Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: January 2013

Economic Statistics for 25 Jan 13

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

New home sales in December plunged 7.3% to an annual rate of 369k. This drop mainly reflects a huge upwards revision to November, however, making the month-to-month comparison look particularly bad. Having said that, it was still a less robust number than analysts expected. On the other hand, the report notes that the median home price is up 1.3% to $248,900, the highest in more than five years.

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Will we learn from Britain and France?

One of the more frustrating things I observe is our apparent unwillingness, as a country, to learn from the mistakes of other countries.  For instance, we’ve watched the effects of the welfare state in Europe and its fiscal impact, yet we continue down the same road toward the same cliff they’re now getting ready to go over.

More specifically, we’ve watched other countries raise taxes higher and higher and subsequently watched them lose their native talent.  France is in the process of doing that now.  And Britain?  Well, they’ve been suffering from it for a while:

Nick de Bois, secretary of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, said that Britain needs a “culture change” to stem the flow of talented emigrants by encouraging success.

“Our most economically active are leaving to apply their talents elsewhere,” the MP said, warning that talented Britons are being lured away to “growth economies” elsewhere in the world.

Office for National Statistics figures obtained by Mr de Bois show that in the ten years to 2011, a total of 3,599,000 people permanently left the UK.

Contrary to the perception of the typical emigrants being older people retiring to a life in the sun, the figures show that 1,963,000 of those who left were aged between 25 and 44.

By contrast, only 125,000 people of retirement age emigrated.

Note what is “luring” them away?  “Growth economies“.  And what does one usually find is anything labeled a “growth economy”?  Economic opportunity.  A chance to better your own situation without being punished and vilified for doing so.  You’d think that might be something our “leaders” would understand and appreciate.

But it’s about culture, isn’t it?  About the culture our leadership fosters.  And that culture in this country is “class warfare”:

“Government must help lead a culture change in this country that competes with the new economies, one where competitiveness and success are valued and personal achievement and personal wealth are respected, not pilloried,” he said.

That’s not at all where this particular government is headed, is it?
And the result?  Human Nature 101.  See Britain.


Economic Statistics for 24 Jan 13

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

Initial jobless claims supposedly fell 5,000 to 330,000 for the week. Supposedly, because three states, including California, are merely estimates. Apparently the states didn’t get their number in on time. So, we are, according to the official data, at a 5-year low for unemployment claims. The 4-week average dropped to 351,750, and continuing claims reportedly fell 71,000 to 3.157 million, another 4.5 year low.

The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index fell to -2 in January, down 1 point from December.

The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose a sharp 0.5% in December, supposedly showing a nice economic surge in another 6 months or so, but this index has been very volatile of late.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index inched to a 3-month low of -36.4.

The PMI Manufacturing Index Flash is contradicting all the regional Fed reports, showing at 56.1 for January, up two points from December.

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Union membership continues to decline

Yup, it is on a downward spiral.  When actually given a choice (you know, the thing the left claims everyone should have?), many people opt out:

Government figures released Wednesday showed union membership declined from 11.8 percent to 11.3 percent of the workforce, another blow to a labor movement already stretched thin by battles in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and other states to curb bargaining rights and weaken union clout.

Overall membership fell by about 400,000 workers to 14.4 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than half the loss, about 234,000, came from government workers, including teachers, firefighters and public administrators.

Funny that.  We talk about monopolies, but monopolies don’t work when government doesn’t prop them up, and, as pointed out, when government withdraws its sanction and force, when real choice is allowed, people will opt out.

And, of course, it’s not just the government sector where unions are losing members:

But unions also saw losses in the private sector even as the economy created 1.8 million new jobs in 2012. That membership rate fell from 6.9 percent to 6.6 percent, a troubling sign for the future of organized labor, as job growth generally has taken place at nonunion companies.

Unions are an anachronism … they just won’t admit it yet.  And, for the next 4 years at least, they’re still going to have political power because of who is in the White House.

But as more and more states become right to work, and the jobless see employers migrating to those states, I think the “market” will take care of itself – if the government will let it.


Economic Statistics for 23 Jan 13

Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:

The MBA reports mortgage applications rose 7.0% last week, with purchases up 3.0% and re-fis up 8.0%.

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.6% in November, as home prices continue to rise.

In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports same-store sales rose a weak 1.8% on a year-over-year basis. ICSC-Goldman Store Sales fell -1.5% for the week, the third straight decline, but Year-over-year sales were up a solid 3.2%.

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Americans downbeat about America’s future

Ok, they’re downbeat according to Gallup:

So what?  I mean, this is what I don’t get.  The American public just re-elected possibly the worst and most incompetent president in my lifetime (what the hell do you have to do to get fired?), they refuse to make their leaders face up to the realities of the fiscal situation, they give away freedoms like some universities give away condoms and suddenly they’re “downbeat” about America’s future?


They should be downbeat – they as much as anyone have generated the culture that has produced these politicians that they continue to reward with reelection term after term.  If you don’t make those who represent you do what they should be doing, if you continue to reward their kicking the can down the road with re-election, why in the hell should they do anything?  Especially when those who try “die”, politically speaking.

And, of course, you have the compliant press who has no compunction anymore about pursuing an agenda that supports the premise that there is a free lunch and the rich should pay for it.

I’m fed up.

Can you tell?


Economic Statistics for 22 Jan 13

Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:

Existing home sales fell 1.0% in December to a worse-than-expected annual rate of 4.94 million.

Chicago Fed National Activity Index fell to 0.02 in December, as growth fell to just marginally above trend.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index plunged to –12 in January, in a decidedly negative report.

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Obama’s second term: Thunder, lightning, but likely little rain

I think Philip Klein has the best read on Obama’s second inaugural speech. Oh, it had lots of things to make the left wet itself in joy, but, well, here’s what Klein thinks (he bases his conclusion on 2 lines in the speech):

This brings us to the two lines in Monday’s speech. He declared that, “We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.” This is Barack Obama, bold leader speaking (with an extra twist of irony given that the signature legislative accomplishment of his first term was supposedly aimed at containing the growth of health care costs). Then, he said, “But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” Translation: he isn’t going to do anything to seriously reform Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, and wants more economic stimulus spending, too. So, within a breath of calling for hard choices, he rejected the need for them. I can think of no more fitting summation of Obama’s presidency.

I pretty much agree. He’ll talk tough and then go to Hawaii. He’ll claim the desire to do all sorts of things and then hit the links.

Leadership takes another 4 year holiday.

In his case, it might be a good thing, although it means nothing with entitlement reform will happen – again. We’re instead going to play around the edges of immigration, gun control and global warming.



MLK is spinning in his grave

I wonder what Martin Luther King would say on the day  a black president is sworn in for his second term – a day that also celebrates King’s birth. You hope he’d be pleased. But my guess is, since he was more concerned with the content of your character than the color of your skin, that might not be the case.

Why? Because of the ongoing assault on our rights. For instance the gun control distraction that involves an Attorney General who is possibly the greatest hypocrite and biggest criminal in Washington.

What am I talking about?

Attorney General Eric Holder and his Department of Justice have asked a federal court to indefinitely delay a lawsuit brought by watchdog group Judicial Watch. The lawsuit seeks the enforcement of open records requests relating to Operation Fast and Furious, as required by law.

Judicial Watch had filed, on June 22, 2012, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious and “specifically [a]ll records subject to the claim of executive privilege invoked by President Barack Obama on or about June 20, 2012.”

The administration has refused to comply with Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, and in mid-September the group filed a lawsuit challenging Holder’s denial. That lawsuit remains ongoing but within the past week President Barack Obama’s administration filed what’s called a “motion to stay” the suit. Such a motion is something that if granted would delay the lawsuit indefinitely.

I don’t care what anyone says what happened with Fast and Furious was criminal. And the ongoing cover-up is also criminal.  The “most transparant administration ever” is, in fact, the most opaque.

As for the hypocrisy, well that’s easy, especially given Fast and Furious.

Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the government will consider “imposing tough penalties on gun traffickers who help funnel weapons to dangerous criminals” while talking about gun control to U.S. mayors.

ERIC HOLDER: And to consider a series of new federal laws imposing tough penalties on gun traffickers who help funnel weapons to dangerous criminals.

Who is the biggest “gun trafficker” we know of?

Eric Holder.


Welcome to the law of unintended consequences

Or here’s what happens when you play the green card and drive up the cost of energy to the point that it is unaffordable:

When the mercury falls, the theft of wood in the country’s woodlands goes up as people turn to cheaper ways to heat their homes. With energy costs escalating, more Germans are turning to wood burning stoves for heat. That, though, has also led to a rise in tree theft in the country’s forests. The problem has been compounded this winter by rising energy costs. The Germany’s Renters Association estimates the heating costs will go up 22 percent this winter alone.


How much carbon is being emitted by wood burning stoves?  How about the deforestation?

Gee, nukes don’t sound so bad now, do they?


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