Thursday, April 22, 2021

Some Raw Data on People Killed by Police

This is in no way meant to be an in-depth analysis, but just a cursory examination of the data would conclude that the leftist narrative of systemic racism in America is wrong. After the chart, I include a story on reactions by the Detroit Police Chief over comments by a congresswoman. 

For 2020:

Total number: 1,021

White: 44.5% (60.1% of population)

Black: 23.6% (13.4% of population)

Hispanic: 16.6% (18.5% of population)

Other: 2.7% (8% of population)

Unknown: 10.9% (unknown percent of population)

Conclusion: Blacks have slightly more incidents of killing by police, but numbers don't show "systemic" racism in police departments. No one with any intelligence could conclude this from the actual data. 

If blacks have a higher ratio of crimes committed, the easy -- yet wrong -- conclusion is racism. Yet, socioeconomic factors have more influence on potential crime rates than anything else. 


Detroit police chief fires back at Tlaib’s ‘shameful’ rhetoric

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Wednesday that officers under his command remain “fully engaged” in their duties because they know he and city officials support them even as police in other major cities are being disciplined and fired for doing their jobs.

In an interview with Newsmax TV’s Greg Kelly, James also blasted Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, whose district includes Detroit, over a recent tweet in which she claimed that police and prisons can’t be “reformed” and that all should be defunded.

“It wasn’t an accident,” she tweeted following the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was shot and killed by former officer Kim Potter after she appeared to mistake her service weapon for her Taser as he resisted arrest. “Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist.”

“I was really shocked that she said this,” Kelly said, adding that Tlaib has made outrageous statements in the past before asking James to respond.“Ridiculous, reckless, kneejerk,” James began. “Not surprising, but I will tell you, it’s also self-serving. Because really, when you think about it, Detroit residents, they don’t want to dismantle the Detroit Police Department. They don’t agree with defunding. And they certainly don’t agree with closing down prisons so that everybody can just be, you know, like ‘Summer of Love,’ like in Portland and Seattle.”

Read entire article here.

Economic Indicators Show Growth Ahead

Existing home sales fell 3.7% month-over-month (m/m) in March to an annual rate of 6.01 million units, a seven-month low, versus expectations of a decline to 6.14 million units from February's upwardly revised 6.24 million rate. However, existing home sales were up 12.3% year-over-year (y/y).

Compared to last month, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said buying activity in all the major regions fell, but all regions rose y/y. Sales of single-family homes and purchases of condominiums and co-ops were both down month-over-month (m/m), but higher y/y. The median existing home price jumped 17.2% from a year ago to $329,100, marking the 108th straight month of y/y gains as prices rose in every region. Unsold inventory came in at a 2.1-months pace at the current sales rate, nudging off last month's 2.0-months pace, and down sharply from the 3.3-months pace a year earlier. Existing home sales reflect contract closings instead of signings and account for a large majority of the home sales market.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said," Consumers are facing much higher home prices, rising mortgage rates, and falling affordability, however, buyers are still actively in the market," adding that, "The sales for March would have been measurably higher, had there been more inventory," he added. "Days-on-market are swift, multiple offers are prevalent, and buyer confidence is rising."

The Conference Board's Index of Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for March rose 1.3% m/m, above the Bloomberg consensus estimate calling for a 1.0% m/m increase from February's downwardly revised 0.1% decrease. The LEI was positive for the tenth-straight month after the plunges in March and April of last year, due to all ten components contributing positively, suggesting economic momentum is increasing in the near term.

Weekly initial jobless claims came in at a level of 547,000 for the week ended April 17, compared to the Bloomberg estimate of an acceleration to 610,000 from the prior week's upwardly revised 576,000 level. The four-week moving average declined by 27,750 to 651,000, and continuing claims for the week ended April 10 decreased by 34,000 to 3,674,000, north of estimates of 3,650,000. The four-week moving average of continuing claims declined by 41,750 to 3,713,000.

The April Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Activity Index is set to come out shortly and is expected to rise to 28 from March's 26 level, moving further into expansion territory as denoted by a reading above zero.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Retail Sales Strong, Jobless Claims Fall

From Kelly Evans @ CNBC

The retail sales report came out this morning.

How's a 10% surge in spending sound? Because that's what just happened in the month of March (okay, 9.8%, to be precise). And don't be fooled into thinking that number only sounds big because it's compared with last March, the nadir of the pandemic. No, no. U.S. retail sales surged that much in March from February. In one single month. If they kept up that pace, that's a nearly 120% annualized increase, or in other words, a more than doubling of total U.S. spending on retail items.


Now, of course that pace won't be kept up. But it helps to illustrate just how strong March sales were. Even if you average it out with the decline we saw in February and add in the nearly 8% surge in January, we're now talking about a 35% annualized spending pace in the first quarter. I mean, that is really, really, extraordinary, unusual, jaw-dropping stuff. If you're curious, March sales were up 28% from the prior (pandemic) year.

Where is this all coming from? Stimulus payments "were a definite positive, but the main force driving sales up was an outsized increase in earned wages and salaries in March," wrote economist Brian Bethune. Recall the U.S. added nearly a million jobs last month. Bethune thinks we could now hit 7% GDP growth this year.

The reopening is absolutely gaining traction, and force. President Biden may want to spend another $2.3 trillion on the economy, but it's unclear the economy needs it. For the first time in recent memory, risks could be tilted on the side of doing too much this year, instead of too little. The monthly budget deficit for March just hit $660 billion dollars. And that's before the President's $1.9 trillion Covid package hits, since it was only just signed last month. Not to mention another $2.3 trillion on top of that.

The strong sales report comes as initial jobless claims fell again and after record-breaking reports on service-sector and manufacturing activity already this month (I wrote about that last week). The bond market may have already priced this in; the 10-year yield is actually slipping today below 1.6%. Perhaps traders think there's no way another mega-spending bill gets passed. And if the economy stays this strong, perhaps they'll be right.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Why We Need Liberals AND Conservatives

 Dr. Jordan Peterson, in this brief 10-minute video, explains personality, extroversion, liberals, and conservatives, and why we need both. But maybe not at the same time. 

Democrats Eye Provision of Inheritance Tax Law

President Biden vows to eliminate the so-called “stepped-up basis” rule for inherited property. The president refers to this as a “loophole” which allows the rich to “game the system.” Yet it is NO loophole! In fact, it is a specific rule of law under Internal Revenue Code §1014. This law was not a part of the TCJA. It has been on the books since 1954 but is only now under attack by Democrats looking for ways to take more of our money.

Here’s how it works.

Suppose your parents own a home worth $200,000. They purchased the home decades ago for, say, $50,000. If they gift the home to you prior to their passing, your basis in the home is the same as theirs: $50,000. That means if you sell the home for its current value of $200,000, you must pay capital gains tax on the profit of $150,000 – the difference between basis and sale price.

By contrast, if you inherit the home after their death, your basis is equal to the fair market value of the property as of the date of death – in this example, $200,000. [See: IRS Code §1014(a)(1).] Now if you sell the property for $200,000, there is no capital-gains tax because there’s no gain (sale price minus basis equals gain).

This is what we refer to as the stepped-up basis. And the rule absolutely does not apply only to “rich people.” The operation of Code §1014 is not controlled by one’s annual income, the value of the inherited asset or the total value of one’s estate. It applies across the board. Every American taxpayer enjoys the benefit of stepped-up basis on inherited property.

If Code §1014 were repealed in its entirety, all gains on inherited property would be taxed at the capital-gains rate. In general, the gain would be calculated on the difference between the sale price and the price at which the deceased person paid for it (plus any capital improvements that add to the cost basis).

To go back to the parents’ home example: Let’s say the parents paid $50,000 for it originally, and transferred it to you before their death. Subsequently, you sell the house for $200,000; in that case, the $150,000 profit would be subject to capital gains tax. This is precisely what the Biden administration wants to eliminate the stepped-up basis rules to collect more taxes.

One possible consolation, however, is the White House has hinted it might be contemplating exempting the first $1 million in unrealized gains from these new rules. This would be nice, of course, but I will be quite surprised if President Biden and the Democrats actually do it. In addition, you can expect the capital gains tax bill to be calculated at a much higher rate than currently in effect.

The point is, the elimination of stepped-up basis will be a huge tax increase for millions of Americans – and not just wealthy people – despite Biden’s claims to the contrary.

Elimination of Stepped-up Basis Bad For Middle Class

According to Gallup, as of 2017, 82% of Americans over age 65 own their own homes. That is the highest rate of homeownership for any age group. When these people die, their property most often passes to their heirs. With Baby Boomers increasingly passing away in the next decade, economists and demographers predict a gigantic transfer of wealth in the years just ahead.

Yet if President Biden and the Democrats have their way, the coming huge wealth transfer will be: NOT from parents to children (as it should be) – but from parents to the federal government!

Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have announced a bill designed to close the stepped up basis tax provision.

Other tax changes increases being considered
  • Corporate rate 21->28% 
  • Global min tax to 21%
  • Top income rate to 39.6%
  • End fossil fuel subsidies
  • Tax investment gains > $1M as wage income
  • Tax assets passed on at death

Some Raw Data on People Killed by Police

This is in no way meant to be an in-depth analysis, but just a cursory examination of the data would conclude that the leftist narrative of ...