr. Houser brought his concerns to his superiors. He was repeatedly told to refrain from sharing his concerns through electronic communication, which could be subject to Freedom of Information Act discovery.

Dr. Houser learned firsthand that policy was driving the science, rather than the other way around, when he was told by his superiors at DOI, “Secretary Salazar wants to remove those dams. So your actions here aren’t helpful.”

According to the DOI the premise for Klamath River dams removal is to restore Coho salmon spawning habitat above the dams. However, official DOI documents reveal scientific concerns that dam removal may, in fact, result in species decline based on millions of tons of toxic sediment build up behind the dams that will make its way to the ocean. Water temperature increases without the dams could also negatively impact the salmon. These studies were ignored. Concerns about the human toll and impact to local Klamath Basin communities were also brushed aside. Those most interested in the well-being of the environment they live and work in, were given a backseat to special interests thousands of miles away.

The Klamath hydroelectric dams provide clean inexpensive energy to thousands of local residents who will be forced to pay much higher premiums if the dams are removed because California has strict new laws for use of renewable energy. The town of Happy Camp sits on the banks of the Klamath River and could be wiped out with seasonal flooding without the dams. Once Coho salmon are introduced into the upper Klamath, farmers and ranchers will be faced with water use restrictions and invasive government regulation of private land. The economic impact will be devastating, property values will depreciate and the agriculture community, often operating on slim profit margins, will be subjected to the fate of the once vibrant logging industry which fell victim to the spotted owl crusades.

Last year, Dr. Houser raised these concerns and was subsequently fired by the DOI. “I put my concerns forward and immediately thereafter I was pushed out of the organization,” he stated. The agency sent a clear message to the rest of their employees and scientists – Salazar’s dam busting agenda cannot be subject to any internal scientific scrutiny. Goebbels would be proud. Truth must be repressed when it contradicts the objective.

Dr. Houser did the right thing. He did his job. His integrity as a scientist was more important than a paycheck. But he remains concerned about his colleagues in DOI, “There are a lot of good scientists that work for the government but they are scared, they are scared that what happened to me might happen to them. This is an issue (about) the honesty and transparency of government and an issue for other scientists in government who want to speak out.”

Those fish have an advocate.  That advocate is named Salazar.  Salazar has decided he wants a certain outcome.  “Science’s” role is to justfy it.  Never mind the human toll.  Never mind the economic toll.  Never mind any of the toll.  Ken Salazar and his radical environmental cronies will feel just peachy about themselves if they accomplish this … even if the fish actually die as a result.  Because, well because this is how nature did it to begin with, people are pests and it is more important that we let fish spawn where they once did than worry about how it will effect the pests.  And by George he has the power of government and “science” behind him to do as he wishes.  Houser didn’t toe the line, had actual scientific integrity and spoke out.  And was fired.

Frankly, this doesn’t surprise me a bit.