The new podcast is up at the Podcast Page.
The Conference Board’s index of leading indicators rose 0.2% in August, following a strong, revised 1.1% in July.
The Atlanta Fed’s Business Inflation Expectations survey reports that businesses expect 2.1% annual inflation over the next year.
In reference to “climate change”, Paul Krugman leads with:
This just in: Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free. But will anyone believe the good news?
Two points – it is entirely debatable as to whether the planet needs saving. Science and the data produced certainly doesn’t support the supposition. I’m talking about real science. Not the pseudo-science of the alarmist side – the science denier side. Given that, why should anyone care about whatever “good news” Krugman is shilling today.
Second point – is government involved in the solution (he studiously tries to disguise that in his article)? Of course it is. Then it will be neither cheap nor free. And most likely it will be terrible to boot, hurt the economy, make government larger and more intrusive, etc., etc., etc.
So no, Mr. Krugman, anyone with two brain cells to rub together – and that likely excludes you – won’t believe much of anything that comes out of the pseudo-science, and now pseudo-economics of the left.
Housing starts for August fell a disappointing 14.4% to an annualized 0.956 million units, but this comes off a very strong July reading.
Initial weekly jobless claims fell 36,000 to 280,000. The 4-week average fell 4,750 to 299,500. Continuing claims fell 63,000 to 2.429 million.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.7 points to 37.2 in the latest week.
The general business conditions index of the Philadelphia Fed’s Business Outlook Survey fell -5.5 points to 22.5 in September.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $28.2 billion last week, with total assets of 4.408 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $29.9 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $25.1 billion in the latest week.
An interesting article I think you’ll want to read. At least I found it interesting. It discusses the foundations of Islam and why, essentially, it is really not a “religion of peace”. In fact, as the author argues, as much as the West would like the name of the religion, Islam, to mean “peace”, in fact it means “submit”. We’ve talked here before about the need of a reformation in Islam to reorient it away from violent jihad and to a religion that actually preaches and practices “peace”. The outlook isn’t very promising. Here’s one reason:
The Qur’an contains many peaceful and tolerant verses, and these could well be used to create a genuine reformation — something several genuine reformers have tried to do. But there is a catch. All these moderate verses were written in the early phase of Muhammad’s career, when he lived in Mecca and had apparently decided to allure people. When he moved to Medina in 622, everything changed. He was soon a religious, political and military leader. During the next ten years, as his religious overtures were sometimes not welcomed, the peaceful verses gave way to the jihad verses and the intolerant diatribes against Jews, Christians and pagans. Almost all books of tafsir take for granted that the later verses abrogate the early ones. This means that the verses preaching love for all are no longer applicable, except with regard to one’s fellow Muslims. The verses that teach jihad, submission and related doctrines still form the basis for the approach of many Muslims to non-believers.
One problem is that no one can change the Qur’an in any way. If the book contains the direct word of God, then the removal of even a tiny diacritical mark or a dot above or beneath a letter would be blasphemy of the most extreme kind. Any change would suggest that the text on earth did not match the tablet in heaven — the “Mother of the Book,” much as Mary is the Mother of Christ — that is the eternal original of the Qur’an. If one dot could be moved, perhaps others could be moved, and before long words could be substituted for other words. The Qur’an itself condemns Jews and Christians for having tampered with their own holy books, so that neither the Torah nor the Gospels may be regarded as the word of God. The Qur’an traps us by its sheer unchangeability.
And, as he points out, the most “modern” interpretation does anything but put Islam in a “moderate” context:
Regrettably it is impossible to re-interpret the Qur’an in a “moderate” manner. The most famous modern tafsir, or interpretation, of the holy book is a multi-volume work entitled, In the Shade of the Qur’an. It was written by Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue often regarded as the father of modern radicalism. His interpretation leads the reader again and again into political territory, where jihad is at the root of action.
So that seems to be where we stand. Here, however, is the problem that confronts the West:
The besetting sin of modern Western politicians, church leaders, and multiculturalists is their ready acceptance of ignorance and their promotion of their own ignorance to the rank of expertise. Islam is one of the most important topics in human history, but how many schoolchildren are given details such as the ones mentioned above in their history classes? How many textbooks paint an honest picture of how Islam began and how it continued as a background to how it continues today?
Furthermore, how many real experts are denied contact with government and politicians so that lies are not made the basis for governmental decisions in the West? How many times will truth be sacrificed to fable while Muslim extremists bomb and shoot and behead their way to power?
These facts do not come from modern Western accounts; they are there in the founding texts of Islam, in the histories of al-Waqidi and al-Tabari. No-one is making any of this up. Muslims who avoid their own history should be brought face to face with it in all future discussions.
But, of course, that isn’t what is happening is it? We’re told over and over again that Islam is a religion of “peace” by those in the West who would rather believe that than confront the awful fact that its own founding documents portray anything but a peaceful religion — not to mention its history. For instance, were you aware that it is estimated that “between sixty and eighty million Hindus may have been put to death during the centuries of invasions by Muslim armies from 1000 to 1525.” That’s Stalin and Mao territory.
If you can’t or won’t deal truthfully with the problem, how can you ever expect to confront it successfully? When you remain in denial and you let the practitioners of the religion also deny the truth, how does one “reform” anything? And what does the continuous denial portend for the West in the not to distant future?
The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 7.9% last week, with purchases up 5.0% and refis up 10.0%.
Consumer prices fell -0.2% at the overall rate in August, while the core CPI, which excludes food and energy, was unchanged. On a year-over-year basis, both the headline and core CPI are up 1.7%.
The nation’s current account deficit narrowed to $-98.5 billion in the 2nd Quarter, down from the 1st Quarter’s revised $-102.1 billion.
The NAHB housing market index for August rose 4 points to 59 in September.
The Fed’s newest forecast for GDP growth:2014: 2.0 to 2.2 %; 2015: 2.6 to 3.0 %; 2016: 2.6 to 2.9 %; 2017: 2.3 to 2.5 %; longer run: 2.0 to 2.2 %. In other words, sub-par economic growth for as long as they can foresee. As a reminder, the trend rate of growth for mature economies should be in the 3.0-3.5% range.
The Federal Open Markets Committee announced that interest rates will remain unchanged, with a Fed Funds Rate target of 0-0.5%.
It is in that benighted land that irony, reason and hypocrisy are unknown concepts:
In California, Ventura High School Principal Val Wyatt barred the football booster club from selling meals donated by Chick-fil-A at back-to-school night to raise money. Wyatt cited company President Dan Cathy’s opposition to gay marriage as the reason for the ban. Superintendent Trudy Tuttle Arriaga backed up Wyatt. “We value inclusivity and diversity on our campus and all of our events and activities are going to adhere to our mission,” she said.
What could be more “inclusive” than allowing opinion that doesn’t agree with you to “coexist” without forcing everyone to suffer your biases because you have the power? I mean if you’re really, honestly and truly interested in “inclusiveness”. Oh, and what happened to tolerance, Arriaga and Wyatt? What could be more diverse than a community that welcomes all opinions as long as they don’t advocate violence or other forms of coercion? Is there something wrong with having a differing opinion about a subject based on principles that may be different than yours but are certainly shared by much of the mainstream (such as students at this school)? Apparently. Conformity with the opinion in power is the rule there it seems. The irony? This sort of action is blatantly exclusive and it makes a laughing stock of the word “diversity”. It says diverse opinion certainly isn’t welcome if it doesn’t conform with the people in power’s opinion.
Mouthing of platitudes doesn’t change that. Their “mission” has nothing to do with “inclusivity and diversity”. It has to do with ideology. A particular ideology. One that abuses the english language daily as well as our freedoms.
Or, the “strategy” to “manage” ISIS, if you prefer. The Washington Post today, calls whatever the administration is trying to put together to confront ISIS “underpowered”. I think they’re being kind about it because they still want access to their administration sources. If what they report is true, it’s a failure before it is even attempted.
In Paris on Monday, two dozen governments pledged to help fight the extremists “by any means necessary, including military assistance.” But only a handful — not yet including Britain — have so far agreed to participate in air combat missions in Iraq, and none has yet signed on to support prospective U.S. air strikes in Syria. Nor is any sending combat troops.
The attenuated support reflects in part the complicated politics of the fight against the Islamic State, which controls a New England-size swath of territory across Iraq and Syria and commands tens of thousands of militants. Neighbors such as Turkey and Jordan are reluctant to openly join the fight, for fear of becoming targets of the terrorists. Sunni rulers are loath to fight on the same side as the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad or Iran — which, for its part, loudly declared Monday that it had rejected a U.S. cooperation proposal.
Note the emerging strategy – air combat missions. War from 20,000 feet. Pin-pricks whose effectiveness depends on good intel and timely intervention. And this administration is going to coordinate that? The administration that couldn’t even build a website? Note also that the missions are only agreed too for Iraq. None of these erstwhile allies has agreed to any in Syria. Result? ISIS has a safehaven. Yeah, we’ve never, ever seen that before have we?
So why are they reluctant? Lack of leadership by the US, plain and simple:
In large part, however, the restraint has been fostered by President Obama himself. As The Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran reported, Mr. Obama rejected the recommendation of his top military commanders that U.S. Special Operations forces be deployed to assist Iraqi army units in fighting the rebels, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the administration has turned aside troop offers by other nations. “There are some who have offered to do so, but we are not looking for that, at this moment anyway,”he told CBS News’s Bob Schieffer.
ISIS has to only guard against airstrikes? A group who butchers people on a daily basis would never consider human shields or setting up in schools or hospitals would they? And in Syria … they don’t even have to worry about it, do they? ISIS has cowed the Iraqi armed forces, the Kurds are playing defense, they’re free to roam Syria and we don’t need any troops on the ground at all? Yeah, because, you know, all we need are airstrikes.
But this is what most amazed me about the “strategy”:
Mr. Kerry said Monday that defeating the Islamic State will depend in part on non-combat initiatives such as discrediting its ideology, stopping the flow of jihadist volunteers and providing political and material support to the new Iraq government.
Non-combat initiatives like discrediting their ideology? Really? Again, we’ve been so successful doing that in the past 20 years, haven’t we? That’s why they’re such a small and declining group (wait, we were told that Al Qaida was kaput a while back weren’t we?). Oh, and the rich part? An administration that can’t even control its own southern border is going to stop the flow of jihadist volunteers … in the Middle East? What a freakin’ laugh riot that talking point is. Meanwhile, in a country that is under armed attack by a vicious army of murderers, Obama and the guys are going to provide “political and material support” to the new Iraqi government … but none that really helps stem the tide of the threatening jihadists controlling a large portion of their country … except of pinprick airstrikes to which ISIS will adapt (mark my words on that one).
This is going to end up being another of those half-assed attempts driven by polls (aka wag the dog) which, on its face, is simply a failure waiting to happen. This administration has no idea of what is required to face down and destroy ISIS (or any enemy for that matter). And it isn’t really going to attempt it. If anything it is going to attempt to talk ISIS to death. But as a real-time strategy, if what above is any indication of the administration’s intent, it’s a bust.
But then, what would one expect from an administration that is going to send 3,000 troops to Africa to “battle ebola”, but won’t send any to battle a real, honest-to-goodness enemy in Iraq?
ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales fell -2.6%, and rose 3.0% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports retail sales rose 3.6% on a year-ago basis.
Producer Prices for Final Demand were unchanged in August, and were up 0.1% less food and energy. On a year-over-year basis the PPI-FD is up 1.8% overall, and up 1.6% less food and energy. Other relevant numbers from this release:
PPI-FD less food, energy & trade services – M/M change: 0.2%
PPI-FD Goods – M/M change: -0.3%
PPI-FD Goods – Y/Y change: 1.7%
PPI-FD Services – M/M change: 0.3%
PPI-FD Services – Y/Y change: 1.9%
Foreign demand for long-term US securities fell $-18.6 billion in July.