Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 9 Dec 14

The NFIB’s small business optimism index jumped 2.0 points in November to 98.1, the highest since February 2007.

Wholesale inventories rose 0.4% in October, while a 0.2% rise in sales left the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged for a third month at 1.19. 

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly chain store sales fell -1.5%, and rose a weak 2.9% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook also reports retail sales were weak, up only 3.9% on a year-ago basis, down -0.9% from last week.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Like I said … the “stupid party”

They can always find a way to turn an advantage into a disadvantage.

The GOP’s draft 2015 “omnibus” spending bill reportedly includes $948 million to help poor and unskilled Central American migrants establish themselves in the United States, but includes no effective restrictions on President Barack Obama’s plan to provide work permits and tax payments to millions of resident illegal immigrants.

That new spending works out to $16,928 for each of the 56,000 youths, young adults and children who crossed the border during the 12 months up to October 2014.

Another apt adjective is “spineless”.

The GOP leadership has given merely lip service to supporting the opposition among GOP legislators and much of the public to Obama’s welcome for foreign migrants, and is now refusing to direct the Department of Homeland Security not to spend any funds on implementing the Obama amnesty.

Instead, the leadership, led by House Speaker John Boehner, drafted a bill imposing a 60-day spending limit for Obama’s immigration agencies.

The planned 60-day spending limit is largely symbolic, because the most important immigration agency can operate on fees paid by the illegals.

“Leadership is basically giving in to every facet of Obama’s amnesty. We’re giving up an astonishing amount of leverage on every issue imaginable,” said one Hill aide.

Useless, ineffective, spineless and stupid.  That’s no way to go through life, for most.  Wonder how the GOP faithful, who pretty forcefully made their desires known, feel about this group now?

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Special snowflake students pwn Columbia into postponing law finals

In this era of absolutely absurd stories there’s this … frankly, it should be an Onion story, but it’s not – it’s real:

Columbia University has allowed law school students who feel they suffered trauma from two high-profile grand jury decisions to postpone taking their final exams, the school’s interim dean Robert Scott wrote in a message to students this weekend.

“The law school has a policy and set of procedures for students who experience trauma during exam period,” reads Scott’s message, according to the blog PowerLine.

“In accordance with these procedures and policy, students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled,” Scott continued, citing a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown in August as well as a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for using a chokehold which killed 43-year-old Eric Garner in July.

Both cases have sparked heavy protests, as both officers are white while both Brown and Garner are black.

“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” the message says.

“For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”

Oh my goodness.  This is just freakin’ sad.  These little special snowflakes are traumatized by these events.  So, Columbia makes concessions to them because they’ve set up a policy that likely pertains to family situations and that has been used to claim trauma in general.  What’s next claims of PTSD?  And what do you suppose the percentage of students allegedly traumatized vs. students who will claim anything to postpone an exam?  Pwned.

Consider this though, what will the real world do when one of these duffuses claims trauma when he or she loses a law suit?  Well certainly not this:

The school will be holding special sessions next week with trauma specialist Dr. Shirley Matthews, Scott announced. Several faculty members have also agreed to hold special office hours to discuss the implications of the grand juries’ decisions.

The school will set up a reading group, speaker series and teach-ins next semester to “formulate a response to the implications, including racial meanings, of these non-indictments.”

And here these folks thought the legal and judicial systems were perfect.  How will they ever cope?  In the real world they’d hear “suck it up, buttercup, and grow up!”  But of course, academia has set itself up for years for stupidity like this … and now they have it.

Nauseating.  Btw, if they’re this fragile make sure you don’t hire a Columbia law school grad for your lawyer.  He or she will likely have to undergo trauma care if they take your case, and you’ll likely be billed for it.

~McQ

 

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 5 Dec 14

The Labor Department reports that 321,000 net new jobs were created in November, while the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.8%. Average weekly hours rose 0.1 hours to 34.6, while average hourly earnings rose 9 cents to $24.66. The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.8%. The real rate of unemployment, using the pre-crisis historical average participation rate of 66.2%, rose 0.06% to 10.59%.

In October, the US trade gap narrowed very slightly to $-43.4 billion from a revised $-43.6 billion in September.

Factory orders fell a further -0.7% in October, following September’s -0.5% decline. 

Consumer credit rose $13.2 billion in October, mainly on a $12.3 billion rise in non-revolving credit, which disappoints retailers.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 4 Dec 14

Chain stores are reporting monthly sales today, showing mostly stronger rates of year-on-year sales growth in November than October.

Challenger’s Job Cut Report shows that the layoff count fell to 35,940 in November from 51,183 in October and 45,314 in November last year. 

Gallup’s November Payroll to Population employment rate was 44.2%, down two ticks from October’s rate of 44.4%.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 17,000 to 297,000. The 4-week average rose 5,000 to 299,000. Continuing claims rose 39,000 to 2.362 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.9 points to 39.8 in the latest week, still close to a seven-year high.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $0.3 billion last week, with total assets of 4.486 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-7.6 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $3.5 billion in the latest week.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

They don’t call them the “Stupid Party” for nothing

Senator Jeff Sessions points out:

“Polling shows voters believe that Americans should get preference for available jobs by almost a 10–1 margin,” Sessions said.  “Republicans should not be timid or apologetic, but mount a bold defense of struggling Americans.”

Remember what I said about framing the illegal alien amnesty as being about jobs?  Remember I said they could own this politically.  Remember I also said “of course we’re talking about the Republicans here”?

Yeah, well like I said:

Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) suggested that House Republicans are on the verge of breaking their campaign promise to fight President Obama’s administrative amnesty, judging by the legislative text currently being circulated.

Sessions said that the proposed language “fails to meet [the] test” established by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who promised earlier this year that the GOP would do everything possible to thwart Obama’s executive orders.

“The executive amnesty language is substantially weaker than the language the House adopted this summer, and does not reject the central tenets of the President’s plan: work permits, Social Security and Medicare to 5 million illegal immigrants — reducing wages, jobs and benefits for Americans,” Sessions said in the statement expressing his dissatisfaction with the results of a House Republican conference meeting today.

Yes, yes, the usual nonsense from the stupid party.

Look they’re getting ready to vote on a continuing resolution to fund government for next year – so this can’t wait till then.  It’s time to do this now.

Sessions wants Congress to attach a rider to the government-funding bill that prohibits Obama from implementing the orders; his office released a list yesterday, compiled with the assistance the Congressional Research Service, of instances in which Congress did just that on a variety of issues last year.

“Congress must respond to the president’s unlawful action by funding the government but not funding illegal amnesty,” Sessions said. “This is a perfectly sound and routine application of Congressional authority. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reports that last year’s omnibus spending bill included 16 such funding restrictions on fee-based programs.”

To those inclined to worry that using the spending power would backfire on Republicans, Sessions suggested that economic populism would lead to a GOP victory.

Yes it would.  But that’s if they had a collective spine and actually meant all the fire and brimstone rhetoric they spouted while they were trying to get elected/reelected.

But we’re talking the GOP here – always snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 3 Dec 14

The Fed’s Beige book reports that national economic activity—including employment—continues to expand, with wages and prices restrained.

Nonfarm productivity growth for the 3rd Qtr was revised up to an annualized 2.3%, while Unit labor costs were revised down sharply to -1.0%.

ADP estimates that private payroll growth for November was a worse-than-expected 208,000.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -7.3% last week, with purchases up 3.0% but refis down -13.0%.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index ticked up a point in November to 28.

The ISM non-manufacturing index rose 2.2 points to 59.3 in November.

Markit’s PMI Services Index fell -0.9 points in November to 56.2.

The J.P. Morgan Global Composite PMI fell -0.4 points to 53.2 in November, while the Global Services PMI fell -0.2 points to 53.5.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

In many cases, the media’s narrative has little to do with truth or facts

Lately, for whatever reason, I’ve been getting bombarded with pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli emails.  We’ve all realized over the years that the pro-Palestinian side has successfully built a narrative that has little bearing on the truth, but has a number of abettors.  Among them the media.  And it is a real problem when “news” ends up being slanted to one side or another because, well, because it fits a narrative the media prefers, because we remain poorly and incompletely informed.   Funny how when that’s the case, flaky “facts” go unexamined, while real facts are downplayed, ignored or dismissed if they don’t fit that narrative.

Of course we’ve also been told, by the usual players, that there is no media bias and that the story is “true”.    Of course, that’s using the post-modern definition of true.  However, now an AP correspondent very familiar with the area, the coverage and the narrative, lays it all out in a couple of articles:

Most consumers of the Israel story don’t understand how the story is manufactured. But Hamas does. Since assuming power in Gaza in 2007, the Islamic Resistance Movement has come to understand that many reporters are committed to a narrative wherein Israelis are oppressors and Palestinians passive victims with reasonable goals, and are uninterested in contradictory information. Recognizing this, certain Hamas spokesmen have taken to confiding to Western journalists, including some I know personally, that the group is in fact a secretly pragmatic outfit with bellicose rhetoric, and journalists—eager to believe the confession, and sometimes unwilling to credit locals with the smarts necessary to deceive them—have taken it as a scoop instead of as spin.

During my time at the AP, we helped Hamas get this point across with a school of reporting that might be classified as “Surprising Signs of Moderation” (a direct precursor to the “Muslim Brotherhood Is Actually Liberal” school that enjoyed a brief vogue in Egypt). In one of my favorite stories, “More Tolerant Hamas” (December 11, 2011), reporters quoted a Hamas spokesman informing readers that the movement’s policy was that “we are not going to dictate anything to anyone,” and another Hamas leader saying the movement had “learned it needs to be more tolerant of others.” Around the same time, I was informed by the bureau’s senior editors that our Palestinian reporter in Gaza couldn’t possibly provide critical coverage of Hamas because doing so would put him in danger.

There are a couple of things to take away from this.  One the uber-sophisticated press is being spun by those they tend to look-down upon.  Apparently there’s such a thing as being “willingly spun” and we’ve been getting a whole heaping helping of it for years. The irony, if it wasn’t so damaging, is delicious.  Two, this is how you get Ferguson’s.  This is the same recipe on a domestic level.  Facts, be damned, the narrative is what is important and so it is the narrative you get.

How does that serve the consumers of news?

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Buy Dale’s Books!