Homebuilders the Biggest BeneficiaryHomebuilders remain the biggest beneficiary of Covid-19 thanks to the Fed’s reaction to it. Housing starts, permits, and completions crashed in the initial months of the pandemic, but the Fed goosed housing with a commitment to hold interest rates low until they spot their measure of inflation.The Census Bureau’s New Residential Construction Report highlights the details. Building Permits Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,766,000. This is 2.7 percent above the revised February rate of 1,720,000 and is 30.2 percent above the March 2020 rate of 1,356,000. Single-family authorizations in March were at a rate of 1,199,000; this is 4.6 percent above the revised February figureRead More »
Articles by Mike Shedlock
Same "Refugee" Cap Different RestrictionsBiden will maintain a 15,000 Cap on Refugees but is slated to Sign an Executive Order Easing Trump Restrictions.The executive order will lift requirements that refugees coming under the 15,000 cap fall under one of several categories, including Iraqis who aided the American military, Central Americans and people fleeing religious discrimination.It will revert to the previous system, in place from the refugee program’s creation through 2019, that divides the overall allocation of refugee slots by region.
“We intend to use all 15,000 slots under the new Emergency Presidential Determination and will closely monitor progress toward that end,” a White House spokesman said.Refugee vs AsylumThe refugee and asylum systems are run separately. Refugees flee
3.4% Year-Over-Year Coming UpMy expectation is primarily based on easy year-over-year comparisons plus smaller increases in some key indexes. If the price of energy moderates, then things will likely turn lower. Shelter, not energy, is the key component and I strongly disagree with the BLS methodology of using rent instead of home prices. For discussion of what the CPI would look like if actual home prices were used, please see Hello Fed, Inflation is Rampant and Obvious, Why Can’t You See It?MishRead More »
Advance Retail Sales Winners and Losers DetailWhat’s Cookin?Clearly nonstore retailers led of course by Amazon. Not Close to the StoveDepartment Stores and clothing are abysmal. I suspect people are buying clothes, but increasingly online.Department stores are closer to the graveyard than the stove. Gasoline SalesGiven the massive jump in the price of gas, one might have thought that gasoline sales would be doing better than they are. Attribute most of this to work-at-home policies that are here to stay, at least compared pre-pandemic levels. Also cars are getting more fuel efficient and due to Covid-19 many people are still traveling much less.Food and Drinking Establishments It’s important to note that despite a recent surge in spending, sales at bars and restaurants have still notRead More »
Randocalrissian5 hrsThat spike is ludicrous. Extend the sustained 2010-2020 trendline and we are way over that line. Not as far above as we were under on the March spike low in 2020, which seems appropriate. If the spike lasts, inflation would be an even greater certainty. Some are still saying inflation won’t be that bad if spending comes back to normal levels soon enough, but lumber futures vehemently disagree, as does my ability to purchase materials for a decent price.Read More »
Green SmokescreenThe EU mandates that that 30% of all EU expenditures be allocated to green projects. Eurointelligence discusses the Green Smokescreen and some amusing math as to how those targets are met.If you took this target seriously, you would have to reform the Common Agricultural Policy. But the EU failed to do precisely that when they had an opportunity last year. Instead, the EU resorts to cheating. The European Commission classifies investment in terms of 0%, 40% and 100% green content, and rounds up the numbers to the next higher target. So 1% becomes 40%. 41% becomes 100%.You can always rely on EU leaders to put appearances ahead of content.Reform of fiscal rules, a capital markets union, and changes in tax rules would produce more environmental investments and employment thanRead More »
No Bid Contract for $86,947,271Here is the Justification for the No-Bid Contract awarded to Family Endeavors Inc. (FEI), a non-profit corporation.The $352 per day contract covers meals, transportation, language assistance, trauma care, and legal assistance. In short, the per day contract seems like a bargain, especially given the fact we are discussing cost per family, not per person. The housing units are located in El Paso, TX; Cotulla TX; and Chandler, AZ.The lead image is from U.S. to keep migrant families in hotels amid rush for space.Over 170,000 Illegal Immigrants Flood the US in March, Most in a DecadeAll things considered, the cost per bed seems reasonable until you ponder Over 170,000 Illegal Immigrants Flood the US in March, Most in a Decade. Biden wants to house illegalRead More »
Import and Export Prices Rebound SharplyThe BLS Import and Export Price Report shows import and prices continue to rebound sharply.Import Price Synopsis U.S. import prices advanced 1.2 percent in March, 1.3 percent in February, and 1.4 percent in January.The 4.1-percent increase from December to March was the largest 3-month rise for import prices since the index advanced 5.8 percent in May 2011. The price index for U.S. imports increased 6.9 percent from March 2020 to March 2021, the largest over-the-year advance in the index since a 6.9-percent rise for the year ended January 2012. Import Price DetailsFuel Imports: Import fuel prices rose 6.3 percent in March, after increases of 11.7 percent in February, 8.4 percent in January, and 7.3 percent in December. The increases over the past 4Read More »
Showdown Over the American Rescue PlanA last-minute provision added to the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan prevents states from using the money directly or indirectly on tax cuts.The Wall Street Journal reports Five States Filed a Lawsuit against that provision. Republican lawmakers and attorneys general argued the provision, which would apply for three years, is overly vague, unconstitutional and would unfairly penalize states in good fiscal health. Five states have filed lawsuits seeking an injunction against the provision—the first hearing is scheduled for the end of the month—and Republicans in Congress have introduced legislation to repeal it.“It is potentially a significant restriction on state fiscal authority, and some of that may come down to the Treasury guidance,” said JaredRead More »
New Date For Afghanistan WithdrawalOn October 22, 2011, Obama set a date of December 31, 2011. Trump set a date for May 1, 2021, cleverly leaving things up to the next president. But also note that on October 7, 2020 Trump Said US Will Be Out of Afghanistan by ChristmasNow Biden says September 11, 2021.President Biden proposes U.S. Troops to Leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the Bin Laden plane attack that took down the World Trade towers. Mr. Biden is expected to announce the decision formally on Wednesday, marking the second time in less than two years that an American president has set a date to end the nation’s involvement in the Afghan conflict—the longest war in U.S. history. Last year, then-President Donald Trump reached a deal with the insurgent TalibanRead More »
Purchase of Stock Via Call OptionsBarron’s reports Nancy Pelosi’s Husband Bought Roblox, Microsoft StockSpeaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband just disclosed he bought Roblox stock the day it went public, and acquired Microsoft stock through options.The Barron’s article is behind a paywall. Fox News also reports the same thing: Pelosi’s Husband Bought $10M in Microsoft Shares Through Options. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband purchased millions of dollars worth of Microsoft (MSFT) and Roblox (RBLX) shares last month, new financial disclosures form reveal.Paul Pelosi exercised call options and paid $1.95 million to buy 15,000 shares of Microsoft at a strike price of $130 on March 19, according to an April 9th filing with the House clerk. That same day, Pelosi, who owns and operates a CaliforniaRead More »
Largest Monthly Leap Since August 2012The BLS reports the Largest Month-Over-Month CPI Increase since August of 2012.Month-Over-Month DetailsThe Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.6 percent in March on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.4 percent in February.The March 1-month increase was the largest rise since a 0.6-percent increase in August 2012. The gasoline index continued to increase, rising 9.1 percent in March and accounting for nearly half of the seasonally adjusted increase in the all items index. The natural gas index also rose, contributing to a 5.0-percent increase in the energy index over the month. The food index rose 0.1 percent in March, with the food at home index and the food away from home index both also rising 0.1 percent. TheRead More »
Eddie_T1 dayCouple of points worth mentioning…..
One is that the medical community needs to get the word that if somebody has these symptoms that it isn’t appropriate to give heparin….clots from this kind of reaction require a different protocol, and the delay gives a chance to get the word out on this
Secondly, because it’s a similar (adenovirus derived) vaccine to the AstraZeneca, the numbers need to be confirmed as far as the incidence. The incidence of clots with the AZ vaccine is more like 1:100, 000.
So the J&J vaccine might be expected to be somewhere in the same ballpark as far as incidence. Time will tell us.
So even though the risk is low, the caution is probably warranted….I expect it will be in use again soon.
Does Biden Withdraw the Troops? That’s the key question as the Taliban Backs Out of Peace Talks.International efforts to broker a peace settlement in Afghanistan suffered a setback on Monday after the Taliban backed out of participating in a U.S.-backed summit that was slated to start later this week in Turkey, officials said.Facing a May 1 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops from the country, the Biden administration has spent weeks laying the groundwork for the conference in the hope it would accelerate the slow-moving peace process that began last year. The conference has now been postponed until a later date.The administration had hoped the Turkey talks would yield a cease-fire agreement and an interim government that included the Taliban, enabling U.S. and NATO allies to withdraw theirRead More »
As Biden administration officials expected in their first meeting with Chinese counterparts, Yang Jiechi, Mr. Xi’s top foreign-policy aide, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi asked them to roll back Trump-era policies targeting China. Beijing wanted to restore the kind of recurring “dialogue” Washington sees as a waste of time, say U.S. and Chinese officials briefed on the Alaska meeting.Mr. Yang also delivered a surprise: a 16-minute lecture about America’s racial problems and democratic failings. The objective, say Chinese officials, was to make clear that Beijing sees itself as an equal of the U.S. He also warned Washington against challenging China over a mission Beijing views as sacred—the eventual reunification with Taiwan.That is a big shift for Chinese leaders, who for decades took careRead More »
Fear of Getting or Spreading CovidOfficially the Unemployment rate is 6.0%. Practically speaking, it is much larger by several methods. Please consider The Other Reason the Labor Force Is Shrunken: Fear of Covid-19.A U.S. Census survey conducted in the second half of March found that about 4.2 million adults aren’t working because they are afraid of getting or spreading the coronavirus.Labor-force participation usually falls in recessions, as some people give up job hunting. But such discouraged workers accounted for just 3% of last year’s decline in workforce numbers, according to Labor Department data. This suggests that fear of the coronavirus might explain a lot of the remainder.
A handful of studies, including one by Austan Goolsbee and Chad Syverson of the University of Chicago, have
Njbr12 hrsWhy Portland?
…And yet, as many within and without the city have begun realizing, Portland is a town leavened with a history of rampant racial strife. As the whitest major American city, Portland blossomed in the lone state that constitutionally barred blacks from living there through the 19th century, that acted as one of the primary concentration centers for incarcerating American citizens of Japanese ancestry during World War II, that redlined as severely as any major metropolis elsewhere. That in 1922 saw its chief of police posing alongside hooded Ku Klux Klan members. That brought Jim Crow to the Pacific shoreline.
It’s the type of legal legacy, the type of nod-and-wink encouragement of white supremacy, that not only welcomed any number of Confederate families to relocate
Long Covid Symptomsfatigueshortness of breathcoughjoint painchest painbrain fog, wherein they find it more difficult to think clearly and focusdepressionmuscle painheadachefever, which may come and goheart palpitations, or a feeling of the heart poundingproblems with smell and tastesleep issuesmemory and concentration difficultiesanxietymood changesSymptoms are from Medical News Today.Although it is still unclear how many people have experienced long COVID, data from the COVID Symptom Study app suggest that 1 in 10 people with the illness experience symptoms for 3 weeks or longer.Data from the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics found similar results, with roughly 1 in 10 respondents who tested positive for COVID-19 exhibiting symptoms lasting for a period of 12 weeks orRead More »
Progressives Push Union AgendaIn a move I believe will fail, Democrats Tie Infrastructure Package to the PRO Act.Progressives, labor unions and the business community are squaring off over the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. The bill would make it easier for gig workers and other independent contractors to unionize and set an enforceable timeline for union-employer negotiations to commence. It would also undercut states’ “right to work” laws by allowing unions to collect dues from workers who opted out.The path of the union bill is hazy as Congress starts to transform Mr. Biden’s outline into legislation. The labor proposal doesn’t square with Senate rules on what sort of legislation can typically be advanced with just a simple majority; most Republicans oppose it and severalRead More »
Eddie_T1 day"I fear advances that keep people alive artificially, in pain, and unable to think clearly or move. “
Yes, this is the worst of all outcomes….to be alive, but useless, demented, and dependent.
For me, avoiding this is far more important than how many days I get to breathe and walk the earth.
One of these days I’m going to write a book about all the lessons I’ve learned from my dogs. There are many, but one of the most remarkable ones is the way they handle death.
They often live very active lives right up until they finally experience major organ failure…..enjoyng a five mile run just a week before death…..not exhibiting symptoms or complaining about anything, and then they just pass…… in a day or two.
I also admired the way my father handled death. He knew it was
Lacy Hunt at Hoisington Management has some interesting thoughts regarding the inflation debate and the potential for decelerating inflation.
Case For Decelerating Inflation
In its Quarterly Review and Outlook for the First Quarter of 2021 Lacy Hunt makes a case for decelerating inflation.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, disinflation is more likely than accelerating inflation. Since prices deflated in the second quarter of 2020, the annual inflation rate will move transitorily higher. Once these base effects are exhausted, cyclical, structural, and monetary considerations suggest that the inflation rate will moderate lower by year-end and undershoot the Fed Reserve’s target of 2%. The inflationary psychosis that has gripped the bond market will fade away in theRead More »
Njbr2 daysA widespread middle class is a post-WW2 invention, where worker wages and benefits could far exceed actual need and allow for all of the nice houses, cars, boats, vacations, etc. The excess income also served to inject money into the lower income groups via service jobs, jobs abandoned by the middle class, and even via the route of tax-payer funded welfare.
And, although many people here don’t want to hear it, it was through the work of unions and union organizing.
There is no natural right of or internal stability to a middle class. The middle class depends on the ability to demand or even extort business to pay you enough for all of the extras you want in life.
In a world with ease of relocation, ease of shipment, internet, automation and AI–a middle class becomes
Case for Decelerating InflationIn its Quarterly Review and Outlook for the First Quarter of 2021 Lacy Hunt makes a case for decelerating inflation.Contrary to the conventional wisdom, disinflation is more likely than accelerating inflation. Since prices deflated in the second quarter of 2020, the annual inflation rate will move transitorily higher. Once these base effects are exhausted, cyclical, structural, and monetary considerations suggest that the inflation rate will moderate lower by year end and will undershoot the Fed Reserve’s target of 2%. The inflationary psychosis that has gripped the bond market will fade away in the face of such persistent disinflation.After declining 5.2% in 2020, or the most since World War II, world-wide real per capita GDP is estimated to rise 4.7% inRead More »
The National Labor Relations Board has finished counting all votes that weren’t challenged by either side, and the number of votes against a union exceeds 1,608, the total needed to reach a majority of the 3,215 mail-in ballots workers submitted. The NLRB hasn’t declared an official winner. The Bessemer facility employs fewer than 1% of the roughly 950,000 Amazon employees in the U.S., but the vote emerged as a watershed moment for a company that hired faster than almost any private corporation in history last year.Amazon has long opposed labor organizing and told its workers in Alabama that unionizing isn’t necessary, saying it pays double the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which is also the federal minimum. The company warned of the cost of union dues and highlighted what itRead More »
Millionaires Tax Slated to PassA proposal in the New York’s state legislature would hike the combined state and city taxes of top New York City earners from 12.7%. to 15.73%.The bill is now expected to pass. It would leap the NYC over the top rates in California. As acceptance of tax hikes sets in, NY Bankers and Managers Have Their Eyes on Exits.“I’m already looking for an apartment in Florida,” said one highly paid person at a top-tier bank who asked not to be identified because his employer does not yet know of his plans to move.Others earning more than $1 million are considering still bolder steps such as moving not only themselves but also their entire investment firms out of the city, arguing higher taxes cut into their ability to pay staff. Large financial companies includingRead More »
Governments Spending ProblemThe Peter G. Peterson foundation has an excellent discussion on Understanding the Budget and Understanding Revenues.Over the coming decades, there will be a growing structural mismatch between revenues and spending. That mismatch poses significant challenges for our budget, as well as our political system. Politically, it is always easier to cut taxes and increase spending than it is to raise taxes and cut spending. Yet addressing our growing debt will require policymakers to face those choices, and delay will make them even more difficult.Debt vs DeficitEvery year the US spends more than it takes in. The lead chart shows a surplus in 2000 but it’s a mirage.Every year national debt rises more than the alleged deficit because deficits ignore unfunded liabilitiesRead More »
The lead image shows a cardboard box at least 60% larger than it needs to be. A small package of pills came in that huge box.It wasn’t just you. Americans consumed more corrugated cardboard boxes than ever last year.Stay-at-home orders and stimulus checks fueled a banner year for e-commerce and a run on shipping boxes.U.S. producers in 2020 churned out nearly 407 billion square feet of corrugated product, from dot.com delivery boxes to watermelon crates, according to the Fibre Box Association. The year-over-year rise was 3.4%, equivalent to about 477 square miles of additional corrugated board. Enough to cover New York City and then some. Already contending with record wood prices, scarce shipping containers and fast-rising freight, cabinetmaker John K. Morgan now faces more costlyRead More »
Roger_Ramjet5 daysI think it was Charlie Munger who said, "show me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome".
When the Fed directly states that they will backstop the financial economy, more debt of all varieties, and in vast quantities, is what you get. Unfortunately, all of that additional debt, added to an already ultra-leveraged economy, does nothing to drive growth in the real economy. In fact, you get the opposite.
Spotlight on Bessemer, AlabamaNationally, Amazon has 950,000 employees and is the US’ second largest employer after Walmart. Analysts expect Amazon to eventually take the top spot. If workers vote yes, Bessemer employees would be the only unionized Amazon workers in a nation where memberships have dwindled.There are 5,805 Amazon workers in Bessemer. If they were all to unionize, they would be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which had 18,000 members in the state as of 2020; the new workers would represent an increase of about 32%. Alabama is a right-to-work state, so workers wouldn’t be required to join the union.Amazon Full- and Part-Time JobsPublic UnionsMy main gripe against unions is with public service employees.Corrupt union leaders get in bed withRead More »
Last Obstacle Standing Senator Joe Manchin (D, WV) allegedly conservative, has mostly caved in on Biden’s agenda.Progressives now demand killing or gutting Senate filibuster rules. And if the filibuster falls, a Progressive minority will rule the roost.Pressure Mounts Please note Kyrsten Sinema Defends Filibuster as Pressure Mounts From Progressives.Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has emerged as the staunchest Democratic defender of the filibuster, brushing off fire from the outspoken progressive wing of her party as she tries to stake out a bipartisan reputation in a battleground state.The Arizona lawmaker is one of just two Democratic senators who have publicly said they would block the party from eliminating the 60-vote requirement to advance most legislation, even as pressure builds from partyRead More »