Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 5 Jun 15

The Employment Situation in May perked up, with 280,000 net new jobs created, though unemployment rate rose 0.1% to 5.5%. The labor force participation rate rose to 62.9%, with 397,000 entrants to the labor force, of which 208,000 were re-entrants. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3%, while the average workweek remained steady at 34.5 hours.

Consumer credit rose by $20.5 billion in April, helped by an $8.6 billion increase in revolving credit.


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 Jun 15

Chain stores are reporting no better than mixed results for May, offering no clear signal for the May retail sales report. 

The layoff count in the Challenger Job Cut Report fell to 41,034 in May, vice 61,582 in April.

Productivity in the 1st Quarter of 2015 dropped -3.1%, while unit labor costs jumped 6.7%.

Gallup’s U.S. Payroll to Population employment rate fell -0.6% to 44.5% in May, identical to the rate measured in May 2014.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 8,000 to 276,000. The 4-week average rose 3,250 to 274,250. Continuing claims fell 30,000 to 2.196 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.4 points to 40.5 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $1.4 billion last week, with total assets of $4.465 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-11.3 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $19.2 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

A trot around the intertubes

There’s a lot going on but not much that needs a long and laborious explanation or rant.

The Clinton Foundation and our former Secretary of State are really starting to stink it up.  And my guess is there’s a lot more to come.  Years ago Terry Goodkind wrote a book called “Wizard’s first rule”.  The Clinton’s operate by that rule.  The rule?  “People are stupid”.  And there’s a Clinton corollary – “so is the media”.  They’ve operated off of that rule and corollary for decades.  They don’t see any reason to stop now.

The administration is claiming it has killed 10,000 ISIS members since it began its campaign of airstrikes.  Most people in the know doubt that number is anywhere near the truth and that, in fact, it’s much, much lower.   Here’s why:

Three out of every four times that Obama dispatches American warplanes over Iraq, they return to base without dropping any bombs or firing any missiles.

“Seventy-five percent of the sorties that we’re currently running with our attack aircraft come back without dropping bombs, mostly because they cannot acquire the target or properly identify the target,” said U.S. Army General (ret) Jack Keane in testimony before the U.S. Senate last week.

That’s why White House and Pentagon briefers usually talk about the number of sorties, not the number of air strikes. The number of missions flown is four times larger than the number of bombing runs.

There’s a simple fix, but it is politically unpalatable to the “lead from behind” crowd:

Gen. Keane offered a straightforward solution. “Forward air controllers fix that problem,” he said.

You know, “boots on the ground?”  Doing what they’re doing is sort of like firing artillery without forward observers.  Yeah, you’re likely to hit something every now and then, but is it really effective?  Uh, no.

Apparently ISIS acted as our own forward air controllers:

“Defense Tech reports that at a Air Force Association breakfast meeting in Washington DC on Monday, General Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, shared a story of how a careless social media post directly led to an airstrike against ISIS.”

While that is all well and good and wonderful, my question is why we have a General out there sharing this intel?

“The guys that were working down out of Hurlburt, they’re combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command. And in some social media, open forum, bragging about the command and control capabilities for Daesh, ISIL,” Carlisle said.

“And these guys go: ‘We got an in.’ So they do some work, long story short, about 22 hours later through that very building, three [Joint Direct Attack Munitions] take that entire building out.”

He was careful not to share sensitive details about the location of the building and airstrike, but he noted how ISIS’ enthusiasm of social media was turned against them in this case.

“It was a post on social media to bombs on target in less than 24 hours,” he said. “Incredible work when you think about [it].”

He shared a timeframe for a mission to be put together and why they were successful.  Who is the real “moron” here?  Before ISIS may have been guessing why they were hit.  Now they know.

This is going to disappoint the enviro-whacko crowd:

A decade into an energy boom led by hydraulic fracturing, the Environmental Protection Agency has concluded there is no evidence the practice has had a “widespread, systemic impact on drinking water.”

The report is the federal government’s most comprehensive examination of the issue of fracking and drinking water, and it bolsters the position staked out by the energy industry.

Yeah, fracking has only been around 66 years and been used on a million wells.  One might think that if there were a drinking water problem it would have been discovered before now.

That won’t stop the narrative however.  “Science” is only useful when it backs that narrative.  When it doesn’t, it’s just to be ignored.  See “climate change”.

 

Another liberal professor speaks out about the SJW “crisis” on campus:

The current student-teacher dynamic has been shaped by a large confluence of factors, and perhaps the most important of these is the manner in which cultural studies and social justice writers have comported themselves in popular media. I have a great deal of respect for both of these fields, but their manifestations online, their desire to democratize complex fields of study by making them as digestible as a TGIF sitcom, has led to adoption of a totalizing, simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice. The simplicity and absolutism of this conception has combined with the precarity of academic jobs to create higher ed’s current climate of fear, a heavily policed discourse of semantic sensitivity in which safety and comfort have become the ends and the means of the college experience.

Hey, you created it.  You get to live with it.  Either that or you grow a pair and take academia back.

Finally, in the “out of control government” category, we have this little jewel:

IRS lawyers have ruled that once illegal immigrants get numbers, they can go back and re-file for up to three previous years’ taxes and claim refunds even for time they were working illegally.

The lawyers said since the EITC is a refundable credit, that’s allowed even when the illegal immigrants worked off-the-books and never paid taxes in the first place.

Now, these are “laws” the Obama administration is more than happy to follow.  Pay up, sucker.

~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 Jun 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -7.6% last week, with purchases down -3.0% and refis down -12%.

ADP estimates that private payrolls rose a moderate 201,000 in May. We’ll see how true that is in Friday’s Employment Situation.

Rising imports lowered the April trade deficit to $-40.9 billion from $-51.4 billion in March.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index reached a new high of 32 in May, up from 31 in April.

Markit’s PMI Services Index fell from 57.4 in April to 56.2 in May.

The ISM non-manufacturing index for May, at 55.7, came in at the low end of Econoday expectations, falling -2.1 points.

The Fed’s Beige Book downgrades the strength of the economy today, with four of the Fed’s twelve districts reporting slowing growth.


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 2 Jun 15

Motor vehicle sales made a big 7.9% jump in May, to an annual sales rate of 17.8 million. North American-made vehicles also jumped 7.6% to a 14.2 million rate.

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index dropped -4 points in May to -7.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth remained weak, rising to just 1.7% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.6%.

Factory orders fell -0.4% in April for the 8th decline in 9 months. Ex-transportation, factory orders were unchanged.


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

Feminism being redefined on the college campus

It seems everyone is weighing in on the oppressive nature of today’s college campus where “rape culture” is a given (even if it isn’t true) and “triggers” and perceived “aggressions” are treated as unforgivable sins to be punished by the “student collective” in the name of feminism.  I remember when feminism used to mean strong, empowered women. Now, apparently, it means women who are victims of hurtful words and are afraid to come out of their “safe spaces” lest they hear some.

David Brooks actually does a fair job of describing the problem.

The problem is that the campus activists have moral fervor, but don’t always have settled philosophies to restrain the fervor of their emotions. Settled philosophies are meant to (but obviously don’t always) instill a limiting sense of humility, a deference to the complexity and multifaceted nature of reality. But many of today’s activists are forced to rely on a relatively simple social theory.

According to this theory, the dividing lines between good and evil are starkly clear. The essential conflict is between the traumatized purity of the victim and the verbal violence of the oppressor.

According to this theory, the ultimate source of authority is not some hard-to-understand truth. It is everybody’s personal feelings. A crime occurs when someone feels a hurt triggered, or when someone feels disagreed with or “unsafe.” In the Shulevitz piece, a Brown student retreats from a campus debate to a safe room because she “was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against” her dearly and closely held beliefs.

Today’s campus activists are not only going after actual acts of discrimination — which is admirable. They are also going after incorrect thought — impiety and blasphemy. They are going after people for simply failing to show sufficient deference to and respect for the etiquette they hold dear. They sometimes conflate ideas with actions and regard controversial ideas as forms of violence.

Essentially the special snowflakes, who can only exist in a closed system like a college campus, have created an oppressive atmosphere in a place that should be open and free because … feelings.  And college administrators have allowed this nonsense to go on because of two reasons – students are paying the freight and Title IX.  But Brooks is right … the end state of this nonsense is the creation of thought police.  And the SJW’s on campus use their leverage (paying customer) and a wildly misinterpreted law (Title IX) to carry out their vendettas.  And for years, college administrations have been complicit in advancing this nonsense to the the point, now, of absurdity.

However, it has begun to bite back, as it had to, within the college collective.  Megan McArdle brings you up to date on the latest:

In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern, wrote an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education in which she decried the creeping bureaucratization and fear that surrounds sexual activity on campus. Last week, she revealed that as a consequence of that article, she had been investigated for violating Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.

No, I’m not eliding some intermediate step, where she used printed copies of the article as a cudgel to attack her female students. The article itself was the suspect act. According to Kipnis, it was seen as retaliation against students who had filed complaints against a professor, and would have a “chilling effect” and create a “hostile environment” for women in the Northwestern community. Northwestern put Kipnis through a lengthy process in which she wasn’t allowed to know the nature of the complaint until she talked to investigators, nor could she have representation.

You need to read that article to understand what kangaroo courts the “system” within colleges have set up to appease their Title IX requirements as directed by the Obama Administration.  They are incredible and a far cry from anything anyone in the country would call “fair”.  But then fairness isn’t the goal … silence is.  They want to silence all “uncomfortable” ideas that may “trigger” their angst.  And, as you’ll note, the inmates are running the asylum.  Title IX is out of control as Naomi Schaefer Riley points out:

Yes, that’s right, legislation that was originally supposed to combat sexual discrimination in public education and athletics is now being used to silence professors who write essays that contradict progressive wisdom.

Because, you know, they were offended.  They thought they were “safe”.  And since they weren’t or at least didn’t consider themselves to be, they had to act by attacking the source of their angst.  Anonymously, of course.  With no burden of proof.  Just an accusation is all that is necessary, because in SJW-land, feelings rule, no matter how arbitrary and capricious they may be.

Is this the new face of feminism?

~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 1 Jun 15

Personal income rose 0.4% in April, while personal spending—and the PCE Price Index—was unchanged. The core price index, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, prices are up 0.1% overall, while the core price index is up 1.2%.

 The PMI Manufacturing Index fell -0.1 points in May to 54.0.

The ISM Manufacturing index, in contrast to the PMI, rose 1.3 points to 52.8 in May.

Construction spending rose a much better-than-expected 2.2% in April, compared to March’s -0.6% decline. On a year-over-year basis, construction spending rose 4.8%.

Gallup’s self-reported Consumer Spending measure was unchanged at $91 per day in May.


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

Global cooling? But the “science” is settled!

Not according to a new British study:

new study out of the United Kingdom predicts the Earth is about to go through a major climatic shift that could mean decades of cooler temperatures and fewer hurricanes hitting the United States.

Scientists at the University of Southampton predict that a cooling of the Atlantic Ocean could cool global temperatures a half a degree Celsius and may offer a “brief respite from the persistent rise of global temperatures,” according to their study.

This cooling phase in the Atlantic will influence “temperature, rainfall, drought and even the frequency of hurricanes in many regions of the world,” says Dr. Gerard McCarthy. The study’s authors based their results on ocean sensor arrays and 100 years of sea-level data.

Got to love the attempt of these people to try to conform their findings to the current “conventional wisdom” of the alarmist crowd, i.e. we’re heating up – despite the fact there has been no increase in global temperatures for 15 plus years.  They claim this will give us a “brief respite” from something that hasn’t been happening.

“Sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic vary between warm and cold over time-scales of many decades,” said McCarthy, the study’s lead author. “This decadal variability, called the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO), is a notable feature of the Atlantic Ocean and the climate of the regions it influences.”

“The observations of [AMO] from [sensor arrays], over the past ten years, show that it is declining,” Dr. David Smeed, a co-author, said in a statement. “As a result, we expect the AMO is moving to a negative phase, which will result in cooler surface waters. This is consistent with observations of temperature in the North Atlantic.”

Researchers argue that a negative AMO will bring “drier summers in Britain and Ireland, accelerated sea-level rise along the northeast coast of the United States, and drought in the developing countries of the Sahel region,” according to the study’s press release. Interestingly enough, the study also predicts fewer hurricanes hitting the U.S.– a result of a cooler Atlantic.

Oh, you mean natural forces at work?  Well maybe the environment isn’t as sensitive to a trace “greenhouse” gas as some would like us to believe.

And this:

For years, scientists have been debating why satellite temperature data shows there have been about 18 years with no warming trend. Surface temperature data shows a similar pause in warming for the last 10 to 15 years.

So far, the dominant explanation seems to be that oceans have absorbed a lot of the heat that would have otherwise gone into the atmosphere. And most scientists argue the world will continue warming because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

But it’s not, is it?  Maybe, as we’ve been saying for years, it’s that big, hot yellow thing that hangs in the sky everyday and alarmists continue to ignore as a major factor in climate change:

Some scientists, however, have been arguing the world is indeed headed for a cooling phase based on solar cycles. Scientists from Germany to India have argued that weakening solar activity could bring about another “Little Ice Age.”

“The stagnation of temperature since 1998 was caused by decreasing solar activity since 1998,” wrote Jürgen Lange Heine, a physicist with the German-based European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE).

And:

“From 1900 to 1998, solar radiation increased by 1.3 W / m², but since 1998 it has diminished, and could reach values ​​similar to those of the early 20th century. A drop in global temperature over the next few years is predicted,” Heine wrote.

Imagine that.

~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!