Celebrating "Stimulus"

Today is the 5th anniversary of the President’s monetary stimulus, but at TOC we’re celebrating the only Obama stimulus that actually worked.

It created jobs, boosted private sector manufacturing and encouraged people to appreciate the Bill of Rights. Of course, none of that was intentional.

It’s tapering now, but the results are still far above pre-stimulus levels. CNN would have you believe otherwise in their headline, Gun sales are plunging, but the real story is a bit different:

Gun sales are dropping this year, according to FBI stats, but they still exceed sales from before Obama’s reelection and the Newtown massacre…

Though gun sales have dropped from their peak last year, they’re still outperforming monthly sales that preceded Obama’s reelection, said Lawrence Keane, spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry group based in Newtown.

For example, the tally of 1.66 million gun sales in January, 2014 is significantly higher than the 1.38 million sold in January, 2012.

“So we have come down from the peak but the valley floor is higher than before Nov 2012,” said Keane, in an email to CNNMoney. “The consumer base has grown. This is because for the past few years, retailers tell us that about 25% of customers at the checkout counter are first-time buyers.”

There are only so many first time buyers, but I’m guessing many of them will eventually want another gun.

Ammo sales have also tapered off:

“Customers shifted away from ammunition more sharply than we expected,” said Cabela’s Chief Executive Officer Tommy Millner…

Maybe the prices will fall back, too.

The #SeekRenters

The sequester debate isn’t about spending cuts, it’s about a tiny slowing in the rate of increase of funds transferred to Federal rent seekers. Noted in the Wall Street Journal: The Unscary Sequester

In Mr. Obama’s first two years, while private businesses and households were spending less and deleveraging, federal domestic discretionary spending soared by 84% with some agencies doubling and tripling their budgets.

… from 2008-2013 federal discretionary spending has climbed to $1.062 trillion from $933 billion—an increase of 13.9%. Domestic programs grew by 16.6%, much faster than the 11.6% for national security.

Transportation funding alone climbed to $69.5 billion in 2010 with the stimulus from $10.7 billion in 2008, and in 2013 the budget is still $17.9 billion, or about 67% higher. Education spending more than doubled in Mr. Obama’s first two years and is up 18.6% to $68.1 billion from 2008-2013.

… total discretionary domestic spending is up closer to 30% from 2008-2013. The sequester would claw that back by all of about 5%.

… The sequester will surely require worker furloughs and cutbacks in certain nonpriority services. But most of those layoffs will happen in the Washington, D.C. area, the recession-free region that has boomed during the Obama era.

If Mr. Obama were really serious about improving the equality of income distribution, he might consider that a positive. According to Stephen S. Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, about

“…15 cents of every dollar from the entire federal procurement budget stays in or around the government’s hometown. …”We’re seeing an enormous transfer of wealth from taxpayers to the Washington economy,” said Fuller.”

Upton Sinclair was a socialist, but when he said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it,” he was on to something; though he did neglect to mention the mendacity of politicians in fostering said ignorance. The threats issuing forth from the Obama administration – to prioritize cutting baby food and meat inspection rather than not funding the next Solyndra or ending high speed rail boondoggles; and putting slashing veterans benefits ahead of cancelling the DOD’s “green” projects – show a cynical disregard for taxpayers and reveal the deep hypocrisy of the president’s purported compassion.

Harry Reid and the Burning Yellow ap-Peril.

The US Olympic Team is outfitted in uniforms made in China. This has some people upset. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for example:

I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, “You’d think they’d [The US Olympic Committee] know better.” It’s John and Harry who should know better.

My first thought was to put all the Senators and Congressman in a big pile. But I couldn’t figure out if Barney Frank would be on the top or on the bottom, and I quickly stopped thinking about it.

But what’s the problem? The president and Congress gave a loan guarantee of $529 million to a foreign competitor of US automobile manufacturers. The president and Congress spent at least a billion and a half taxpayer dollars to create jobs overseas, sending a lot of it to places who don’t do much for us at all. The Chinese, at least, have lent about a trillion dollars to the US. And whose fault is that?

In any case, the US Olympic Committee is privately funded, so it isn’t even taxpayer dollars Harry wants to burn. It’s private funds, like the more than $40,000 Ralph Lauren has donated to Democrats since 2008.

What’s Ralph Lauren got to do with it? He is the guy who outsourced the uniform production. Harry should raise his objections with Ralph about this, give back the money, and then get in the pile.

Update 4:16PM. Similar thoughts at Cafe Hayek and RealClearMarkets.

Update 5:01PM Jul 15. More thoughts at FutureOfCapitalism.

Competitors be warned

Government Motors has powerful allies: The White House, FBI, FCC, NLRB, EPA, IRS, etc., etc.

Ford pulls its ad on bailouts

This is what happens when government seizes corporations. If it will decide to give money to a corporation going bankrupt, to negate legal contracts… to suspend the rule of law, then government owns the result. In the case of GM, literally and morally.

Criticism of such a deal is automatically politicized, and while political speech may be protected under the First Amendment; what is that to the Corporatist Axis? The Axis will suppress free speech in order to protect its political agenda reciprocal “investment.”

Ford should keep on, I’ll even buy one I don’t yet need just to get in Corporatism’s face.

Soft default

Paul Krugman offers further proof that winning a Nobel Prize damages your brain:

What would a real response to our [economic] problems involve?… it would involve an all-out effort by the Federal Reserve to get the economy moving, with the deliberate goal of generating higher inflation to help alleviate debt problems.

It seems to me that the Fed is already doing what Krugman asks inflation-wise, but, like Stimulus One, it’s just not big enough.

One wonders what an all-out effort would look like? Weimar? Zimbabwe? THOSE were all out efforts to inflate debt away.

Analysis of our president’s address to a Joint Session of Congress

Anyone who opposes me… blah, blah… Democrat applause line… blah, blah… is a foolish, anti-American, baby eating Republican… blah, blah… applause line no one could disagree with if they believed he meant it… blah, blah… Democrat applause line… who deserves to be tarred and feathered because he hates teachers, old people and bridges… blah, blah… blah, blah… hundreds of billions… blah, blah… fiscally responsible, will be paid for… bleh, bleh… there’s an election in 14 months… blah, blah.

He does seem to have got his 2008 teleprompters back in service. They did a fine job.

The country is in the very best of hands

First, the corruption:


Then the incompetence:
The Fed Has a $110 Billion Problem with New Benjamins

A significant production problem with new high-tech $100 bills has caused government printers to shut down production of the new notes and to quarantine more than one billion of the bills in huge vaults in Fort Worth, Texas

The good news is that that $100 billion is fiat currency in any case. The biggest cost of producing it was labor, and that stimulated the economy in the same way broken windows do.

And hey, it looks like EU script. Maybe we can recycle it to bail out Ireland.

There Will Be No Double Dip… It Will Be A Lot Worse

At Zero Hedge, Egon von Greyerz of Matterhorn Asset Management:

Very few people understand that money printing is a form of robbing the citizens of their money and their work. Money is supposed to be a medium of exchange for goods and services equalling the value of the good or the service produced. For example, an individual works extremely hard to earn an annual wage of say $40,000 which he receives in the form of paper money. The government, due to its mismanagement and incompetence simultaneously prints $40,000 in order to cover its deficits. So the government has by pressing a button produced the same amount of money that a man had to work a year for.

RTWT