Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 5 Jan 15

December auto sales fell a sharp -5.0% to an annualized 17.3 million, hinting at a bad month for retail sales, overall.

December’s economic confidence index from Gallup averaged -11 in December, up from November’s -13.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to 2.9% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 2.5%. Still not great numbers.


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Welcome to 2016

You know, I got to thinking about it over the holidays.  I needed a break.  I feel somewhat refreshed and ready to face a brand new shiny year that will, unfortunately, contain the same old political dreck … times 10, since it is a presidential election year.  As has been pointed out here, many times, we are woefully served by our political class.  And, frankly, that’s our fault.  Complain all you want about government and politicians, but the bottom line is, the incumbents continue to be reelected  and give away the farm and the bureaucrats continue to siphon off our freedoms through unaccountable fiefdoms imposing freedom killing regulations.

The one good thing this year brings is seeing the Obamas ushered out of the White House.  The two bad things are the front runners for president in each major party.  I’m sorry, I see no intrinsic leadership value in either of them.  One is a blowhard opportunist with no concept of how to do what he claims he can get done and the other is, plain and simple, a crook and a liar.  This is what present day presidential politics has come down to.  What a non-choice.

Well, that’s not true.  We always have a choice, don’t we?  Even if it is to do nothing.  And if those are the two running in November, that will be my choice.  But, as with just about everything to do with today’s political and the class of politicians we suffer, this is an old complaint and frankly, I see nothing on the horizon to change that.  The polity is who makes these decisions, and it appears, for the most part, they believe that the government has money and can give them “free” things.  The depth of ignorance, especially about basic economic principles and how government functions is appalling, but that’s with what we continue to deal.

I’ve decided I need to take a little more time with my posts than with last year.  So I’m going to attempt to rearrange my schedule to where I have more time to devote to them.  That may mean posting in the evening when the work day is done.  Or not … depends.  But what doesn’t “depend” is the desire to be less reactive, less prosaic and more thoughtful.  Anyone can be outraged (and I will be) and upset, but it’s time to do more than state that.  It’s time to talk about the whys and wherefores.  It’s time to talk about alternatives.  It is time to take a good look at this grand experiment and dissect it to find out where the pathogen introduced itself and began to corrupt the system.  My guess is it will mostly boil down to human nature, opportunity and the quest for power.

Anyway, that’s my desire for this year.  Hopefully, I’ll keep this in mind and not let myself wander into the rut I found myself in last year.

Welcome to 2016.  Let’s see how it goes.

~McQ

 

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Economic Statistics for 4 Jan 15

The PMI Manufacturing Index fell -1.6 points to 51.3 in December.

The ISM Manufacturing Index fell another -0.4% in December to 48.2, the lowest reading since July, 2009.

Construction spending unexpectedly fell -0.4% in November, but the year-on-year gain is still at 10.5%.

Gallup’s US Consumer Spending Measure rose from a daily average of $92 to $99 in December.


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Economic Statistics for 31 Dec 15

The Chicago PMI plunged -5.8 points to a recessionary 42.9. I suspect the national PMI will be significantly better, though.

Initial weekly jobless claims jumped 20,000 to 287,000. The 4-week average rose 4,500 to 277,000. Continuing claims rose 3,000 to 2.198 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 1.4 points to 43.6 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-9.9 billion last week, with total assets of $4.487 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-6.1 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $53.1 billion in the latest week.


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Economic Statistics for 29 Dec 15

November’s international trade goods deficit narrowed to $-60.5 billion from the revised $-63.0 billion in October. Exports fell -2.0%, while imports fell -1.8%.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index rose to 108.3, up 1.0 point from November’s revised reading of 107.3. 

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose 6.1 points in December to 96.5.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index rose 0.9% in October, and is up 5.5% on a year-over-year basis.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to 2.5% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.8%.


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Economic Statistics for 23 Dec 15

November durable goods orders were unchanged—which counts as good news now, I guess—while ex-transportation orders fell -0.1%, and core capital goods orders fell -0.4%. On a year-over year basis, Durables orders rose 1.2% overall, but ex-transportation orders fell -1.9% and core capital goods orders fell -1.8%.

Both personal income and spending rose 0.3% in November, while the PCE Price Index was unchanged overall, and up 0.1% at the core. On a year-over-year basis, the PCE Price index is up 0.4% overall, and 1.3% ex-food and -energy.

New home sales rose 4.3% in November to what is still a lower-than-expected annualized rate of 490,000.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose 0.8 points to 92.6 in December.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 7.3% last week, with purchases up 4.0% and refis up 11.0%.


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Economic Statistics for 22 Dec 15

The final revision of 3rd Quarter GDP came in at 2.0% annualized growth, down -0.1% from the 2nd revision. The GDP Price index was unchanged at 1.3%.

Corporate profits in the 3rd Quarter were revised to $1.784 trillion, up a year-on-year 1.3%, down from the initial revision’s 1.4%.

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.5% in October, which is up 6.1% on a year-over-year basis.

Existing home sales plunged -10.5% in November, to a much lower-than-expected annualized rate of 4.760 million. On a year-over-year basis, sales are down -3.8%.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index climbed back into positive territory in December, rising from -3 to 6.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose only to 1.8% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.5%. Sales have been consistently weak this holiday season.


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An interesting thought experiment

Brought to you by Victor Davis Hanson.  I’m sure you can recognize the intent as well as the real subject:

Would Donald Trump cross the racial line to weigh in on a current high-profile criminal case, and suggest that had he another daughter she would have looked just like the deceased? Would he dare go to the UN Assembly to deplore an average bloody and lawless weekend in Chicago, reminding the world that a tribal U.S. has a long way to go? Or at an Islamic prayer breakfast, would Trump remind Muslims not to get on their religious high horses given the outrages of the Caliphate? Perhaps if Guantanamo is closed by executive order, Trump would reopen it by one too?

Would Trump dare use his sloppy epithets in reference to foreign leaders? Would he dismiss Putin as a back of the class cutup or obsessed with “macho shtick?” Would his aides with impunity tell reporters that the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was a “chicken sh*t?” Would he lecture us that America was as exceptional as Greece or Britain? Maybe he would visit the Middle East and Turkey and remind the world from foreign shores that the U.S. had a lot to own up to?

If Trump were to take selfies, claims he was usually the most interesting guy in the room, set a new presidential record for golf outings, pick the Final Four on live TV, would we still dub him narcissistic, distracted, and buffoonish?

And the biased institution in this bit?

Yup, that’s right, the so-called “unbiased media” which is about as unbiased and a Grand Dragon at a KKK rally (and no, in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t mean I’m for Donald Trump … just to clear the air).  Just remember, in the years since GW Bush left office, not once have we seen a report on anti-war protests, even though Afghanistan still continues, Iraq smolders and we toppled Libya.

~McQ

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