The CFNAI Edged Up in January
Led by improvements in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) edged up in January to +0.13 from -0.07 in December. The index’s three month moving average (CFNAI-MA3) ticked down to +0.33 in January from +0.34 in December. January’s CFNAI-MA3 suggests growth in national economic activity was above its historical trend. The economic growth reflected in this level of the CFNAI-MA3 suggests modest inflationary pressure from economic activity over the coming year.”
The Federal Reserve Bank of Texas
Its report on Texas Manufacturing Activity released on Monday states…
Texas factory activity posted a second month of no growth in February, according to executives who responded to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey.”
With the oil price tumble I suppose this is to be expected.
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
Released on Tuesday, its Survey of Manufacturing Activity:
Fifth District manufacturing activity slowed in February. Shipments and volume of new orders flattened while the backlog of orders declined…. despite the soft current conditions, producers were upbeat about future business opportunities. Expectations were for solid increases in shipments and new orders in the six months ahead, with greater capacity utilization.
The US Department of Commerce advance report on Durable Goods Manufacturer’s Shipments, Inventories and Orders for January 2015 was released on Thursday:
- New Orders for manufactured durable goods in January increased 2.8 percent, up following two consecutive monthly decreases.
- Shipments of manufactured durable goods in January, down three of the last four months, decreased 1.1 percent.
- Unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods in January, down two consecutive months, decreased 0.2 percent.
- Inventories of manufactured durable goods in January, up twenty one of the last twenty two months, increased 0.4 percent.
Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)
On Friday it released its “second” estimate of fourth quarter 2014 GDP:
The value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes-increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the quarter. Based on more complete data it reveals a decrease in production from the “advance” estimate of 2.6 percent.”
US Raw Steel Production
Production dropped 2.5 percent last week as mills operated at an average capability utilization rate (ACUR) of 72.6 percent. This is the lowest ACUR since November 3, 2012 when mills operated at an ACUR of 69.1 percent. In the corresponding week last year mills operated at an ACUR of 75.8 percent. Thus far this year mills have operated at an ACUR of 76.0 percent.
Below are Senator Portman’s opening remarks from the luncheon I attended last week. I think you will find them interesting.
Senator Rob Portman Prepared Remarks
February 19, 2015
Thank you for that introduction and for inviting me today. I wish I was visiting at a happier time. Instead, we gather together under a cloud of uncertainty and instability around the world.
It has been said that you cannot solve a problem unless you acknowledge that it exists, unless you face it squarely. So let’s speak frankly.
President Obama will tell you that, quote, “the trajectory of this planet overall is one toward less violence, more tolerance.” Sadly that’s not what I see. The President likes talking about “arcs,” and “trajectories,” and being on the right and wrong “side of history” whenever something challenges his vision of the world. I don’t believe “arcs” and “trajectories” just happen; people make them happen, and leadership is the key. But when I look at the world, I see one that is more dangerous now than at any time since 9/11, as the threats to the United States and our allies seem to grow with every passing day. And I see a President hesitant to lead.
Iran, despite the platitudes of an Administration eager to make a deal, continues its march towards developing nuclear weapons.
ISIS, the group the President once naively referred to as the “JV team” of terrorist organizations, has now planted the black flag of Islamic terrorism across Syria and Iraq, including in Mosul and Fallujah, cities American marines gave their lives to liberate.
Russian soldiers move freely through eastern Ukraine, and insurgents using Russian equipment, trained by the Russian military, and led by Russian special forces continue to wage war on an American ally. And while we all hoped a recent ceasefire would hold, if history is the best teacher, those hopes rested on unstable ground. All indications this morning are that the Russian-backed insurgents are indeed continuing their aggression.
Across Europe, in France, Denmark, and Belgium, innocent people are murdered, some for opposing terrorist aims, others for the simple fact that they are Jewish. These attacks are not random as was suggested by the Administration. They are designed to incite fear and to weaken our resolve to oppose Islamic terrorism wherever we find it.
We must not allow them to succeed, any more than we must stand silent in the face of Iranian threats and Russian aggression. But what we must do is take a long, hard look at how we got here, and what we must change moving forward.
In my view, much of the chaos we are seeing across the globe stems from a lack of leadership. Into that void, chaos ensues. The defining themes in the Obama’s administration’s approach to foreign policy have been a preference for disengagement and unwillingness to shoulder the responsibility of global leadership the way previous Presidents—both Republican and Democrat—have. As the Administration says—leading from behind.
When America is strong, when we stand unequivocally for freedom and justice and the right of all people to choose their own destiny, when we do not back down in the face of threats and intimidation, that is when we see a world that is more stable, less dangerous, and more free.
More wars, more conflicts, more threats to our security—these do not typically arise from American strength. They arise from American weakness. And when we look around the world, whether it is to Gaza, or Eastern Europe, or Iraq, or Iran—the increase in violence and instability has coincided with a growing perception that the United States is either unwilling or unable to take a stand against threats to international security and stability. Addressing these complex challenges requires sustained and proactive American leadership and engagement.
At the forefront of that proactive American leadership must be our commitment to stand unequivocally with Israel. No other nation in the world would be expected to put up with tunnels into their cities, with rockets raining down on people’s homes. The press got it wrong last year, and with all due respect, I believe the President got it wrong, too. There is no moral equivalence in Gaza.
I’ve made a few trips to Israel. I have met with her people. I’ve walked the streets of Sderot and seen the remains of the missiles that were targeted against innocents with hatred and an intent to kill and to maim. I’ve been to the bomb shelters, and the indoor, fortified playgrounds built so that children could have a chance to play without fear. I’ve spent time with an Iron Dome battery crew outside Ashkelon. I’ve seen what so many of you have seen, and I will see it again this spring when I return to Israel: the people of Israel want peace.
If Hamas and other terrorist groups laid down their arms tomorrow, a long-term peace would result.
But if Israel surrendered to her enemies tomorrow, those enemies would still try to push Israel into the sea. That’s the reality in Israel. It’s time that the United States recognizes it.
Unfortunately, we know the biggest winner from this Administration’s wavering support for Israel—Iran. Iran continues to stall on negotiations meant to end their nuclear weapons program. They continue to ask for more time, and the Administration continues to grant it. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes to the United States to speak of the threat Iran poses to not only Israel but the world and the President acts as if he is too busy or too put out to even meet with him.
Truly, the world is turned upside down.
There is no greater demand for U.S. leadership than ensuring that Iran does not retain a nuclear capability and their continued march towards weaponization. If it were within my power, I would put the Kirk-Menendez Iran Sanctions bill, of which I am an original cosponsor, on the floor of the United States Senate today, and it would pass, too, with over sixty votes. Because Republicans and Democrats alike recognize that Iran will not negotiate in good faith unless the United States is unequivocal in our commitment to ending the nuclear threat Iran poses. Recall that these are not new sanctions that would be imposed now—these are sanctions that would be imposed if the Iranians do not agree to halt their nuclear weapons program as required by the U.N. They are leverage for the White House.
I have worked in two White Houses. Instead of fighting the re-imposition of sanctions if the Iranians aren’t serious, the Administration should use this only leverage point that has worked to get the Iranians to the table, to try to achieve something real.
Now there are those who say that we can’t be the world’s policemen. I agree. We are more like the sheriff who gathers a posse of allies—an international coalition that will only form behind a leader. But there are also those who argue that what happens on the other side of the globe is not our problem, that we should just leave it alone. The siren song of the isolationist, it’s a powerful one isn’t it? Especially as we are not a nation that seeks conflict, but one that loves peace. We are not empire builders—we seek only stability and prosperity for all. But make no mistake, this cancer of internationally instability won’t go away if we ignore it, or if we call it by a different name, any more than a cancer of the body might. It will grow, and it will spread.
If we do not confront the brutality of ISIS, of radical Islam, it will not be contained within the borders of Iraq and Syria. It will grow in strength and in violence, and one day, perhaps one day not too far in the future, it will strike here, on our shores.
If we do not confront Russian aggression in Ukraine, if we don’t even provide the equipment and the training that the President has already promised, it will not stop in Donetsk, any more than it stopped in Crimea. All of Eastern Europe will fall under a shadow.
And if we do not confront Iran, if we continue to negotiate from weakness instead of strength, then Iran will develop a nuclear weapon. And then the entire international order, the very existence of Israel, and millions of lives will be in danger.
These are the challenges we face. I will continue to do everything I can in the Senate to meet those challenges, working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, for there are many Democrats who agree with me on all these issues. Of course, there’s only one Commander-in-Chief. Much of President Obama’s legacy will be determined by whether he continues down the path of weakness he has followed for the last six years, or whether he recommits to a foreign policy that ensures America is strong and resolute in standing unequivocally in support of our allies.
He must develop a detailed strategy to destroy ISIS, one that includes economic and diplomatic leverage, but also leaves all the options on the table our military will need to finish the job and end this threat, while acknowledging that ISIS is only the latest iteration of radical Islam. It won’t be the last, and when we defeat it, we cannot declare premature victory as the Administration did against al Qaeda.
He must take action in Europe to create a comprehensive, proactive approach that strengthens NATO, deters Russian aggression, and gives Ukraine and other Eastern European countries the political, economic, and military support they need to maintain their independence. We cannot allow these short-lived ceasefires to lull us into a sense of complacency. Moscow has ambitions that extend beyond Donetsk and, indeed, beyond Ukraine. If Putin doubts our willingness to oppose those ambitions, the threat of instability only increases.
And President Obama must take steps to repair the damaged relationship with Israel, and declare that anything short of Iranian nuclear disarmament is unacceptable. Now is not the time to hold petty grudges, and stopping Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon is not just of utmost importance for Israel, but for the United States and all the world.
In closing, I want to share with you a line of wisdom from a speech that was never given. It was written by John F. Kennedy, to be delivered on November 22, 1963, the day he was assassinated. In these poignant words, the last the President would leave to the American people, Kennedy wrote this:
We, in this country, in this generation, are—by destiny rather than by choice—the watchmen on the walls of world freedom.”
The threats to freedom have changed, and so too has the generation that keeps the watch, but the need is still there. No one else has the resources, the will, or the moral clarity to stand against the evil that we are witnessing today.
But we also have faith that evil can be overcome. Even in the worst times—even in the face of unimaginable brutality—love, friendship, brotherhood, these things are greater than hate. But only if we stand for them, without question or hesitation.
The enemy is at the gates of freedom again. They must not find the walls untended. We must turn them back, as we have again and again and again. ISIS, Vladimir Putin, the mullahs of Iran, we must ensure that their moment is over. The future does not belong to bigotry and hate, but to the freedom-loving people of the world. And the United States must lead the way.
Thank you and God bless.
On Monday the Obama administration asked a federal court to allow it to continue implementing the president’s immigration plan, which was temporarily blocked last week by a Texas judge. Why is this even an issue? We HAVE immigration LAWS for people who want to become lawful and contributing citizens to American society, we Americans welcome ALL those law abiding individuals who are willing to follow the legal path to citizenship. Anyone who is here OUTSIDE those existing immigration laws is an ILLEGAL ALIEN and should NOT be granted citizenship, the right to vote, access to the government goodies given to naturalized citizens and any other benefits available to the hard working citizens of this great country. End of discussion.
Keystone XL Veto
As expected president Obama, on Tuesday, vetoed legislation that would have approved the KeystoneXL pipeline, a project that is top priority for congressional Republicans and a touchstone issue for environmentalists and the nation’s booming energy industry. The 1,179 mile pipeline has been under review (stalled) by the Obama administration for more than six years.
On Wednesday a joint investigation of local and federal authorities broke up a “plot” by three men from New York who wanted to travel to Syria and join or somehow aid, Islamic state…. Why stop them? Let them go…but don’t let them back in this country. Same thing for the three young women who recently pulled the same stunt-and made it to Syria. If they want to be there, knowing the way women are treated, let them go-but don’t let them back into the USA. They should not have the privilege of living here.
On Thursday the news is reporting that the aforementioned were also planning to shoot the president of the United States…that is a federal crime. They should be shot…immediately.
Also on Thursday the news reports, from James Comey, the Director of the FBI, that they have under investigation, Islamic state recruits in ALL 50 states. That is a chilling reality.
Global Security Threats
And Secretary of State John Kerry, had the audacity yesterday on Capitol Hill, to inform us that America is under less of a threat today than at any time in the last 100 years…while somewhere, apparently on a distant planet, James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, informs us that 2014 had more occurrences of terrorism than at any time in the last 45 years (when records started being kept). Any dysfunction here? Lies? They must really believe the American people are stupid. When THEY are the ones with their heads stuck in the sand (pun intended)…not us folks. Is anyone in this administration paying attention to what is going on here, to what is being said and done, or not done? Last week they were saying the Islamist radicals need jobs and opportunity to prosper…that will end the violence. Are you kidding me? Get your collective heads out of your collective asses….please! Sadly, I believe this administration is hoping to just pass this entire debacle off to the next administration which means at least two more years of these radicals running roughshod over the planet, Russia extending its reach into places it should not be, Iran marching toward nuclear weapon capability in addition to the myriad problems we face domestically.
Screwed again? (I think so)…The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted Thursday to regulate internet service like a public utility, expanding the US government’s oversight of a once lightly regulated business at the center of the country’s commercial and social activity. I expect they will begin figuring out ways to tax whatever they can on the internet. Any time the government believes they know better than the free market ( or smell money) and subsequently take control (health care comes to mind, the postal service comes to mind ad infinitum), things are sure to get screwed up in a major way and will cost the American taxpayer more of their hard earned money. Are you aware of an industry they have taken control of that is run properly? I am not.
Fast & Furious-providing weapons to criminals leading to a loss of American life. No one held accountable. The president was unaware.
The loss of 4 American lives at our embassy in Benghazi, Libya. No one held accountable. The president was unaware.
The IRS targeting conservative political groups for tax-exempt status. No one held accountable. The president was unaware.
The National Security Administration eavesdropping on the phone calls of American citizens. No one held accountable. The president was unaware.
The software program created for the Affordable Healthcare Act, at a cost of $1 billion (thus far) and 3 ½ years to “perfect”, has been unusable to the American people. No one held accountable. The president was unaware.
Spying on our Allies, specifically Angela Merkel of Germany. No one held accountable. The president was unaware. (Although these things go on knowingly between countries all the time, the fact that our president denies knowledge of this is just another sign of his incompetence as the leader of the most powerful country on the planet).
“If you like your current insurance plan you can keep it. Period” Barack Obama
“If you like your doctor, you can keep him. Period” Barack Obama
Have a great weekend and….
Hug your children and grandchildren, tell them you love them.
Buy American made products whenever you can.
Hire a Veteran: they are patriots, honest, hard working, disciplined, loyal…. and …. They need and deserve our support.
God Bless America