Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 10 Dec 15

November import prices fell -0.4%, and export prices fell -0.6%. On a year-over-year basis, prices are down -9.4% for imports and -6.3% for exports.

The Census Bureau quarterly services survey shows information revenue rose 0.7% in the 3rd Quarter, and is up 3.7%, year-over-year.

Rising Medicare expenses helped sent the government’s budget to a $-64.6 billion deficit in November. The fiscal year deficit to date is now up 12.6% over the same period last year.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 13,000 to 282,000. The 4-week average rose 1,500 to 270,750. Continuing claims rose 82,000 to 2.243 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.5 points to 40.1 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $2.4 billion last week, with total assets of $4.480 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $1.5 billion. Clearly, the Fed has stopped the Quantitative easing, and its balance sheet has topped off. We continue to monitor this report for indications of monetary tightening through selling the Fed’s current top-heavy portfolio of securities.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-38.8 billion in the latest week.


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Islamic Race

There is no Islamic race, any more than there is a single race of Americans.

Dear Huma Abedin – “Proud” Islamics should maybe take a little more pride in their religion and learn that it’s not a race before taunting supposed morons like Donald Trump.

Dear Ryan Grim – Islam is not a race – get a dictionary and some education.

 

It’s called Sectarianism,. not Racism.

I’m not saying it’s better than racism, I am saying the two are not the same.

I realize you really want to be able to play the race card, but no.

Here’s a collection of photos of members of ‘the Islamic race’.    Some faces you’ll recognize, some you won’t.   The last two I have every reason to believe are peaceful people who harbor no ill will for me or my country, the first two have already committed attacks on us and taken American lives.

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Islamic ‘race’?   Really?

My favorite –

Image result for iraqi generals

No, that’s not renowned Scottish poet Robert Burns dressed up for All Hallow’s Eve, that’s Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Iraqi general (now with Allah, I’m sure).

Stop using the term RACISM, or, alternately, be quiet because you obviously don’t really know what you’re talking about.

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Economic Statistics for 8-9 Dec 15

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell 1.3 points in November to 94.8.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales fell back to a weak 1.9% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s Black Friday-induced 3.9%.

The Labor Dept’s JOLTS report fell substantially, as job openings fell from 5.562 million in September to 5.383 million in October.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 1.2% last week, with purchases up only 0.04% but refis up 4.0%.

Wholesale inventories fell 0.1% in October, while no change for sales kept the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.31. 


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So … now what?

So, what would a ban on all Muslims being allowed into the US do?

Well, I don’t know.  I certainly understand why there are those calling for it but there’s a simple point here, as pointed out in San Bernardino:

The attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino last week were discussing jihad at least two years before they opened fire in California, the FBI director said Wednesday.

The husband-and-wife duo “were radicalized for quite a long time before their attack,” FBI Director James B. Comey said during an appearance on Capitol Hill. This follows earlier statements by investigators that the shooters had both been adherents to a radical strain of Islam long before the massacre.

And one of them was a US citizen born in the United States.

Certainly, banning all Muslims from entry into the country would probably weed out some potential jihadis.  But a committed jihadi isn’t likely to seek permission to enter.  Not with the condition of our borders.  And, on the other hand, I find it completely contrary to what I believe, even though I certainly have a level of understanding for those calling for it.

More importantly, and right’s questions aside, is the exclusion likely to do to Muslims here exactly what happened to the San Bernardino male half of the killing team.  Radicalize them … or some of them.  Homegrown jihadis.

All that said, it certainly seems that a devout believer in Islam would have a higher likelihood of embracing radicalism than some other religions.  Part of that is because it is so incompatible with Western values and ideals.  So, a devout follower is less likely to assimilate than those of other religions.  Couple that with the demands of Sharia law and it appears to be totally incompatible with Western values and ideals (to those who become radicalized because of that incompatibility).

What about them?  What does a country do with citizens, or non-citizens for that matter, who don’t want to assimilate, don’t want to embrace the country’s ideals and insist, in fact, demand, that the country change to accommodate their beliefs?

Just a bunch of questions that have popped into my mind as I watch all of the politics of the issue flying around the airwaves.

~McQ

 

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“ISIS is contained”

Those words were uttered by President Obama prior to the Paris massacre by ISIS.  Politico argues that the words were in response to a specific question about territory ISIS controlled.  And, frankly, if that’s the argument I think it has some credibility.  However, in the same interview, Obama said:

Until Assad is no longer a lightning rod for Sunnis in Syria and the entire region is no longer a proxy war for Shia-Sunni conflict, we’re gunna continue to have problems. … with making sure that ISIL continues to shrink in its scope of operations until it no longer poses the kind of threat that it does, not just primarily to us, but to neighbors in the region[.]”

Just as clearly, that’s a claim that the administration and it’s allies in the region will keep up their operations to ensure that “ISIL continues to shrink its scope of operations” until it is no longer a threat.  While it may not specifically state that “ISIL is contained”, it certainly implies success in “continuing” to “shrink” ISIL/ISIS’s “scope of operations”.  To me, its pretty much the same claim as “ISIS is contained”.

However, as usual, reality trumps fantasy:

Since October 10, ISIS and its sympathizers around the world have killed at least 525 people in six attacks in six countries outside its so-called caliphate.

American counterterrorism officials say that of the six attacks, three were directed by ISIS from its territory in Syria and Iraq and another two were so-called “announcement” attacks — local ISIS elements revealing their existence in dramatic fashion.

Yes, that’s right, friends and neighbors, since October 10th, 525 people around the world have died as a result of this “shrinking” of ISIL/ISIS’s “scope of operations”.  525 in 6 separate attacks.  And the fact is, our “leader” was trying to peddle the notion that ISIL/ISIS was being controlled.

Does it sound like success in “shrinking” the “scope of operations” of this terrorist group?  Does it look like ISIL/ISIS is being controlled?

Most people would read it as a very large expansion of operations by a group largely out of anyone’s control on the opposition side.

But then, most people aren’t in “denial” (and if you’re wondering, remember the correct answer is “gun control”).

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 7 Dec 15

Gallup’s US Consumer Spending Measure reports that Americans’ daily, self-reported spending was unchanged at $92 in November.

The Fed’s Labor Market Conditions Index fell from 1.6 to 0.5 in November.

Consumer credit rose $16.0 billion in October, but revolving credit rose only at a barely-positive $0.2 billion. Non-revolving credit gains were mainly in auto and school loans.


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The President’s [yawn] speech

I’ve seen many critiques of it, but for me it was, well, boring.  Why?  Because it was so predictable.  Other than some grudging acceptance of the terrorism that has spawned in the US, it was the usual nonsense of lecturing the citizens of the US like they were children.  Jim Geraghty picked up on that too:

At this point in his presidency, Obama speaks with only one tone, the slightly exasperated and sometimes not-merely-slightly exasperated “adult in the room” who constantly has to correct his fellow Americans, who are always flying off the handle, calling for options that “aren’t who we are,” betraying our values, and so on. He’s always so disappointed in us.

At certain points, Obama sounded as if he was speaking to children. “The threat is real, but we will overcome it.” “We will not defeat it with tough talk, abandoning our values, or giving in to fear.” “We will prevail by being strong and smart.”

And yet, we’ve heard nothing “strong or smart” from the man giving the lecture.   Nothing.  For instance:

He made yet another pitch for barring anyone on the no-fly list or terror watch list from purchasing firearms. He simply ignored any of the objections, whether it’s the lack of due process or judicial review, the arbitrary, foggy nature of how someone gets on the list, or the fact that 280,000 people with no recognized terrorist group affiliation are on the list.

Sounds good to those who don’t really think about it, but is it?  Not really.  Why?  Well, that’s fairly simple:

You know who wasn’t on the no-fly list? The San Bernardino shooters. Nor was the Fort Hood shooter. Nor the Boston bombers. Nor the Chattanooga shooter. In other words, no perpetrator of any major attack on American soil was on the no-fly list.

So again, the “smartest guy in the room” acts exasperated with the “children” but offers up a whole lot of nothing – except the usual dump truck load of words – that addresses the problem.

As someone tweeted when they found out that Obama, Biden and Rice among others were meeting to address San Bernardino, “Our JV team”.

~McQ

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