Motor vehicle sales moved higher in January, to a 17.6 million annual rate. Domestic sales rose to 14.2 million.
Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index was unchanged at -11 in January.
Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth continued to weaken to 0.8% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.0%.
While Hillary declared herself the winner in Iowa, her “victory” came down to winning 6 out of 6 coin tosses (@WikiLeaks Hillary Wins #Iowa over Sanders by ‘winning’ six coin tosses in a row. Odds this can happen randomly is 1 in 64.) And even doing that, her “win” was a statistical tie (49.8%, Mr. Sanders’s at 49.6%). Or said another way, had Sanders won a couple of the coin flips, he’d be the “winner”. And don’t forget, Hillary enjoyed a 50 point lead in June.
Hillary’s campaign staff apparently did what they were supposed to do with their ground game. So why the almost “miss” in Iowa? Maybe it’s Hillary.
On the GOP side, what can you say? Pandemonium and hilarity. Polls out to lunch and missed the final finish by miles. I loved John Bambeck’s dig: “So all @realDonaldTrump does is win, but runs for President of the US and loses first caucus to a Canadian. #SeemsLegit”
Heh. But in reality, Iowa essentially sets up a 3 person GOP race – Cruz, Trump and Rubio. If anything it was a test of candidate viability. And the down ticket for the GOP has been shown to be about as viable as … Martin O’Malley.
Trump’s second place finish (barely) leaves a lot of questions to be answered. Why were the polls so wrong? Was it smart for him to skip the last debate or did it end up hurting him? And what about Sarah Palin?
First Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump at a time she had negative 11% favorables with the GOP. Then she missed the first event of the day following her endorsement. Then she blamed her son being involved in a domestic incident on Barack Obama’s treatment of veterans, turning off a lot of veterans in the process by suggesting those who came back from overseas were no longer able to control themselves and were not culpable for their actions.
Hmmm. If Trump thought getting her endorsement was a coup, what does that tell you about his political acumen?
As for Cruz and Rubio, Cruz won with a record turnout. That was supposed to be a Trump trump. So now the chattering class is wondering, “is Trump over”? Well, we’ll see, but my guess is not and I’d also guess we’ll see a Trump that is toned down a bit and a little more careful about what he does or says during the campaign season. Not that it really matters. He is what he is and he’ll likely revert to that at some point
As for Cruz, obviously it surprised the establishment GOP. If Donald Trump weren’t the bête noire of the establishment GOP, Ted Cruz would be. And Cruz set much lower expectations for himself (as did Marco Rubio) in Iowa. For Cruz to win it again sends a loud and clear signal to the establishment GOP. But it must be like a dog whistle to humans, because they never seem to hear it.
Oh, and Jeb Bush? Pack it in buddy. You’re done. And yes, you too are a part of that loud and clear signal.
Finally, what does Iowa mean for the GOP in terms of any significance? Well, other than narrowing the field to three, not much. A reminder:
1976- Gerald Ford (lost election)
1980- Bush (lost nomination)
1984- Reagan (unopossed)
1988- Dole (lost nomination)
1992- Bush (unopossed)
1996- Dole (lost election)
2004- Bush (unopossed)
2008- Huckabee (lost nomination)
2012- Santorum (lost nomination)
So the circus moves on to New Hampshire, where it is likely that Bernie Sanders will bury Hillary Clinton. To bad it won’t be for good. And, we’ll see if the GOP has the same outcome as in Iowa. If so then you can really begin to question Trump’s viability and how deep his appeal reaches.
Personal income rose 0.3% in December, while consumer spending was unchanged. The PCE Price index fell -0.1%, but was unchanged at the core. On a year-over-year basis, prices rose 0.6% overall, while the core rate was 1.4%.
The PMI Manufacturing index rose 1.2 points in January, to 52.4.
The ISM Manufacturing Index was unchanged in January, at a contractionary 48.2.
Construction spending rose 0.1% in December, held down by weakness in non-residential construction.
The Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure indicates that Americans’ self-reported daily spending fell from $99 to $81 in January.
Anyone who has ever worked in or around classified material understands how draconian the rules concerning their use are. If revealed to unfriendly eyes, it could mean lives. Namely the lives of sources or their handlers. And, not only that, it would likely give those who oppose us a look at the means and methods by which we gather intelligence.
Hillary Clinton threw that all out the window when she made a decision, at the beginning of her term as Secretary of State, to use a private server located in a bathroom somewhere outside the government’s secure nets. There was no gradual migration to that server for “convenience” (something she first tried to claim), but instead a very deliberate act and decision to circumvent the restrictions she’d face within such a government net. Oh, and to be able to dodge accountability.
So then she dropped back to another excuse. No classified material was ever sent to that server. When that one blew up, the next excuse was that no material “marked” classified was ever sent.
Here’s the thing, however. Unless you’re a complete idiot, you know what does or doesn’t fall within the realm of classified … especially if you’re the Secretary of State. And its not like this was all new to her. She’d served as a US Senator and been privy to classified material before and was certainly briefed on how to handle it. One can’t imagine, given the stringent rules surrounding the handling of classified material, that she didn’t receive additional briefings when she took State.
She chose to ignore them all.
And her latest excuse? Well, Chris Cillizza pretty much declares it dead:
That defense hit a major snag on Friday when the State Department announced that it, too, had found “top secret” information on Clinton’s server — 22 emails across seven separate emails chains. The information, the State Department said, was so secret that those emails would never be released to the public.
The Clintonian response? Well, it’s classic, you have to say that:
The Clinton team quickly pivoted. “After a process that has been dominated by bureaucratic infighting that has too often played out in public view, the loudest and leakiest participants in this interagency dispute have now prevailed in blocking any release of these emails,” said campaign spokesman Brian Fallon.
Calling for the release of the allegedly top secret emails is a smart gambit by the Clinton folks since it makes them look as if they have nothing to hide while being protected by the near-certainty that the State Department won’t simply change its mind on the release because the Clinton team asked them to.
That’s right, ask for the emails to be released and when they’re not, for obvious reasons, claim someone (VRWC) is trying to smear you.
But what were in those emails? John Schindler says it’s pretty volatile stuff … something anyone would know, markings or not, was very highly classified:
Discussions with Intelligence Community officials have revealed that Ms. Clinton’s “unclassified” emails included Holy Grail items of American espionage such as the true names of Central Intelligence Agency intelligence officers serving overseas under cover. Worse, some of those exposed are serving under non-official cover. NOCs (see this for an explanation of their important role in espionage) are the pointy end of the CIA spear and they are always at risk of exposure – which is what Ms. Clinton’s emails have done.
Not only have these spies had their lives put in serious risk by this, it’s a clear violation of Federal law. The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, enacted due to the murder of the CIA’s station chief in Athens after his cover was blown by the left-wing media, makes it a Federal crime to divulge the true identity of any covert operative serving U.S. intelligence if that person has not previous been publicly acknowledged to be working for our spy agencies.
You probably recall Valerie Plame was a NOC and the stink her supposed exposure brought. The media was all over that … but this? Yeah, they’ve mostly been forced to report on it, but not very enthusiastically.
If this is the case, Ms. Clinton has committed a very serious breach of security that is and should be punishable by conviction and jail time.
The problem, as has been stated recently, is she’s a powerful politician … not one of the little people. And we’re becoming more and more acquainted with how the “law” works now for the powerful among us, aren’t we?
Nobody wants to hear sting play the lute, or Donald Trump insult Megan Kelly. But, if you want hear this week’s podcast, it’s on the podcast page.
US GDP growth fell to 0.7% annualized in the 4th Quarter of 2015, according to the Commerce Department’s initial estimate. The GDP Price index fell to 0.8%.
The nation’s trade deficit increased 2.0% in November, to $-61.5 billion, as exports fell -0.1% and imports were unchanged from the previous month.
The Employment Cost index rose 2.0% in the 4th Quarter of 2015, with a year-over-year increase of 2.0%. The quarterly increase indicates that wage pressure might be rising.
The Chicago PMI jumped from 42.9 to 55.6 in January. I wouldn’t expect this volatile result to be reflected in Monday’s nation PMI.
The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index fell from 93.2 to 92.0 in January.
Explaining the Trump phenomenon – I think this is pretty close:
“American presidential elections usually amount to a series of overcorrections: Clinton begat Bush, who produced Obama, whose lax border policies fueled the rise of Trump. In the case of Trump, though, the GOP shares the blame, and not just because his fellow Republicans misdirected their ad buys or waited so long to criticize him. Trump is in part a reaction to the intellectual corruption of the Republican Party. That ought to be obvious to his critics, yet somehow it isn’t.”
The GOP more than shares the blame, they are the direct reason a person like Trump has traction. Gutless, spineless and afraid to do what they were elected to do election after election has finally turned on them. They’ve been warned for a while. The rise of the Teaparty should have given them a clue, but it was business as usual for establishment GOP types. This last Congressional election and their ineffectiveness while in the majority appears to have been the last straw. Trump is their creation, and they still don’t understand why.
Speaking of Bernie and why his socialism is attractive to so many, I think this is pretty close as well:
“In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, socialism may show early signs of success. But any accomplishments quickly fade as the fundamental deficiencies of central planning emerge. It is the initial illusion of success that gives government intervention its pernicious, seductive appeal. In the long run, socialism has always proven to be a formula for tyranny and misery.”
We’ve actually seen “the long run” in the late and unlamented Soviet Union. We have examples with us today via North Korea where famine and poverty stalk the population constantly, Cuba, where they live in the ’50s and work for $20 a month and Venezuela, where it failed utterly and the population is now trying to dig out from under the ruin. But Bernie supporters, apparently, think his version will work.
In the “thank the good Lord” department, this:
President Obama is not interested in sitting on the Supreme Court once he leaves office, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday.
If you think he’s been a disaster as a president, imagine the damage he could do on the Supreme Court.
Interesting. When given a choice:
The number of dues-paying workers within the state’s labor groups has fallen steadily since GOP Gov. Scott Walker signed his signature legislation, 2011’s Act 10, which repealed most collective bargaining for most public workers. But new federal statistics show that trend intensified in 2015 after Walker and GOP lawmakers followed up on Act 10 by approving so-called right-to-work legislation last spring….
In 2015, 8.3% of Wisconsin workers, or 223,000 in all, were members of unions. That was down sharply from the 306,000 people, or 11.7% of the state’s workforce, who belonged to unions in 2014….
Labor unions are another thing the left isn’t “pro-choice” about.
ICYMI, Al Gore’s apocalyptic predictions expired recently. Yup, Manhattan isn’t submerged in water (unless you want to count the latest footage in frozen precipitation) as he had predicted 10 years ago. David French does a riff on the doomsayers:
Gore’s prediction fits right in with the rest of his comrades in the wild-eyed environmentalist movement. There’s a veritable online cottage industry cataloguing hysterical, failed predictions of environmentalist catastrophe. Over at the American Enterprise Institute, Mark Perry keeps his list of “18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions” made around the original Earth Day in 1970. Robert Tracinski at The Federalist has a nice list of “Seven big failed environmentalist predictions.” The Daily Caller’s “25 years of predicting the global warming ‘tipping point’” makes for amusing reading, including one declaration that we had mere “hours to act” to “avert a slow-motion tsunami.”
Indeed. But the fact of the epic failure of their predictions, they will simply reinvent themselves as they always have. Here’s French’s chaser:
Can we ignore them yet? Apparently not. Being a climate hysteric means never having to say you’re sorry. Simply change the cataclysm — Overpopulation! No, global cooling! No, global warming! No, climate change! — push the apocalypse back just a few more years, and you’re in business, big business.
Dead on. Anyone remember who was one of the first investors in the carbon trading scam?
It appears that deploying other Clintons just isn’t quite working out as Hillary hoped. Bill has been playing to small rooms and Chelsea, well, let’s just say she hasn’t much drawing power, or so it appears:
Chelsea Clinton hosted her highly-hyped Soul Cycle fundraiser for her mother in New York City on Wednesday afternoon.
The $2,700-a-head event, which offered just 60 seats at the popular cycling studio’s Tribeca location and promised guests a photo with Chelsea, was expected to sell out quick while raising some easy money for the Hillary Clinton campaign but was ultimately a flop.
Apparently they fire sold some of the seats at $50 each at the end to fill more and ended up with less than half the bikes filled. This should have been a slam dunk in NYC if Hillary has the pull most think she does in the city. Or else it’s Chelsea. Or both …
The Trumpless debate? Apparently about the same viewership as the previous debate with Trump included. Make what you will of that, but regardless, Trump gave his opponents an open field last night and, at least as I view it, came off as a petty, spoiled brat throwing a tantrum. Like I said, my view.
Have a great weekend!
December’s durable goods orders plunged -5.1%, and ex-transportation orders fell -1.2%. Capitol goods orders fell -4.3%. On a year-over year basis, durable goods orders fell -0.6%, ex-transportation fell -3.2%, and core capitol goods fell -7.5%.
The Pending Home Sales Index rose 0.1% in December to 106.8.
The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index fell -1 point to -9 in January.
Initial weekly jobless claims fell 16,000 to 278,000. The 4-week average fell 2,250 to 283,000. Continuing claims rose 49,000 to 2.268 million.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.6 points to 44.6 in the latest week.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $6.5 billion last week, with total assets of $4.482 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-4.9 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $8.5 billion in the latest week.
Don’t expect this sort of treatment should Queen Hillary ever get the nomination. Expect every one of the GOP candidates to be treated like this if they’re even somewhat viable. The Washington Post takes Bernie to the whipping post:
Mr. Sanders’s story continues with fantastical claims about how he would make the European social model work in the United States. He admits that he would have to raise taxes on the middle class in order to pay for his universal, Medicare-for-all health-care plan, and he promises massive savings on health-care costs that would translate into generous benefits for ordinary people, putting them well ahead, on net. But he does not adequately explain where those massive savings would come from. Getting rid of corporate advertising and overhead would only yield so much. Savings would also have to come from slashing payments to doctors and hospitals and denying benefits that people want.
He would be a braver truth-teller if he explained how he would go about rationing health care like European countries do. His program would be more grounded in reality if he addressed the fact of chronic slow growth in Europe and explained how he would update the 20th-century model of social democracy to accomplish its goals more efficiently. Instead, he promises large benefits and few drawbacks.
And that’s just a sample. They pretty much trash the low information, economically illiterate’s dream candidate. Bernie’s the “free stuff” guy, yet even he has to admit that someone has to pay for his “free stuff”. Of course those who support him stop listening right after “free”.
But that’s really not the point. Hillary is sinking in the polls. The presumptive favorite is in a tight race in the first two primary states. Bernie, despite the fact that he’s clueless, is almost even with the chosen one of the big time Washington media establishment. You know, the one’s with Democrats with bylines? Way to close for comfort. And Clinton isn’t helping. In fact, it seems she’s beginning to crack a little bit. Additionally, she’s wearing thin with the voters who are just as tired of the circus she was a ringmaster in as they are of the Bush dynasty. And all these reminders of her past residence in the big house is beginning to make inroads and erode her support. Then there’s that email thingie.
So up steps the editorial board of the WaPo to take a few well aimed pot shots at her closest competitor. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily disagree with anything they say about Bernie. I just question the timing and intent.
That said, I loved this chaser they included near the end:
Mr. Sanders tops off his narrative with a deus ex machina: He assures Democrats concerned about the political obstacles in the way of his agenda that he will lead a “political revolution” that will help him clear the capital of corruption and influence-peddling. This self-regarding analysis implies a national consensus favoring his agenda when there is none and ignores the many legitimate checks and balances in the political system that he cannot wish away.
New home sales jumped 10.8% in December, to a 544,000 annual rate, well above analysts’ predictions.
The Federal Open Markets Committee left short-term interest rates unchanged today, with a Fed Funds target of 0.25% to 0.50%.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications those 8.8% last week, with purchases up 5.0% and refis up 11.0%.