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Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 15 Oct 14

The Fed’s Beige Book report indicates economic growth—again—is modest to moderate. Slowing inflation and weak growth overseas is spurring concern about slower economic growth. There is even talk, based on this report, of another new round of Quantitative Easing.

Reinforcing the Fed’s concerns, Producer Prices for Final Demand fell -0.1% in September, while prices less food and gas—the so-called “core rate”—were unchanged. The PPI-FD less food, energy & trade services also fell 0.1%. Goods prices fell -0.2% and services prices fell -0.1%.  On a year-over-year basis, the PPI-FD is up 1.6% at the headline level and 1.8% at the core.

The Treasury reports that a revenue surplus of $105.8 billion in September pushed the FY2014 deficit down to $483.4 billion from $680.2 billion in FY2013.

The October Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations survey shows that businesses expect 1.9% inflation over the next year. This is down from 2.1% in the previous month.

The Empire State manufacturing index for October fell sharply to 6.17 from September’s 5-year high of 27.54.

September retail sales fell a worse-than-expected -0.3% in September. Sales less autos fell -0.2% and sales less autos and gas fell -0.1%. Analysts expected an overall increase of 0.3%.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 5.6% last week, with purchases down -1.0% but refis up 11.0%.


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Update – Still not Serious

Original post – Seriously UnSerious

10 Days later – The average time for Ebola incubation is 8 to 10 days.

“Less than two weeks later, Frieden admitted that the government wasn’t aggressive enough in managing Ebola and containing the virus as it spread from an infected patient to a nurse at a Dallas hospital.

“We could’ve sent a more robust hospital infection control team and been more hands-on with the hospital from day one about exactly how this should be managed,” he said Tuesday.

Frieden outlined new steps designed to stop the spread of the disease, including the creation of an Ebola response team, increased training for health care workers nationwide and changes at the Texas hospital to minimize the risk of more infections.

“I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the patient — the first patient — was diagnosed. That might have prevented this infection,” Frieden said.

Read the rest of this maddening, excuse ridden, inexcusable, hot mess job FAILURE here.

Don't PanicBoy was I silly, I thought the CDC HAD that kind of team on the ground once they realized Ebola Zero had been sent home and then re-admitted a couple of days later.   You know, a team of experts directing all and sundry, overseeing the team, or being the team, for the first Ebola case in the United States.

Nope.

Well, you just have to give them credit for not panicking don’t you?

They were so un-panicked, they didn’t observe that the nurses gear might not have been Ebola proof?   Medical tape?   Wrap 4 or 5 pieces on and you’re good to go!

Ebola is hard to catch!   HAZMAT suits are for sissies!

Years ago I was a Scout Leader, occasionally you let the kids try things you already know aren’t going to work because you want them to think critically and make discoveries and learn. This IS NOT that kind of situation.

If the CDC was observing why the hell didn’t they observe what’s being described as nurses without proper gear and waste matter stacked to the gunwales?

Anyone want to disagree that with my assessment 10 days ago that they weren’t taking this seriously?

Do you think they ARE now?

UPDATE (Dale): I have edited this post to correct the formatting, replaced the text of the original post with a link to it, and deleted the enraging line of equal signs that ran off the edge of the page.

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Tired of being called “hysterical?”

Because that’s what all the elite would have you believe you are when you have concerns about their ability (and competency) to contain a virus with a 50 -70% death rate.  This is the same elite that told us the virus was unlikely to show up here (it has) and that air travel wasn’t a real threat (air travel is precisely how the virus arrived here).  And anyone who says differently is “hysterical”.

Now we learn we have a second infected nurse and, just to add to the irony, she traveled by air to and from Cleveland, OH the day prior to diagnosis.  So wait lets think about this … we had 75 health care workers come in contact with patient zero in the US and they were left to just resume their normal lives afterward with no thought to possibly holding them in some sort of loose quarantine to insure they weren’t infected?  And, as it turns out, at least two were.

Additionally, the plane remained in service and made two more round trip flights.  But, the CDC says, you’re not dangerous until you run a fever and she wasn’t diagnosed with the disease until after the flight. So, as our Top Men at the CDC said, she likely wasn’t infectious.  CNN burst that bubble today by reporting she was running a fever on the flight.

Folks, I hate to say it, but this sort of sloppiness and counter-intuitive activity is exactly how epidemics spread.  But we’re “hysterical”.

Then there’s plain old human nature to consider.  As a friend of mine wrote:

If you want to understand selfishness, look no further than the behavior of people caught up in the ongoing Ebola scare — a man who lied so he could board a plane from Africa, a nurse who boarded a plane even though she was at risk of getting Ebola because she treated that man, a journalist/doctor who is now under mandatory quarantine because she violated a voluntary one, family members who have resisted being quarantined while at high risk of contracting Ebola.

This kind of behavior is precisely why Ebola is an epidemic in West Africa, and Americans apparently haven’t learned anything from watching the news there. Or worse, they just don’t care. They aren’t willing to be inconvenienced for a few weeks in order to protect those around them.

Exactly.  Add that to the sloppiness of the so-called protocols, if they even exist, and you have the makings of something which could easily get out of hand.  But we’re “hysterical”.

Gerlado Rivera tweeted a question yesterday wondering if those who were calling for a ban on flights from Africa would now be for one on Texas since Ebola had now been found there?  Gerry’s never been considered a rocket brain surgeon, but this was dumb even for him.  And, of course, the irony of the situation – the fact that Ebola got to Texas via the air – was apparently lost on the poor boy.

Now we learn that the disease my have a 42 day incubation period which would make the CDC’s 21 day quarantine entirely inadequate.   We also learn that Patient Zero spent 90 minutes in the open among other patients in the Dallas hospital’s ER – and apparently no one is trying to run down those folks.  But we’re “hysterical”.

I guess we should all just shut up and follow Bill Quick’s facetious advice:

Not to worry, though. Even though she was running a fever, and even though she later tested positive for Ebola, there is absolutely no possibility whatsoever that she might have been infectious while on that plane.

How do I know this is undeniably true? Because Top. Men. at the CDC told me so.

Don’t worry, be happy.

Putting on my Alfred E. Newman face as I type and sitting back to watch our Top Men’s slow motion train wreck unfold.

Utter failure.

~McQ

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The essence of “progressivism” distilled

Christopher Snowden writes an article that uses an example that is quite handy in defining the essence of the disease called “progressivism”.  He acknowledges that “liberal” has be coopted by the left but still has enough historical cache to be useful to both sides of the philosophical divide.  However, “progressive”, at least in the US, is uniquely the left’s.

Fast forward to a city soda tax under consideration in the “progressive bastion” of Berkley, CA where we find none other than little Robbie Reich (former Clinton Secretary of Labor) ensconced as Professor at UC Berkley and waxing enthusiastic about this proposed soda tax:

To see what the word progressive means today, consider the city of Berkeley, California. According to Robert Reich, a professor at UC Berkeley, it is‘the most progressive city in America’. It has also been described as a ‘liberal bastion’. How liberal is it? So liberal that it is illegal to smoke a cigarette in your own flat (sorry, ‘apartment’) and, at the city’s university, it is against the rules to chew tobacco or use e-cigarettes anywhere at all, including in the open air.

Berkeley is also seriously considering a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages – aka a ‘soda tax’. A public vote will settle the matter next month, and, in the view of Robert Reich, ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most progressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’.

Well, yes, that’s correct.  But Reich’s claim is also a very useful tool for a little word substitution to show the insidiousness (and true intent) of  “progressivism”:

Consider that statement for a moment. If you didn’t know what the word ‘progressive’ meant – and you knew nothing about Berkeley – what could you infer from the context? If the sentence was changed to ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most oppressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’, it would make sense. If words like ‘tax-hungry’, ‘anti-business’, ‘puritanical’ or ‘illiberal’ were substituted for ‘progressive’, it would still read correctly.

If, however, the sentence was changed to ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most tolerant city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’, it would be incongruous. Words like ‘permissive’, ‘libertarian’, ‘easygoing’ and ‘broad-minded’ would also be confusing substitutes for ‘progressive’ in this context, and yet these are all adjectives that appear in the thesaurus under the word ‘liberal’. From this we might conclude either that soda taxes are not terribly liberal or that progressives are not terribly liberal. Or both.

At this point I’m chuckling because Snowden has made a very good point.  Reich is all but giddy about oppression and feels it is “progressive” to champion it.  Because, you know, the elite know best and hopefully have hammered those who should appreciate them and their ideas enough to vote “yes” and tax themselves.

Then there’s this:

In economics, unlike politics, the word ‘progressive’ has a fixed meaning. A progressive tax is one that takes a larger share of income from the rich than from the poor. The alternative is a regressive tax, one that takes a larger share of income from the poor than from the rich. Taxes on fizzy drinks are highly and indisputably regressive, not only because the rate of tax is the same for all income groups, but also because the poor tend to consume more of them in the first place. So while it is true that Berkeley is a bellwether city when it comes to eye-catching ‘public health’ initiatives, the adoption of punitive taxes on soft drinks would be a step towards it becoming America’s most regressive, not progressive, city in economic terms.

Oh my.  Snowden then asks the question of the day:

This is what confuses us, America. If a ‘liberal bastion’ – your ‘most progressive city’ – is one in which the government effectively fines people for drinking the wrong type of soft drink, what on earth are your illiberal bastions like?

Berkley (and New York and … ).

Glad you ask.

~McQ

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Sometimes … most of the time … you just have to raise the “BS” flag

The latest reason for hoisting said banner is this apparent decision by political operatives on the left to blame Republicans for the ebola epidemic.  Because of them, so the meme goes, we’ve had a lack of funding.  And that lack of funding is blamed for the failure to have a viable ebola vaccine.   Per the NIH chief, they’d have likely succeeded in creating an ebola vaccine if only they’d had the money:

Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has “slowed down” research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.

“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”

As the following chart shows, the problem wasn’t money at all:

-kaiser-family-foundation

Since 2001, tons of money have gone toward global health programs.  Tons.  And the upward move was made during Republican control.  So to say his point is BS is to be kind.

In fact, it is likely to have been all about priorities instead, and ebola wasn’t a priority.  Secondly, as Glenn Reynolds points out, it had to do with mission creep.

As The Federalist‘s David Harsanyi writes: “The CDC, an agency whose primary mission was to prevent malaria and then other dangerous communicable diseases, is now spending a lot of time, energy and money worrying about how much salt you put on your steaks, how close you stand to second-hand smoke and how often you do calisthenics.”

These other tasks may or may not be important, but they’re certainly a distraction from what’s supposed to be the CDC’s “one job” — protecting America from a deadly epidemic. And to the extent that the CDC’s leadership has allowed itself to be distracted, it has paid less attention to the core mission.

So money which could have been and should have been dedicated to the core mission was instead spent on ideologically supported nonsense.  Any wonder why “money” wasn’t available?  Because it was wastefully spent elsewhere in the structure of the CDC and NIH.

Gov. Bobby Jindal gives us more facts on the problem:

In recent years, the CDC has received significant amounts of funding. Unfortunately, however, many of those funds have been diverted away from programs that can fight infectious diseases, and toward programs far afield from the CDC’s original purpose.

Consider the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a new series of annual mandatory appropriations created by Obamacare. Over the past five years, the CDC has received just under $3 billion in transfers from the fund. Yet only 6 percent—$180 million—of that $3 billion went toward building epidemiology and laboratory capacity. Especially given the agency’s postwar roots as the Communicable Disease Center, one would think that “detecting and responding to infectious diseases and other public health threats” warrants a larger funding commitment.

Instead, the Obama administration has focused the CDC on other priorities. While protecting Americans from infectious diseases received only $180 million from the Prevention Fund, the community transformation grant program received nearly three times as much money—$517.3 million over the same five-year period.

There are the numbers of funds available to the CDC for its core mission.  $3 billion dollars.  Spent on its core mission from that fund? $180 million.  So how again is that the GOP’s fault?

Instead the truth of the matter is we have a bureaucracy with a supposedly single mission (for heaven sake, its even in their name – “Centers for Disease Control”) which has instead done what bureaucracies always do … creep their authority out into areas where they don’t belong (with the approval of the administration, of course), doing things that mostly fulfill an ideological agenda instead of an agenda of real worth to the citizens it supposedly serves.  The money that should have gone toward heavy research into communicable disease threats such as ebola instead went to “fund neighborhood interventions like “increasing access to healthy foods by supporting local farmers and developing neighborhood grocery stores,” or “promoting improvements in sidewalks and street lighting to make it safe and easy for people to walk and ride bikes.”

So while we sit here and watch the left attempt this bit of BS (and watch a certain segment of the citizenry lap it up), let’s remember the reality of why there’s no ebola vaccine.  It has absolutely nothing to do with money and everything to do with political priorities.

In this case the priority chosen has put us in a position to be essentially defenseless in the face of a disease for which we should have developed a vaccine by now.  But I bet we have some great bike paths out there.

And that failure, friends, is clearly attributable to the administration in power which is responsible for that shift in priorities.

Utter failure.

~McQ

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Utter failure

Stephen Hayes starts his article about Barack Obama’s failure as a president by pointing out what his big goal was to be:

A year before his first inauguration, Barack Obama laid out the objective of his presidency: to renew faith and trust in -activist government and transform the country. In an hourlong interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal on January 16, 2008, Obama said that his campaign was already “shifting the political paradigm” and promised that his presidency would do the same. His model would be Ronald Reagan, who “put us on a fundamentally different path,” in a way that distinguished him from leaders who were content merely to occupy the office. “I think that Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not. And in a way that Bill Clinton did not.”

If Reagan sought to minimize the role of government in the lives of Americans, Obama set out to do the opposite. “We’ve had a federal government that I think has gotten worn down and ineffective over the course of the Bush administration, partly because philosophically this administration did not believe in government as an agent of change,” he complained.

“I want to make government cool again,” he said.

Hayes then documents an incredible list of failures that have led most Americans (according to polls) to believe government is involved in too much.  Or said another way,  government still isn’t “cool”.  And big government is mostly a failure.

Take the ebola outbreak.  Anyone, how does one prevent an epidemic from spreading?  You isolate it.  That’s normally done through quarantine.  Part of the quarantine process is preventing those within a quarantine zone from traveling outside that zone.  Yet, for whatever reason, our government hasn’t done that.  Flights continue to come into this country from the countries in Africa which are suffering from the ebola epidemic.

Seems common sense, doesn’t it?  Even Democrats, not long on common sense most of the time, are wondering why this hasn’t been done.

The lawmakers accused Obama of attempting to “pass the buck” onto organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), which have advised against travel bans. Obama has said he would not ban travel unless the WHO reversed its position.

“[The WHO] has no duty to protect the lives and well-being of Americans, as you do. Furthermore, it has utterly failed to stem the epidemic through its own action. The responsibility for this decision is yours, not theirs,” they wrote.

As usual, Mr. “not my fault” is trying to pass off his responsibility to some other entity so, when it all blows up in his face – and it will, he can point the blame finger elsewhere.  Meanwhile flights continue to arrive in the US from the infected countries.  Upset airport workers charged with cleaning planes after they have arrived have struck in NY, so concerned are they with this lack of common sense.

My guess, if I had to make one, is Obama is trapped by his own political correctness.  Already the race baiters have been trying to tie the outbreak with racism.  If Obama prohibits flights he risks being branded a racist.  That’s much worse, in Obamaland, that not protecting the citizens of the country with which you’re charged Constitutionally to protect.  Instead we get airy promises that everything is under control.  After the airy promise that ebola would never reach here (see Dallas).

Meanwhile on the southern border, we have no freakin’ idea of who is crossing into this country.  And, of course, we’re ill prepared on that border to screen anyone.  Apparently, according to news reports, most air travel from those countries comes through 5 of our major airports and they’re now ramping up screening procedures to detect those who might exhibit signs of ebola infection.  No mention of how they plan on keeping those who are infected from possibly infecting fellow travelers and keeping those fellow travelers spreading it even further.  That of course would be a problem solved if they banned flights.

Then there’s Gen. John Kelly, US Southern Command commander who shines another light on the possibility of spreading the disease here  … primarily across our southern border.

He said the danger is two-fold: Not only might illegal immigrants from Africa enter the U.S. unchecked, but if Ebola spreads to Central America it could spark a new wave of illegal immigration to the U.S. that would make this summer’s surge “look like a small problem.”

“If Ebola breaks out in Haiti or in Central America, I think it is literally ‘Katie bar the door’ in terms of the mass migration of Central Americans into the United States,” the general said.

You think?!  And where would they head?  Well I think we all know where.

This is pretty basic stuff for any government, one would think. This is kind of like picking up the trash, fixing potholes and keeping the roads clear of snow for most municipal governments.  That’s what they’re primarily elected to do.  Oh, and protect the citizenry.  Yet here we have the “government is cool” gang again failing in its most fundamental function.

However, given their track record as outlined by Hayes, few should be surprised.  I still laugh at the left’s characterization of Bush as “incompetent”.  To describe this administration we have to come up with a completely different term which is far worse than “incompetent”.

I think “utter failure” works nicely.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 9 Oct 14

Chain stores today are reporting moderate increases in rates of year-on-year sales growth in September.

A drop in wholesale sales of -0.7% swelled inventories by 0.7%, leading to a hefty stock-to-sales ratio of 1.19.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 1,000 to 287,000. The 4-week average fell 7,000 to 287,750. Continuing claims  fell 21,000 to 2.381 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 2 points to 36.8 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $5.1 billion last week, with total assets of $4.455 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $3.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-7.3 billion in the latest week.


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