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Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 28 Jan 16

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.


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Bogus Bernie burned by WaPo (Democrats with bylines)

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.

 Sounds a lot like someone who has occupied the White House for the last 7 plus years.  Someone that the editorial board of the Washington Post was wild about, regardless of the fact that he’s acted precisely in the way they now deplore.
Funny that …
~McQ
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Economic Statistics for 27 Jan 16

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%.


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Free water for Flint is bad, because … no government regulation?

You can’t make this stuff up and it again points out something that I’ve wondered about for some time …. do these publications actually have editors?

Again, it’s the Atlantic.  The writer is David Graham.  His problem?  Well, you see, various corporations are providing the citizens of Flint, MI … you know, the town where the government managed to make the drinking water undrinkable … free water.

Bad, says Graham, very bad … in the long run:

That these firms are stepping up to deliver water is good news for Flint’s schools and citizens in the immediate term. But a one-time infusion of gallons of fresh water doesn’t do much to address the systemic failures of government that led to the water crisis in the first place. By making four for-profit corporations into a de facto public utility, the gift might actually risk making things worse in the long run.

Ye gods.  I must be missing something Mr. Graham.  Why is this bad again?

Walmart, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and Pepsi aren’t just charitable organizations that might have their own ideologies. They’re for-profit companies. And by providing water to the public schools for the remainder of the year, the four companies have effectively supplanted the local water authorities and made themselves an indispensable public utility, but without any amount of public regulation or local accountability. Many people in Flint may want government to work better, but with sufficient donations, they may find that the private sector has supplanted many of government’s functions altogether.

So, wait, they fill in where government has utterly failed and you’re worried that the citizens may say, “wow, these guys are better than government” or something?  Well, if they’re providing water to schools for the remainder of the year they already are, aren’t they?  So, again, what’s the problem sir?

Oh, I bet I know … privatization.  Don’t want any privatization now, do we?  Lord help us if the citizens of Flint should find out that nasty “for profit corporations” might be able to deliver a basic commodity like water better than government, huh?  And especially if they can do it cheaper as well!

Let’s remind Mr. Graham of something he wrote prefacing the whole “OMG, for profit corporations might be seen in a positive light” nonsense:

The Flint water crisis is above all a human tragedy: The effects of lead exposure on development can be lifelong and irreversible. But it is also a fundamental failure of government. At all levels, government failed to protect citizens.

Not only did it fail to protect its citizens, it failed spectacularly in the delivery of a very basic “every-city-does-it” sort of duty – potable water.  Government has always claimed that only it can reliably deliver such a commodity safely.

Yeah, well Flint disagrees.  And it should be clear to Mr. Graham that despite “public regulation” and “local accountability”, that government failure occurred.

Now what, sir?!  Any bets on who will be held accountable?  In government, I mean.

Yeah, me neither.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 26 Dec 16

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.5% in November, and was up 5.9% on a year-over-year basis, while the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index was up 09%, and is up 5.8% on a year-over-year basis.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) US Services Flash was unchanged at 53.7 for January.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose 1.6 points to 98.1 in January.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index slipped to 2 in January from 6 in December.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index rose 0.5 points to 108.8 in January.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales fell to 1.0% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s already-soft 1.4%.


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Here’s the government you should fear

Mostly because of its liberty stifling oppression:

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has joined New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in trying to prosecute ExxonMobil for supposedly lying to its shareholders and the public about climate change, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Times reported that Harris is investigating what ExxonMobil “knew about global warming and what the company told investors.”

Neither Harris nor Schneiderman recognizes the outrageousness of what they are doing—which amounts censoring or restricting speech and debate on what is a contentious scientific theory. In fact, they want not just to stop anyone who questions the global warming theory from being able to speak; they want to punish them with possible civil sanctions or even criminal penalties. As I said before about Schneiderman, Harris needs a remedial lesson in the First Amendment.

Perhaps we should investigate what Harris “knows” about global warming or climate change, which Harris (and Schneiderman) treats as if it is a proven, unassailable, incontrovertible fact.  However, as the Heritage Foundation’s Nicolas Loris has pointed out, “flaws discovered in the scientific assessment of climate change have shown that the scientific consensus is not as settled as the public had been led to believe.”

In fact, what Harris and Schneiderman are doing is treating the “contentious scientific theory” as a proven fact.  It isn’t even close to being proven and instead a very believable assembly of facts to the contrary has made the ‘theory’ seem more like a religion than a reality.  John Cleese … John Cleese for heaven sake … said it best:

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So why is government so insistent that the world is heating up?  Why does it show this bias … and bias it is.  Roy Spencer notes:

I’m not claiming our satellite dataset is necessarily the best global temperature dataset in terms of trends, even though I currently suspect it is closer to being accurate than the surface record — that will be for history to decide. The divergence in surface and satellite trends remains a mystery, and cannot (in my opinion) continue indefinitely if both happen to be largely correct.

But since the satellites generally agree with (1) radiosondes and (2) most global reanalysis datasets (which use all observations radiosondes, surface temperatures, commercial aircraft, satellites, etc. everything except the kitchen sink), I think the fact that NOAA-NASA essentially ignores it reveals an institutional bias that the public who pays the bills is becoming increasingly aware of.

Because there are large … very large … wads of taxpayers money at stake.  There is the UN’s chance to redistribute the wealth, a dream the Third-World Debating Club has harbored for decades.  So alarmism remains the way in which governments and the UN try to peddle their product.

And, as Dr. Spencer says, the public, who pays the bills, “is becoming increasingly aware of” the bias and the fact that the alarmists have yet to prove their point, to wit:

Thermometers Still Disagree with Models …that even if 2015 is the warmest on record, and NOAA has exactly the right answer, it is still well below the average forecast of the IPCC’s climate models, and something very close to that average forms the basis for global warming policy. In other words, even if every successive year is a new record, it matters quite a lot just how much warming we are talking about.

Oh, and about that 2015 being the warmest year on record, again, the data doesn’t support the claim:

We now have the official NOAA-NASA report that 2015 was the warmest year by far in the surface thermometer record. John and I predicted this would be the case fully 7 months ago, when we called 2015 as the winner.

In contrast, our satellite analysis has 2015 only third warmest which has also been widely reported for weeks now. I understand that the RSS satellite analysis has it 4th warmest.

Oh my … and El Nino was kickin’ this past year, wasn’t it?  In fact, per Spencer “El Nino …that a goodly portion of the record warmth in 2015 was naturally induced, just as it was in previous record warm years.”  Or said another way, the warmth was due to a weather event, not global warming.

But of course, the incurious press ran with the headline of the “warmest year evah!” and now governments of California and New York are on record of considering certain speech which doesn’t support the government line to be punishable under the law.

So what do we have going on in the two states?  Something we thought was dead and buried:

These investigations are reminiscent of the old Soviet Union, where Joseph Stalin persecuted those who he thought had the “wrong” scientific views on everything from linguistics to physics.  Besides sending them a copy of the Constitution so they can review the First Amendment, residents of both New York and California might also want to include a copy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s book, “In the First Circle,” in which he outlined the Soviet government’s suppression of dissenting scientists and engineers.

And that’s precisely the problem here.  This, to us old timers, is precisely how the Soviet Union (and China) operated.  Of course it made no difference in the reality of science.  What is, is.  But it certainly made a difference in the lives of those who were persecuted by the state because they disagreed with the State’s version of science.

The bottom line is that the state attorneys general of New York and California are not acting like level-headed, objective prosecutors interested in the fair and dispassionate administration of justice. They are instead acting like Grand Inquisitors who must stamp out any heresy that doubts the legitimacy of the climate change religion. They are treating an unproven scientific theory as if it is a creed than cannot be questioned, probed, examined, or doubted.

Indeed.  Welcome to the USSA.

~McQ

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Immaturity, historical ignorance and lack of critical thinking define today’s SJW

We’ve covered the SJWs and their protests on various of the universities and colleges in this country to some extent.  But while wandering through some links I came upon an Atlantic article that was very sympathetic to the SJW cause, especially that of racism – institutional racism – as it were.  And I found this quote below to be a fascinating look into the mind of an SJW without a clue:

During a protest at Princeton last semester, students confronted university President Christopher Eisgruber, explaining the emotional reasons behind their demand that the school remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from university buildings. A female protester was shown in a video saying:

I don’t think [racism] is just one or two evils. I don’t think it’s just a flaw, and I don’t think that you as a white person understand what it’s like to walk past a building or to be studying in a school or to have it on your diploma from a school that was built on the backs of and by your people. I don’t want to see that. I do not want to sit in Wilcox hall and enjoy my meal and look at Woodrow Wilson, who would not have wanted me here.

Here you see a very immature individual who has chosen to have an emotional response predicated on a negative feeling to a silly premise.   The premise?  Woodrow Wilson was a racist and wouldn’t want her there, therefore she’s uncomfortable and it is the worlds duty to assuage that uncomfortable feeling.

Really?  See, if I were her, I’d approach that in a completely different way.  I’d be grinning at the image of Wilson saying to myself, “see, you racist old goat, I’m here!  I was invited to be here! You wouldn’t have wanted me here but I am here!  Your kind no longer holds sway!  See how far we’ve come since your backward and retarded beliefs were predominant!  I’m going to sit here everyday and enjoy eating lunch in front of your image!”

But if she had approached it that way, she couldn’t have thrown the little pity party for herself, gotten herself labeled a “victim (with special status)” or found some lefty journalist with a platform to sympathetically, if not unthinkingly, perpetuate this nonsense.

And, as we’ve pointed out endlessly, giving credence and support to this sort of pre-teen emotionalism, especially in college, does nothing to prepare these tender young flowers for the harsh realities outside of University.

There’s also a problem of historical memory at work here.  None of those attending college today lived with or suffered the real institutional racism their grandparents suffered and overcame.  None of them realize that to that generation, both black and white, who fought for civil rights, the end of Jim Crow and equality for all people, their whining about a dead man’s beliefs – beliefs which don’t affect them in the least – seem exactly as I’ve characterized them … childish and immature.

Just as interestingly is their “solution”.  Voluntary segregation.  What their grandparents fought to dismantle, they want to reassemble.  They also want to restrict speech to that of which they approve, which is again something that their grandparents fought against.

One more bit of irony here is the fact that Woodrow Wilson was the progressive’s progressive.  He was a part of the party of Hillary Clinton … and Bull Conner.  But our friendly Journo nor the spoiled special snowflake seem to be aware of that (or are studiously ignoring it).

Funny, sad stuff, this …

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 22 Jan 16

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index rose slightly, to -0.22 in December.

The PMI Manufacturing Index Flash rose 1.4 points in January to 52.7.

Existing home sales jumped 14.7% in December to a 5.460 million annual rate. On a year-over-year basis, sales are up 7.7%.

The Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators fell -0.2% in December following an upward revised 0.5% gain in November.


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Will justice actually be served?

Anthony DeChristopher over at The Hill thinks the latest finds on Hillary’s email server are a “game changer”.  And he makes a good point … it’s a game changer for someone:

Special Access Programs (SAP) is a game changer.  It is now undeniably clear that the results of the FBI investigation will be the end of one of two things:  Hillary’s bid for the White House or the legitimacy of the FBI—at least when it comes to prosecuting cases on the mishandling of classified material.

The FBI’s reputation has been tarnished in the last decade or so.  No longer is it thought of quite in the same way it once was.  A series of missteps, scandals and problems have lowered the once sterling reputation of the law enforcement agency.

On the other hand is a powerful political figure that’s in the running for President of the United States and just happens to be of the same party and the presently serving President of the United States.  To make it clear, the FBI works for the executive department under the Department of Justice.  And, of course, the DoJ is headed by an Obama appointee.  Oh, and remember, the Dems want to hold on to the White House.

Hillary Clinton is a “win at any price” person.  She badly wants to be the first female President of the United States.  Badly.  Very, very badly.

The FBI wants to polish up its reputation as the incorrigible and incorruptible law enforcement agency that isn’t swayed or impacted by politics, but simply enforces the law.

Something has got to give.

DeChristopher is apparently a former Special Forces soldier who gives you a brief run down of the gravity of the Clinton offense.

First, when imagery that is classified SECRET//NOFORN (no foreign national) is viewed, regardless of the absence of classification markings, it is distinctly evident. Second, any documents that contain or reference HUMINT is always classified SECRET, and if specific names of sources or handlers are mentioned, they are at a minimum SECRET//NOFORN.  Third, SIGINT is always classified at the TS level.  It’s not uncommon for some SI to be downgraded and shared over SECRET mediums, however, it is highly unlikely that a Secretary of State would receive downgraded intelligence.  Finally, SAP intelligence has been discovered on Clinton’s private server, and many are now calling this the smoking gun.  SAP is a specialized management system of additional security controls designed to protect SAR or Special Access Required.  SAR has to do with extremely perishable operational methods and capabilities, and only selected individuals who are “read on” or “indoctrinated” are permitted access to these programs.  The mishandling of SAP can cause catastrophic damage to current collection methods, techniques and personnel.

Got it? This isn’t something that is hard to figure out, and anyone who has worked at high levels of government for years already knows all this.  Now comes the chaser:

In other words, if you have worked with classified material for more than a day, it seems highly implausible that someone could receive any of the aforementioned over an un-secure medium without alarm bells sounding.  However, reading about a Special Access Program on an unclassified device would make anyone even remotely familiar with intelligence mess their pantsuit.

You can tell it has put her highness off her stride, but she’s resurrecting the VRWC to cover that.

However this is going to be interesting to watch.  There is a large amount of evidence that points to her being directly responsible for a horrific, nay, epic security breach at the highest level.

Will the FBI do it’s job?  Or is this, like so many Clinton scandals, going to end up with no action being taken when you can be sure if it was you or I, we’d be frog-marched so fast to the local hoosegow that it would make our heads swim.

But we’re the little people, aren’t we?

~McQ

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