Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 14 Nov 14

October retail sales were up 0.3% overall. Sales less autos were up 0.3% as well, while sales less autos and gas rose 0.6%.

Export prices fell -1.0% on October, while import prices fell -1.3%. On a year-over-year basis, export prices have fallen -0.8%, while import prices have fallen -1.8%. Cross-border prices are clearly deflationary, and are beginning to feed into the price of finished goods. With interest rates already at 0%, it’s difficult to see what monetary policy measures are available to counteract this trend. 

The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index is up 2.5 points t0 39.4 for November’s preliminary reading. This is the highest level for the index since 2007.

Business inventories rose 0.3% in September, while flat sales left the stock-to-sales ratio at 1.30.


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Economic Statistics for 13 Nov 14

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.1 points to 38.2 in the latest week.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 12,000 to 290,000. The 4-week average rose 6,000 to 285,000. Continuing claims rose 36,000 to 2.373 million.

The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed 4.7 million job openings on the last business day of September.

The U.S. Treasury monthly budget report for October shows the new fiscal year starting with a deficit of $-127.1 billion.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $2.3 billion last week, with total assets of 4.489 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $2.448 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-65.7 billion in the latest week.


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It’s not about “climate change”, it’s about power and control

Concerning “climate change” and Obama’s “deal” with China, Roger L. Simon nails it:

1. Most Americans don’t think Obama tells the truth about anything, let alone something as controversial as climate. They just made that clear by voting him down in about 237 elections, if you believe Obama’s own assertion that his own policies were on trial.

2. No one really knows if “climate change” exists or, if it does, whether its danger is remotely worth the money to correct it, although we do know that “global warming” has not occurred for eighteen years and counting and there is, if anything, global cooling with record lows being set everywhere, the Antarctic ice cap also at record levels, etc.  (Yes, yes, climate is not weather, blablabla.  Climate is… anything you want to say it is.)

3.  Anyone who still believes in “climate change” is likely to be:  a. a profiteer (like the financial wizards who put together those “carbon exchanges” a few years back, making off with billions before they went belly up), b. a scientist looking for a handout,  c. a bureaucrat or official of a Third World country looking for a handout, d. an official of the UN (virtually the same as c),  e. a moral narcissist, preferably rich, who thinks he knows better than us idiots, scientific training not required (cf. Tom Steyer, this year’s George Soros wannabe),  f. a true-believing liberal camp follower of the sort that doesn’t care when Nancy Pelosi says you have to pass Obamacare in order to know what’s in it (this is the largest group), or g. a journalist blinded by panic about losing their job if they dare to tell even part of the truth or wander off the reservation.

However it is the opponents of this scam who are reviled and called “deniers”.

The fact is, there is no proof that what the alarmists fear exists or will exist.  Science doesn’t support their hypothesis and reality doesn’t support the conclusions of their modeling.  But the man who said that “science” would take precedence in his administration has yet to demonstrate that.  This is about control.  Power.  This is the crew that would tell you every step of the way how you should live your life.  They’ve now gotten their claws into your healthcare.  And this helps them control what energy you use and, by the way, literally creates a revenue stream out of thin air.  Revenue streams are important, because that’s one way they exert their control.

As for China – they too know this man as Simon points out:

How do the Chinese figure in all this? Since they break into practically every computer we own, we can assume they also read our newspapers and watch Fox News (maybe even MSNBC, Heaven help them).  Besides Obama’s being a lame duck who was clobbered in the last election, they are fully aware of his myriad lies and prevarications from “If like your plan…” to red lines in Syria.  No one trusts him, even members of his own party.

The Chinese therefore know any deal with Obama is just for show, meaningless.  But to make doubly sure, they arranged for the language in the agreement to say “intend” to reduce their emissions by such-and-such by 2020 — “intend,” the mother of all wiggle words.  (I “intend” to win the Oscar in 2016, even though I have not written the script yet.) Actually, the Chinese, as usual, did a brilliant job of using Obama for their own propaganda, knowing full well that he was desperate to be back in the news for something positive, preferably as far from D.C. as possible.

January, 2017 can’t come soon enough.

~McQ

 

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Economic Statistics for 12 Nov 14

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -0.9% last week, with purchases up 1.0% but refis down -11%.

The Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations nudged up 0.1% in October, with businesses expecting 2.0% inflation over the next year.

Wholesale inventories rose 0.3% in September, while a 0.2% rise in wholesale sales left the stock-to-sales ratio at 1.19.


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Climate change “deal” with China just an excuse for executive action

Given this “deal”, Obama seems to be a used car salesman’s dream, but I’ve come to believe there is a method to this madness.  And it is madness:

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. has set a new goal to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by between 26 percent and 28 percent over the next 11 years as part of a climate change agreement with China. 

The new target is a drastic increase from earlier in Obama’s presidency, when he pledged to cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020. By contrast, Obama’s counterpart, Xi Jinping, did not pledge any reductions by a specific date, but rather set a target for China’s emissions to peak by 2030, or earlier if possible. Xi also pledged to increase the share of energy that China will derive from sources other than fossil fuels. China’s emissions have grown in recent years due to the building of new coal plants.

“This is a major milestone in the U.S.-China relationship,” Obama told a news conference in Beijing, with Xi at his side. “It shows what’s possible when we work together on an urgent global challenge.”

No.  No it’s not anywhere near a “milestone” at all.  If that’s the “deal”, he was owned by the Chinese premier.  Instead it is another bad deal used to push an ideological desire.  This certainly won’t be ratified as a treaty with a GOP Congress (if it is even submitted as a treaty).  And anyone who thinks China won’t ignore, or unilaterally extend its 2030 peak use simply knows nothing about how China works.

So the “King” will, apparently, do further damage to the economy by using this bit of nonsense as his catalyst for umpteen executive orders because, you know he has a pen, a phone and an ideology.

Thank goodness that only lasts for 2 more years with a GOP Congress (assuming the GOP Congress has any fiscal balls when it comes to defunding the stupidity he commits to his “executive actions”).  If you loved ObamaCare you’re going to rave about this bit of economic stupidity.

In the meantime, grab your wallets and bend over, here it comes again.

~ McQ

 

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Most transparent administration ever …

You’ve probably seen this quote floating around, or at least part of it.  You need to read the whole thing.  It’s about how those without principles, who want something passed into law, calculate how to word it and present it so the American people can be fooled into accepting it. Everything is acceptable in terms of methods.  In this case the person is talking about ObamaCare, aka the ACA:

“You can’t do it political, you just literally cannot do it. Transparent financing and also transparent spending. I mean, this bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes the bill dies. Okay? So it’s written to do that,” Gruber said. “In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in, you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical to get for the thing to pass. Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

So we have the CBO which is supposed to score bills and tell us how much they’ll cost, whether or not it is a tax, etc.  This crew intentionally wrote it so it couldn’t be construed as a tax.  That gives you a little idea of how hard the Supreme Court had to stretch to make it one, and thereby “Constitutional”.  Most importantly, it was the presentation that was important and about as opaque concerning the facts as possible.

Not everyone was fooled.  Many understood that someone had to pay for this, understood that it was going to be the healthy and said so.  Ignored.

What did the “architects” count on?  “The stupidity of the American voter” – and now they’re crowing about it.  They used it.  They counted on it.

Finally read the last sentence.  This jerk is pleased with the outcome because he’d “rather have this law than not”.   So deceit and trickery are okay. “By any means necessary”.

Is that a principle your government is supposed to represent?

~McQ

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My new book

As many of you are undoubtedly aware, I write regularly on automotive topics. Now, I’ve gathered all of that writing into a Kindle book at Amazon. Yes, The Joy of Automotion is now a Kindle ebook. Which you can buy. Online.


The Joy of Automotion:
Musings From a Vehicular Dilettante

Please buy it. If you like it, please review it.

While we’re on the subject, you can also get my previous book:


Slackernomics:
Basic Economics for People Who Think Economics is Boring

Thanks!


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Time to put government back inside the box

By that I mean, make it a servant of the public again. I don’t know how this “serves the public”:

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -Local 10 first brought you the story of the 90-year-old man who was arrested for illegally feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale. Wednesday he was back to continue his cause.

“Illegally feeding the homeless.” No, seriously. It is now a crime, in Ft. Lauderdale, to use your own money, buy and prepare food, search out those in need of nourishment, and feed them.

I can’t get over that phrase – “Illegally feeding the homeless”.

Why? Well here, let this idiot explain:

Mayor Jack Seiler, who supports the ordinance, said he’s gotten massive feedback as well, though not always so positive. But he said the law is meant to help the homeless, not to keep them from eating.

“Mr. Abbott has decided that he doesn’t think these individuals should have to have any interaction with government, that they should be fed in the parks. We disagree,” Seiler said.

I’ll bet he’s gotten “massive feedback”.  My guess is Mr. Seiler is probably Julia’s child. Imagine – not having “any interaction with government”.  Dude, that’s a feature in my book. Who in the hell do these people think they are? So the fact that this little tin dictator disagrees, he’s happy to use the force of government to put a 90 year old feeding the homeless in jail? This is just homegrown authoritarianism.

What is this bit of totalitarianism based on? “Experts, of course:

“It’s a pubic safety issue. It’s a public health issue,” said Seiler. “The experts have all said that if you’re going to feed them to get them from breakfast to lunch to dinner, all you’re doing is enabling that cycle of homelessness. They don’t interact with anyone, they don’t receive the aid that they need.”

Blah, blah, blah … another authoritarian does a little appealing to authority.

They don’t interact with anyone? They interact with those they want to interact with, including the guy feeding them. Not good enough, say the “experts”.

As with most experts, however, their good intentions usually have crap outcomes:

“What the city is doing by cutting out feeding is very simple — they are forcing homeless people to go dumpster-diving all over again,” Abbott said. “They will steal. That’s what the mayor is forcing the homeless to do.”

Well, that’s a little overboard too, i.e. no one is “forcing” anyone to steal. The point, however, is if this is a public safety issue and if it is a public health issue then why in the world would one of the acceptable outcome of this idiotic law be to encourage dumpster diving or theft by removing the ability of the homeless to receive food from someone other than a government official? Why don’t they have a right to do that? Other than this stupid law and this idiot trying to justify it, when did feeding someone less fortunate than you become “illegal”?

~McQ

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