This week’s podcast is in the usual place.
The first revision to 4Q 2015 GDP was dropped to a 2.2% annualized rate, from the originally reported 2.6%. On the plus side, though, much of the decrease was in inventory investment revisions, while the final sales of domestic product component was revised up to 3.2% from 2.8%.
The Chicago PMI pounded into below-50 negative territory in February, falling from 59.4 to 45.8. Monday, we’ll see if the Chicago PMI presages a national decline in the PMI.
The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose 1.8 points in February, to 95.4.
The National Association of Realtors’ pending home sales index rose 1.7% in January to a moderately strong 104.2.
This is Hillary Clinton, who would love to be your next president, talking about the power grab over the internet by the FCC and Obama administration. She’s fine with it:
“For the FCC to do what they want to do, to try to create net neutrality as the norm, they have to have a hook to hang it on,” Clinton said. She said it’s the only hook the FCC’s got. But that she’d vote for regulating the Internet.
And despite her husband’s administration not taking such action, Clinton suggested the Internet had developed in such a way that something needed to be changed.
“I would vote for net neutrality, because as I understand it, it’s Title II with a lot of changes within it, in order to avoid the worst of the utility regulation,” Hillary Clinton said.
She said President Obama was “right” on the issue.
“It’s a foot in the door, it’s a value statement, I think the president is right to be upfront and out front on that.”
“It’s a foot in the door …”.
To understand her and the left’s mindset, that’s really all of the quote you need to read and understand. The exponential expansion of government power with her and her ilk at the helm.
A pretend problem (that no one was complaining about) and the usual solution (of which 61% disapprove according to the most recent poll I’ve seen). I.e. more government, more rules, more power and more powerbrokering. It’s another beachhead on the sands of freedom. An unelected commission just took over one of the largest and most innovative entrepreneurial engines we’ve ever seen and has decided to impose 20th century utility regulations on it by fiat.
And the gutless GOP Congress? Well, just like immigration, DHS, and ObamaCare … they’ll talk about it, stick their fingers in the air, monitor a hostile press and in the end … well, look where we are and figure it out for yourself.
Falling energy prices sent the Consumer Price index down -0.7% in January, while prices less food and energy fell -0.2%. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI rose 0.2% overall, while the core rate rose 1.6%.
Durable goods orders rose 2.8% in January, mainly on civilian aircraft orders, as orders less transportation rose 0.3%. On a year-over-year basis, orders are up 5.4% overall, while non-transportation orders are up 4.5%.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index rose 0.8% in December, which is 5.4% higher on a year-over-year basis.
Initial weekly jobless claims rose 31,000 to a 313,000. The 4-week average rose 11,500 to 294,500. Continuing claims fell 21,000 to 2.401 million.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.9 points to 42.7 in the latest week.
The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-10.1 billion last week, with total assets of $4.487 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-14.5 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $29.0 billion in the latest week.
fell 21,000 to 2.401
That’s the apparent intent of a BATFE proposal as it applies to 5.56 ammunition. The left, for years, has been trying to ban “assault weapons”, which are, essentially dressed up semi-automatic rifles. Assault weapons, as you might imagine are capable of fully automatic fire. Such weapons are already illegal without a very difficult to get permit.
Nevertheless, it is a long cherished dream of the left to implement gun control, because, well the key word is the second one – control.
So, having been absolutely and totally rejected when they tried to impose such laws, they’re decided to take what Marie Harf would surely characterize as “a more nuanced approach“.
As promised, President Obama is using executive actions to impose gun control on the nation, targeting the top-selling rifle in the country, the AR-15 style semi-automatic, with a ban on one of the most-used AR bullets by sportsmen and target shooters.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives this month revealed that it is proposing to put the ban on 5.56 mm ammo on a fast track, immediately driving up the price of the bullets and prompting retailers, including the huge outdoors company Cabela’s, to urge sportsmen to urge Congress to stop the president.
At issue is so-called “armor-piercing” ammunition, an exemption for those bullets mostly used for sport by AR-15 owners, and the recent popularity of pistol-style ARs that use the ammo.
The inexpensive 5.56 M885 ammo, commonly called green tips, have been exempt for years, as have higher-caliber ammunition that also easily pierces the type of soft armor worn by police, because it’s mostly used by target shooters, not criminals. The agency proposes to reclassify it as armor-piercing and not exempt.
But now BATFE says that since the bullets can be used in semi-automatic handguns they pose a threat to police and must be banned from production, sale and use. But, as Goodlatte noted, the agency offered no proof. Federal agencies will still be allowed to buy the ammo.
And, according the the article, there is no proof to provide. None exists.
Of course, the AR15 is one of America’s most popular weapons and hundreds of thousands of them, if not millions are in the hands of Americans. Certainly not a hard weapon for a criminal to get and use on police. However, they rarely do. They tend to eschew small caliber arms for those which have a bigger punch in a handgun.
So, logically, that makes little if any sense. As for the armor piercing capability, while I’m sympathetic to the point, a little proof of it being a problem would be helpful. To this point, everything I’ve read says it hasn’t been a problem to this point.
“This round is amongst the most commonly used in the most popular rifle design in America, the AR-15. Millions upon millions of M855 rounds have been sold and used in the U.S., yet ATF has not even alleged — much less offered evidence — that even one such round has ever been fired from a handgun at a police officer,” said Goodlatte’s letter.
Even some police don’t buy the administration’s claim. “Criminals aren’t going to go out and buy a $1,000 AR pistol,” Brent Ball, owner of 417 Guns in Springfield, Mo., and a 17-year veteran police officer told the Springfield News-Leader. “As a police officer I’m not worried about AR pistols because you can see them. It’s the small gun in a guy’s hand you can’t see that kills you.”
Another manufactured “crisis” and another “solution” which involves government using its coerscive power to ban something that a particular political ideology finds odious – beside you being free, that is. And, of course, it opens the door to more invented problems solved by more bans.
This is called “democracy”. One side gets enough votes to seize power and then they force their ideology on you – if not by legislative means, then by executive action. The document that is supposed to protect your freedom from government has been declared null and void. Your freedoms? Well, let’s just say that they’re up for interpretation depending on which faction is in power. But what is for sure is they’re eroded and will continue to erode under this system of politics. Government gets larger and more intrusive and as it does, it squeezes out your freedoms in the name of the “greater good”, or “for the good of police” or “the children” or whatever bit of gimcrackery they can use to attract enough votes.
Your freedom suffers the consequences.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -3.5% last week, with purchases up 5.0%, but refis down -8.0%.
New home sales were little changed in January, at a better-than-expected 481,000 annual rate, nearly unchanged from December’s big jump of 8.1% to 482,000. Price concessions may have helped sales, as the median sales price fell 2.6% to $294,000.
A couple of economic notes and an environmental question.
On the econ side, unemployment. The Mercatus Center explains our current unemployment situation and why the “official number” is a feel-good fantasy:
In case you missed it, the real unemployment rate is in the 11% range. Also note that before the recession, we were at around 9%. We’re certainly doing better but why they continue to publish misleading numbers on the unemployment front is a mystery … oh, politics. Never mind.
It’s better to be lied to and feel good about it than to know the truth.
Also, as a followup, the $15 minimum wage in SF and Seattle continues to take victims. While neither has fully implemented the wage at present, its enough to push business owners into making decisions which are unlikely the intended consequence of the wage raise. We told you about Borderland Books in SF. Here’s an example from Seattle:
Cascade Designs, an outdoor recreational gear manufacturing company based in Seattle, announced it is moving 100 jobs (20% of the workforce) later this year to a new plant it is leasing near Reno, Nevada. The company has offered some employees positions in Reno, but others must reapply.
Founder John Burroughs and Vice Chair David Burroughs blamed Seattle’s new $15 minimum wage, indicating it “nudged them into action.” According to the owners, Seattle’s new minimum wage would “eventually add up to a few million dollars a year.”
Once established in Reno, you may see further moves. And:
The San Francisco Eater, a local publication following the city’s restaurant scene, predicts that the impact of the $15 minimum will likely lead many restaurants to close their doors this year. Abbot’s Cellar and Luna Park, popular locally owned restaurants, already made the decision to shut down. The owners both blamed the $15 minimum wage.
What’s $15 times zero?
Finally on the enviro front, where’s the outrage? From CATO:
Nicaragua’s plan to build an Interoceanic Canal that would rival the Panama Canal could be a major environmental disaster if it goes forward. That’s the assessment of Axel Meyer and Jorge Huete-Pérez, two scientists familiar with the project, in a recent article in Nature. Disturbingly, the authors point out,
“No economic or environmental feasibility studies have yet been revealed to the public. Nicaragua has not solicited its own environmental impact assessment and will rely instead on a study commissioned by the HKND [The Hong Kong-based company that has the concession to build the canal]. The company has no obligation to reveal the results to the Nicaraguan public.”
In recent weeks we have seen similar opinions aired in the Washington Post, Wired, The Economist, and other media. In their article, Meyer and Huete-Pérez explain how the $50-billion project (more than four times Nicaragua’s GDP), would require “The excavation of hundreds of kilometres from coast to coast, traversing Lake Nicaragua, the largest drinking-water reservoir in the region, [and] will destroy around 400,000 hectares of rainforests and wetlands.” So far, the Nicaraguan government has remained mum about the environmental impact of the project. Daniel Ortega, the country’s president, only said last year that “some trees have to be removed.”
Some trees?! Where are the enviros whackos on this?
Interestingly, despite this potential massive threat to one of the most pristine environmental reservoirs in the Americas, none of the leading international environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth or the Sierra Club, has issued a single statement about the Nicaragua Canal.
We know for a fact that this is not out of lack of interest in Central America. After all, some of these organizations were pretty vocal in their opposition to CAFTA. Why isn’t the Nicaragua Canal proposal commanding the attention of these international environmental groups?
Why? Because as Insty points out, “commies get a pass” on this sort of thing.
Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales slowed to 2.8% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 3.2%.
The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.9% in December, with prices up 4.5%, year-over-year.
A strong rebound in new work helped boost to Markit’s PMI Services Flash for February 3 points to a 4-month high of 57.0.
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell -7.4 points to 96.4 in February.
The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index shows no change in manufacturing activity in the Mid-Atlantic District, with the index at 0 for February.
The State Street Investor Confidence Index fell -1.5 points in January to 105.2, with weakness centered in Europe as uncertainty about Greece continues.
He’s been called a “scientist” for years, but his training is in industrial engineering. He’s about as much a climate scientist as I am. However, we’ve been constantly told that he and the IPCC speak for “science” when it comes to “climate change”.
Well, today he stepped down, submitting his resignation amid allegations of sexual harrassment.
I’m talking about Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, of course. Head of the IPCC that has published scare warnings for years, few if any of which have come true.
So why is an industrial engineer seen as some sort of an authority on climate?
Well it’s not because of his academic credentials, that’s for sure. Instead, its for his leftist credentials:
‘For me the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma.’
In other words, his “science” is faith based.
And, the left says we should take him seriously … because, you know, “the science is settled”.
‘One of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists.’
Anyone – do you really believe an actual climate scientist will be recruited to fill the job?
The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey stayed in negative territory in February, falling for the second straight month, down -6.8 points to -11.2.
The Chicago Fed National Activity Index was positive in January, coming in at 0.13, vice -0.05 in December.
Sales of existing homes in January fell a sharp -4.9% to an annual rate of 4.82 million. That’s the lowest rate since April, 2014.