Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 31 Dec 14

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 17,000 to 298,000. The 4-week average rose 500 to 290,750. Continuing claims fell 53,000 to 2.353  million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.4 points to 42.7 in the latest week.

The NAR’s Pending Home Sales index rose 0.8 points in November, to 104.8.

The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index  fell -2.5 points to 58.3 in December.


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OK, one more …

This one is simply stunning:

HarperCollins, one of the world’s largest publishing houses, sells English-language atlases to schools in the Middle East that omit Israel.

Collins Middle East Atlases show Jordan and Syria extending to the Mediterranean but do mark the position of the West Bank.

When confronted about this non-factual depiction of the region?

However, Collins Bartholomew, the subsidiary of HarperCollins that specialises in maps, said that including Israel would have been “unacceptable” to their customers in the Gulf and the amendment incorporated “local preferences”.

So, they sold out.  They published a lie for money and tried to cloak it in something called “local preference”, which apparently trumps the truth.

What does that say you should keep in mind when buying anything from HarperCollins or its subsidiaries?  That they will lie in a New York minute if they think it will enhance sales.  Hence, anything they publish that is supposedly fact based should be viewed as suspect at the very least.  Or you could simply avoid buying anything from them under the assumption that if they’re willing to incorporate “local preferences” into their “work”, that their work isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 30 Dec 14

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales at chain stores were flat, and rose only a soft 2.2% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports retail sales were little changed from last week, rising 5.4% on a year-ago basis, compared to 5.3% last week.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index rose 0.8% in October, but the still-weak 4.5% increase from last year is down -0.3% from September.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose 1.6 points to 92.6, which is near recovery highs.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index remains strong but did ease in December, to 112.1 vs a revised 113.7 in November.


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This and that

As you’ve probably surmised, I’m taking a bit of a break the last two weeks of the year.  Decompress, catch up on other things and generally relax.  That said, I was happy to see that Erb and the anti-Erb have managed to provide the best in entertainment for the QandO faithful.

Looks like the anti-police riots and ambushes are reaching their natural end.  That’s what happens when you overreach.  I’m not at all implying that some protest isn’t necessary or warranted.  But when it goes beyond that to murder, well, then you’re likely to lose any sympathetic audience you might of had prior to that.  And that’s pretty much what has happened.

I’m also finding if pretty interesting to watch de Blassio sink in his own man-made rhetorical swamp.  Great choice, NYC.  Now live with it.

Of course we’re having to live with the choice of enough of America’s voters that we’re into year 6 of the 8 year nightmare presidency.  And what do we have on the horizon?  More of the same.  A Bush/Clinton run?  If so, we’re worse off than I think.  No more of either family … please!

As for Elizabeth Warren?  Yeah, let’s again go for a junior Senator who has never run anything or done anything except claim minority status to get a good paying gig in academia that certainly didn’t tax her “work ethic”.  Let’s again let some smooth talking “populist” promise us the moon and deliver Ecuador.  And, yes, I’m talking to the press.

The GOP?  Name someone with a chance for a nomination and you’ll likely name someone I wouldn’t want anywhere near the Oval Office.

Then there is the GOP Congress.  It appears Obama is saying he will have a new use for his pen these last two year – the veto pen.  I say that’s good news.  Here’s a chance for the GOP and Congress to use an opportunity to drop the onus for being obstructionist on the President.  If they have the plums to do that.  By the way the “obstructionists” in the past wasn’t the GOP but Harry Reid who wouldn’t bring passed House legislation to a vote in the Senate (not that the press ever caught on) – that problem, theoretically, no longer exists).  Do I have any faith the Congressional GOP will inundate the President with legislation he will have to sign or veto?  No.  None.  Recent history gives me no warm and fuzzy about that – especially while McCain and Graham are still in the Senate.  Look for McCain and his lapdog Graham to again resurrect the “Maverick” brand and spend as much time as Reid screwing up any plans the Senatorial GOP might have to push legislation to Obama’s desk.

Oh …. guess what the NY Times has discovered?  There may not be enough doctors to cover any expanded insurance rolls … especially Medicaid.  Why?  Well for one thing, there are a finite number of doctors that can see a finite number of patients and having insurance hasn’t changed that fact one bit.  But, what is a determiner in who may or may not get to see a doctor is how much that doctor gets reimbursed for his/her work.  And Medicaid is cutting that amount by about 43%.  That means doctors will likely opt out of seeing Medicaid patients (or at least new ones).  In essence then, not much changes in the real world despite the utopian plans of our betters.  While more may have insurance, emergency rooms will be the “primary care” unit for most and “preventive care”, a supposed goal of this abomination we call ObamaCare, is still a fantasy without realization.  Funny how ignoring immutable facts (number of doctors and how humans respond to incentive or lack thereof) always ends up with predictable results.

Bah … enough.  I’m supposed to be taking a break.

See you next year.  In the meantime, happy New Year!

~McQ

 

 

 

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Economic Statistics for 24 Dec 14

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 0.9% last week, with purchases and refis both up 1.0%.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 9,000 to 280,000. The 4-week average fell 8,500 to 290,250. Continuing claims  rose 25,000 to 2.403 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 1.4 points to 43.1 in the latest week, the highest reading since October, 2007.


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Economic Statistics for 23 Dec 14

ICSC-Goldman reports strong weekly retail sales, rising 3.4% for the week, and 3.1% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports same-store weekly retail sales surged 5.3% on a year-ago basis.

Durable goods orders for November dropped -0.7%, far below expectations, while ex-transportation orders fell -0.4%. On a year-over year basis, durables orders are up only 0.3%, though ex-transportation orders are up 3.9%. 

GDP for the 3rd Quarter of 2014 was revised sharply higher in this final revision, to a 5.0% annualized rate, significantly higher than expected. The GDP price deflator, an inflation measure, was unchanged at 1.4%, annualized.

Corporate after-tax profits in the 3rd Quarter of 2014 were $1.895 trillion, following $1.842 trillion for the 2nd Quarter. 

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.6% in October, and is up 4.5% from a year ago.

The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index was little changed for December, falling just -0.2 points to 93.6.

Personal income rose 0.4% in November, while personal spending rose 0.6%. On a year over year basis, income is up 4.2% while spending is up 4.0%. The PCE price index fell -0.2%, and the core rate, which excludes food and energy, was unchanged. On a year-over-year basis, the PCE price index is up 1.2% overall, and 1.4% at the core level.

November new home sales fell -1.6% to a lower-than-expected 438,000 annual rate. Also, price data show weakness with the median price falling -3.2% to $280,000.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index rose 3 points to 7 in December.


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Economic Statistics for 18 Dec 14

Markit’s PMI services flash for December fell -2.7 points from the final November reading to 53.6.

The Philadelphia Fed Survey fell to a very strong 24.5 in December, from November’s unusually high 40.8.

The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose 0.6% in December, following November’s 0.9% gain.

Initial weekly jobless claims  6,000 to 289,000. The 4-week average fell 500 to 298,750. Continuing claims fell 147,000 to 2.373 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.4 points to 41.7 in the latest week, hitting a 7-year high.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $13.4 billion last week, with total assets of 4.502 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $16.1 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $5.3 billion in the latest week.


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