Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 5 Aug 16

255,000 net new jobs were created in July, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9%, though, as 184,000 people came into the labor force. Average hourly earnings rose $0.06 to $25.96, and the average workweek rose 0.1 hours to 34.5 hours.

America’s international trade gap widened from $-41.1 billion to $-44.5 billion in June. This will put downward pressure on the next 2nd Quarter GDP revision, which is already weak at 1.1% annualized.

Consumer credit rose a soft $12.3 billion overall in June, but revolving credit rose an outsized $7.7 billion, a good sign for consumer spending.


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Stray Voltage

Does anyone else get tired of saying “I told you so” on a multitude of subjects that are dear to the left?  Take ObamaCare (please!):

Aetna’s decision to abandon its ObamaCare expansion plans and rethink its participation altogether came as a surprise to many. It shouldn’t have. Everything that’s happened now was predicted by the law’s critics years ago.

Of course it was.  For instance:

Who could have envisioned such problems? Not ObamaCare backers. They were endlessly promising that the law would create vibrant, highly competitive markets that would lower the cost of insurance.

Critics, however, were spot on. They said that, despite the individual mandate, ObamaCare wouldn’t attract enough young and healthy people to keep premiums down.

And:

Critics predicted sharp hikes in premiums and big increases in medical claims. That’s what’s happened.

Critics said people would game the system, waiting until they got sick to buy insurance, then canceling it once the bills were paid, because of the law’s “guaranteed issue” mandate. That’s happening, too. In fact, administration officials are trying to tighten the rules to mitigate this problem.

Yes, friends, I’m shocked … truly shocked.  Can’t you tell?  All ObamaCare has done is layer cost and more costly regulation on an already expensive industry. Value added?  Nothing.

Speaking of “I told you so” – minimum wage.  Here’s the tale from Seattle:

The average hourly wage for workers affected by the increase jumped from $9.96 to $11.14, but wages likely would have increased some anyway due to Seattle’s overall economy. Meanwhile, although workers were earning more, fewer of them had a job than would have without an increase. Those who did work had fewer hours than they would have without the wage hike.

Accounting for these factors, the average increase in total earnings due to the minimum wage was small, the researchers concluded. Using their preferred method, they calculated that workers’ earnings increased by $5.54 a week on average because of the minimum wage. Using other methods, the researchers found that the minimum wage hike actually caused total weekly earnings to drop — by as much as $5.22 a week.

The minimum wage isn’t done increasing in Seattle.  Soon it goes to $13 and finally to $15 an hour.  But:

Increasing the minimum wage increases the costs of hiring workers. As a result, employers must accept reduced margins or customers must pay steeper prices.

If employers cannot stay in business while paying their staff more, they will either hire fewer people or give their workers fewer hours. As a result, even if wages per hour increase, workers’ total earnings could decline.

That’s reduction in people or hours (or both) is exactly what they’re seeing at $11.14.  Imagine the impact of $13 and finally $15 an hour.  As usual, leftist economic ignorance hurts those who can least afford it.  But, of course, that’s not who will get the blame when unemployment soars, is it?

This isn’t rocket science or even a difficult economic concept.  But, like ObamaCare, the economic principles are roundly ignored.  And, like ObamaCare, the results are entirely predictable.

Meanwhile in “Whack-a-do” land the “Three Blind Mice” just aren’t acceptable:

A University “Bias Incident Team” took a carving knife to three students’ “three blind mice” Halloween costumes last fall, saying the costumes mocked the disabled.

The incident took place at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, according to records reviewed exclusively by Heat Street. The offending students had posted pictures of themselves in costume on Facebook.

The documents,which Heat Street obtained under open records laws, reveal that a member of the Bias Incident Team reported the students herself: “There was concern about their choice as it makes fun of a disability,” says the team’s meeting minutes.

OMG – break out the smelling salts, special snowflakes ahead. Note the unchallenged assumption underlying the response – the assumption that their “choice” was made to “make fun of a disability”.  Really?  Based on what evidence?  Oh, wait.  We don’t do evidence anymore.  We now deal in assumptions and those assumptions are now much more valid than … evidence.  If I were the “mice” I’d use the Hillary defense and claim there was no “intent” to make fun of anyone.  Case closed.

Enjoy your weekend!

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 4 Aug 16

Factory orders fell -1.5% in June, following May’s decline, which was revised downwards to -1.2%.

Few chain stores still report monthly sales, but that did for July reported sharply lower sales growth, triggering earnings reassessments.

A surge of Job cuts in the energy sector pushed Challenger’s July layoff count to 45,346 from June’s 38,536.

Gallup’s July Good Jobs Rate rose to 47.1% from June’s 46.0%.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 3,000 to 269,000. The 4-week average rose 3,750 to 260,250. Continuing claims fell 6,000 to 2.138 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.1 points to 43.0 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $2.3 billion last week, with total assets of $4.467 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-8.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $49.7 billion in the latest week.


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BLM – just another gang wanting “reparations” and “free” stuff

Black Lives Matter has finally gotten out of the middle of interstates and quit shrieking long enough to publish their “manifesto”.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the same old racial warfare stuff:

In a policy agenda titled “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice,” organizers call for policing and criminal justice reforms.

But:

It also includes a request for the passage of a bill that would create a commission to study reparations for descendants of slaves.

And:

The document also calls for changes in U.S. educational policy including free tuition and retroactive forgiveness on federal student loans.

Not a word on black-on-black crime.  It’s all about getting stuff for nothing.  Because, you know, they’re “owed” this stuff.  The SJW invented “white privilege” is what justifies their grab.

The fact that none of them have been a slave or have ever even known a slave, have had the right to vote before they were even born and are students at some of the most elite educational institutions in the world, many of them on full rides, doesn’t matter one whit.

They perceive themselves to be victims.  To be discriminated against.  Micro-aggressions, you know, those nasty little comments and actions that they can handily interpret (because it supports their agenda and because white guilt for some reason lets them get away with the nonsense) as “racism”.  And, of course, they’ve redefined “racism” so they can never be accused of being what they denounce even though they are the very definition of the old racism definition.

So … nothing new here.  Just a bunch of petulant, spoiled, entitled people demanding something for nothing. Well, not “nothing” – they demand you pay for it.

These types have been a part of the world since it’s creation.  And when they get in the position where they can dictate how society functions, we all know what happens.

It’s one reason I call them “The New Red Guard.”

~McQ

 

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Economic Statistics for 3 Aug 16

The PMI Services Index was unchanged in July at 51.4. while the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index fell -1.0 points to 55.5.

ADP estimates that 179,000 new private sector jobs were created in July.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index was unchanged at 33 in July.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -3.5% last week, with purchases down -2.0% and refis -4.0%.


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I just can’t take this election that seriously

I know I should care, but with these two candidates, I just can’t. I posted my unserious take on the candidates on my satirical Twitter account yesterday, and since most of you don’t do twits, uh, tweets, I thought I’d post it here too.








Some points to head off indignant comments:

– Yes, I know Hillary is a felon who dodged indictment because the fix is in. She would be Obama in a pantsuit if elected.

– I do like the pummeling of the establishment GOP by Trump. That doesn’t mean I think he’s likely to make a good president, or that he has any serious commitment to limited government. I’d love to be proved wrong about that.

– I don’t disparage Trump supporters, because it is so obvious that Hillary would be worse.

– I don’t disparage Trump detractors, because he furnishes so much raw material to detract.

Billy

(Not McQ! Someone seems to make that mistake every time I post something.)

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Economic Statistics for 2 Aug 16

Personal income for June rose 0.2%, but consumer spending rose 0.4%. The PCE Price Index rose 0.1% at both the headline and core rates. On a year-over-year basis, the PCE Price index is up 0.9% overall, and 1.6% less food and energy.

Motor vehicle sales were very strong in July, jumping to a 17.9 million annual rate from June’s 16.7 million.

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index fell -1 point in July to -15.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth weakened further falling to 0.3% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.6%.


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The wages of Socialism

“Wages” being a euphemistic term in this case:

Home to the world’s worst economy, Venezuela is beset by severe food shortages, riots in the streets and hyperinflation that’s closing in on 700 percent. World oil prices have plummeted — and Venezuela relies on oil for 95 percent of its income.

Agriculture was neglected as Chavez and Maduro placed all their economic chips on crude and elected to import goods from abroad while spending on social programs that rallied the poor behind the government.

But now Venezuela has no cash to import food or other essentials. And because Chavez nationalized so much industry, it has no private sector to compensate.

So Maduro has now issued an executive decree that subjects all workers to being forced to work for 60 days (or more, “if circumstances merit”) in the fields, growing badly needed food.

Economically, the move makes no sense. Morally, it’s barely one step up from government-sanctioned slavery.

And there’s a Senator from Vermont that would love to see the system that is sliding into slavery at work here.  More intriguing is the fact that there are studies out that say that Sanders should have won the primary election that was apparently fraught with fraud and rigged from the beginning.  Think about that for a minute.

What does that say – other than total ignorance – about those who felt it was a good idea to “feel the Bern”?  Not that Bernie would have had much success in passing and implementing his programs.  I’m simply making the point that a significant portion of our population thought this potential tyrant was the best choice because – historic blinders, ignorance or both.  Not that anyone is getting a particularly better deal with the two nominees of record (one a crook and the other a clown).

What continues to puzzle me is how Venezuela, which is in the news every single day and pretty much implemented every one of Bernie Sanders policies and programs, is ignored so resolutely by these people.  How do you do that and call  yourself intellectually honest?

But considering their second choice, honesty – intellectual or otherwise – doesn’t seem to be much of a priority.

So there’s that …

~McQ

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