I have not been moonlighting as a bigtime Obama fundraiser.
The Beast is set to chew off whatever is left on the husk of the American economy:
“In particular, between 2012 and 2014, revenues in CBO’s baseline shoot up by more than 30 percent,” said CBO, “mostly because of the recent or scheduled expirations of tax provisions, such as those that lower income tax rates and limit the reach of the alternative minimum tax (AMT), and the imposition of new taxes, fees, and penalties that are scheduled to go into effect.”
The CBO may estimate that all these tax increases, new taxes, fees and penalties will result in 30% higher revenues — but I tell you right now that that won’t happen in this economy. We’ve long since reached the point of diminishing returns of how much Washington can wring out of an economy it has hobbled.
Commerce Department: US economy grew at 2.8% annual rate last quarter.
John Crudele: The economy grew at a mere 0.6% rate last quarter, for a grand total of 0.15% growth during the super-swell holiday season.
Or as I call it: Merry effing Christmas.
Crudele’s figures look a lot more honest than Washington’s. Here’s how he figures it:
In Friday’s number the government used 0.4 percent as the rate of inflation. Zero. Point. Four. Percent.
In which country is inflation that low? Certainly not in America. Absolutely not in the last four months of 2011.
The consumer price index, which is put out by the US Census Bureau, had prices up 3 percent for the year.
And the rate of inflation used in calculating the third-quarter 2011 GDP was 2.6 percent; in the first and second quarters, combined, the rate was 2.5 percent; it was 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.
So how does the Zero-Point-Four-Freakin’ percent sound now?
That’s how Commerce got to the not-very-inspiring 2.8 percent growth it reported last Friday.
Let me put this another way in case you are missing my outrage.
If the inflation figure used in last Friday’s GDP figure had just remained the same as the 2.6 percent rate from the third quarter, Washington would have had to report fourth-quarter annualized growth of just 0.6 percent.
On Sundays, I watch the talking heads shows. On Mondays, you get a little Hair of the Dog. What’s in it for me, you ask? Endless entertainment and cheap thrills!
This week we’ve got the Newt implosion, the Bob Schieffer happy dance, the return of Jake Tapper, and Austan Goolsbee joining the Media-Government Complex.
But just in case- would you mind getting me a little something-something from off the top shelf?
What happens when you crowdsource the remaking of Star Wars, 15 seconds at a time? The evil opposite of awesome. Unless it’s the opposite of that.
Honestly, I’m torn.
The President tanks in reruns, MRC does some candid camera action on OWS, ABC News cleans up Bill Clinton’s act, and what really happened when the TSA detained Rand Paul — all on another exciting episode of… The Week in Blogs!
BONUS: Special parking places for electric cars? What a wonderful idea!
In 2006, the Red Hot Chili Peppers released their last great album, Stadium Arcadium. Problem was, it was a double album. Had they kept it down to the best dozen cuts, it would have been great. As a double, it was merely very good.
Prince did something similar. Emancipation was a great double album, maybe up there near Sign O’ the Times. Problem was, there were three discs. Too much filler; not enough meat.
Anyway, “Dani California” is not one of the songs RHCP should have cut to make SA a great album.
A massive sales increase of 128% last year vaulted Apple past Samsung to become the world’s #1 smartphone vendor.
Can you imagine how well Apple would have done if the iPhone 4S hadn’t been a flop?
ONE MORE THING: Does she work at all for the money? Not if we’re talking about Motorola, which Google is in the process of buying for $12 billion-with-a-b:
They shipped — shipped, not sold — 5.3 million smartphones in the quarter. As a reminder, Apple sold 37 million.
For the full year, Motorola shipped — shipped, not sold — 18.7 million smartphones. As a reminder, Apple sold 37 million smartphones last quarter.
They shipped — shipped, not sold — 200,000 tablets last quarter. TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND. As a reminder, Apple sold 15 million tablets.
For the year, Motorola shipped — shipped, not sold — 1 million tablets. As a reminder, Apple sold 15 million tablets last quarter.
We talked earlier this week about channel-stuffing — well, here it is in action again. What should frighten Google is how Moto was able to stuff its channels with comparatively little product. But a little is still a lot, when you can’t sell it for a profit.
A “nation of dependents?” It sure looks that way:
Direct payments. The amount of money the federal government hands out in direct payments to individuals steadily increased over the past four decades, but shot up under Obama, climbing by almost $600 billion — a 32% increase — in his first three years. And Obama’s last budget called for these payments to climb another $500 billion by 2016, at which point they would account for fully two-thirds of all federal spending.
People getting benefits. According to the Census Bureau 49% now live in homes where at least one person gets a federal benefit — Social Security, workers comp, unemployment, subsidized housing, and the like. That’s up from 44% the year before Obama took office, and way up from 1983, when fewer than a third were government beneficiaries.
Food stamps. This year, more than 46 million (15% of all Americans) will get food stamps. That’s 45% higher than when Obama took office, and twice as high as the average for the previous 40 years. This surge was driven in part by the recession, but also because Obama boosted the benefit amount as part of his stimulus plan.
If you paid attention to the President’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday, you heard an awful lot about money coming into Washington (taxes) and an awful lot about money going out of Washington (benefits and subsidies). What you didn’t hear much-if-anything about was how to curtail our ever-increasing dependency.
It’s almost as if President Obama prefers to keep us this way.
I’m not drunkblogging the debate tonight — my eyeballs need the rest. So does my old ennui.
But somebody conned Jazz Shaw into doing it in my stead. And if anybody can do that, it’s Jazz.
I told him to keep his powder dry and his gin chilled. He’ll do just fine.
Check in on the PJ Media home page for the details.
Here’s something you don’t see every day in politics — a new excuse:
Democratic North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue, the first woman elected governor in the state, said Thursday she would not seek re-election this year because she believes a bid would make it more difficult to fund education.
UPDATE: Perdue’s announcement makes me feel more comfortable about coloring North Carolina red already, going into the fall campaign. I was having second thoughts about NC (while feeling more confident about Virginia). But it looks like Perdue isn’t expecting any down-ticket love in November.
The latest Fed predictions, courtesy of Tyler Durden:
FOMC: 2012 GROWTH AT 2.2%-2.7% VS 2.5%-2.9% IN NOV. FORECAST
ELEVEN OF 17 FED OFFICIALS SEE MAIN RATE ABOVE 0.25% IN 2014
SIX OF 17 FED OFFICIALS SEE NO RATE INCREASE BEFORE 2015
FOMC DOESN’T SET SPECIFIC LONG-RUN GOAL FOR EMPLOYMENT LEVEL
In other words: Continued suckitude for the foreseeable future.
Greg Hill just emailed me from Apple’s Q1 conference call to say:
~8m iPod touches
60m iOS devices in one quarter!!!
Yikes is right.
Now, suddenly, we have headlines about the president’s “war on the Catholic Church.” Mostly they stem from a Health and Human Services mandate that forces every employer to provide employees with health coverage that not only covers birth control and sterilization, but makes them free. Predictably, the move has drawn fire from the Catholic bishops.
Less predictable—and far more interesting—has been the heat from the Catholic left, including many who have in the past given the president vital cover.
But the real news might come from lower down on the page:
The liberal Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, blogged that he “cannot imagine a more direct and frontal attack on freedom of conscience”—and he urged people to fight it. Another liberal favorite, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., has raised the specter of “civil disobedience” and vowed that he will drop coverage for diocesan workers rather than comply. They are joined in their expressions of discontent by the leaders of Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities, which alone employs 70,000 people. [Emphasis added]
Does Obama’s long-term goal for nationalizing health care remain the single-payer system? If so, getting Catholic organizations to dump their employees onto the dole goes a nice little ways towards his socialist prize.
Once again, we’ve been had:
Warren Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit.
With modest expansion, railroads can handle all new oil produced in western Canada through 2030, according to an analysis of the Keystone proposal by the U.S. State Department.
“Whatever people bring to us, we’re ready to haul,” Krista York-Wooley, a spokeswoman for Burlington Northern, a unit of Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said in an interview. If Keystone XL “doesn’t happen, we’re here to haul.”
I’m sure you are, dear.
Meanwhile, the rest of us will enjoy higher gas prices, for the privilege of lining Warren Buffett’s pockets.
Does “Anonymous” have Facebook in its sights? Looks like it:
According to a new video posted on Monday, Anonymous now aims to take down Facebook. It in unclear as to why Facebook is the group’s new target; while the video mentions SOPA as part of its reason for the attack, Facebook openly opposed the controversial bill. In the past, Anonymous has listed potential targets as the United Nations, Xbox Live, U.S. Bank, Twitter and YouTube.
Can’t they just go after Facebook because it sucks?
It’s nothing business, just personal, as Newt did his victory laps for NBC and CBS but not for ABC, Chris Christie did the Veep lambada, and the Ronulans remained strangely silent, even in the face of French-worthy taunts. It was all on a Sunday morning so baffling, it can only be cured with a little Hair of the Dog.
Cool tech demo of flipping multiple pages at a time through an iPad ebook. The real fun starts at about the 0:36 mark.
I hope Apple or Amazon or somebody buys this technology, because it deserves to be embedded right into the guts of a great tablet.
Good news: New CEO at RIM, which needed new leadership like I need a Bloody Mary on New Year’s Day. Bad news? It’s business at usual:
RIM Chief Executive Thorsten Heins joined the company’s chairman of the board, Barb Stymiest, in a conference call with investors on Monday morning. It was the first chance for investors to hear from RIM’s new CEO, who took over on Sunday after co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie resigned.
Heins told analysts and investors that he is not pursuing strategic options for RIM like a sale of the company or a split. He also indicated he is focused on RIM’s current strategy, which involves the struggling PlayBook, a tablet that cost the company $485 million from unsold inventory last year.
Analyst Mike Abramsky with RBC Capital Markets said Heins seemed upbeat and optimistic about his new role at RIM. But he also said that RIM’s recent struggles have been a result of “process execution” and marketing, as opposed to product innovation.
Yes, introducing the world’s only tablet that couldn’t work your calendars or your email certainly had the virtue of never having been tried — but I still wouldn’t call that an innovation.
Fact is, RIM has failed on all counts, and had better start getting innovative in a hurry if it’s to survive.
“Channel stuffing” is an age-old practice for Detroit, and other industries, too. Manufacturers ship more widgets than consumers want, then try to generate Widget Excitement! by announcing how many widgets they’ve shipped. Never mind that widgets are stacking up, unsold, on store shelves, in shipping containers, rented parking lots, wherever. The important thing is to keep churning out product in the hopes that someone, somewhere can sell it all.
Example: Apple touts how many iPads and iPhones they sell to consumers, because they sell as many as they can make. Everybody else talks about how many phones and tablets they’ve shipped to retailers, and wait for the inevitable deep discounts to clear the shelves.
Keep that in mind when you read this:
Some Chevrolet dealers are turning down Volts that General Motors wants to ship to them, a potential stumbling block as GM looks to accelerate sales of the plug-in hybrid.
For example, consider the New York City market. Last month, GM allocated 104 Volts to 14 dealerships in the area, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Dealers took just 31 of them, the lowest take rate for any Chevy model in that market last month.
The story hastens to add that
many dealers have been waiting for resolution of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s investigation into the risk of fires in the car’s battery pack. Last year three packs caught fire in the days or weeks following government test crashes.
But let’s be honest. If Volts were selling, dealers would take them — investigation or no investigation. (Oops: No investigation! Move along; nothing to see here.)
Fact is, Government Motors has to keep producing Volts, or risk severe embarrassment to its major shareholder: The Obama Administration. But you can stuff the channels only so deep. Eventually, GM will have to offer huge incentives to move Volts off the dealer lots — incentives, I imagine, that will make the existing $7,500 tax incentive (paid for by you and me) look small.
A politically-friendly electric motor allows GM to sell a $13,000 three-banger for about $33,000 (shoddily-equipped). Generous subsidies allow them to first mark up to price to $40,000. Somewhere between $13,000 and $33,000 is the real market-clearing price of this car.
Does $20,000 sound about right for an undersized family sedan that runs mostly on coal? The current hot car in the full-size family segment is the Hyundai Sonata, which has a base price just under $20k. If there’s a lesson in all this, I suppose it’s that GM sold about 7,500 Volts in the US last year, while Hyundai sold 225,961 Sonatas.
And, oh year: Korean taxpayers didn’t lose tens of billions (and counting) for the privilege of channel-stuffing overpriced cars nobody wants to buy.
But that’s how crony capitalism works: Robbing Peter to pay Paul while keeping up the appearance that Peter is the one getting the benefit. (Jobs! We saved GM jobs!) Eventually it all comes crashing down, since consumers won’t take even for free things they don’t like.
The Administration must have been hoping that there was no possible way for a low-volume, halo vehicle could overstuff the channels so quickly. But here you have it: Still more than nine months away from the election, and one simple story illustrates what an expensive flop GM has made of the Volt.
There’s political hay to be made here, and lots of it.