Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 12 Aug 16

Producer Prices for Final Demand fell -0.4% in July Prices less food and energy fell -0.3%, while prices less food energy and trade services were unchanged. On a Year-over-year basis, PPI-FD fell -0.2% overall, but were up 0.7% less food and energy and up 0.8% less food, energy, and trade services.

Buoyed only by auto sales, Retail sales were unchanged in July, but sales less autos were down -0.3%, and sales less autos and gas fell -0.1%.

Business inventories rose 0.2% in June, while a 1.2% increase in sales pulled the stock-to-sales ratio down to a lean 1.39.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose 0.4 points to 90.4.


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Economic Statistics for 10-11 Aug 16

The US Government had a budget deficit of $-112.8 billion. For the year to date, the deficit is up 10.3% over last year.

July import prices rose 0.1%, and export prices rose 0.2%. On a year-over-year basis, prices are down -3.7%, for imports and -3.0% for exports.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 7.1% last week, with purchases up 3.0% and refis up 10.0%.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 1,000 to 266,000. The 4-week average rose 3,500 to 262,750. Continuing claims rose 14,000 to 2.155 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.2 points to 41.8 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $2.1 billion last week, with total assets of $4.468 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $1.8 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $32.0 billion in the latest week.


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An explanation

I feel I owe those who read QandO an explanation as to the paltry number of posts you’ve seen up here in recent times.

You see, when I retired I started this little business doing Social Media Marketing to give me something to do each morning when I got up.  You know, a filler.  Something to keep me busy.  Make some fun bucks.

Well guess what … it has taken off.  Boy has it taken off.  You take one Facebook page from 6,000 likes to 1.1 million likes and boom, you’re a “guru”.  Everyone wants you to either consult with them or manage their page.  And, well, I’m swamped.

Not exactly my plan, but I’m having a tough time turning stuff down, and the money is very good.

So bear with me.  I’ll get back on track.   The contract I’m working right now demands a lot of time and it is a “turn around” job if you get my drift.  I’m about a month into it and it is turning around.  But much more work to come.

I guess, in reality, you could say I’m no longer retired.  But I refuse to give it up just yet.

Best to you all.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 9 Aug 16

The Fed’s Labor Market Conditions Index rose 2.9 points to 1.0 in July.

NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index for July rose 0.1 points to 94.6.

Non-farm productivity fell a disappointing -0.5% in the 2nd Quarter, while unit labor costs rose 2.0%.

June wholesale inventories rose 0.3%, as sales surged 1.9 percent, pulling the stock-to-sales ratio down to 1.33.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth was little improved at 0.5% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.3%.


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An update to my discussion about our presidential candidate Hildroid Clintabot

Four days ago, I gave my unserious take on our presidential election, including the explanation that I couldn’t support the android candidate for the Democrats. I mentioned that her honesty and humor modules seemed to have problems.

After that, the candidate admitted to having a short circuit. A surprising admission for a robot, but perhaps it was a side effect of an attempt to fix her honesty module. She also admitted to an intention to raise taxes on the middle class, which seems odd when many middle class taxpayers currently send almost half of what they make to various levels of government. I find it hard to believe that middle class taxpayers want to send even more. Again, perhaps the attempted fixes to the honesty module are responsible.

The reptilian alien candidate lost little time seizing on these admissions:

In addition to the earlier faults I mentioned in the android’s programming, it appears that the stair-climbing module is quite buggy:

It’s been a problem for a while, apparently:

 

HillaryFallingProblems

I’m sure the DNC’s has a team of programmers and engineers feverishly attempting to fix or hide these flaws.

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Economic Statistics for 5 Aug 16

255,000 net new jobs were created in July, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9%, though, as 184,000 people came into the labor force. Average hourly earnings rose $0.06 to $25.96, and the average workweek rose 0.1 hours to 34.5 hours.

America’s international trade gap widened from $-41.1 billion to $-44.5 billion in June. This will put downward pressure on the next 2nd Quarter GDP revision, which is already weak at 1.1% annualized.

Consumer credit rose a soft $12.3 billion overall in June, but revolving credit rose an outsized $7.7 billion, a good sign for consumer spending.


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Stray Voltage

Does anyone else get tired of saying “I told you so” on a multitude of subjects that are dear to the left?  Take ObamaCare (please!):

Aetna’s decision to abandon its ObamaCare expansion plans and rethink its participation altogether came as a surprise to many. It shouldn’t have. Everything that’s happened now was predicted by the law’s critics years ago.

Of course it was.  For instance:

Who could have envisioned such problems? Not ObamaCare backers. They were endlessly promising that the law would create vibrant, highly competitive markets that would lower the cost of insurance.

Critics, however, were spot on. They said that, despite the individual mandate, ObamaCare wouldn’t attract enough young and healthy people to keep premiums down.

And:

Critics predicted sharp hikes in premiums and big increases in medical claims. That’s what’s happened.

Critics said people would game the system, waiting until they got sick to buy insurance, then canceling it once the bills were paid, because of the law’s “guaranteed issue” mandate. That’s happening, too. In fact, administration officials are trying to tighten the rules to mitigate this problem.

Yes, friends, I’m shocked … truly shocked.  Can’t you tell?  All ObamaCare has done is layer cost and more costly regulation on an already expensive industry. Value added?  Nothing.

Speaking of “I told you so” – minimum wage.  Here’s the tale from Seattle:

The average hourly wage for workers affected by the increase jumped from $9.96 to $11.14, but wages likely would have increased some anyway due to Seattle’s overall economy. Meanwhile, although workers were earning more, fewer of them had a job than would have without an increase. Those who did work had fewer hours than they would have without the wage hike.

Accounting for these factors, the average increase in total earnings due to the minimum wage was small, the researchers concluded. Using their preferred method, they calculated that workers’ earnings increased by $5.54 a week on average because of the minimum wage. Using other methods, the researchers found that the minimum wage hike actually caused total weekly earnings to drop — by as much as $5.22 a week.

The minimum wage isn’t done increasing in Seattle.  Soon it goes to $13 and finally to $15 an hour.  But:

Increasing the minimum wage increases the costs of hiring workers. As a result, employers must accept reduced margins or customers must pay steeper prices.

If employers cannot stay in business while paying their staff more, they will either hire fewer people or give their workers fewer hours. As a result, even if wages per hour increase, workers’ total earnings could decline.

That’s reduction in people or hours (or both) is exactly what they’re seeing at $11.14.  Imagine the impact of $13 and finally $15 an hour.  As usual, leftist economic ignorance hurts those who can least afford it.  But, of course, that’s not who will get the blame when unemployment soars, is it?

This isn’t rocket science or even a difficult economic concept.  But, like ObamaCare, the economic principles are roundly ignored.  And, like ObamaCare, the results are entirely predictable.

Meanwhile in “Whack-a-do” land the “Three Blind Mice” just aren’t acceptable:

A University “Bias Incident Team” took a carving knife to three students’ “three blind mice” Halloween costumes last fall, saying the costumes mocked the disabled.

The incident took place at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, according to records reviewed exclusively by Heat Street. The offending students had posted pictures of themselves in costume on Facebook.

The documents,which Heat Street obtained under open records laws, reveal that a member of the Bias Incident Team reported the students herself: “There was concern about their choice as it makes fun of a disability,” says the team’s meeting minutes.

OMG – break out the smelling salts, special snowflakes ahead. Note the unchallenged assumption underlying the response – the assumption that their “choice” was made to “make fun of a disability”.  Really?  Based on what evidence?  Oh, wait.  We don’t do evidence anymore.  We now deal in assumptions and those assumptions are now much more valid than … evidence.  If I were the “mice” I’d use the Hillary defense and claim there was no “intent” to make fun of anyone.  Case closed.

Enjoy your weekend!

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 4 Aug 16

Factory orders fell -1.5% in June, following May’s decline, which was revised downwards to -1.2%.

Few chain stores still report monthly sales, but that did for July reported sharply lower sales growth, triggering earnings reassessments.

A surge of Job cuts in the energy sector pushed Challenger’s July layoff count to 45,346 from June’s 38,536.

Gallup’s July Good Jobs Rate rose to 47.1% from June’s 46.0%.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 3,000 to 269,000. The 4-week average rose 3,750 to 260,250. Continuing claims fell 6,000 to 2.138 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.1 points to 43.0 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $2.3 billion last week, with total assets of $4.467 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-8.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $49.7 billion in the latest week.


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