Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: growth

Atlanta Fed Drops GDP Growth Estimate to Under One Percent

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, May 19, 2015: 

Whenever new data on the economy is reported, the Atlanta branch of the Federal Reserve System (the Atlanta “Fed”) releases its proprietary “nowcast” on how well the economy is doing. For some time now, that forecast has embarrassed mainstream economists who have subsequently been forced to drop their own forecasts as the economy continues to slow.

In February GDPNow projected that the U.S. economy would grow by 1.9 percent in 2015, far below the rosy estimates by mainstream economists. Two weeks ago GDPNow projected growth at 1.2 percent. On May 13, it dropped further,

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China’s Economy Continues to Implode

This article was first published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, May 8, 2015: 

English: Scatter graph of the People's Republi...

Wolf Richter is one observer of the present world economic scene who hasn’t had his mind altered by drinking the Kool-Aid ladled out in Washington and in the economics departments of so many colleges and universities. After holding a number of C-level positions (CEO, COO, etc.) in large and successful private companies, he chucked it and went to live for a while in Switzerland. He started a blog with the ghastly name of Testosterone Pit, which he thankfully changed to Wolf Street last summer.

He has been watching economic events unfold (and unravel) in China for some time, but the latest from the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) so startled him two weeks ago that he thought it was either a misprint, or that the index would bounce right back from its precipitous fall.

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China Export Shipping Declines by Two-thirds

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, May 7, 2015: 

Two weeks ago the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI), which tracks shipping rates from Shanghai to the world, fell off a cliff: down a breath-taking 67 percent from a year ago. Wolf Richter thought it was a statistical fluke.

It was no fluke. In the next two weeks the SCFI for Northern Europe fell another 14 percent, an all-time low. Wrote Richter: “Something big is going on in the China-Europe trade.”

The collapse is being echoed by other indexes reflecting the breathtaking decline in China’s exports. For example

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First-quarter GDP Report Is Awful

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmereican.com on Wednesday, April 29, 2015: 

Logo of the United States Bureau of Economic A...

The report released Wednesday morning by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) was stark: The economy stalled in the first quarter in every sector, with overall growth barely positive, and embarrassing once again economists who predicted substantially better results. According to the BEA the economy in the first quarter grew at an annual rate of just 0.2 percent, compared to estimates of between 1.0 and 2.0 percent by the “experts.”

Personal spending dropped by nearly two thirds from the fourth quarter of 2014; durable goods purchases fell by more than 80 percent; and non-durable goods purchases almost disappeared compared to the last quarter, falling by 0.3 percent compared to an increase of more than four percent. The service industry limped along at two-thirds of last quarter’s pace.

Investment in business capital equipment went negative, as did

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Hillary Finally Comes Clean: The Economy Is “Stalled”

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, April 21, 2015:

During Hillary Clinton’s road trip to New Hampshire on Monday, something remarkable occurred: She told the truth about the economy, telling her supporters that the economy has “stalled out” and, adding, “It’s not enough to tread water.”

A month ago while she was busy not running for president, Clinton never uttered a word about the weakening economy, giving mute evidence that she was unwilling to risk telling the truth and offending both the president and her Democrat supporters. This despite evidence that Americans have put economic worries at or near the top of their concerns for months on end. This despite the fact that the nation’s GDP fell off a cliff in January and February. This despite the fact that job growth since the start of the Great Recession has been half what it was during the Reagan recovery in the 1980s. This despite evidence that new business startups have continued their decline since 2009, and evidence that business investment in new enterprises has dropped sharply at the same time.

But evidence just released has so overwhelmed the Democrat stance that everything is ducky that it apparently has forced Clinton to admit what is obvious to the voters whose support she is seeking:

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Politics and Mathematics Collide in Chicago

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, March 4, 2015:

English: Downtown Chicago, Illinois at night. ...

Downtown Chicago, Illinois at night.

Chicago is a microcosm of Illinois: it has a determined unwillingness to face reality. Even Moody’s, in its latest downgrade of Chicago debt, has failed to grasp the enormity of the shortfalls facing the city and the state.

Moody’s tried to be realistic, using unrealistic numbers:

[Our rating] incorporates expected growth in Chicago’s already highly-elevated unfunded pension liabilities and continued growth in costs to service those liabilities, even if recent pension reforms proceed and are not overturned….

The “expected growth” will likely surprise to the downside even the realists at Moody’s, as the real shortfall in the five pension plans the state is funding is vastly greater than even the $100+ billion the state faces. A “special pension briefing” performed back in November by the state’s Commission on Forecasting and Accountability showed the accrued liabilities on those plans to be

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Economic Forecasting is a Dangerous Business

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, February 9, 2015:

English: New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra i...

Yogi Berra

Nearly everyone has an opinion about forecasting and its dangers. Some, like Yogi Berra, will tell you, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Others, like John Kenneth Galbraith, will say, “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” Still others will warn about setting either the exact event, or its timing. Do either one, they say, but not both.

Apparently the forecasters enlisted by the Wall Street Journal last week to give their best estimates of growth in China weren’t listening, or didn’t care. Or perhaps they believe in Keynesian miracles alongside those of the Tooth Fairy.

Nevertheless, when asked about import and export growth in China for the month of January, they missed reality by a country mile. The Journal tallied up the results and their seers and prognosticators concluded that

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Oil Price Decline Hurting Alaska the Most

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 26, 2015:

State Seal of Alaska.

Although oil-producing states such as North Dakota and Texas are expected to suffer declines in revenues if oil prices continue to drop, other states such as Wyoming, Louisiana, and especially Alaska will feel much more than just a temporary pinch. According to the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Ratings Service,

If lower prices persist through 2015, the economies and finances of the energy producing states — Louisiana, Alaska, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma and North Dakota — will be put to the test.

Oil and mineral revenues account for a third of Wyoming’s budget, one-sixth of New Mexico’s, and one-eighth of Louisiana’s, while Texas — the state that, standing alone, would be the eighth-largest oil-producing country in the world — counts on less than

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New Jersey Driving Away Businesses

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, January 9, 2015: 

Mercedes-Benz

On Tuesday, when Mercedes-Benz’s North American Chairman Stephen Cannon finally confirmed the rumors swirling around his company’s headquarters in Montvale, New Jersey, that he was going to move it to Atlanta, Georgia, he didn’t tell the whole truth:

New Jersey has been a wonderful home to our U.S. operations for our first 50 years, and still is today. The state has worked tirelessly with us as we evaluated our options.

 

Ultimately, however, it became apparent that to achieve the sustained, profitable growth and efficiencies we require for the decades ahead, our headquarters would have to be located elsewhere.

 

That brought us to Atlanta.

It was the location that sealed the deal, according to Cannon:

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Mercedes-Benz Latest to Leave New Jersey Owing to High Taxes

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, January 8, 2015:

Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines

The rumors swirling around the Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Montvale, New Jersey were confirmed by the company’s U.S. president, Stephen Cannon, on Tuesday: It would move its U.S. headquarters from Montvale to Atlanta, starting in July. The move would affect about 1,000 employees, about half of whom would likely be offered the opportunity to move with the company.

The decision to move was based on the high-cost and high-tax environment in New Jersey compared to Georgia, although one had to read between the lines of the company’s official statement to ferret that out:

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Underlying Economic Indicators Confirm Dow’s Record Run

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 24, 2014:

 

With the Santa Claus rally driving stocks to new all-time highs, the normally restrained Wall Street Journal found itself describing the economy “in a sweet spot of growth, sustained hiring and falling unemployment, stirring optimism that a post-recession breakout has arrived.”

Investopedia explains the cause of the usual rally in stocks toward the end of each year this way:

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Pressure Building to Repeal Two Laws Keeping Oil and Gas Prices High

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 17, 2014:

Senator Lisa Murkowski

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski

Alaskan Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, soon to chair the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, is already setting the table for a serious conversation about getting rid of at least one archaic law dating back to the mid-1970s: the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975.

That law bans the export of crude oil (with some minor exceptions) and could endanger the oil shale boom as a result. Said Murkowski:

The price American drivers pay for gasoline at their local station is linked to the price of oil set by the global market.

 

Exporting U.S. oil to our friends and allies will not raise gasoline prices here at home and should, in fact, help drive down prices.

As the price of crude oil drops, it increases the chances that smaller marginal crude oil producers will be forced to close unless they are allowed to find buyers outside the United States willing to pay more for their product. One of the bottlenecks has already been opened:

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House Votes to Approve Keystone, for Ninth Time

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 17, 2014:

Keystone XL demonstration, White House,8-23-20...

Keystone XL demonstration

In the first major vote in the House during the current lame duck session, on Friday a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline passed by a vote of 252-161. In an ironic twist, the bill — the ninth one approving Keystone — was sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy, the Louisiana Republican facing Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu in a runoff election on December 6. Landrieu has been moving heaven and earth in the Senate to approve Keystone in an attempt to salvage her career.

Said Cassidy:

Here we are on the ninth attempt. It has been 539 days, about a year and a half, since the House first sent a Keystone approval bill to the Senate in this Congress. We are going to make it as easy as possible for the Senate to finally get a bill to president’s desk.

And there it will die, if it makes it that far, as President Obama has repeatedly stated. Which raises the question:

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Relying on a Pizza Ad to End Scott Walker’s Governorship in Wisconsin

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, October 20, 2014:

On September 18, 2014, a new TV campaign ad supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s reelection bid showed the governor smiling into the camera and saying, “Thanks to our reforms, the average family will have an extra $322 to spend. What are you going to do with your savings?” A number of regular folks then answered: gas up the car, put on new tires, and buy things such as clothes, school supplies, and diapers.

PolitiFact.com looked into Walker’s claims and concluded that he was basically right: The income tax and property tax reductions that he had engineered during his first term would save the average family in Wisconsin somewhere between $330 and $350 a year. Said PolitiFact: “Either way, the figures support [Walker’s] ad’s claim of $322.”

Mary Burke, a member of Madison’s school board and Wisconsin’s former secretary of commerce from 2005 through 2007, decided not to try to refute Walker’s claim but instead to belittle it.

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Fracking Revolution: U.S. Replaces OPEC as World’s “Swing Producer”

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, October 1, 2014: 

 

After reviewing the numbers from America’s oil and gas patches, Per Magnus Nysveen of Rystad, an international oil consultancy in Norway, declared that the United States is now taking on the role of “swing producer” that used to be played by Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC, the oil producers’ cartel.

Those numbers are impressive. Fracking technology has led to a 65-percent increase in U.S. crude oil output in just the last six years and, according to Wood Mackenzie,

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Stock Market Gains Failing to Bail Out Pension Plans

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, September 26, 2014: 

Pension managers’ hopes that investment returns – i.e., pixie dust – would bail them out from their bad assumptions, and keep their plans solvent and fully funded so that they would be able to keep every promise made, have finally crashed on the rocks of reality. Just three months ago, the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College released a study showing that the shortfall between promises and assets to pay them for 25 of the largest public defined-benefit pension plans in the country amounted to more than

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Despite Stock Market Gains, Public Pension Plans Fall Further Behind

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, September 25, 2014:

 

In its latest report on public pension plans, Moody’s announced on Thursday that, despite recent historic gains in the stock market, those plans’ liabilities are increasing even more quickly. Reporting on the 25 largest public defined benefit pension plans in the country, Moody’s Global Credit Research estimates that those plans are now $2 trillion short of where they need to be to pay out all the benefits promised to their beneficiaries. This has occurred despite record gains in the stock market, which,

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The Kansas Referendum on Reagan’s Tax Cut Policies

This article was published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 24, 2014:

Big government liberals and high spending politicians have converged on Kansas, seeing an opportunity to discredit not only Ronald Reagan’s tax policies but to get even with the Tea Party, which took out a number of “moderate” Republicans in the state Senate over the last two election cycles.

Gov. Sam Brownback (pictured above), a supporter of less government and lower taxes, was able to ride the conservative wave that resulted in tax reform that not only increased an individual taxpayer’s standard deduction from $4,500 to $5,500 but also

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Will Tax Cuts Rescue Kansas Governor Brownback in November?

This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, September 22, 2014:

Sam Brownback, member of the United States Senate

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback

Rarely has a governor’s race had such a clear-cut focus. In Kansas, Republican Governor Sam Brownback is facing a strong challenge from Democrat Paul Davis, who is concentrating on Brownback’s tax policies, which were designed to stimulate Kansas’ moribund economy. They’re not working, says Davis, and the tax cuts passed by Brownback 20 months ago need to be repealed to save the Kansas economy and protect government services.

Davis is getting a lot of help from liberals and from moderate Republicans who

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U.S. Tax Code Puts America 32nd Out of 34 Countries

This article was first published by TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, September 15, 2014:

English: Ronald Reagan singing the Tax Reform ...

English: Ronald Reagan signing the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The release of the Tax Foundation’s latest study last week, its “2014 International Tax Competitive Index” (ITCI), gave commentators from the Wall Street Journal to the Independent Women’s Forum plenty to chew on. The foundation’s analysis, based on more than 40 variables across five major categories, concluded that the United States ranked just 32nd out of the 34 countries making up the Organization For Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In their executive summary, the authors of the study noted that

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.