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Economic Statistics for 27 Nov 13

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -0.3% last week, with purchases down -0.2% and re-fis up 0.1%.

Durable goods orders dropped -2.0% in October, with ex-transportation orders also down -0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, orders are up 5.3%, while orders ex-transportation are up 4.3%.

Initial jobless claims fell 10,000 to 316,000. The 4-week average fell 7,500 to 331,750, while continuing claims fell 91,000 to 2.776 million.

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index fell from 0.14 to -0.18 for October.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index fell -2.9 points in November to 63.0.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose a point to -33.7 in the latest week.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose 3.1 points to 75.1 in November.

The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose 0.2% in October.

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Economic Statistics for 26 Nov 13

In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a 3.8% increase from the previous year. ICSC-Goldman reports a weekly sales increase of 2.6%, and a 2.1% increase on a year-over-year basis.

There are two months of Housing Starts data released today, but the shutdown is holding up the starts data. Permits data is available, however, with September permits up 5.2% to an 0.974 million annual rate. October permits jumped 6.2% to a 1.034 million annual rate.

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.3% in September, which is an 8.5% year-over-year gain.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 1.0% in September, showing accelerating appreciation in home prices.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index in November fell -0.8 points to 70.4.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index jumped 12 points to 13 in November.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index fell more than four points to 91.3.

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The wages of mendacity

They’re finally “coming home to roost” as Mr. Obama’s favorite preacher might say:

According to a new CNN/ORC International survey, only four out of 10 Americans believe Mr. Obama can manage the federal government effectively. Fifty-three percent don’t view him as a strong and decisive leader. And 56 percent say he does not agree with them on important issues and he does not inspire confidence.

But the numbers on the president’s personal characteristics should alarm the White House most of all. More than half (53 percent) believe he’s not honest and trustworthy, while 56 percent say he’s not a person they admire.

Each of these figures are all-time records for Mr. Obama in CNN polling.

In their fascinating behind-the-scenes book on the 2012 election, Double Down, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann write that the campaign’s research showed “that there was a deep well of sympathy for Obama among voters.” In focus groups after the first debate, they write, “people offered excuse after excuse for his horrific presentation. In Florida, one woman said, almost protectively, ‘I just bet you he wasn’t feeling well.’”

That deep well of sympathy–that willingness to give the president the benefit of the doubt and the attachment and connection voters felt for Mr. Obama–has been crucial to his success for his entire political life. He has always been viewed as a likeable and decent man, even when his campaign employed fairly ruthless tactics. But the days of broad public faith and trust in this president appear to be over. And no wonder.

The fact that the president knowingly misled the public on such a crucial element of his health-care program so many times, over such a long period of time, with such apparent ease, has penetrated the public consciousness in a way nothing else ever has. Incompetence has now been twinned to mendacity. And not surprisingly, that deep well of sympathy is drying up.

The characteristics which have taken such a beating are the one’s that kill a reputation – honesty, trustworthiness and admiration.  You can forgive a goof.  You can even forgive a certain level of incompetence if you have a deep reservoir of admiration for someone based on your belief that they’re an honest and trustworthy person.

Obama’s killed that with this monstrosity he claims as his legacy.  The Democrats too suffer from that albatross.

The usual excuse makers are having trouble ginning up the enthusiasm for attempting to support this president.  Why?  Because their honesty and trustworthiness are at stake if they do.  Oh, sure, there are those that are so much a party hack that they’re going to sputter and spout the usual reality defying nonsense.  Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the poster children of this breed.

But as mentioned many times before, reality is a bitch and she has shown up after 5 years of this nonsense with a vengeance.  She is taking no prisoners.  I can think of a million cliches that fit this situation and none of them are complementary to the President or Democrats.

By the very way they went about putting this law through the legislative process, they deserve each and every negative thing that happens to them.  It is so bad, that Obama and company are left with trying to hijack Thanksgiving in order to save this awful law.

Barack Obama is the lamest of lame ducks (and that pretty much includes internationally as well, for mostly the same reasons).   Because what he messed with went so badly and the fact that what he messed with was so important and personal to all Americans, you better believe any “well of sympathy” has dried up.  And according to some reports, the worst is yet to come (the possibility that up to 80 million Americans will be dropped from their employer plans).

It is difficult to survey the wreckage of his reputation and not realize that this was all brought on by his own incompetence, arrogance and narcism. What’s interesting is he is a product of his ideology. He is its crowning achievement.  And he demonstrates better than any tome, op-ed or television piece how bankrupt that ideology is.

Whether anyone will really pick up on that is probably arguable.  But there it is – he is indeed the prefect product of liberalism.  And, as anyone who has eyes and a will to actually see, the emperor has no clothes.


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Having a problem picking which bit of nonsense to write about

So, instead, I’ll just pitch a lot of it out here.  Call it “clearing the browser tabs” if you will.

ObamaCare is a giant redistribution scheme.  I know most readers here have known or figured that out long before now.  But it appears the media is suddenly discovering it as well.

Oh, and this … this is just funny (in a sad sort of way) because it lays out all the other promises that were made by Obama to ease the passage of their redistribution scheme:

President Obama has said a lot of things about health care reform, not just that if you liked your health insurance plan, you could keep it. In a prime-time news conference in July 2009, his rationales for a new law stacked up like planes on an airport runway during a holiday weekend: It would provide “security and stability” for families; it would “keep government out of health care decisions”; it would prevent insurers from “dropping your coverage.” He said the program “would not add to our deficit,” that it would “slow the growth of health care costs in the long run,” that it would be “paid for” but not “on the backs of middle-class families.” Most important, he said, “I want to cover everybody.”

Security and stability for families.  Ha!  Millions with cancelled insurance.  Keep government out of health care decisions – you know, like keeping your doctor if you want to.  Prevent insurers from dropping your coverage?  In fact it demands insurers drop your coverage if it isn’t coverage of which ObamaCare approves, thus the millions with cancelled insurance.  “Would not add to deficit?”  Well, that’s if the redistribution works properly and you don’t count all the cost of the government bureaucracy added to make it work (unless those 19,000 IRS agents are working for free).   Slow the growth of health care costs in the long run?  Not with the size of the Medicaid expansion and the subsidies they plan.  “Paid for” but “not on the backs of the middle class”.  It’s going to be paid for on the backs of the young – who are mostly middle class, if they can maintain that.

What a freakin’ joke.

Meanwhile the apologists for ObamaCare have found Kentucky and are touting it as proof ObamaCare is loved and wanted.  Why?   Because over 56,000 have signed up.  Irony no?  Kentucky – a state the folks in the North East like to point to as Hillbilly heaven actually has a working website.    But, of course, if you actually look at the numbers, they don’t at all support the premise that ObamaCare is working at all (certainly not as it’s advocates said it must work to succeed):

“Places such as Breathitt County, in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky, are driving the state’s relatively high enrollment figures, which are helping to drive national enrollment figures as the federal health exchange has floundered. In a state where 15 percent of the population, about 640,000 people, are uninsured, 56,422 have signed up for new health-care coverage, with 45,622 of them enrolled in Medicaid and the rest in private health plans, according to figures released by the governor’s office Friday,” the Post wrote. “If the health-care law is having a troubled rollout across the country, Kentucky — and Breathitt County in particular — shows what can happen in a place where things are working as the law’s supporters envisioned.”

So first, not even 10% have enrolled, and of those that have enrolled, only 20% are “billpayers”, i.e. people who will actually pay for their own health care insurance and subsidize the other 80% of those who are on Medicaid.  In other words, out of 640,000 eligible, 56,422 have enrolled, and of those 56,000, 45,622 are going to be Medicaid recipients.

And liberals call this “success”.   Seems it would have been a lot easier just to expand Medicaid, because that’s primarily what’s happening here.  Other than the Medicaid bunch, less than 1% of those 640,000 have sought out insurance on a system the Democrats point to as working well.

Then there is this story about the green movement’s rank hypocrisy when it comes to environmentally friendly nuclear power.  What arguments do they use against nuclear power (an power source that actually works as advertised)?  The very same arguments they have used to argue for wind, solar, etc, of course:

Having demanded policies to make energy more expensive, whether cap and trade or carbon taxes, greens now complain that nuclear energy is too expensive. Having spent decades advocating heavy subsidies for renewable energy, greens claim that we should turn away from nuclear energy because it requires subsidies. And having spent the last decade describing global warming as the greatest market failure in human history, greens tell us that, in fact, we should trust the market to decide what kind of energy system we should have.

Why, or more importantly, how anyone of any intelligence takes them seriously any more is beyond me. But this is so typical of that movement.

As for the “Iran deal”, Victor Davis Hanson gives you a peek behind the curtain:

The Iranian agreement comes not in isolation, unfortunately. The Syrian debacle instructed the Iranians that the Obama administration was more interested in announcing a peaceful breakthrough than actually achieving it. The timing is convenient for both sides: The Obama administration needed an offset abroad to the Obamacare disaster, and the Iranians want a breathing space to rebuild their finances and ensure that Assad can salvage the Iranian-Hezbollah-Assad axis. The agreement is a de facto acknowledgement that containing, not ending, Iran’s nuclear program is now U.S. policy. . . .

Aside from the details of this new Sword of Damocles pact, one wonders about the following: In the case of violations, will it be easier for Iran to return to weaponization or for the U.S. to reassemble allies to reestablish the sanctions? Will Israel now be more or less likely to consider preemption? Will the Sunni states feel some relief or more likely pursue avenues to achieve nuclear deterrence? Will allies like Japan or South Korea feel that the U.S. has reasserted its old global clout, or further worry that their patron might engage in secret talks with, say, China rather than reemphasize their security under the traditional U.S. umbrella?

The president’s dismal polls are only a multiplier of that general perception abroad that foreign policy is an auxiliary to fundamental transformation at home, useful not so much to create international stability per se, as to enhance Obama influence in pursuing his domestic agenda. Collate reset, lead from behind, “redlines,” “game-changers,” ”deadlines,” the Arab Spring confusion, the skedaddle from Iraq, Benghazi, the Eastern European missile pullback, and the atmosphere is comparable to the 1979–80 Carter landscape, in which after three years of observation, the opportunists at last decided to act while the acting was good, from Afghanistan to Central America to Tehran.

There is not a good record, from Philip of Macedon to Hitler to Stalin in the 1940s to Carter and the Soviets in the 1970s to radical Islamists in the 1990s, of expecting authoritarians and thugs to listen to reason, cool their aggression, and appreciate democracies’ sober and judicious appeal to logic — once they sense in the West greater eagerness to announce new, rather than to enforce old, agreements.

Nothing of any substance gained, but certainly, with the easing of sanctions, relief for Iran and most likely problems ahead should the US want to see sanctions resumed or added to in the future.  Pitiful.

But Insty has the silver lining in all of this – “Obama, bringing together Democrats and Republicans, Saudis and Israelis in opposition to his policies. He’s a uniter, not a divider!”

Finally, reality continues to take it’s toll on Barack Obama:

Only four out of 10 Americans believe President Barack Obama can manage the federal government effectively, according to a new national poll.

And a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday morning also indicates that 53% of Americans now believe that Obama is not honest and trustworthy, the first time that a clear majority in CNN polling has felt that way.

Well deserved numbers as I see it.  He has lied and he’s proven he’s incompetent.  The only discouraging part of it all is somehow, 47% of those taking the poll somehow have convinced themselves that even in the face of overwhelming facts to the contrary, he’s honest and trustworthy.  I imagine a lot of them live in Maine.


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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 24 Nov 13

This week, Bruce McQuain makes his triumphant–albeit mean-spirited and cruel–return, to talk with Michael and Dale about Iran, The Census Bureau. and the Senate’s filibuster rules.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.


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.

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Economic Statistics for 21 Nov 13

Initial jobless claims fell 16,000 last week, to 323,000. The 4-week moving average fell 6,750 to 338,500. Continuing claims rose 66,000 to 2,876 million.

The October Producer Price Index declined -0.2% overall, but rose o.2% less food and energy. On a year-over-year basis, the PPI rose 0.3% at the headline level, and up 1.4% at the core.

Markit Economics’ PMI Manufacturing Index Flash rose more than three points to 54.3 in November.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.3 points to -34.6.

The Philadelphia Fed Survey’s General Business Conditions Index fell from 19.8 in October to 6.5 in November.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-0.8 billion last week, with total assets of $3.907 trillion. Reserve Bank credit increased $35.1 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 Money Supply decreased by $-24.9 billion last week.

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Harry Reid opens Pandora’s box

And, he and Democrats will eventually pay for that:

The partisan battles that have paralyzed Washington in recent years took a historic turn Thursday, as Senate Democrats eliminated filibusters for most presidential nominations, severely curtailing the political leverage of the Republican minority in the Senate and assuring an escalation of partisan warfare.

Saying that “enough is enough,” President Obama welcomed the end of what he called the abuse of the Senate’s advise and consent function, which he said had turned into “a reckless and relentless tool” to grind the gears of government to a halt.

Of course Obama and Reid (along with Biden) were some of the more outspoken defenders of the filibuster when Democrats were in the minority.  Minority rights, you know.  Blah, blah, blah …. words without end, words without meaning.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “…the so-called nuclear option… attempt to rewrite Senate rules so we would be another House of Representatives; that we would throw away the Constitution of the United States so the Federal courts could be packed.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.8911, 9/5/06)

REID: “We stand united against an outrageous abuse of power that would pack the courts with out-of-the-mainstream judges.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5198, 5/16/05)

Now, of course, it is an “obstruction” and we’re likely to get exactly what Harry Reid railed against then.

Well, we’ll see how that works out for them when they’re in the minority again and another party is sitting the the White House, won’t we?

Reid – not smart enough see beyond today and the fact that he has just set it up for Democrats of tomorrow to pay for this in ways they never imagined.

If we could only outlaw their whiny cries of outrage when this eventually bites them in the butt, I’d be satisfied.


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