December 27, 2011

Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (122711)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:30 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.

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James Pethokoukis identifies “The 7 most illuminating economic charts of 2011.” Yep, this baby is still Number One:

UnempChartStimVsRealityToNov11

Go see the others, especially the last.

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14 years in the making“Two UAW officials sentenced to prison for strike-related extortion.” The story: “… the two former United Auto Workers officials agreed to end an 87-day strike at a GM plant in Pontiac, MI back in 1997 – but only after General Motors agreed to hire Campbell’s son and the son of another UAW official for high-paying jobs they were evidently not qualified for.”

I want to know who paid for their decade-plus defense. I sure hope it wasn’t the UAW or the union’s legal services plan, but I’m guessing it was one or the other.

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This (HT PJ Media) is a really long read, and yes, it’s an “advertorial.” But it makes a lot of important, easily verifiable points, especially in its section about the utter failures of Detroit during the past 50 years (“How Socialism Came to America … and Destroyed Detroit”).

The link’s Detroit recitation leads to a question, which I believe is every bit as relevant to several other U.S. cities as it is to Detroit, two of them (there are several others) being Cleveland and Baltimore. The question is this:

In the history of the human race — not just the history of the U.S., but in the history of the entire human race — has any nation’s government at all levels anywhere in the world taken so many decades of consciously chosen steps which have led to such huge depopulations (Detroit, 61% in 60 years; Cleveland, 56% in 60 years; Baltimore, 34% in 50 years) while leaving behind such serious ruin? If so, name one.

Memo to lefties: If you can’t (and I doubt you can), these and other cities stand as unique monuments in the history of the human race to the failure of big-government, paternalistic, largely union-driven, dependency-creating, civic bankrupticy-causing socialism.

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Here is more evidence (as if we need it) of the Obama White House’s boorishness, even toward people who are overwhelmingly on their side (“Journalists complain the White House press office has become overly combative”; HT The Blaze).

Among the lowlights:

  • “a screaming, profane diatribe that lasted two or three phone calls …”
  • “National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, reacting to comments (Politico reporter Julie) Mason made in a TV discussion, sent her an e-mail that included an animated picture of a crying mime — a visual suggestion that she was whining.”
  • “they either favor you or try to punish you, depending if they see you as friend or foe.”
  • “They don’t seem to realize or care that [e-mails sent from the White House] will become part of the official archives of the presidency.”

Thanks to that lack of care, history will show that this White House was an immature collection of punks — imitating their leader.

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Predictions are that December will be a very good month for car sales — “New-vehicle retail sales in December are projected to come in at 1,033,700 — the first time retail sales will top 1 million since the Cash for Clunkers federal rebates drove strong sales in August 2009 …”

Oddly (or ominously), as commenter dscott pointed out at the Christmas Eve off-topic post, finished gasoline shipments have dropped significantly in the past eight weeks or so, and by far more than the normal summer vs. winter differences would explain (especially since prices have declined a bit since summer). There’s no way that gas mileage improvements in new vehicles vs. old would explain the drop-off. The only other alternatives I can think of are either that the economy is seriously slowing down (Can the “experts” be badly blowing their predictions of 2.5%-plus annualized fourth-quarter growth?) or that we’re suddenly importing a lot more gas (not crude oil, finished gasoline, which I think could only be coming from Mexico, Central America, or Canada).

Other less pessimistic suggestions are welcome.

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7 Comments

  1. I have to say, I’ve heard heard of an adverotorial before. What exactly is that?

    In regards to the vehicle sales my guess for the strong sales is that those people who want to buy a new vehicle are finally going ahead and doing it. Probably they’ve been saving for it. As for the finished gasoline shipments drop, I have no clue. Your guess is as good as mine. I agree that it definitely is not gas mileage improvements as many of the new vehicles being purchased are bigger units such as trucks and SUV’s. Maybe the drop is some weird fluke?

    I know I’m beating a dead horse, but I really don’t like Benzinga.com. For about the last week it seems every other entry has a left/liberal seeming tint. Someone over there seems to have an obsession with talking down oil and natural gas for instance. You mentioned it’s an attempt at syndication. Does it generate it’s own content or is it a collection of posts that are taken from all over the net? If the former, it seems it’s dominated by leftists, if the latter it seems reliant on left wing sites.

    Comment by zf — December 27, 2011 @ 7:30 am

  2. #1, Stansberry paid for the space to prevent their point of view. The term attempts to make it clear that this is the opinion of someone who has paid for the space and that it’s not necessarily the opinion of the folks at PJM.

    Comment by TBlumer — December 27, 2011 @ 7:53 am

  3. #2, Okay, gotcha. Thanks. Now when I hear the term again I’ll know what it means.

    Don’t know if you caught my other question, I’m just curious whether Benzinga generates it’s own stuff and has it’s own staff or is it an merely an aggregator?

    Comment by zf — December 27, 2011 @ 9:53 am

  4. Domestic consumption demand is down so much so that we are exporting “finished” gasoline for the first time in 60 years. I don’t believe the experts are blowing it, they are simply in denial of their fears. To accept the facts is to recant everything they have believed in, so there must be another explanation. Gasoline is proportional to working people driving to work and shopping trips, i.e. the activity of individuals. Whereas crude oil and distillate demand are reflective of the manufacturing and commercial activity, i.e. products produced & transported. What we are seeing here is total demand (oil, distillate and gasoline) on the level of 2002 economic levels.

    The only realistic conclusion here is that we NEVER exited the recession and like the unemployment stats being artificially lowered due to people leaving the workforce entirely, the GDP stats are artificially elevated due to the UNDER counting of inflation from the Feds devaluation of the Dollar by printing money in excess. In short a whole lot of people are in denial believing/thinking in “animal spirits” that if only they can get people to look positively, the economy will magically expand/grow. When an individual engages in magical thinking, we call them reckless spendthrifts in denial of their growing indebitedness heading toward bankruptcy. Apparently, when a government does this on a macro scale we call this sound economic policy – pump priming. I call the denial of the facts…INCOMPETENCE.

    Comment by dscott — December 27, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

  5. The state of the economy:

    Sears to close more stores as holiday sales slump

    http://news.yahoo.com/sears-close-120-stores-113743523.html

    It is implied that Sears just didn’t keep up with the times as the reason for the drop in retail sales. The animal spirits weren’t impressed with the decor as the reason of their negativity toward Sears. Or is this rather the sign of the times reflecting sales over all? Watch for the sales numbers of Best Buy, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Target and Wal-Mart to see if this is really a case of zero sum dynamic as implied by the article.

    Comment by dscott — December 27, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

  6. For those concerned that any ending of ethanol mandates would cause economic hardship on the piggies feeding at the government trough, put your concerns to rest.

    To Survive, Some Biofuels Companies Give Up on Biofuels
    Companies such as Gevo hope to become profitable by turning corn into chemicals.

    http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/39371/?p1=A2

    Gevo’s strategy addresses all these problems. Besides relying on corn in order to overcome supply challenges, the company is reducing capital costs by retrofitting existing corn ethanol plants rather than building new ones; the retrofit of the first plant, in Luverne, Minnesota, will cost about $40 million, a fraction of the hundreds of millions it costs to build a new plant. And rather than making ethanol, Gevo is making butanol, which can command a higher price—especially for use as a feedstock for the chemical industry. Gevo expects that it can make butanol from corn—a readily available feedstock—for significantly less than it costs to make it from petroleum.

    Gevo plans to start operations at Luverne within the next six months or so and hopes to produce 17 million gallons of butanol per year there. Most of it is destined for Sasol Chemical Industries, which will sell the butanol to make chemicals.

    Butanol can be converted into a wide range of chemicals for making plastics and other products that are now made with oil. Gevo already has an agreement with a major maker of synthetic rubber, and last week it announced a partnership with Coca-Cola to develop plastic bottles made entirely from plants.

    So instead of people starving in the third world from high food prices due to converting crop land to ethanol use, they can now blame the corn to butanol process. Hey, it’s a step in the right direct, no government subsidies, at least the government won’t be in the business of starving people to death, now it’s just big plastics and big rubber…

    I wonder how the EPA is going to achieve their E15 standard if many of the ethanol producers switch to non taxpayer subsidized profits? I guess they can save face with the Econuts by pointing the finger at Big Corn for abandoning the Earth? Works for me, liberals can play the victim and the rest of the country can stop paying for the Ethanol boondoggle.

    Comment by dscott — December 27, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  7. [...] Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (122711) 0 Translatorvar ackuna_src = "en";Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (122711), [...]

    Pingback by Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (122711) | PERSUASION IN INK — December 28, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

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