Conference Board Leading Economic Index

The Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the US increased 0.2 percent in January following increases in both December and November.”

The US Leading Economic Index increased again in January, but its pace of growth has moderated in recent months. While the LEI suggests a positive short term outlook in 2015, the lack of strong momentum in residential construction, along with a weak outlook for new orders in manufacturing, poses a downside risk for the US economy.”

~Ataman Ozyildirim, Economist at the Conference Board

In my view, there are always downside risks for the US economy, I don’t care what’s going on at the moment. Change happens. What is historically true is that 3 consecutive months of decreases in this index typically signifies the onset of recession just as the opposite holds true when we experience three consecutive increases in the LEI, the end of recession is upon us.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Japan’s gross domestic product increased at an annualized pace of 2.2% in the 3 months through December, significantly weaker than the 3.6% expansion forecast by economists. Though the economy appears to have pulled out of recession, the weaker than expected pick up is likely to raise concerns about PM Abe’s efforts to get the nation out of a long slump.”

Well, at least they appear to be coming out of recession. Our economy cannot long sustain a Europe and Asia in recession. As their economies tank and our dollar strengthens, they just ship more crap to the United States; we call this dumping…and slow their purchases of American products, which we would normally be exporting to them.

With a little irony, the following was reported in Monday’s American Metal Market:

The US steel industry prefers a weaker dollar as a strong currency can act as a magnet for steel imports that depress domestic pricing and markets, according to speakers at the 26th annual Tampa Steel Conference in Florida…..A strong US dollar has attracted imports and lowered domestic pricing, even as demand holds steady, especially from automotive and nonresidential construction markets”, other speakers said.

“All the Europeans are grinning about shipping as much as possible to the US” said Multi Marine Services Srl president and chief executive officer Fulvio Carlini. The Genoa, Italy based shipping and logistics company distributes European steel within the United States.

February 2015 Empire State Manufacturing Survey

Released on Tuesday, it indicates that business activity continues to expand at a moderate pace for New York manufacturers. Indexes for the six-month outlook, while generally positive, conveyed markedly less optimism than in recent months.

US raw steel production

It dropped 0.5 percent from the previous week as mills operated at an ACUR of 74.4 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 76.5 percent.

From the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization:

Industrial production increased 0.2 percent in January, 5.6 percent above its year earlier level, after decreasing 0.3 percent in December. Production is estimated to have advanced at an annual rate of 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. The mining index decreased 1.0 percent, attributed to a substantial drop in the index for oil and gas well drilling and related support activities. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector was unchanged in January at 79.4 percent, a rate that is 0.7 percentage point below its long-run (1972-2014) average.”

The Business Outlook Survey from the Philadelphia Fed was released on Thursday:

Firms responding to the Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey indicated continued modest growth in the region’s manufacturing sector in February. Although the current activity index fell for the third consecutive month, it remained positive and the employment indicator increased from its reading last month. The survey’s future activity index also fell but continues to reflect general optimism about manufacturing growth in the region over the next six months.”

Beyond Politics: the US-Israel Relationship

On Tuesday I attended a meeting of the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County (RPCC) at which Senator Rob Portman gave the keynote address “Beyond Politics: the US-Israel relationship” followed by a discussion on: “The rise of Islamic radicalism: how should Israel and the US respond?”

Panelists included:
David Forte; Professor of Law at Cleveland State University
Lt. General John R. Vines; Senior Advisor at the McChrystal Group
Jason Beardsley; Special Operations Advisor for Concerned Veterans for America

Some of my takeaway thoughts:

  • All agree that the current administration has a strategy (?) to deal with these formidable current issues and that strategy is extremely misguided…at best. We are not doing enough. Screw degrading ISIS, where does that get us? These evil people need to be killed; it is the only way to stop the onslaught of terror. Of course, you must be willing to name and confront your enemy in order to draft a cohesive strategy to defeat your enemy.
  • To defeat this enemy, you will need boots on the ground-led by the United States. I am not a fan of American troops fighting in the Middle East but I also know we are the only country with the capabilities needed to advise and arm fighting forces in the area. It is a delicate situation. These people have been at each other’s throats for thousands of years, we may never stop the fighting over there, THEY must do that. We must however, do whatever it takes to keep the threat off American soil and protect the American people.
  • The need for the United States to stand by Israel and our other allies in the region is of paramount importance. This was the centerpiece of Senator Portman’s keynote speech.
  • The political posturing with Iran on their nuclear weapons development is a total joke, a direct threat to the United States and to the rest of the free world. If successful, their attainment of a nuclear weapon will foster an arms race in the Middle East…can you imagine the results of a scenario like that? Horrifying.
  • That the “pretend” Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) proposed by the president is useless, will waste the valuable time of the House and Senate in debate and will hamstring the new president after 2016.

We all know these things, that the issues in the Middle East are growing, not shrinking and that they are on a path to get worse, not better.

More Horrors

So, we start the week with news of the beheading, by ISIS in Egypt, of 21 Coptic Christians. These men had traveled to Libya to go to work…minding their own business, making money to feed their families. Egypt has taken military action in response to this barbaric act. Our president however, never mentioned that they were Christians, instead he calls them Egyptian citizens, once again refusing to identify the perpetrators by name- radical Islamists. Hmmm…..Christians, Jews, Muslims, women and children anyone who disagrees with; ISIS, al-Qaida, al shabab, boko haram, the taliban… rape them, behead them, burn them alive, bury them alive, imprison them…. it makes no difference to these heathen scum.

Also over the weekend, ISIS murdered two people and wounded a couple of policemen in Copenhagen, Denmark…. and the beat goes on.

Tuesday Afternoon: There is a story on the news that some 45 Iraqi civilians and police were burned alive by ISIS…. As of Friday afternoon I have heard nothing more or new about this, no confirmation, no denial, no one up in arms, so it may have been bull.

The Pentagon revealed its combat mission plans to re-take Mosul, Iraq from ISIS. What is the deal with telling our enemies what we are going to do and when we are going to do it? Does this not fly in the face of common sense? Is it not treason against the United States? What kind of idiots do we have making these decisions? I am totally aghast at this, amazed at the continuing stupidity.


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