Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: March 2013


Economic Statistics for 14 Mar 13

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

Initial jobless claims fell 10,000 to 332,000. The 4-week average fell 2,750 to 346,750, while continuing claims fell 89,000 3.024 million. The 4-week average and continuing claims are now at a recovery low.

The Producer Price Index rose 0.7% in February, while the core PPI, ex-food and –energy, rose 0.2%. On a year-over-year basis the PPI is up 1.8%, while the core rate is up 1.7%.

The nation’s current account deficit for the fourth quarter was a less-than-expected $110.4 billion.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.8 points to -31.6 in the latest week.

For the March 13 week, the Fed’s assets rose $56.6 billion, with the Fed’s balance sheet now totaling $3.167 trillion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $6.6 billion in the latest week.

~
Dale Franks
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Irony today usually has it’s root in government actions

Because government is so completely involved in our lives.  A good example is the UK.

First, here’s a bit of a stunning statistic:

Winter weather has killed a million Brits since the 1980s and will kill a million more by 2050, experts have warned. Age support groups and doctors blame poor housing, high energy bills and pensioner poverty. Many killed by the cold are elderly but the ill, vulnerable and very young also die. A total of 973,000 people died due to winter weather from 1982/83 to 2011/12, Office of National Statistics data for England and Wales shows. ONS data shows another million Brits will be killed by winters by 2050, based on the average of 27,400 cold weather deaths per winter in the last five years.

The government, of course, is responsible for more of the problems listed than high energy bills but I wanted to highlight that and then turn to the irony part of this:

Migrating birds have halted Britain’s embryonic shale gas expansion in its tracks. The company backed by Lord Browne, the former BP boss, admitted yesterday that it must delay resuming fracking near Blackpool until next year because of rules protecting thousands of birds wintering in the surrounding picturesque Fylde peninsula.

Nice to know who or what has the priority over freezing Brits, no?

~McQ


Economic Statistics for 13 Mar 13

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

February retail sales surged a strong 1.1%, with sales ex-autos up 1.0, and sales ex-gas and autos up 0.4%.

Oil prices caused a 1.1% surge in February import prices, while export prices rose 0.8%. On a year-over-year basis, export prices rose 1.5% while import prices fell -0.3%.

Business inventories rose an unexpected 1.0% in January, driving the stock to sales ratio up to 2.9, the highest of the recovery.

The MBA Reports mortgage applications fell -4.7% last week, with purchases down -3.0% and re-fis down -5.0%.

~
Dale Franks
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ObamaCare application 15 pages long

I have to agree with Thomas Sowell who opined early on, and I’m paraphrasing here, “who would believe that adding a layer of government bureaucracy to healthcare would somehow make it less costly?”

Exactly.  Or easier to get, for that matter?

Applying for benefits under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul could be as daunting as doing your taxes.

The government’s draft application is now on the Internet.

It runs 15 pages for a three-person family. The online version has 21 steps, some with added questions.

At least three major federal agencies, including the IRS, will scrutinize your application.

That’s just the first part of the process, which lets you know if you qualify for financial help.

You’d still have to pick a health plan.

Wonderful stuff, no?  And nice to know the IRS is in on it from the beginning … because, you know, they have a lot to do with health care.

Some fear that consumers will be overwhelmed and give up.

Ya think?

Administration officials say the application form is being refined.

Of course it is.  And it will be forever.  Success?  Reducing it to 10 pages I’m sure.

Still, the idea that picking a health insurance plan could be as simple as shopping on the Internet is starting to look like wishful thinking.

Heh … only an absolute dope would have believed that in the first place, with government involved.

But we told you all of this before the law was passed, didn’t we?

~McQ


Is the GOP about to be co-opted by the Democrats … again

It all starts with what could be described as a very simple act – the acceptance of a premise.   As soon as one side accepts the premise of the other side, the other side has won.  It simply becomes a matter of how bad the damage is.

In this case, the premise that seems to have been accepted by the “old ladies” of the GOP leadership is that some sort of federal “gun control” legislation is necessary  because of “mass killings” and our “children”.  From Ammoland:

You might think that with Republicans in control of the US House of Representatives there would be no way ANY gun control legislation could reach the floor.

But sadly we are already beginning to see so-called “conservative champions” folding to pressure from the anti-gun media to sell-out gun owners.

Former Vice Presidential candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan, has stated that he would support legislation that bans private sales at gun shows.

In the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, along with the help of Rep. Scott Rigell (VA), Patrick Meehan (PA) and others, have stated openly that they will work together with anti-gun Democrats from Maryland and New York to tighten restrictions on private firearms sales and expand background checks.

Possibly even more upsetting has been Senator Tom Coburn’s willingness to work alongside anti-gunner Chuck Schumer (NY) to propose “bi-partisan” anti-gun legislation in the Senate.

Make no mistake, so-called “expansion” of background checks is little more than a blatant attempt by anti-gunners to register all firearms and gun owners in America.

That is why Representatives Steve Stockman (TX-36) and Paul Broun (GA-10) have drafted a letter to Speaker Boehner and the Republican leadership urging them to require the support of the majority of Republican members in the House before bringing any anti-gun bills to the floor.

This so-called “Hastert Rule” would mean that 117 Republicans would have to support a particular bill before it had any chance of getting a floor vote, not just the support of the anti-gun elitist in leadership.

So the premise seems to have been accepted by the GOP leadership if this report is accurate.  And, if it is accurate, then they’re going to try to fashion some sort of gun control legislation to address a problem that the type of gun control legislation they’ll propose won’t effect.  What it will do, however, is create a new law that will put legal gunowners in criminal jeopardy if they desire to sell their firearms and don’t follow the new rules to a ‘t’ (and, my guess is the new rules will likely be mostly unenforceable – they’d only be enforced retroactively if a gun involved in a private sale that wasn’t “background checked” was used in a crime).

The criminals?  Those who are likely to commit mass killings?  Yeah, they’ll comply.

Meanwhile, if you believe that Congress has no right to “infringe” on 2nd Amendment rights, prepare to be sold down the river by the GOP.  They’ve already accepted the need and the premise, it’s now just a matter of figuring out what the “compromise” will be.  What should be clear, however, is that if anti-gun legislation does get passed, it will be your 2nd Amendment rights that will be compromised and the GOP will be complicit.

~McQ


State court says no to Bloomberg’s large soda ban

As it should:

A state judge on Monday stopped Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s administration frombanning the sale of large sugary drinks at New York City restaurants and other venues, a major defeat for a mayor who has made public-health initiatives a cornerstone of his tenure.

The city is “enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations,” wrote New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling, blocking the rules one day before they would have taken effect. The city’s chief counsel, Michael Cardozo, pledged to “appeal the ruling as soon as possible.”

In halting the drink rules, Judge Tingling noted that the incoming sugary drink regime was “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences” that would be difficult to enforce with consistency “even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole.”

“The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of the rule,” the judge wrote. (Read the full text of the ruling.)

Under a first-of-its-kind prohibition approved by the city Board of Health last year, establishments from restaurants to mobile food carts would have been prohibited from selling sugary drinks larger than 16 oz. After a three-month grace period, the city would have started fining violators $200 per sale.

So the nanny gets told “no”.

Does anyone really believe this will stop him?

~McQ


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 10 Mar 13

This week, Michael and Dale discuss the Rand Paul filibuster, The death of Hugo Chavez, and North Korea’s saber-rattling.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Economic Statistics for 8 Mar 13

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

Nonfarm payrolls surged to 236,000 net new jobs in February, as the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%. The average workweek rose slightly, to 34.5 hours, while average hourly earnings rose 0.2% to $23.82. Still, there are caveats. The civilian labor force continued to decline, as another 130,000 left the labor force, bringing the labor force participation rate down to 63.5, matching the low of August 2012 and the lowest since September, 1981. The U-6 unemployment rate, the Labor Department’s broadest measure of unemployment, fell a tick from 14.4% to 14.3%. Meanwhile, using the average labor force participation rate prior to the recession, real unemployment measures 11.47%, down very slightly from January’s 11.51%. While this month’s surge in employment is welcome, declining labor force participation still points to a lackluster jobs market.

Wholesale inventories rose 1.2% in January, while wholesale sales fell -0.8%, driving the stock-to-sales ratio up to 1.21, the highest reading since October.

~
Dale Franks
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Obama claims credit for something he hasn’t done

I’m sure that doesn’t surprise anyone particularly.  A) it’s Obama and B) he’s a politician who has yet to quit campaigning (mostly because he hasn’t a clue how to govern).

What am I talking about?  His attempt to claim responsibility for the fact that fossil fuel production is up under his watch and he’s somehow responsible for that.

Yes, it is, but that has absolutely nothing to do with him or his policies.   The Congressional Research Service has apparently made that official now:

The Congressional Research Service has released a report finding that, as was already generally known, U.S. oil and gas production has increased substantially over the past four years, but on private lands only, while it’s actually declined on federal land.

Or said another way, where Obama had control and the opportunity to do what he is claiming, he declined that opportunity and in fact impeded further exploration and production with his policies.  Where he had no real control, production boomed.  Federal lands – nada.  Private lands – bunches and bunches.

What has he sacrificed with his anti-fossil fuel polices?  Revenue and jobs.

Again, you have to wonder anymore what it takes to be fired.

~McQ

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