April import prices rose 0.3%, and export prices rose 0.5%. On a year-over-year basis prices are down -5.7% for imports and -5.0% for exports.
Initial weekly jobless claims rose 20,000 to 294,000. The 4-week average rose 10,250 to 268,250. Continuing claims rose 31,000 to 2.161 million.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.3 points to 41.7 in the latest week.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $1.1 billion last week, with total assets of $4.478 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $1.1 billion. The Fed’s balance sheet has been stable for months, but I continue to monitor it for signs that the Fed is unwinding the $4 trillion in debt it has absorbed since 2008.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $28.5 billion in the latest week.
We can only hope so … but then, one should remember that John Roberts sold his soul and his intellectual reputation to make payment for it into a tax. So we shall see. But some heartening news today if you’re someone who believes those in government should be held to the Constitution’s restrictions on government.
In a major ruling, Judge Rosemary Collyer, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said the administration does not have the power to spend money on “cost sharing reduction payments” to insurers without an appropriation from Congress.
Collyer’s decision doesn’t immediately go into effect, however, so that the administration can appeal it.“This is an historic win for the Constitution and the American people,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement. “The court ruled that the administration overreached by spending taxpayer money without approval from the people’s representatives.”At issue are billions of dollars paid to insurance companies participating in ObamaCare so they can reduce customers’ out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles for low-income people.
The House GOP argued that the administration was unconstitutionally spending money on these payments without Congress’s approval.
Of course that’s an almost daily occurrence for the past few decades. The lines have blurred and no one is held accountable. Oversight? What a joke.
How far this will go and whether the decision will be upheld is a mystery at this point, but not much of one … see again the first sentence.
The administration, of course, had an answer:
But the administration said it did not need an appropriation from Congress because the funds were already guaranteed by the healthcare reform law in the same section as its better-known tax credits that help people pay for coverage.
Yup, the executive needs no permission to spend your money anymore, just as he or she no longer needs permission to wage war. Blurred lines becoming even blurrier. Separation of powers? Get real.
Imperial presidency? For quite a while. The Judge, though, wasn’t buying the explanation:
Collyer ruled that the section only appropriated funds for tax credits and said the cost sharing reductions require a separate congressional appropriation, which the administration does not currently have.
“Such an appropriation cannot be inferred,” Collyer wrote. “None of Secretaries’ extra-textual arguments — whether based on economics, ‘unintended’ results, or legislative history — is persuasive. The Court will enter judgment in favor of the House of Representatives and enjoin the use of unappropriated monies to fund reimbursements due to insurers under Section 1402.”
Good for her. It won’t dismantle the dreadful system, but it does take another chink out of its funding. It’s a start. But whether the start will later faulter and fail to be upheld is still to be seen. In today’s world, unfortunately, the likelihood of that sort of a failure is much more prevalent than had this ruling come down 40 or 50 years ago when most people still believed in a much more limited government constrained by the Constitution.
Brave new world … one that promises to be much like the old and oppressive world if some have their way.
The Treasury reports that the US budget saw a $106.5 billion surplus in April, as the year’s tax payments came in. The government’s year-to-date deficit for fiscal 2016 is up a very noticeable 25.4%.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 0.4% last week, with purchases up 0.4% and refis up 0.5%.
The “Feel the Bern” gang want to be just like the European social democracies, but as I’ve pointed out before, if any of the European countries were a state in the US, they’d be among the bottom two or so. And while the benefits are wonderful when you’re living off of other people’s productivity, that can only go on for so long.
France … yes, that’s right, France … seems to be at least figuring it out a little bit.
The French cabinet has given the go-ahead for Prime Minister Manuel Valls to force through highly controversial labour reforms.
An extraordinary cabinet meeting invoked the French constitution’s rarely used Article 49.3, allowing the government to bypass parliament.It came after rebel MPs from the governing Socialist party had vowed to vote down the bill.The reforms will make it easier for employers to hire and fire workers.
The government says relaxing workers’ protection will encourage businesses to hire more people and help to combat chronic unemployment.
As one is prone to say, “baby steps” are necessary when learning to walk. And apparently those old nasty laws of economics are finally bitch slapping France enough that they’re at least willing to do something positive to help stimulate business and hopefully then grow their economy.
Valls’ decision is part of a long-running trend: For decades, the decline of the blue social model has been pushing many European countries, including ones we think of as social democracies, to abandon some of the more statist features of their economic agendas. Policies that worked relatively well in closed, stable, national economies of the mid-20th century fail to deliver in the open, dynamic economies of the 21st—and even center-left governments are forced to adapt to this reality once they take power.
Indeed, the “blue social model”, the Bernie Sanders (and to a slightly lesser extent, the Hillary Clinton) model, is, in fact, been running off the rails and not at all delivering what it has promised. But that seems to be the case with all blue social models and their components (ObamaCare anyone?).
Of course the trending away from that model is being roundly ignored by the left in the US. Just as the economic wrecks that are Cuba and Venezuela are blamed on “extenuating circumstances.”
The left will never face the reality of their utopian central control’s failure everywhere and in whatever flavor it is tried. There’s a reason for that. It goes against everything that actually works. Without “perfect knowledge” and then the means to implement it in a direct and timely fashion – two things which will never be achieved – it will always fail. Most importantly, central control simply runs against human nature and therefore authoritarian governance to impose true socialism on the citizens. And yes, the light form of that is indeed “social democracy” but to become anymore “socialist” requires government to move in a more authoritarian way to enable those sorts of “reforms”. Instead, what you see in Europe is resistance coupled with a realization that this just isn’t working as advertised.
Thus the “trend” as discussed. As more of the blue model is scrapped and countries begin to realize gains, other European countries will likely follow suit.
Meanwhile, in the US, we’re apparently considering adopting the model they’re moving away from. And it certainly will be a rousing success. They can’t make it work in countries with about one-eighth our population, but with the “competent” politicians and bureaucrats we have here, we’re sure to make it work.
Uh, huh. Really.
The Fed’s Labor Market Conditions index rose 1.2 points, but remained negative at -0.9 in April.
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose 1.0 points to 93.6 in April.
The Labor Department’s JOLTS report showed a jump to 5.575 million job openings in March, versus 5.445 million in February.
Wholesale inventories rose 0.1% in March, but a 0.7% sales increase kept the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.36.
Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth rose to a still-weak 1.1% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.6%.
Maybe Donald Trump won’t lose. Maybe Hillary won’t be the Democrats’ nominee. Maybe the Democratic and Republican Parties aren’t long for this world.
Maybe all bets are off.
This week’s podcast is up on the Podcast page.
I’ve been having internet access problems this week and am awaiting a new router from my provider. It is supposed to be here today, but the day continues to pass. Ah, well, such is life.
Speaking of life, I noticed the other day that mention of David Duke and the KKK bobbed to the surface of the media cess pool. No mention of this that I can find, however:
A prominent leader in the Ku Klux Klan said the group is officially endorsing Hillary Clinton for president and has already donated $20,000 to her campaign.
Klan leader Will Quigg told Vocativ over the weekend, “For the KKK, Clinton is our choice,” adding, “She is friends with the Klan,” Quigg said. “A lot of people don’t realize that. She’s friends with [the late] Senator [Robert] Byrd. He’s been an Exulted Cyclops in the Klan. He’s been King Kleagle.”
The West Virginia senator was the leader of his state’s Klan chapter in the 1940s, according to Vocativ. In 2005, he publicly disavowed his involvement in the KKK, saying it was wrong. Upon his death in 2010, Clinton described Byrd as a “friend and mentor.” Byrd was among the longest serving senators in the body’s history, holding his seat continuously from 1959 until his passing.
Indeed. And, in fact, he sets the record straight about the Klan:
As for Clinton, “All the stuff she’s saying now, she’s saying so she can get into office, okay? She doesn’t care about illegal immigrants—she’s acting like she does so she can get into office. Once she’s in office, then she’ll implement her policies. She’s a Democrat. The Klan has always been a Democratic organization,” Quigg said.
It certainly has.
John Cleese of Monty Python fame lets us in on his opinion concerning political correctness. He’s not a fan:
And that’s why I’ve been warned recently, don’t go to most university campuses because the political correctness has been taken from being a good idea — which is, let’s not be mean particularly to people who are not able to look after themselves very well, that’s a good idea — to the point where any kind of criticism of any individual or group can be labelled cruel.
And the whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy — and believe you me, I’ve thought about it — is that all comedy is critical. Even if you make a very inclusive joke — like, “How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans” — that’s about the human condition, it’s not excluding anyone, it’s saying we all have all these plans that probably won’t come and isn’t it funny that we still believe they’re going to happen. So that’s a very inclusive joke, but it’s still critical.
All humor is critical. If we start saying, “oh, we mustn’t criticize or offend them,” then humor is gone, and with humor goes a sense of proportion, and then, as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984.
Welcome to “1984”, John.
“If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30 percent of the vote being the Hispanic vote, no doubt that this may be the race of my life,” McCain said, according to a recording of the event obtained by POLITICO. “If you listen or watch Hispanic media in the state and in the country, you will see that it is all anti-Trump. The Hispanic community is roused and angry in a way that I’ve never seen in 30 years.”
Translation: “If Trump’s the nominee, I’m screwed.”
The one and only good reason I’ve found so far for Trump to be the GOP’s nominee.
The meddling of government in the health insurance business is having the predicted results. Insurers are now considering dropping the “bronze” coverage plans … you know the one’s with the lowest payments and the highest deductibles? Guess who buys those? Right … the young and healthy because government has, by force of law, required them to be insured. So if the bronze plans go the way of the former “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” plans, what is then predictable?
If insurers do drop their bronze plans, it would have the effect of further destabilizing the marketplace, according to Sean Mullin, a senior director at Leavitt Partners. That’s because such enrollees, which tend to be lower-risk and want the cheapest plans, will likely leave the marketplace altogether, further depleting the exchanges’ share of healthier enrollees.
Because, you see, the fine will be cheaper than the available “silver” plans.
Brilliant. Great job, Bammy.
Speaking of predicted, here’s another one:
Entry-level McDonald’s jobs will go to self-service kiosks rather than to humans under a $15 minimum wage, a former chief of the fast-food giant has warned.
In a guest article written on the Forbes site, former McDonald’s USA CEO Ed Rensi wrote that instituting a $15 minimum wage would mean “wiping out thousands of entry-level opportunities for people without many other options.”
Arguing that McDonald’s franchisees would not be able to absorb the additional labor costs that would come with a minimum wage of $15, Rensi suggested that the restaurant instead would turn to self-service kiosks to replace some employees. Customers don’t mind the kiosks and they have been successfully implemented in Europe, he said.
Watch the idiots who haven’t a clue about what are called the laws of economic blow a gasket when they discover that math too has laws, and $15 times 0 hours equals … $0.
Ah well, such is life. Got my new router in while doing this and it makes all the difference in the world. In fact, the speed test says I’m getting double the mps I was getting before.
At least for a moment, life is good!
Have a great weekend!
Only 160,000 net new jobs were created in April, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 5.0%. The departure of 362,000 people from the labor force drove the labor force participation rate down -0.2% to 82.8%. Average weekly hours rose 0.1 hours to 34.5 hours, and average hourly wearing rose $0.08 to $25.53.
Consumer credit rose a sharp $29.7 billion in March, including a very strong $11.1 billion increase in revolving credit.
Chain stores today reported that year-on-year sales rates were weaker than March, which was an already weak month.
The Challenger Job-Cut Report shows that April layoff announcements swelled to 65,141 from 48,207 in March.
Gallup’s Good Jobs Rate rose 0.5% to 44.9% in April.
Initial weekly jobless claims rose 17,000 to 274,000. The 4-week average rose 2,000 to 258,000. Continuing claims fell 8,000 to 2.121 million.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.4 points to 42.0 in the latest week.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $2.6 billion last week, with total assets of $4.477 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-7.7 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $62.8 billion in the latest week.
Now that it seems it will be Trump or Clinton – two sides of the same coin. No. Two of the same side of the coin. What is America, you know the country that the Obama administration left badly listing to port and rudderless, going to do now with that … choice?
As I and many here have pointed out, it’s not the politicians fault that those are our choices, it’s the voter’s fault. They do what is necessary to get elected and stay there – the voters enable both of those things. And then don’t pay attention to what’s going on, become party bots and go to the polls to pull one lever or another … as instructed.
I’m also enjoying a bit of irony. Mainly at the expense of those who, in the past, have always told me that a vote for a libertarian candidate or being not willing to vote for the prevailing GOP candidate is as good as a “vote for the other side”. Now that it appears that Trump will be the GOP’s candidate, I’m hearing a completely different tune from many of them.
The GOP has been known for quite some time as the “stupid party” and that moniker seems quite accurate and appropriate at the moment.
As for the Democrats, well they have an equally disgusting choice as their candidate. She’s a criminal and as big a con artist as is Donald Trump. She is, in the parlance, a grifter. She, like the joker in the Oval Office at the moment, has never accomplished a thing in her time of “public service”. In fact, the only thing she has going for her right now is she’s a woman – for the first “woman president” vote. Of course we’ve just suffered through almost 8 years of that sort of first and apparently the country has a masochistic streak that is yet unsatisfied.
I mean either one of these idiots is an abysmal “choice” so it is clear that if either is elected we’ll again be led poorly and ineptly right toward the abyss.
It’s the perfect ending for a once great republic – regardless of who wins, we’ll end up being led off the cliff by a NY liberal. How … apropos.
In the meantime, the libertarian party’s membership is booming. Of course those coming on board are no more libertarian than Donald Trump is conservative. But then, its about the only reasonably agreeable and calm port the defectors can find in this political sh*t storm.