5/1/15 The Institute for Supply Management released its April 2015 Report on Business

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in April for the 28th consecutive month and the overall economy grew for the 71st consecutive month say the nation’s supply executives in this latest report.

The April PMI registered 51.5 percent, the same reading as in March. New Orders increased 1.7%; the Production Index rose 2.2 percent from March. The Employment Index dropped 1.7 percentage points, reflecting contracting employment levels from March. Inventories of raw materials decreased 2 percentage points and the Prices Index rose 1.5 percentage points from March, indicating lower raw materials prices for the sixth consecutive month.”

~Bradley J. Holcomb, CPSM, CPSD
Chair of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee

The Chicago Business Barometer

Released on Thursday, it remained in contraction for the second consecutive month in March, failing to bounce back from the sharp plunge in February and pointing to a slowdown in the US economy (A little different nationally than what the MEI reports above). The Barometer increased 0.5 point to 46.3 in March following a 13.6 point drop in February to a 5 ½ year low.

The Chicago Business Barometer averaged 50.5 in Q1, down from 61.3 in Q4 and the lowest outturn since Q3 2009 (coming out of the recession). The continued weakness in March points to a wider slowdown in business conditions.

You do the math: 0.2 percent growth in the first quarter, conflicting regional and national economic data reports. All are pointing to the brakes being put on the economy, at least in the short term.

This was forecast at the Metals Service Center  Economic Summit in 2013. Hopefully, as also forecast, it will be short lived and not a very deep contraction.

Real GDP 4/29/15

Real gross domestic product, the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price change, increased at an annual rate of 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015, according to the advance estimate (there will be three) released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Wall Street Journal Alert

Federal Reserve officials attributed the economy’s sharp first quarter slowdown to transitory factors, in effect signaling an increase in short-term interest rates remains on the table for the months ahead although the timing has become more uncertain.”

The Fed now needs time to make sure its expectation of a rebound proves correct after a spate of soft economic data. That means the chance of a rate increase by midyear has greatly diminished, a point underscored by the Fed’s statement released Wednesday at the conclusion of a two day policy meeting.”

US Raw Steel Production

US raw steel production rose 3.1 percent last week as mills operated at an ACUR of 72.2 percent. In the corresponding week last year mills operated at an ACUR of 76.6 percent. So far this year mills have operated at an ACUR of 72.4 percent, down from 77 percent in the like period last year.”

~American Iron and Steel Institute

Midwest Economy Index (MEI)

The MEI edged down to +0.39 in March from +0.44 in February. The relative MEI rose to +0.84 in March from +0.54 in February. The MEI captures national and regional factors driving Midwest growth. The Relative MEI provides a picture of Midwest growth conditions relative to those of the nation. Further, a zero value for the MEI indicates that the Midwest economy is expanding at its historical trend rate of growth; positive values indicate above average growth, negative values, below average growth.

A zero value for the Relative MEI indicates the Midwest economy is growing at a rate historically consistent with the growth of the national economy; positive values indicate above average relative growth; negative values indicate below average relative growth.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Fifth District Survey of Manufacturing Activity on 4/28

Manufacturing activity remained soft in April, according to the most recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Shipments, order backlogs and the volume of new orders declined, although at a slower pace compared to last month. Manufacturing employment grew mildly while the average workweek increased and wages rose slightly.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey

Texas factory activity declined in April, according to business executives responding to the Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, posted a second negative reading in a row. Other measures of current manufacturing activity also reflected continued contraction in April.”

Like I said, there are conflicting reports being issued. My main gauges are Leading Economic Indicators, GDP and The Chicago Fed National Activity Index and though current reports show slowing activity, we are not in contraction at this point.

Also on Monday…

This is bullshit: rioters are throwing bricks and bottles at the police in Baltimore, MD as a result of an incident involving the death of a (black) male named Freddie Gray. All I know is he entered a police vehicle and came out dead, his spine nearly severed at the neck and he sustained three broken vertebrae. All I have heard about a reason for his arrest is that he “looked” at the police, they stopped him, found a switchblade knife on his person and at this point, no one really knows why he died.

Six police officers have been suspended with pay and five have given statements to the police. I mean, there is nothing on the news about the circumstances of his arrest and subsequent death. The real point is, the race game has gone way overboard in this country. This is not about race; it is about the police doing their job in a high crime area. If the guy were a white male, we probably wouldn’t hear about it and, for sure, there would be no riots as a result.

In plain English, if you (white, black, yellow or green) obey the law of the land, you comply with directives if stopped by the police; it is likely you will not encounter any problems with law enforcement. If you (white, black, yellow or green) are a thug, if you break the law, are disrespectful to our peacekeepers, then you will be treated like a thug and a lawbreaker.

These men and women put their lives on the line every day to protect the citizens they serve! Being on patrol or otherwise working in a known high crime area is a daunting job to say the least. It’s like patrolling in a war zone. An officer often has to make split second decisions to protect innocents and him or herself. You know what? Sometimes bad things happen when they shouldn’t. That is a brutal fact of life.

If I have that job, and I feel my life or a citizen’s life is in danger and I issue an order which is not obeyed, I shoot first and ask questions later. The Mayor has actually announced “To those who seek to destroy, we are giving you room to do so…” Permitting or encouraging civil disobedience? That is just insanity.

I have compassion for those living in crime ridden areas and I know people are frustrated and unhappy in that place. But I also know that opportunity exists in this country to move yourself up and away if you are willing to set your goals higher, focus on them and make sure you reach them. There is always class difference in society, the haves and the have not’s, so to speak. It exists now, as it always has and, likely, there always will be differing classes in society.

Some seek to do and achieve more, others do not. But I can tell you this; the government pissing away more money on useless programs is not the answer. What we have seen the past 50 years is trillions of dollars spent unsuccessfully on social programs which sought to mitigate the problems…and they have failed. We need to urge personal self-reliance and responsibility in our citizens, to create and honor strong family units, to raise our educational standards, not diminish them.

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.