August 31, 2010

Not Looking Good: August Vehicle Sales

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy — Tom @ 6:40 pm

It’s not official yet, so we haven’t gone to the crying towel yet. But it doesn’t look good:

U.S. auto sales in August probably were the slowest for the month in 28 years as model-year closeout deals failed to entice consumers concerned the economy is worsening and they may lose their jobs.

Industrywide deliveries, to be released tomorrow, may have reached an annualized rate of 11.6 million vehicles this month, the average of eight analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That would be the slowest August since 1982, according to researcher Ward’s AutoInfoBank. The rate would be 18 percent below last year’s 14.2 million pace, when the U.S. government’s “cash for clunkers” incentive program boosted sales.

That would seem to be a turnaround from July, when, at least according to this AP item, “A busy month for car dealerships and higher gas prices lifted overall retail sales 0.4 percent last month.” Without cars and gas, the retail sales change was -0.1%.

Specifically, the consensus year-over-year sales change predictions, based on my review of the link noted at the beginning of this post, are:

  • Government/General Motors, -19% (that’s not how you set the stage for a successful, coercion-free IPO)
  • Ford, -5%
  • Chrysler, +3%
  • Toyota, -29%
  • Honda, -27%
  • Nissan, -24%

The fallback by the Japanese companies is largely a reversal of the big pickups they experienced last year during Cash For Clunkers. Chrysler’s increase may be fueled by lots of relatively low-margin fleet sales.

We’ll see tomorrow, when a pretty intense three days of econ-related info, most of which does not promise to be cheerful, starts pouring in.

QE2 (Quantitative Easing, Round 2) Is a Go

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:48 pm

From the AP, the Fed is going where no central bank has gone before:

In the end, the Federal Open Market Committee, the panel of Fed board members and regional bank presidents who set interest rates, voted 9-1 to support the modest easing move. The only dissent came from Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig.

The minutes said that the committee believed that the most likely outcome for the economy was that it would continue to grow and would avoid a destabilizing bout of deflation – when prices and wages decline.

But the panel said it was prepared to go further to guard against either a return to recession or deflation.

The minutes said the Fed panel agreed it would “need to consider steps it could take to provide additional policy stimulus tools if the outlook were to weaken appreciably further.”

Big Ben & Co. can only do so much when fiscal policy is a wreck. Right now, they’re buying time and hoping the Team Obama doesn’t do any more serious damage.

AFSCME’s Weasels

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:23 pm

AFSCMEbizzyblogAd083110Longtime BizzyBlog readers may be wondering what’s going on upon seeing the ad containing the three graphics near the top right.

Never fear, yours truly hasn’t gone all union thug or anything. There is a method to the seeming madness.

When I was reviewing the ad for approval, three things struck me (other than the fact that the party of Wall Street has been the Democrats for years — or at least was until Wall Street experienced 1-1/2 years of Democrat control in Washington; now that worm is turning, according to this Reuters item).

First, the “click here” on the right graphic doesn’t work, nor does clicking anywhere else in any of the three graphics. That’s pretty weak.

Clicking on “Read more” does work, and takes you to a link with the following header and a graphic further down the page:

AFSCMEtheaterPromo.jpg

Notice how the Wall Street and Main Street signs now have the symbols of the Republican and Democratic Parties, respectively — unlike the Blogad tease. Subtle, eh?

Second, the link shows two events a day taking place this week on Monday through Thursday. But there is no further information about those events, nor any link to another page describing them.

Events allegedly occurred in Lansing, Michigan and Manchester, New Hampshire yesterday and in Cleveland, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania today. If anyone attended, comment below or e-mail me and tell me what (if anything) you saw.

Columbus is on tap for tomorrow, along with Fort Collins, Colorado. Cincinnati and Orlando are supposedly happening on Thursday.

As to Cincinnati, they’re either playing this really low key, or it’s not really happening. A Google News search on “AFSCME Cincinnati” (not in quotes) returned only one item: “AFSCME President in Cincinnati Pleads Guilty to Theft, Sentenced” (imagine that). I also found nothing relevant in a search on AFSCME at Cincinnati.com.

The third thing that struck me about the ad isn’t visible to readers.

AFSCME is well-off, and intends to flex its political muscle this year:

Unions to spend $100M in 2010 campaign to save Dem majorities

At least two influential unions will spend close to $100 million on the 2010 election, with most of those funds going to protect incumbents.

Union officials told The Hill they plan to help endangered members — particularly freshmen — who made politically difficult votes in a year during which an anti-incumbent mood has filled the country.

… The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) plans to spend in excess of $50 million during the 2010 campaign, part of which will fund “a massive incumbent protection program,” according to Gerry McEntee, president of the union.

AFSCME spent roughly $67 million on its political activities in 2008. But the $50 million slated for the 2010 elections is the largest expenditure the union will make in a midterm election, according to union officials. The money will go to help defend the union’s top tier of eight Senate seats and 34 House members.

Throwing those kinds of numbers around, you would think that cash flow isn’t a problem, but … well, I don’t know.

You see, the vast majority of Blogads are paid in advance, as they should be. Blogads was paid in advance for the other three ads currently appearing here. Any ad that promises later payment raises eyebrows. This one is cause for real suspicion, because Blogads hasn’t been promised payment until … wait for it … October 26:

AFSCMEadstripPayment

Yes, I realize that Blogads tells us that this happens from time to time, and that “Agencies place ads on 30, 60, or 90 day payment terms and have to secure payment from their clients before they pay us.” Blah blah. But I don’t ever recall getting a Blogad promising payment 60 days later. In the past, I have turned down several (but not all) promising payment 30 days later.

So, I guess there are four possibilities, the first three of which are not mutually exclusive:

  1. AFSCME’s political fund either didn’t have the money to pay in advance, or it didn’t want to.
  2. They’re a bunch of habitually slow-paying weasels.
  3. If they don’t have the money to pay on October 26, they’ll welch on the deal.
  4. All of the above.

If forced to choose, I would select Door Number 4. I’m not counting on getting the pittance they’ve promised, but it’s been worth every penny I haven’t received to get the raw material for this post.

When’s the last time these guys negotiated a union contract calling for workers to get paid for what they’ve done 60 days later?

Lucid Links (083110, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:38 am

“Your” Department of Education, not at work:

“ED staff are invited to join Secretary Arne Duncan, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and other leaders on Saturday, Aug. 28, for the ‘Reclaim the Dream’ rally and march,” began an internal e-mail sent to more than 4,000 employees of the Department of Education on Wednesday.

…. Education Department spokeswoman Sandra Abrevaya defended Duncan’s decision. “This was a back-to-school event,” she said.

Sharpton’s pathetic public gathering only came about as a counter to Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally. Sharpton’s achievement of perceived legitimacy as a “civil rights leader” after the Tawana Brawley case (more here) is something I’ll never understand.

“ED” apparently stands for Educational Dysfunction.

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Historical revisionism in progress:

At Monday’s White House briefing, spokesman Robert Gibbs gave reporters a preview of President Obama’s speech on Iraq. Obama will apparently take credit for withdrawing U.S. troops — “We are completing a drawdown of almost 100,000 troops that…many did not think was possible,” Gibbs said — but is unlikely to acknowledge any special role played by George W. Bush’s troop surge. Gibbs said Obama plans to call Bush before the speech, but through repeated questioning would not admit that the surge played any especially important role in the war’s progress.

I don’t expect that Obama will recognize that our troops achieved victory in Iraq even before he took office thanks to the surge strategy that apparently won’t be cited, or that the majority of Iraqis don’t like the fact that our combat troops are gone. With violence escalating, the possibility that ultimate defeat might be snatched from the jaws of victory now exists. If so, it won’t be George W. Bush’s fault.

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Related grim milestone: Did you know that more U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan so far this year than in any other full year of the war there?

I’m surprised the media isn’t all over this (/sarc).

Related, from Mark Steyn in early July:

And so here we are, nine years, billions of dollars and many dead soldiers later, watching the guy we’ve propped up with Western blood and treasure make peace overtures to the Taliban’s most virulently anti-American and pro-al-Qaeda faction in hopes of bringing them back within the government. Being perceived as the weak horse is contagious: today, were Washington to call Moscow for use of those Central Asian bases, Putin would tell Obama to get lost, and then make sneering jokes about it afterwards. Were Washington to call Islamabad as it did on Sept. 12, the Pakistanis would thank them politely and say they’d think it over and get back in 30 days. The leaders of Turkey and Brazil, two supposed American allies assiduously courted and flattered by Obama this past year, flew in to high-five Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The new President wished to reposition his nation by forswearing American power: he thought that made him the nice horse; everyone else looked on it as a self-gelding operation—or, as last week’s U.S. News & World Report headlined it, “World sees Obama as incompetent and amateur.”

If the Taliban return to even partial power in Afghanistan, the unctuous State Department spokesmen will make the best of it. But the symbolism will be profound, and devastating in what it says about American will.

It’s amazing what can be undone in 19 months.

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Kathleen Sebelius thinks we need “reeducation” on the wonders of ObamaCare.

With a number of polls showing a sustained level of opposition to the Democrats’ health care reform efforts more than five months after passage, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the Obama administration has “a lot of reeducation to do” heading into the midterms.

By all means, Ms. Sebelius should introduce us to ObamaCare’s de facto 100%-plus marginal tax rates.

Positivity: Over 3,600 attend annual Catholic conference in Wichita

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:38 am

From Wichita:

Aug 29, 2010 / 01:25 pm

Over 3,600 people from 17 states and Mexico attended this year’s Midwest Catholic Family Conference Aug. 6-8 in Wichita, Kansas. Kevin Regan, co-director of the conference, said 800 youth and teens also participated in the programs.

“We had rave reviews about all our speakers,” Regan said a few days after recovering from the event. “I get calls from people across the U.S. and they ask what we are doing because they hear great things about us.”

One couple from Sharon, Kan., said the weekend was one of the greatest experiences of their lives.

“We didn’t want to leave, especially after the beautiful Mass on Sunday,” they wrote in an evaluation. “It was awesome and we cannot wait to register for all three days next year.”

Regan is currently planning next year’s event which is scheduled for Aug. 5-7. The speakers should be contracted in about 60 days, he said.

Eduardo Verástegui, star of the pro-life movie Bella, talked about his rise to stardom and his realization that despite his success, something was wrong.

I was very confused, he said, “because I thought I had everything in my life. But at the same time I had nothing. I was very empty. Something was missing.”

That something, of course, was God.

He made that realization while studying English with a devoutly Catholic teacher. Verástegui also told those attending that he understood he was setting a bad example for young men and realized that he had hurt many women as his career ascended. …

Go here for the rest of the story.