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Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 12 Apr 13

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

Falling gas prices sent Producer Prices down by -0.6% in March, the though the core PPI rate rose 0.2%. On a year over year basis, the PPI is up 1.1%, and the core PPI is up 1.7%.

Retail sales fell a disappointing -0.4% in March. Sales were also down -0.4% ex-autos, and down -0.1% ex-autos and gas.

The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index fell 6.7 points in the first April reading to 72.3.

Business inventories were steady in February, rising only 0.1%. A 1.2% increase in sales drove down the stock-to-sales ratio to a lean 1.28.

~
Dale Franks
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Obama’s Orwellian budget claim in pictures

Orwellian, in that his claim is as follows:

President Obama is marketing his new budget by saying it has “more than $2 in spending cuts for every $1 of new revenue.” Is this true?

In a word, no.

In fact, his spending increases and advertised spending cuts cancel each other out—leaving only a massive tax increase.

Here’s a graphical representation of the point:

Yeah, I know … big surprise.

A politician lied again.

Wow.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 11 Apr 13

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

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index stayed steady at –34.0 this week.

March chain-store sales were mixed with 9 retail chains reporting higher year-on-year sales rates, 7 reporting lower rates, and 1 unchanged.

Initial jobless claims fell 42,000 last week to 346,000. The 4-week average rose 3,750 to 358,000. Continuing claims fell by 12,000.

Import prices fell 0.5% in March, with the year-on-year rate at -2.7%. Export prices fell -0.4% with the year-on-year rate up 0.3%.

~
Dale Franks
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Obama budget proposal should be DOA

Apparently President Obama is sure his newest budget proposal is so good there’s no room or need for negotiation.  Or so a senior White House official says:

“We don’t view this budget as a starting point in the negotiations. This is an offer where the president came more than halfway toward the Republicans,” a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity to detail the forthcoming document.

“So this is our sticking point,” the official said. “And the question is: are Republicans going to be willing to come to us to do serious things to reduce our deficits?”

Obama is proposing a $3.78 trillion dollar budget.  Estimated tax revenues for 2014 are  $3.22 trillion.  Yet, this is being touted as a “budget cutting” budget and the White House claims it is exactly what the Republicans have wanted.

What … another deficit?

By the way, I don’t want “reduced deficits”.  I want NO deficit.  I.e. any budget that begins with an amount higher than the estimated tax revenues for the year is Dead On Arrival.

And that’s precisely the declaration this budget (like all the other budgets Obama has submitted) deserves.

DOA.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 09 Apr 13

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

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index dropped 1.3 points in march to 89.5, 1.2 points below the recovery average.

February wholesale inventories fell -0.3%, while sales rose 1.7%, pulling the stock-to-sales ratio down to 1.19.

In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a 2.5% year-on-year sales increase, as sales slowed following the Easter week. ICSC-Goldman store sales rose 0.7% in the week, with sales up a soft 2.1% year-over-year.

~
Dale Franks
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North Korean threats continue to escalate

Apparently Marshall Poppin Fresh is still mouthing off about war. Now his state run media has issued a warning to “foreigners” in South Korea:

North Korea issued its latest dispatch of ominous rhetoric on Tuesday, telling foreigners in South Korea they should take steps to secure shelter or evacuation to protect themselves.

The unnerving message, announced by state-run media, follows a warning from the North last week to diplomats in

its capital city, Pyongyang, that if war were to break out, it would not be able to guarantee their safety.

North Korea has unleashed a torrent of dramatic threats against the United States and South Korea in recent weeks, but many analysts have cautioned that much of what it is saying is bluster.

It appears what we’re likely to see is some missile tests in lieu of “war”. Why? Well the WSJ says:

While a missile launch would be seen as a major provocation, South Korean and U.S. officials have repeatedly said there are no signs that North Korea is preparing for any kind of attack. Instead, a missile test and possibly a new nuclear test by the North are seen as efforts to keep tensions high, hone the isolated state’s weapons technology and send an internal message of military strength.

Trust me, we have the means to know and we certainly know what “war prep” would look like. Massive mobilization

and extensive troop movements would be easily spotted. Apparently none of that is happening.

In fact, we may find war to be less of a threat the more belicose they are, if you want to believe the experts and the NORK record:

Experts and officials say that while the current period of harsh language and provocative behavior still carries a risk of accidentally spilling into military confrontation, North Korea’s record shows it poses more of a threat when it is not making warlike statements.

“I worry more about North Korea when they are not rattling the saber,” said Scott Snyder, an expert on North and South Korea at the Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S. think tank.

Acts of aggression from North Korea, experts note, are almost always surprise attacks designed to cower South Korean administrations that have taken a tough line with the North or that aren’t providing sufficient aid.

Note the last phrase. In fact, all of this may be North Korea simply establishing a bargaining position.

We’ll see.

~McQ

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“Choice”– something the left champions, right?

Well, not really.  Not when it comes to things like union membership.  It would rather you not have a choice.  Because when you do, you do stuff like this:

More than two years after Scott Walker’s showdown with organized labor in Wisconsin, the official numbers for the state’s public sector union membership are in — and they are down. Way down.

According a Labor Department filing made last week, membership at Wisconsin’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 40 — one of AFSCME’s four branches in the state — has gone from the 31,730 it reported in 2011, to 29,777 in 2012, to just 20,488 now. That’s a drop of more than 11,000 — about a third — in just two years. The council represents city and county employees outside of Milwaukee County and child care workers across Wisconsin.

Labor Department filings also show that Wisconsin’s AFSCME Council 48, which represents city and county workers in Milwaukee County, went from 9,043 members in 2011, to 6,046 in 2012, to just 3,498 now.

For the left, “choice” is selective. I.e. they get to decide when you should have a choice.  For instance, you should have choice concerning “reproductive health” and the “right” to have someone else pay for it (those paying have no choice you see).

In the case of public service unions in Wisconsin, when finally given a real choice, about a third of those who had been forced to be members have opted out because the value they receive for the money taken isn’t worth it to them.   And, now, to keep the rest of their members and because they’re now answerable to them, union bosses are going to have to actually preform.

Oh, wait, that’s good right?

Choice!

~McQ

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Private oil sector pushes US past Saudi Arabia in output

Funny … despite all the impediments the Obama administration has put on oil production on public land, the private sector – the market – has pushed us into a position we’ve never been in before in terms of output of oil and gas.   We’ve passed the Saudi’s in output:

In spite of the Obama Administration’s hostility to carbon-rich energy, private actors with private capital deployed on private (and state) land have launched a game-changing revolution in domestic oil and natural gas production.

A scarcely reported milestone conveys the magnitude of this turnaround in the global energy landscape.

The U.S. passed Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest petroleum producer in November 2012, according to recently released data of the federal Energy Information Administration.

Now, imagine where we’d be if we didn’t have an obstructive administration bent on punishing those producers in that market via high taxation and regulation.  Or slow-walking permits for drilling on public land.  Or any of a myriad of other things this administration does to try to prevent oil and gas production.  Well, other than taking credit for the rise in production when they had nothing to do with it.

Had they gotten out of the way, had they helped us take advantage of these new finds, Saudi Arabia would have been in our rear view mirror a long time ago and my guess is, gas wouldn’t cost what it does today.

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 07 Apr 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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