Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: March 2013


Economic Statistics for 7 Mar 13

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

Initial jobless claims fell 7,000 to 340,000. The 4-week average fell 7,000 to 348,750. Continuing claims fell 37,000 to 3.122 million, a recovery low.

The US trade gap widened to a greater-than-expected $-44.4 billion. Exports fell 1.2%, while imports rose 1.8%.

The final revision for 4th quarter 2012 shows non-farm productivity fell -1.9%, while unit labor costs rose 4.6%.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index continues to rise, up 0.4 points to -32.4 in the latest week. The index has gained 5.1 points since January.

The Challenger Job-Cut Report lists 55,356 layoffs in February, up from 40,430 in January. This may be a negative signal for tomorrow’s Employment Situation.

~
Dale Franks
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Economic Statistics for 6 Mar 13

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

The MBA reports that mortgage applications surged by 14.8%, with both purchases and re-fis up 15.0%.

ADP reports that private payroll jobs increased by 198,000 last month, compared to a revised 215,000 in January.

New Orders for factory goods fell -2.0% in January, but that was sharply skewed by a drop in aircraft orders. Ex-transportation, orders rose 1.3%. Ex aircraft capital goods rose 7.2%.

The Fed’s Beige Book reports "that economic activity generally expanded at a modest to moderate pace since the previous Beige Book." Both the Boston and Chicago districts report slow growth. Price pressures remain moderate, according to the report.

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Dale Franks
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Sean Penn about Hugo Chavez: “I’ve lost a friend”

Hugo Chavez has assumed room temperature.  I’ve always been taught it is bad manners to talk ill of the dead.  In this case I’ll risk it.  It is a huge boon for liberty and individual rights that Hugo is no longer at the helm of the shipwreck he’s made of his country and its economy.

Of course, there are those who feel differently about a man who had no respect for individual liberty, property or rights:

Sean Penn said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter that “the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion. I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela.”

No one ever said our celebrities were particularly bright.  I mean this is Sean Penn who tried to paddle around New Orleans in a row boat in the wake of Katrina to … well, one assumes to prove something.  Instead he just became another problem for those actually doing rescue work.

So it’s not particularly surprising to see him, blinders firmly in place, saying silly stuff about Chavez. Chavez was a dictator, a tyrant, a bully, amoral, violent and singularly ideologically driven. And, in terms of how the world works economically, ignorant as a stump (a common condition for most socialists) – as is Penn.

Hugo Chavez was no “friend of the poor”. He simply used them, by giving them other people’s property, to provide himself with a power base.

With Chavez’s passing, perhaps Venezuela can now recover from the long national nightmare it has undergone during the Chavez years.

Here’s hoping.

~McQ


The law? Something for thee, not me

Or so says the executive branch in many, many cases.

In this particular case, the National Labor Relations Board, NLRB, has simply decided to ignore a ruling of a US Court of Appeals:

Only a few hours after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a decision that the National Labor Relations Board does not have a legal quorum to act, the board’s chairman, Mark Pearce, issued a press release announcing the board’s intent to ignore it.

The timing and content of Pearce’s statement show a board so fixated on serving the interests of organized labor it no longer knows its place nor weighs the consequences of its actions on the public interest. Although Pearce may believe that the president has the authority to make recess appointments over a three-day break in ongoing Senate sessions — or over lunch, for that matter — it is not the place of the NLRB chairman to disagree with a circuit court on a constitutional question that goes to the heart of the political appointment process and one in which he has a partisan interest.

The answer to that is to ignore the NLRB and anything it says, does or declares.

If they can play that game, so can we.

~McQ


“Global Warming” shadenfreude

When irony won’t do:

It’s not easy being green these days, especially if you’re a die-hard doomsayer of the global warming persuasion. In perhaps the cruelest blow of all, the believers learned just this week — in a study released by the National Opinion Research Center at Barack Obama’s University of Chicago no less — that the skeptics haven’t been marginalized as science-denying ignoramuses all these years. To the contrary, unbeknownst to the doomsayers, they themselves have been on the margins of society in their belief that the global warming threat to the planet is the most consequential issue of our times, if not all times.

Those that have attempted to foist this travesty are indeed on the margins. Mainstream thought discounts heavily any of the myriad of doomsday scenarios that the alarmists have been trying to ram down our throats for years:

As documented in painful detail in Public Attitudes towards Climate Change & Other Environmental Issues across Time and Countries, 1993-2010, a 17-year study of attitudes conducted by the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) in 33 countries, most people in all countries rank global warming way down their list of concerns. In Norway, just 4% considered global warming to be the country’s most important issue — and Norwegians were the most concerned of all of the citizens studied. In Canada, also high up the list, the figure was just 3%; in Great Britain less than 1% and in the U.S. the concern and was less than one half of 1%.

Not surprisingly, in most countries few people even consider global warming — whether or not caused by man — to rise to the level of being extremely dangerous: In Norway, a mere 11.8% of the population fear it, in Great Britain 16.3%, in the U.S. 19.6%. Even in relatively alarmist Canada the great majority take global warming in stride — only 27.8% see it as doom-worthy.

Ice cover in Antarctica is up since 1979 when we first began measuring it by satellite. Disasters are down, with the US “suffering” a drought of land strikes by Cat 3 hurricanes and above. And temperature? Well despite their dire predictions based only on modeling, even the most die-hard alarmists have had to admit we’ve haven’t warmed much at all:

The Holy Grail of proof to most doomsayers, of course, is the temperature, which global warming models insisted would rise in lock-step with increases in carbon dioxide. When the temperatures started to plateau in the late 1990s, doomsayers scoffed at the skeptics who noted that the models failed, taking comfort from the global warming leadership who explained every which way that the skeptics were torturing the statistics to falsely show warming had stopped. Now the leadership itself — the U.K.’s Met Office, NASA’s Jim Hansen, and the IPCC’s Rajendra Pachauri — all admit to temperatures having reached a standstill for the better part of two decades. The lowly global warming believer is left with little but the promises from their leaders that, sooner or later, those temperatures will rise again.

In fact, we found out, it wasn’t skeptics who were “torturing statistics” but the “hide the decline” alarmists.

What we were given, by Al Gore and his like wasn’t science, it was alarmism dressed up as science. It was unproven theory presented as fact. And when science finally had had enough of this claim that consensus proved the alarmist right, they simply dismantled the theory with actual, factual data.

One of the more wonderful bits of fallout? The demise of a once strident voice of the alarmists:

The New York Times is discontinuing the Green blog, which was created to track environmental and energy news and to foster lively discussion of developments in both areas. This change will allow us to direct production resources to other online projects.

Nice.

~McQ


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 03 Mar 13

This week, Michael and Dale discuss the sequester, Bob Woodward, and other things.

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.


Keystone XL pipeline: How long will Obama delay this time

In the wake of sequestration, an opportunity to do the right thing for this country arises.  Unfortunately, it arises within an administration ideologically, and therefore adamantly, opposed to the idea of more fossil fuel:

Today the State Department released yet another positive environmental review for the northern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline project. The State Department approved the original pipeline route through Nebraska, which was supposedly less environmentally friendly, without any problems.

It is no surprise, then, that the State Department also seems to look favorably on this second iteration of the project in this fourth report—a report that should have been unnecessary. For the record, the pipeline also received a stamp of approval from Nebraskans.

Yes, that’s right, the Obama State Department has given the Keystone XL pipeline favorable reviews before.  It has been the executive, in this case, arbitrarily overruling the reports, inserting himself in a process he really has no business in and delaying the project.

IER senior VP Daniel Kish sums it up pretty well:

"This is, as President Obama says, ‘a teachable moment.’  It teaches us why our government’s policies continue to stifle job creation, investment and new energy sources and instead spends valuable time and increasingly limited resources studying things to death.

"While we welcome this report, we also note this is the 4th such environmental report on the Keystone XL pipeline proposal and since it is only a “draft” there will be at least 5 federal environmental studies before a decision is made by our government on the pipeline. The Canadian government made a decision in 6 months; our government has taken 54 months so far.  This is an abject lesson in why – when it comes to energy – no one wants to deal with our government.  This is evident also by continuing falling production on federal lands at the same time U.S. oil and gas production on non-federal lands makes historic gains.  It is time for our Leaders to make a decision….Canada’s did a long time ago.  Too many are hurting and too much is at stake for any more time or money to be wasted on trivial matters and long addressed and re-addressed chimeras advanced by opponents of any and all affordable sources energy."
54 months, numerous positive reports and counting.  Canada, meanwhile, has moved on, planning, while we dither, to sell it’s product to China.  Pipelines don’t have to run through other countries which make life difficult, they can run only in Canada, to their coast for shipment to the Far East.
 
What is Obama delaying?
The project will accommodate up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day, create some 179,000 jobs on American soil, and continue good trade relations with a close ally. The benefits won’t stop with the oil sector, though—the Keystone project will have a positive ripple effect even in areas without the pipeline that will provide goods and services to support the pipeline.
And where do we stand in the wake of this latest favorable report?
Before any real decision is made, there will be a 45-day comment period and some time for the State Department to consider the comments. Then the notably anti-carbon Secretary of State, John Kerry, will give his recommendation and the final decision will lie with the President.
Any feeling of confidence that this administration, no matter how late in the game, will make the right decision isn’t exactly surging in me right now.
 
More than anything, it’s just sad that the lives and livelihoods of so many Americans rest in the incompetent hands of Barack Obama and John Kerry.
 
~McQ


Economic Statistics for 1 Mar 13

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

Personal income fell a steep -3.6% in January, while personal spending increased 0.2%. The PCE Price Index was unchanged, but was up 0.1% at the core level. On a year-over-year basis, income rose 2.2% while spending rose 3.2%, and PCE price index is up 1.2% overall, and 1.3% at the core level.

The PMI Manufacturing Index fell to 54.3 in February, from 55.8 last month, while the ISM Manufacturing Index rose 1.1 points to 54.2 in February.

The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose 1.3 points to 77.6 in February.

Construction spending fell -2.1% in January, mainly on a -5.1% decline in private nonresidential outlays and a -4.3% drop in residential renovations.

Automakers are reporting their monthly sales today. GM: 7%. Ford: 9%. Chrysler: 4%. Sales are on track for 15.5 million sales this year.

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Dale Franks
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