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Showing posts from April, 2021

Economy Heats Up; Will Inflation be Transitory?

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The first look at Q1 Gross Domestic Product, the broadest measure of economic output, showed a quarter-over-quarter (q/q) annualized rate of expansion of 6.4%, versus the Bloomberg consensus estimate of a 6.7% gain after the unrevised 4.3% increase in Q4. Personal consumption rose by 10.7%, compared to forecasts of a 10.5% gain, and following the unadjusted 2.3% increase recorded in Q4. On inflation, the GDP Price Index came in at a 4.1% increase, above expectations of 2.6% gain, and versus the unrevised 2.0% rise seen in Q4, while the core PCE Index, which excludes food and energy, moved 2.3% higher, compared to expectations of a 2.4% increase, and following the unadjusted 1.3% gain in Q4. Weekly initial jobless claims came in at a level of 553,000 for the week ended April 24, compared to the Bloomberg estimate of an acceleration to 540,000 from the prior week's upwardly revised 566,000 level. The four-week moving average declined by 44,000 to 611,750, and continuing claims for th

Will the Housing Market Frenzy Die Down?

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I live on the outskirts of Austin, TX, and just received my notice of property value, and coupled with market statistics I get every month, I see my home has increased in value 25.9% in the last year. Astounding, to say the least! The Austin housing market is hot, as a many markets are around the U.S. My neighborhood was built four years ago, and the same model as mine across the street sold for more than 30% of original prices.  Mortgage rates are low, and inventory is tight. It's a sellers market. The supply-and-demand curve is working as predicted. The coronavirus pandemic raised the temperature considerably on the nation’s housing market. The past year has been marked by soaring prices, logic-defying offers over asking price, and steep competition as sellers have been hesitant to put their homes up for sale. But the heart-pumping, bank account–depleting housing market frenzy could die down—at least a little—in the coming months as more sellers list their properties and inventor

USA Facts: State of the Union

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See also: The State of Health Care at the end of 2020  

Two Views on Race Theory

Critical Race Theory: The Enemy of Reason, Evidence, and Open Debate By Peter J. Wilson National Review On September 22, 2020, President Trump issued Executive Order 13950, “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.” The order contained the kind of emotionally charged language about critical race theory that is seldom seen in these legalistic documents: “This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans.” The order quoted from training materials being used by government agencies and from statements of the agencies themselves, such as this from the Treasury Department: “Virtually all White people, regardless of how ‘woke’ they are, contribute to racism.” The department, according to the order, “instructed small group leaders to encourage employ

Western Civilization, the Recovery of Greek Wisdom, and Today

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As Americans know from their own illustrious history, any nation’s well-being hinges on only a few factors. Its prosperity, freedom, and overall stability depend on its constitutional and political stability. A secure currency and financial order are also essential, as is a strong military. Perhaps most important is a first-rate inductive educational system.  Of course, nothing is possible without general social calm (often dependent on a reverence for the past) and secure borders. The following article by Dr. Victor Davis Hanson and YouTube presentation are well worth the time. How Much Ruin Do We Have Left? Western Civilization, the Recovery of Greek Wisdom, and Today

Some Raw Data on People Killed by Police

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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 J

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 th

Retail Sales Strong, Jobless Claims Fall

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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

Why We Need Liberals AND Conservatives

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 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 exampl

Inflation Hits 2.6% Annual Rate

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The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.6% in March, the most since August 2012, and above the consensus of 0.5%. It was led by a 5.0% jump in energy prices, the most since September 2017, while food prices were up a small 0.1%. Core CPI, which excludes energy and food, increased 0.3%, also above the consensus of 0.2%.  Most core CPI components increased. Shelter was up 0.3%, led by a 3.8% rebound in lodging away from home. It was the biggest rise in this component since October 2005, reflecting the gradual reopening of the economy and an increase in travel and hotel stay. Car insurance prices rose 3.3%, its third consecutive gain. Used car and truck prices rose 0.5%, but new vehicle prices were flat. There were notable price gains in household furnishings and operations, recreation, and personal care. On the flip side, there were price declines in apparel and education.  On a year-over-year basis, CPI increased 2.6%, the most since August 2018, while core CPI rose a more moderate 1

Biden Appointees Equate Energy Production with Racism

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In February, Beverly Wright linked the legacy of slavery and the Jim Crow era with energy development. In March, President Joe Biden appointed Wright to his White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. Wright, the founder of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, is joined on the council by Jade Begay of the Indigenous Environmental Network, who co-wrote a 2018 op-ed in EcoWatch contending that climate change is “colonialism” and “cultural genocide.” In February,  Vox reported  on Wright’s conflating racial discrimination and energy development. “People often forget the legacies of slavery, of Jim Crow segregation, and out of that chain, laws that were deeply entrenched within the social structure of the Southern environment that worsened our quality of life,” she told Vox. “That legacy resulted in communities that had been inundated with toxic facilities, impacting our health, the value of the homes where people live, causing them to have higher cancer rates, and to e

Say It Ain't So!

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The Truth Behind Voter Laws

It looks like Democratic-led campaigns against new voter laws are beginning to lose their appeal. Even some liberals are now questioning their tactics. I keep hearing that Republicans are trying to "suppress the vote," yet in reading the proposed new laws and those already passed, I find no evidence of this. In some cases, voting has been made easier.  I have to conclude that Democrats want wide-open voting, with no requirements for ID, or any checks to prevent fraud similar to their open borders policy. Yet 72% of Americans in a recent poll support voter ID requirements. To say that requiring a voter ID is racist or discriminatory is to say that minorities are not capable of getting or having an ID. That sounds racist and is, of course, a lie. The campaign against Georgia's new law’s specific provisions has been just as dishonest, as well as in West Virginia and Texas. Democrats leaned heavily on false claims about a provision barring food and drink handouts to people v

The Woke Revolution is Powered by Elites

By Victor David Hanson, Ph.D. Stanford University Ed Bastian made $17 million in 2019 as chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines, Georgia’s largest employer. Bastian just blasted Georgia’s new voting law. He thinks it is racist to require the same sort of ID to vote that Delta requires for its passengers to check in. Yet most Americans believe voting is a more sacred act than flying Delta and, moreover, may have noticed that Delta has partnerships with systemically racist China. Also, a recent Associated Press poll showed that 72% of Americans favor requiring photo ID to vote. The most privileged CEOs of corporate America—those who sell us everything from soft drinks and sneakers to professional sports and social media—now jabber to America about its racism, sexism, and other assorted sins. The rules of cynical CEO censure are transparent. First, the corporation never harangues unless it feels it has more to lose—whether by boycotts, protests, or bad publicity—than it stands to gain

Is This the Beginning of Increased Inflation?

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Producer prices surge  The Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand jumped 1.0% in March, the second most since December 2009, and double the consensus of 0.5%. Nearly 60% of the increase was attributed to a 1.7% surge in the goods PPI, the most on record, led by energy.  The services PPI advanced 0.7%, its third consecutive gain, led by machinery and vehicle wholesale margins. PPI for final demand ex-energy and food was up 0.7%, also the second most on record, and exceeding the consensus of 0.2%.  On a year-to-year basis, the PPI for final demand increased 4.2%, the fastest pace since September 2011, while core PPI was up 3.1%, a record jump. Both goods and services producer prices surged from a year ago. The broad-based increase reflects rising demand amid ongoing supply chain challenges that are creating shortages and bottlenecks. Indeed, intermediate prices soared across the production flow, suggesting a significant buildup in pipeline pressures. Some of these pressures will be

Paycheck-to-Paycheck: Get Out of the Cycle

I too once lived paycheck to paycheck. It's a hard way to live, at least financially. But I got out. Here are some suggestions on how you can too.  Living paycheck to paycheck isn't uncommon these days. Recent studies suggest many Americans are doing just that, which in turn makes it next to impossible to save and invest. Overspending can be part of the problem, but even more often people get squeezed through no fault of their own—low wages, unpredictable income and high costs for essentials like childcare, healthcare, housing and college. On the other hand, even people with high incomes can find themselves caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle. When you’re in this situation and just barely making ends meet each month, it can seem as though you’re on an endless financial treadmill. So how do you jump off? It's a combination of attitude and action. First realize that you can do it—then take these steps to make it happen. Budgets are key Start by tracking your spending wit

Fast and Loose with the Definition of "Infrastructure"

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) took the bold step of expanding the definition of infrastructure to an unrecognizable state on Wednesday, as she and other Democrats work hard to sell Americans on President Joe Biden's $2 trillion "infrastructure" plan that includes a whole lot of non-infrastructure-related initiatives. Gillibrand declared on Twitter, "Paid leave is infrastructure. Child care is infrastructure. Caregiving is infrastructure." However, a quick search reveals that infrastructure "is often considered to refer to transportation, roads, bridges and items of that nature." Merriam-Webster's Dictionary says infrastructure is "the system of public works of a country, state, or region," or "the underlying foundation or basic framework (as of a system or organization)." NBC News published an analysis April 7 acknowledging that Biden "threw everything, including the kitchen sink, into his $2 trillion-plus 'infrastr

The Fed: Things are Looking Good

Minutes from the last Fed meeting saw FOMC members point to a brighter outlook for the economy, while agreeing to provide continued support via near-zero interest rates and large monthly bond purchases. Several of them even noted that the recent $1.9T pandemic relief package could improve the position of small businesses slammed by the pandemic, boost consumer spending and contain long-term damage to the labor market. That builds on the latest hiring surge in March, as well as an unemployment drop and business reopenings.  Similar viewpoint: The outlook was echoed by Jamie Dimon, who estimated the coming economic boom could last until 2023. In his annual letter to shareholders on Wednesday, the JPMorgan CEO said strong consumer savings, huge deficit spending, more QE, expanded vaccine distribution and a $2.3T infrastructure plan could lead to a "Goldilocks moment" of fast, sustained growth alongside inflation and interest rates that drift slowly upward. The permanent effect o

Biden Infrastructure Plan will Hurt Economy

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By Gary D. Halbert Halbert Wealth President Biden’s massive $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill is on the tracks, rolling toward what many in Washington believe will be speedy passage in the House and Senate. There are many problems with this historically large spending bill, but chief among them is the fact that less than 6% of the $2.25 trillion will actually be spent on roads and bridges. If we include all spending related to transportation, the amount only increases to just over one-third of the total. Much of the so-called “infrastructure” spending will fund some liberal pork barrel spending projects which are loaded up in this Trojan Horse of a bill – including direct government giveaways, Green New Deal-style initiatives and programs to improve racial inequality, just to name a few. The president says his new bill will create millions of new jobs and will be a boon for the economy when it is enacted. But many argue just the opposite: that the massive bill will be bad for the econ

When corporations become political

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Updated on April 7, 2021 Woke Capitalism Strikes Again in Georgia If the problem of “woke capitalism” wasn’t apparent before, the battle over Georgia’s new election integrity law has drawn it out into the open. The law, which adds voter ID requirements to absentee voting, extends some early voting, and places some restrictions on activist activities at polling places, has been billed by Democrats and President Joe Biden as Jim Crow 2.0 . Regardless of the merits of the law or the offensive absurdity of comparing it to the actual rampant voter suppression under Jim Crow, it’s clear that opposition to the law is coming almost entirely from the left. Read full article... 1 Investor With 1 Share Can Call Out Corporate Leftism  You can’t just pick up the phone and take on one of the most powerful CEOs in the world. Or can you? It could be that easy if you own just one share of stock in a publicly traded corporation. It’s a David-versus-Goliath strategy that conservatives don’t use enough