Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 28 Jan 13

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

Durable goods orders jumped a better-than-expected 4.6% in December on a spike in aircraft orders. Ex-transportation orders rose 1.3%.

The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey slipped to 5.5 in January from the prior reading of 6.8, but the production index jumped 10 points to 12.9.

The Pending Home Sales Index fell 4.3% to 101.7 in December, as tight supplies are drying  up the availability of homes.

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Dale Franks
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Tax on the rich? Boy it didn’t take long to spend that, did it?

Remember, this “tax fairness” was something which was going to solve our fiscal problems, if you listened to the left’s claim that is.  However, reality is fairly brutal and usually doesn’t much pay attention to rhetoric based in lies and stupidity.  Case in point:

Congress is poised to clear the final $50 billion chunk of emergency aid for Superstorm Sandy relief Monday — and in one vote, it will have used up all the new tax money President Obama won by raising rates on the wealthy in the “fiscal cliff” deal.

The “cliff” … well they’re busily engaged in trying to see if they can kick the can nearer the edge and, by the way, make the “cliff” a little higher while they do that by raising the debt limit … again.

Meanwhile, let’s talk about immigration, gun bans and whatever else our “leaders” can think of to distract us from this pending disaster.

‘Kay?

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 27 Jan 13

This week, Bruce Michael, and Dale discuss the events of the week.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

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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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Dale Franks
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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.

~McQ

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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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Dale Franks
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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.

~McQ

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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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Dale Franks
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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?

WTH?

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?

~McQ

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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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Dale Franks
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