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Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 14 Jul 15

The NFIB’s index of mall business optimism fell very sharply in June, down -4.2 points to 94.1 with 8 of 10 components falling.

Retail sales showed broad weakness in June, with sales falling -0.3% overall, -0.1 less autos, and -0.2% less autos and gas.

June export prices fell -0.2% while import prices fell -0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, prices fell -5.7% for exports, and -10.0% for imports.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales fell to 1.4% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 2.0%. Today’s official retail sales numbers highlight the ongoing weakness in consumer spending, raising doubts about the strength of 2nd Quarter GDP growth.

Business inventories, rose 0.3% in May, while a sales increase of 0.4% kept the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.36. 

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Mini ice-age? Impossible, per the consensus!

Iran, agreement, blah, blah, blah … we’ll talk about it when all of the details come out rather than the preferred ones.

In the meantime, did you know?

The earth is 15 years from a “mini ice-age” that will cause bitterly cold winters during which rivers such as the Thames freeze over, scientists have predicted.

Solar researchers at the University of Northumbria have created a new model of the sun’s activity which they claim produces “unprecedentedly accurate predictions”.

They said fluid movements within the sun, which are thought to create 11-year cycles in the weather, will converge in such a way that temperatures will fall dramatically in the 2030s.

Solar activity will fall by 60 per cent as two waves of fluid “effectively cancel each other out”, according to Prof Valentina Zharkova.

The article goes on to tell you why, given these two waves and their position at the time, these scientists are “97%” sure their prediction is accurate.

Yes, it’s that big, hot yellow thing that hangs in the sky each day that seems to be driving our climate and not some trace gas as some scientists would have us believe.

Speaking of those “scientists”, I found this the other day and, well, had a little chortle:

Every year brings a new batch of data regarding the progression and likely effects of climate change, and the results are almost always worse than previous models had predicted. In fact, they’re frankly terrifying: rapid and accelerating deterioration of the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets that will yield massive sea-level rise and submerge coastal cities; paralyzing drought on continental interiors that will lead to Dust Bowl–style famine; and incredibly powerful floods and storms that happen more frequently — five times as often now, in fact, as in the 1970s.

Most of the worst predicted outcomes will occur down the road. In the meantime, though, the people making these predictions — climate scientists — are dealing with a heavy psychological toll, as a piece in Esquire by John H. Richardson points out. They are living, as Richardson puts it, a “surreal existence.”

One psychologist who works with climate scientists told Richardson they suffer from “pre-traumatic stress,” the overwhelming sense of anger, panic, and “obsessive-intrusive thoughts” that results when your work every day is to chart a planetary future that looks increasingly apocalyptic. Some climatologists merely report depression and feelings of hopelessness. Others, resigned to our shared fate, have written what amount to survival guides for a sort of Mad Max dystopian future where civilization has broken down under the pressures of resource scarcity and habitat erosion.

The alarmists are dealing with psychological problems.

You have to wonder if it because the “big lie” they’ve been pushing for so many years is collapsing like a wet cardboard box?  Or it’s just the wages of “true belief”, regardless of what other scientists are saying (with “97%” accuracy).


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They just don’t get it

They don’t get a couple of things.


When Army Sgt. Patrick Hart decided a decade ago that he would not serve in the war in Iraq, he expected to follow the same path as thousands of American war resisters during the Vietnam era and take refuge across the border.

But after five years of wrangling with the Canadian immigration system, he came back to the U.S. — and ended up in a military prison.

Of course, Hart swore this oath at his enlistment and any re-enlistment he did:

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

When your service is contingent upon that voluntary agreement, via oath, to fight all enemies “both foreign and domestic” and “to obey the orders” of those placed above you in your chain of command, you don’t get to decide who the enemies are or what orders you’ll obey. And if you do make a decision not to fight a particular enemy or obey a particular order, then you must also be willing to stand up and suffer the consequences of your principled stand.  Not run and hide.

Yes, there are illegal orders and it is your duty to disobey them – and then stand your ground and ride out the aftermath.  Same with refusing to fight.  Do so and stand there and take the consequences.

But when you voluntarily take an oath such as the armed forces requires, you better think seriously about what those words mean before you utter them and then sign your name to them.  As mentioned, this is a volunteer military.  No one makes you go in, no one makes you swear the oath, etc.  And nowhere does the oath allow caveats on who or what you may or may not fight.

So, knowing that, I have little to no sympathy for prisoner Hart.  He got what he deserved and I’m quite happy to see that Canada gets the difference.  Apparently some other folks don’t:

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau has not committed to letting the resisters stay, but many are buoyed by his family history. It was his father, Pierre Trudeau, who while prime minister during the Vietnam War said Canada should be “a refuge from militarism.”

“Why not do it again? It’s only a couple of dozen people,” said Michelle Robidoux, spokeswoman for the War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto, which has been lobbying members of Parliament.

The difference between the military of the Vietnam era and the military of today is summed up quickly: draft army vs. volunteer army.  You can actually have some sympathy for those who fled to Canada during that era instead of doing something they were “press ganged” into doing or didn’t believe in.  For most, no oath was involved and they hadn’t volunteered for anything.

“Why not do it again?”  Because these people deserting now are deserting a voluntary commitment that suddenly became inconvenient for them.  They voluntarily swore an oath and now, instead of fulfilling it, they’re cutting and running.  That’s why you don’t do it “again”?


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The politics of political convenience, Harry Reid style

Did you know that Harry Reid and Donald Trump agree on the immigration issue? Or they certainly sound like they do.  Of course Reid will likely tell you that his position has “evolved” over the years – what is commonly called a “flip flop” in politics.  Like Hillary Clinton’s present position on gay marriage (and any number of other issues).  They’re positions of political convenience, not principal.

Of course, today Harry Reid condemns Donald Trump’s position on illegal immigration.  But not so long ago, Harry was an immigration hawk:

Reid authored the Immigration Stabilization Act of 1993 to remove asylum seekers, end birthright citizenship, expand deportations, and exclude legal immigrants from public assistance. The bill also included amendments that closed loopholes dealing with criminal aliens and mandated more cooperation between local and federal law enforcement, the Conservative Review reported on Tuesday.

“Our borders have overflowed with illegal immigrants placing tremendous burdens on our criminal justice system, schools and social programs. The Immigration and Naturalization Service needs the ability to step up enforcement,” Reid said in a statement.

“Our federal wallet is stretched to the limit by illegal aliens getting welfare, food stamps, medical care and other benefits often without paying any taxes,” Reid continued. “Safeguards like welfare and free medical care are in place to boost Americans in need of short-term assistance. These programs were not meant to entice freeloaders and scam artists from around the world.”

Apparently 1993 marks the date when Mr. Reid allegedly held the interests of American citizens to the forefront recognizing the drain unchecked and illegal immigration has on the nation’s budget, health and resources.

Now, not so much.

Had a Republican said all of what Mr. Reid said back then, he’d be branded a “racist”.

Oh, wait …


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Economic Statistics for 9 Jul 15

Chain stores today are reporting mostly stronger rates of year-on-year sales growth in June.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 15,000 to 297,000. The 4-week average rose 4,750 to 279,500. Continuing claims rose 69,000 to 2.334 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.5 points to 43.5 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $2.2 billion last week, with total assets of $4.481 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $1.2 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $19.8 billion in the latest week.

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America’s problem of “contempt for the law”

We’ve recently seen how multiple jurisdictions openly ignoring the law resulted in circumstances that led in the death of Kathryn Steinle at Pier 14 in San Francisco last week. Why? Because, ideologically, they’re opposed to the law as it stands and are refusing to consider its validity, much less enforce it. The results are inevitable. Steinle’s death is just a symptom of a much more wide-spread threat to our nation. The left’s contempt for laws that don’t fit their ideology. Victor Davis Hanson says:

Ultimately, no nation can continue to thrive if its government refuses to enforce its own laws. Liberal “sanctuary cities” such as San Francisco choose to ignore immigration laws. Imagine the outcry if a town in Utah or Montana arbitrarily declared that federal affirmative action or gay marriage laws were null and void within its municipal borders.

Once an immigrant has successfully broken the law by entering and residing in the U.S. illegally, there is little incentive for him to obey other laws. Increasing percentages of unnaturalized immigrants are not showing up for their immigration hearings — and those percentages are higher still for foreign nationals who have been charged with crimes.

The general public wonders why some are selectively exempt from following the law, but others are not. If federal immigration law does not apply to foreign nationals, why should building codes, zoning laws or traffic statutes apply to U.S. citizens?

And that’s the threat. That’s the danger. If our political leadership can ignore the laws at will or only enforce them when the whim strikes them or it is to their political advantage to do so, why should the ordinary citizen follow laws he or she doesn’t like?

If you can’t count on government enforcing the laws on its books, why should one obey those it disagrees with? As Hansen points out, there’s little incentive to do so. And, eventually, you end up with … Greece. Or Mexico. Or any of a number of third world countries who seem to be on the verge of collapse.

There is a process for changing laws one doesn’t like or think need improvement. The fact that the process takes time, leadership and energy doesn’t mean one can arbitrarily ignore laws that aren’t politically useful at the time. But that’s precisely what is happening with immigration laws in this country.

Then there’s the lack of accountability that runs rampant within government circles. Hillary Clinton knew perfectly well that setting up a private email server as Secretary of State was ethically wrong if not illegal. Yet she really had no fear of being held accountable. She merely shrugs the controversy away and cruises along as a potential presidential candidate. She is indicative of an outlaw government, that, we’re finding out, saw the IRS, FBI and other agencies actively meet with an eye to prosecuting political enemies. During the time of this investigation, the IRS has consistently obstructed the investigation, stonewalled and refused cooperation. Has anyone been yet held accountable? Will anyone? If I were a betting man, I’d lay long odds on it ever happening.

Hanson concludes by saying, “Civilizations unwind insidiously not with a loud, explosive bang, but with a lawless whimper.” He’s precisely right. And, given the propensity of this administration to enforce laws by whim or not at all, that’s exactly where we’re headed.


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Economic Statistics for 8 Jul 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 4.6% last week, with purchases up 7.0% and refis up 3.0%.

Consumer credit rose by $16.1 billion in May, with revolving credit up a moderate $1.6 billion, following strong April and March gains.

The FOMC minutes from the last meeting indicates some members are edging towards rate hikes, but most want to see data improve.

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