The Empire State Manufacturing Survey was released on Monday and indicates conditions for New York manufacturers improved modestly. The general business conditions index-the most comprehensive of the survey’s measures-rose 9 points to 7.8. Nevertheless, most other indicators in the survey fell. Continuing the trend seen in the past few months, indexes for the six month outlook declined, suggesting optimism about future conditions was weakening further.

In review of the Industrial Production numbers released last week, Dr. Ken Mayland, Economic Consultant to the Precision Machined Products Association issued the following statements:

Industrial Production went unchanged coming up short of consensus expectations. With revisions, industrial output has been flat or lower for the last 6 months. It looks like production got too far ahead of GDP growth in late 2012 and early 2013, until now. Hence, a production adjustment was required. This probably should be interpreted as an “adjustment” rather than a cyclical “downtrend.”

From American Metal Market:

US raw steel production rose 1 percent from the previous week as mills operated at an average capability utilization rate (ACUR) of 78.1 percent. In the corresponding week last year mills operated at an ACUR of 74.8 percent. Thus far this year mills have operated at an ACUR of 76.7 percent, down from the same period last year when mills operated at an ACUR of 78.8 percent.

In last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, journalist Peggy Noonan editorialized on the surveillance issues now confronting the people of the United States of America. I found it to be an interesting and enlightening editorial. Following are some of her thoughts:

“The purpose of the surveillance is enhanced security, a necessary goal to say the least. The price is a now formal and agreed upon acceptance of the end of the last vestiges of Americans’ sense of individual distance and privacy from the government. The price too is knowledge, based on human experience and held by all but fools and children, that the gleanings of the surveillance state will eventually be used by the mischievous, the malicious and the ignorant in ways the creators of the system did not intend.”

“For all we know that’s already happened. But of course we don’t know: It’s secret. Only the intelligence officials know and they say everything’s A- OK. The end of human confidence in a zone of individual privacy from the government, plus the very real presence of a system that can harm, harass or invade the everyday liberties of Americans. This is a recipe for democratic disaster.”

She goes on to say “ If-again-if what Eric Snowden says is substantially true, the surveillance state will in time encourage an air of subtle oppression (Big Brother is watching….) and encourage too a sense of paranoia that may in time-not next week, but in time, as the years unfold-loosen and disrupt the ties the people of America feel to their country. “They spy on you here and will abuse the information they get from spying on you here. I don’t like ‘here’.”

“Trust in government, historically, ebbs and flows, and currently because of the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department, Benghazi etc-and the growing evidence that the executive agencies have been reduced to mere political tools-is at an ebb that may not be fully reversible any time soon. It is a great irony and history will marvel at it, that the president most committed to expanding the centrality, power, prerogatives and controls of the federal government is also the president who, through lack of care, arrogance and an absence of any sense of prudential political boundaries, has done the most in our time to damage trust in government.”

“…Too many things are happening that are making a lot of Americans feel a new distance from, a frayed affiliation with, the country they have loved for a half century and more, the country they loved without ever having to think about it, so natural was it. This isn’t the kind of thing that can be quantified in polls-it’s barely the kind of thing people admit to themselves. But talk to older Americans-they feel they barely know this country anymore. In governance it is crucial to stay within parameters, it’s important not to strain ties, push too far, be extreme. And if you think this does not carry implications for down the road, for our healthy continuance as a nation, you are mistaken. Love keeps great nations going.”

“Some of the reaction to the NSA story is said to be generational. The young are said not to fear losing privacy, because they never knew it. The middle-aged, who grew up in peace and have families, want safety first, whatever it takes, even excess. Lately for wisdom I’ve been looking to the old. Go to somebody who’s 75 and ask; “So, if it turns out the US government is really spying on American citizens and tracking everything they do, is that OK with you?” They’ll likely say: No, that’s not what we do in America.

From the MSCI (Metals Service Center Institute) Advocacy News this week:

Even though its Index of Small Business Optimism increased in May from April (the second increase in as many months), the National Federation of Independent Business continued to be cautious about the overall economic outlook. Chief economist Bill Dunkelberg noted, “Washington remains in a state of policy paralysis while the stock market sets records (until this week- down over 500 points in 2 days), GDP posts mediocre growth…It’s nice to see confidence not shrinking but there isn’t much to hang your hat on in this report. We are back to where we were in May of 2012. Two good months don’t make a trend.”

Well, it is Friday, the first day of summer 2013. There will be 14-16 hours of daylight today, depending on where you are. Enjoy it my friends. I have a fishing trip planned for tomorrow and will be heading out to the Lake Erie Islands around 5:00am, hopping on a boat and heading over to Pelee Island in Canada to fish opening day of the smallmouth bass season….I hope to be asleep by 9pm-if not sooner.

Have a great weekend,
God Bless America