The Chicago Business Barometer Declined Sharply in February

The Chicago Business Barometer declined sharply in February after a sharp increase in January, led a significant declines in Production and New Orders. Four of the five Barometer components declined between January and February.

Firms continued to draw down stocks in February with Inventories remaining in contraction for the fourth consecutive month.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Report on Business for February

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in February for the fifth consecutive month while the overall economy grew for the 81st consecutive month say the nation’s supply executives.

Bradley J. Holcomb, PCSM, CPSD,
Chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee


The February PMI registered 49.5 percent, an increase of 1.3 percentage points from the January reading of 48.2 percent. Readings below 50 mean contraction, readings above 50 mean expansion. Even primary metals were a positive in February. Though still in contraction territory, the index has moved in a positive direction…based on this news, the DOW Industrials are up 349 points at the close.

US Raw Steel Production

US raw steel production slid 0.4 percent last week as mills operated at an ACUR of 72.4 percent. In the corresponding week last year, mills operated at an ACUR of 72.4 percent. Thus far this year mills have produced 14,792,000 tons at an ACUR of 69.5 percent down from the 15,844,000 tons produced in the like period last year at an ACUR of 74.4 percent.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Texas Manufacturing Activity February Survey

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas released its Texas Manufacturing Activity survey results for February and reports that factory activity contracted again according to business executives responding to the survey. The production index remained negative but did improve slightly. Most other indexes of current manufacturing activity also indicated further contraction in February.

The New Orders index fell to its lowest level since May 2009 when Texas was in recession.

Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected

If you follow these weekly reports I make, you may recall my describing the current anger of “we the people” (the poor and middle class) toward the “elite”, those who make the decisions now and have done so all over the world since the earliest of civilizations. In this past weekends’ edition of the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan penned an opinion titled “Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected.” I won’t type it all out but will give you excerpts as I found it very interesting and a worthwhile read:

We’re in a funny moment. Those who do politics for a living, some of them quite brilliant, are struggling to comprehend the central fact of the Republican primary race, while regular people have already absorbed what has happened and is happening…But in my experience any non-political person on the street, when asked who will win, not only knows but gets a look as if you’re teasing him. Trump, they say.

In America now only normal people are capable of seeing the obvious.
But actually it’s been true for a while, and is how we got in the position we’re in.

… But I keep thinking of how Donald Trump got to be the very likely Republican nominee. There are many answers and reasons, but my thoughts keep revolving around the idea of protection. It is a theme that has been something of a preoccupation in this space over the years, but I think I am seeing it now grow into an overall political dynamic throughout the West.

There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy, the unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.

The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful-those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created. Again, they make public policy and have for some time.

I want to call them the elite to load the rhetorical dice, but let’s stick with the protected.

They are figures in government, politics and media. They live in nice neighborhoods, safe ones. Their families function, their kids go to good schools, they’ve got some money. All of these things tend to isolate them, or provide buffers…because they are protected they feel they can do pretty much anything, impose any reality. They’re insulated from many of the effects of their own decisions.

If you are an unprotected American-one with limited resources and negligible access to power-you have absorbed some lessons from the past twenty years’ experience of illegal immigration. You know the Democrats won’t protect you and the Republicans won’t help you. Both parties refused to control the border. The Republicans are afraid of being called illiberal, racist…the Democrats wanted to keep the issue a wedge against the Republicans and to establish themselves as owners of the Hispanic vote.

Many Americans suffered from illegal immigration-its impact on labor markets, financial costs, crime, the sense that the rule of law was collapsing. But the protected did fine-more workers at lower wages. No effect of illegal immigration was likely to hurt them personally.

It was good for the protected. But the unprotected watched and saw. They realized the protected were not looking out for them, and they inferred that they were not looking out for the country either.

The unprotected came to think they owed the establishment-another word for the protected-nothing, no particular loyalty, no old allegiance.

Mr. Trump came from that.

…In Germany, on New Year’s Eve in the public square of Cologne, packs of men said to be recent migrants (“middle-eastern looking”) groped and molested groups of young women. It was called a clash of cultures…and it was not the protected who were the victims-not a daughter of EU officials or members of the Bundestag. It was middle and working-class girls-the unprotected, who didn’t immediately protest what had happened to them. They must have understood that in the general scheme of things they’re nobodies.

What marks this political moment, in Europe and the US, is the rise of the unprotected. It is the rise of people who don’t have all that much, against those who’ve been given many blessings and seem to believe they have them not because they’re fortunate but because they’re better.

…they let the public schools flounder, but their children go to the best private schools.

This is a terrible feature of our age-that we are governed by protected people who don’t seem to care that much about their unprotected fellow citizens.

In wise governments the top is attentive to the realities of the lives of normal people, and careful about their anxieties. That’s more or less how America used to be. There didn’t seem to be so much distance between the top and the bottom.

Social philosophers are always saying the underclass must re-moralize. Maybe it is the overclass that must re-moralize.

I don’t know if the protected see how serious this moment is, or their role in it.”

Super Tuesday

3/2/16 Donald Trump about swept the votes in the Super Tuesday voting, winning majorities in seven of the eleven states in the primary. Cruz won Texas & Oklahoma, Rubio won Minnesota. Kasich and Carson zero.

On Wednesday afternoon it was being reported that Ben Carson no longer sees “a political path forward” for his campaign. That is all that has been reported, though he has not suspended his campaign, it appears to be coming soon. Too bad, he is a good man, a patriot.

Have a great weekend…. God bless America!

Buy American made products whenever you can, it’s good for you, good for your friends and neighbors and good for our country.

If you are hiring…try to hire a veteran…. they are loyal, disciplined, hardworking…and they deserve our support.

Remember these tidbits as the election cycle grinds on:

  • Fast & Furious-Americans killed by guns supplied to the drug cartels…by the Department of Justice-Eric Holder presiding. The president was clueless. No one held accountable
  • Benghazi: Four Americans killed in an assault described as the result of a viral video. This was proved to be a false narrative. This was in fact, a planned act of terror. The president was clueless. No one even knows where he was as this went down. No one held accountable
  • “At this point, what difference does it make?” Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State
  • The IRS targeting of conservative groups and individuals. No one held accountable, Lois Lerner is on paid vacation and has refused to testify. The president was clueless. No one held accountable
  • Hillary using a private server for correspondence during her term as Secretary of State against the orders of the president. She thought “it would be more convenient…” Though the records were due when she left office, they were not submitted, subpoenas were issued, which she ignored for two years. Finally, she released 30,000 of some 60,000 alleged emails then she deleted the rest of the emails and will NOT turn over the server for investigation.