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

July BLS Jobs Report: The Sound of One Hand Clapping?

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 4, 2014:

MarketWatch

To Jeffry Bartash, writing for the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, Friday’s jobs report looked awfully good: 209,000 new jobs were added in July and in all the right places: mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing. In addition, there was almost no growth whatsoever in the “government” sector: just 11,000 new jobs were created there last month. This, according to Bartash, means that the economy is on a hot streak, having generated more than 200,000 new jobs every month for the last six months — the first time that has happened since 1997.

Added Bartash:

In the first seven months of 2014 the economy has gained an average of 230,000 jobs. That’s the best stretch of job creation since the [Great Recession] ended in mid-2009 and 19% faster than the pace of hiring in 2013.

End of story? Not quite.

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Tax Cuts of Kansas Already Improving the State’s Economy

This article was first published at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 14, 2014:

Kansas City Skyline 1

Kansas City, Missouri’s Skyline

When Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed into law the first of several reductions in his state’s income taxes back in May 2012, he wrote:

Our new pro-growth tax policy will be like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy. It will pave the way to the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs, bring tens of thousands of people to Kansas, and help make our state the best place in America to start and grow a small business.

By cutting the top tax bracket by 25 percent and eliminating taxes on small businesses altogether, he expected great things to happen:

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Gas Prices Ease as U.S. Oil Production Soars

This article was first published by TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 7, 2014: 

English: $4.06 Gas Prices, Lewiston, Maine, Cu...

Despite predictions to the contrary, the price of gas over the July 4 weekend dropped by two cents per gallon, confounding seers who were looking at gas approaching $4 a gallon. Those prognosticators were guilty of “straight-line thinking in a curvilinear world” — meaning that since gas this year was 20 cents a gallon more than a year ago, they believed it would continue to go up steadily for the foreseeable future.

With political disruptions in Iraq and Syria seriously reducing their contributions to the world’s oil supplies, one would think that prices would have to go straight up.

One would be wrong.

On July 4, Bank of America reported that U.S. production of crude oil (along with the liquids separated from natural gas) “surpassed all other countries this year with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels [per day] in the first quarter.” Francisco Blanch, BofA’s head of commodities research, told Bloomberg,

The U.S. increase in supply is a very meaningful chunk of oil. The shale boom is playing a key role in the U.S. recovery [from the Great Recession].

If the U.S. didn’t have this energy supply, prices at the pump would be completely unaffordable.

The nearly exponential growth in oil production, thanks to the free market’s invention and development of fracking technology, has put the United States firmly on the path of energy independence. As we become energy independent, disruptions in the supply chain from the Middle East will matter less and less.

Texas and North Dakota — which Professor Mark Perry calls “Saudi Texas” and “Saudi Dakota” respectively — are now producing almost half of all U.S. oil, and would rank as the fifth largest oil producing country as a separate nation. The growth in production is astonishing, according to Perry:

A decade ago the combined conventional crude oil production in the states of Texas and North Dakota … represented less than 21% of total U.S. crude oil output.

By 2008, the combined crude oil output in the two states … were producing one-third of all U.S. crude oil.

In eight out of the last nine months, their combined share exceeded 47% of all U.S. oil.

Perry predicts that it will exceed 50 percent sometime before the end of the year. And that prediction could come back to embarrass him, if the International Energy Agency (IEA) is correct. The IEA is estimating that total U.S. crude oil production (currently at 8.4 million bpd) will continue to soar, exceeding 13 million barrels per day in less than five years. That 50-percent increase in oil production would mean that the United States could be producing nearly 80 percent of its domestic needs for energy, closing in on energy independence.

In the very short run, gas prices will remain higher than they should be, thanks to the disruptions of supply in the Middle East, but with the continuing success of fracking making shale oil deposits now available with current technology, prices may reasonably be expected to decline further over time. Blanch admitted as much to Bloomberg:

The shale production story [in the United States] is bigger than Iraqi production, but it hasn’t made the impact on prices you would expect.

Typically such a large energy [production] growth should bring prices lower but in fact we’re not seeing that because the whole geopolitical situation outside the U.S. is dreadful.

Those involved in capitalizing on the fracking revolution, however, are taking a much longer view. The annual investment in oil and gas development and production hit a record $200 billion this year, one-fifth “of the country’s total private fixed-structure spending for the first time,” said Blanch.

The explosion in the oil patch is doing much to offset the otherwise nearly stagnant economy. In the last 10 years, direct jobs in the patch have almost doubled, while “indirect” jobs that support the industry have almost tripled in that same time period. As Professor Perry noted: “No other sector … has added as many jobs for American workers or made as much of an overall economic contribution to the US economy as the oil and gas sector.”

Citizens often don’t know how well they have it here. At present the average cost of gasoline is $3.69 a gallon for regular. In Norway it’s an astounding $9.79 a gallon, while in Germany it’s $8.50, and in England a gallon of petrol is $8.25.

The only thing that will keep the price of gas from continuing its two-year decline is government, either through restrictions on energy development or through increased taxation. At present about $2.37 of that $3.69 represents the cost of crude oil. Refining costs are about $.45 a gallon, while distribution, marketing costs, and profits (estimated to be between eight and 15 cents per gallon) cost another $.33 a gallon. Taxes (federal and state) take up the balance: $.42 a gallon. Federal excise taxes are $.184 cents a gallon, while state taxes average about $.24 cents a gallon. If gas continues to drop in response to the natural laws of supply and demand (greater supply means greater demand thanks to the lower price), the temptation to raise state and federal excise taxes will become overwhelming.

In Germany, for instance, half the cost of a gallon of gas is due to taxes. In Great Britain the tax take on a gallon of gas is more than 60 percent. In Sweden it’s even higher.

At present, however, the laws of supply and demand are providing an enormous advantage to American drivers compared to their counterparts abroad. And they continue to confound the experts predicting ever higher prices at the pump as well.

A graduate of Cornell University and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at www.LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at badelmann@thenewamerican.com This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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There are Lies, Damned Lies and the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Mark Twain

Cover of Mark Twain

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, May 5, 2014:

Perhaps the most famous quote regarding statistics comes from Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” The only trouble is that Mark Twain said it didn’t originate with him: he got it from British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. But historians haven’t been able to find that phrase in any of Disraeli’s writings!

How appropriate is that? One cannot even validate a quote about statistics to prove

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Rosy jobs Report Headline fails to mask Continuing Underlying Weakness

English: CALEXICO, CA, 4-4-07 --- Hundreds of ...

Photo by Michael Raphael (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The headlines from Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) were rosy: employment rose by 288,000 (exceeding expectations) while the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percent to 6.3, just above the rate dating back to September 2008.

The talking heads from the administration looked only at those headlines and took credit for the gains. Jason Furman, chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, said

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Pulitzer Prize Award Over NSA Revelations Generates Vitriolic Criticism

The Pulitzer Prize gold medal award 한국어: 퓰리처상 ...

The Pulitzer Prize gold medal award (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Washington Post’s Executive Editor Martin Baron anticipated that there would be strong criticism voiced when those opposed to Edward Snowden’s revelations learned of the Pulitzer Prize Committee’s decision to award its prestigious Public Service award to his paper. He may not have estimated the degree and extent and especially the vitriol of that criticism.

Said Baron:

Disclosing the massive expansion of the NSA’s surveillance network absolutely was a public service. In constructing a surveillance system of breathtaking scope and intrusiveness, our government also sharply eroded individual privacy. All of this was done in secret, without public debate…

[Without Edward Snowden’s disclosures] we never would have known how far this country had

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Connecticut Raises its Minimum Wage to $10.10 an Hour

Governor's Agreement With State Employees

Governor’s Agreement With State Employees (Photo credit: CT Senate Democrats)

In a remarkable display of hubris and economic ignorance, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy proudly announced on Thursday that his state is the first to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour:

This is just a step in moving people in the right direction.

We will be lifting people out of poverty in the state of Connecticut. Increasing the minimum wage is not just good for workers, it’s also good for business.

What the new law will really do as it is phased in over the next three years is

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Fed Transcripts from 2008 Reveal Experts to be Clueless and Confused

English: President Barack Obama confers with F...

President Barack Obama confers with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke following their meeting at the White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Followers of the Fed have carefully analyzed the 1,865 pages of transcripts it released in February of its eight regularly scheduled meetings and six emergency meetings in 2008 and have concluded that these experts were clueless and unaware of the opening economic abyss yawning before them. Even the New York Times was forced to admit, following its review of the documents, that

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Latest CBO Outlook Ignores Birth Rates and Tipping Points

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, February 5, 2014:

Just reading the headlines, the average citizen is likely to think that now that the deficits are under control Washington can focus on problems elsewhere. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in May that the current year’s deficit would come in at $560 billion, half what it was just two years ago. In its report released on Tuesday, it was pleased to note that

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US Government Shutdown Not Likely to Break Belgium’s Record of 589 Days

With news that the partial US government shutdown won’t be resolved for at least the next two weeks, and will then only likely end when the debt limit crisis forces it, commentators have resurrected the history of the last government shutdown during the Clinton administration. But little if any media attention is being paid to the longest government shutdown,

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The Far-reaching Consequences of the Fracking Boom

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 25th, 2013:

Even the people at IHS, Inc. (one of the world’s preeminent global consulting and forecasting firms) missed perhaps the most important impact the fracking boom is likely to have: it just might dampen the enthusiasm for the empire builders in Washington to continue to

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Warren Buffett’s Railroad is Testing Natural Gas to Drive its Locomotives

The quiet revolution going on in the energy sector as a result of fracking is being punctuated by changes unseen and unappreciated, such as the recent announcement by Warren Buffett’s railroad, BNSF Railway.  The largest railroad in the country, BNSF is testing the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to

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Friday’s Jobs Report: There’s Good News, and then…

On the surface Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) wasn’t so bad: 169,000 jobs were created in August and the unemployment rate dropped slightly, once again, to 7.3%. This was slightly below expectations (180,000) but about in line with the average monthly gains over the past year.

But – and it’s a big but – not everyone is participating, and some of those numbers

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George Mitchell, the Father of Fracking, Dead at 94

With his determination and the ability to ignore naysayers, George Mitchell, the owner of a Fortune 500 company, Mitchell Energy & Development Company, poured himself and $6 million of his company’s money into the task of finding ways to access the natural gas he knew was underground of his property north of Houston, Texas. It took him more than 10 years to find those ways. Since 2000, his discoveries have changed the world and are responsible for

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50 years of Federal Regulations have Reduced Americans’ Standard of Living by 75 percent

The 20th annual snapshot of the federal regulatory state published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) last month announced the arrival of an unhappy milestone: regulatory costs now amount to more than half of all federal spending. Put another way, the real cost of government in the United States is

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Once Reviled, Capitalism is Making an Extraordinary Comeback Worldwide

This article originally appeared at McAlvany Intelligence Advisor

 

Hidden inside an obscure study just released by Barclays is a nugget of huge importance that reflects a sea change in the growth of entrepreneurial capitalism. The results of this development could equal if not exceed those of the

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How to resist Leviathan

I heard Robert Higgs speak at a Cato conference in California a few years ago and found him winsome, humble and bright. His resume is remarkable: Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, Editor of The Independent Review, senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. He’s best known for his tour de force, Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, which was first published in 1987 and was just republished a few months ago.

He has been inveighing against big government for decades and, happily, has condensed his methods of resistance into a short article,

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US Now Produces More Oil than it Imports for the First Time since 1995

When Brantley Hargrove noted in the Dallas Observer on Thursday that the US produced more oil than it consumed during the last week in May (for the first time since February, 1995) he was awfully quick to give nearly all the credit to Texas. But he was proud, nevertheless:

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Slowing Economy Confirmed

The report from Automatic Data Processing (ADP) on Wednesday morning surprised economists once again by coming in substantially below their expectations. The 135,000 new private sector jobs created in May were way below the

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Obamanomics is to Blame for Worst Recession since the Great Depression

When libertarian scholar Peter Ferrara asked rhetorically in Sunday’s issue of Forbes, “Economically, Could Obama be America’s Worst President?” he relied heavily on statistics provided by the chief enabler of the Great Recession,

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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.