Friday, November 27, 2015


Who is buying oil from ISIS? Russia says Turkey is:
The comments included Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev echoing accusations made by President Vladimir Putin that Turkey is protecting Islamic State because of imports of oil products produced at enterprises under the control of the militant Islamist group.*

Then Turkey's Prime Minister says "prove it" and that Assad is actually buying  oil from ISIS:
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lashed out at claims his country is doing business with, and is sympathetic to Isis - also known as Islamic State - and is purchasing oil from the terrorist group. Erdogan, still seething at Russian claims that a jet shot down by Turkish fighters was given no warning, says IS are actually selling oil to Syria's President al-Assad - meaning Russia are indirectly supporting the group, despite claiming to be out to destroy them.**

Maybe Iraqi Kurds are buying the oil too:
ISIS makes its fortune by selling oil from seized territory to its enemies, including the Syrian government it has vowed to topple and to Kurds in Iraq, a U.S. official said Thursday.***

Looks like the EU is buying the oil too:
EU Ambassador to Iraq Admits: We're Funding ISIS by Buying Their Oil****

Looks like everyone is buying ISIS oil but the U.S.  At least I hope we are not buying it; however, we are letting it happen though we say we are trying to cut off ISIS funding:*****.
Western intelligence officials say they can track the ISIS oil shipments as they move across Iraq and into Turkey’s southern border regions. Despite extensive discussions inside the Pentagon, American forces have so far not attacked the tanker trucks, though a senior administration official said Friday “that remains an option.”

 China anyone? What a mess!


Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Jobs in construction continue to increase.

Construction employment increased in 43 states including the District of Columbia since last year, the Labor Department said Friday, a bit of good news for a sector still struggling with the effects of the Great Recession.
While broad gains in construction jobs were spread nationwide in October’s data, for the year, the Pacific region stood out. Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, said high-tech industries are driving activity in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, while the Gerald Desmond bridge replacement project has been a boon to the Los Angeles area.
Home construction remains sluggish as millennials spend longer living at home or choose downtown residences over the suburbs, tamping down demand for newly built homes.
In October’s data, West Virginia was an outlier to the generally positive construction trend: building jobs plummeted by 5,800 or 17% over the past year. Its plunge in construction employment is due to the economic hit from the large pullback in oil and gas production, said James Diffley, a senior director at IHS Economics,... *

The report referenced above does not mention that even with a lower level of construction than in 2006, construction is feeling a pinch for qualified workers as many construction workers are retiring and many Mexican workers are staying home.**


Sunday, November 22, 2015


I don't know what has happened to America.  We seem to go from hysterical situation to hysterical situation., like last year's panic was over Ebola.*  We were urged not to panic, but we did.  Now we have gone just crazy over a possible terrorist hidden in Syrian refugees.  Peggy Noon, who is susceptible to hysteria writes in the Wall Street journal, "...pause the refugee program, figure out how to screen those seeking entrance more carefully, and let in only the peaceable.  If it takes time, it takes time."  Well it already takes 18 mo. of screening.**  The word "pause" is actually a ruse that actually means "permanently stop."  Even some bright people don't believe the experts know anything, not how Ebola is transmitted, not how to screen immigrants.  Of course you can't guarantee that no terrorist will manage to creep through any screening process.  Nor can you guarantee that none of the refugees will be radicalized after living in the U.S. for awhile, but so far as I can find out, no refugee has turned out to be a terrorist so far.

Not surprisingly the hysteria over terrorists is alive and well in our politics.  Donald Trump, for example, wants all Muslims to be registered.***  John Kasich says we should have an agency to spread Judeo-Christian values around the world that seems to violate church and state (He has since toned down on this.).***  Though Kasich is a Evangelical, he has been pretty good up to now to keep his religious beliefs pretty much to himself except for his belief that Christ has said we should look after those less fortunate than ourselves, a belief that is constructive.  Can it be long before some candidate proposes "internment camps," as a polite term for "concentration camps," or expelling all Muslims from America?

Why is it that we tolerate about 30,000 automobile deaths and 30,000 gun deaths a year in America and brush off things like the Auroa, CO, movie theater  New Town, CT, shootings, but make ourselves sick over the possibility of some sort of terrorist attacker.  We should be vigilant, of course,and do all that is reasonable to prevent terrorist attacks, but let's be rational about it.   But we have a long history of hysteria.

* More than half of U.S. adults worry that there will be a large-scale Ebola outbreak across the next year, according to a new Harvard poll conducted last week and released on Tuesday. Most of them are nervous that they’ll get sick with Ebola, or someone in their family will. ..... But at the same time, scientists and public health officials have repeatedly urged Americans not to panic about Ebola. (

Friday, November 20, 2015


Let's see, when Obama drew a Red Line on Assad if he used chemical weapons we would bombard and bomb him.  Assad did cross the red line.  In reply to possible bombing and shelling, Assad volunteered to give up all Geneva Convention banned chemical weapons (that did not include chlorine gas) and, apparently,y he at least largely did so.  But litteralists accused Obama of not following through on his word.  It was not that they thought he should have gotten more for not shelling and bombing Assad's home base, it was that he drew a Red Line so he should have shelled and bombed Assad no matter what.  I suppose these people feel that this would have done in Assad.  I'm sure we could have destroyed a lot of buildings and perhaps a lot of civilians, but would this have toppled Assad?  Please note sending American troops on the ground in Assad's home base was never considered.

Well, in the case of ISIS,Obama IS bombing and strafing them, but we are told by these same people that this is not enough.  We need troops on the ground to take and hold the territory, that bombing and strafing is not enough to destroy them.*  The number of troops asked for is rising from around 10,000 before to, say, 50,000 now.  Yesterday I heard the assessment that it would take 200,000 troops to destroy 40,000 ISIS members.

It used to be that American politics ended at our border, but that is long gone and now everything is politicized.  So it no longer matters what you do as it is sure to be vehemently criticized.

* The Kosovo War was an exception where air power won itself without boots on the ground.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

JOBLESS CLAIMS - 11-08-2015

Weekly jobless claims continue their slow decline and are associated with a healthy job market:  This continues the disconnect between voters emotions and the increasing economy

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 271,000 for the week ended Nov. 14, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week's claims were unrevised.
Claims have now held below the 300,000 threshold for 37 consecutive weeks, the longest stretch in years, and are not too far from levels last seen in the early 1970s. Claims below this level are usually associated with a healthy jobs market.*
In a separate report, the Philadelphia Fed Business Conditions Index for November came in at a better-than-expected 1.9 increase, compared with expectations of a drop of 1.0 and a decline of 4.5 a month earlier.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015


First we wouldn't allow any prisoners of Guantanamo Bay into U.S. prisons (NIMP).  Somehow we felt that the prisoners there were some sort of superhuman beings that would escape from our most secure prisons and destroy the country.  Incredible.  And this in a country that tolerates over 10,000 murders by guns a year with vastly more deaths by suicide without a blink, a total that approximates the number killed by automobile accidents (over 30,000/yr), also tolerated.  But one death from a terrorist?  No way!  by the way, what country did Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols (remember the Oklahoma City Bombing* that killed at least 168 people?) come from again?  Was it Syria or Iraq or some other Muslim country?  I can't remember.  Oh, come on Americans they were home grown.

And remember Ebola last year when the country went into absolute hysteria they were going to get it and die.  Otherwise intelligent people said they didn't believe the authorities that it couldn't be transmit through the atmosphere.**  In the meantime  we in the U.S/ had flu season that does kill "only" 3,000 people in a "good" and upwards to 50,000 people in a bad year.

And our holding of these prisoners at Guantanamo Bay without charges, to say nothing about no trial, for more than a decade will be ultimately viewed by historian as a dark moment in U.S. history, rivaling the interment of all Japanese Americans in WW-II.

And now we have governors politicizing our acceptance of 10,000 vetted Middle East refugees because there may be a terrorist or two get through the vetting process and kill some American is another dark moment.  What have we become in the U.S., a nation of scaredy-cats?

** Ebola is not spread through the air, by water, or in general, by food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats. There is no evidence that mosquitoes or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only a few species of mammals (e.g., humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus. (

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


The U.S. economy had over 5.5 million job openings as of the last business day of September, the second-highest tally of available jobs in the 15 years the Labor Department has collected this data.*
The Labor Department’s monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, known as Jolts, comes out with a one-month lag to the main monthly jobs report.
 (Click on figure to enlarge)

While the number of available job openings have soared to unprecedented levels, the rate of hiring and voluntary job separation remains much lower. The number of people who voluntarily quit their job and the number of people who were laid off or fired was little changed. 
The percent of workers who voluntarily quit their job has held at 1.9%. In the years prior to the recession, the rate was typically above 2%
In better news, the rate of layoffs was 1.2%, near the lowest rate ever measured in the 15-year-old survey of 1.1%. This fits with other reports from the Labor Department showing that weekly filings for jobless benefits are hovering near a 40-year low.

With such good news, why are voters so unhappy?  Perhaps a Gallup (a private group) poll reflects the problem:**

(Click on figure to enlarge)

But the private Conference Board shows quite a different picture:**
(Click on figure to enlarge)\

Both organizations are non-governmental so the paranoid who distrust government do not have a case here.

So this is the paradox: Most Americans who want jobs have them, most work for firms that are doing OK, and more than twice as many expect their incomes to rise than to decrease. But ask them how the economy is doing, and they say badly.**
The Conference Board shows consumer confidence at roughly the same level as the mid-1980s. Gallup shows confidence in the country’s direction as half what it was in the mid-1980s. The data is choppy, but Gallup’s economic confidence index declined in the past year while the Conference Board’s rose. Both the Conference Board and Gallup are independent polling organizations with long and respected track records—so theories that the government data is all bogus won’t cut it as an explanation here.
First, it’s worth noting that Gallup and the Conference Board don’t ask their questions at all the same way.**
... the slightly more popular explanation, favored by 42% of economists, is that the lack of confidence is a structural phenomenon. Yes, unemployment is down and GDP has been growing, but these factors bounce around a long trend line, and that trend line has some troubling characteristics.**
White House officials have spent several months  touting the economic recovery noting the lengthy string of monthly job gains, two quarters of stronger-than-expected growth, and a shrinking budget deficit. The White House has tried to use these data points to draw a stark contrast between now and the state of the economy during the financial crisis.***

On the other hand:

Many American voters are wary of the current economic recovery, voicing concerns that an economy they find not so great won’t improve or could worsen in the next year, according to national exit poll data from Tuesday’s election.***
White House officials have spent several months  touting the economic recovery noting the lengthy string of monthly job gains, two quarters of stronger-than-expected growth, and a shrinking budget deficit. The White House has tried to use these data points to draw a stark contrast between now and the state of the economy during the financial crisis.
Likewise, many incumbent GOP and Democratic governors touted economic recoveries in their states.***
Just 1% of voters felt the economy was “excellent.” Roughly 70% said the economy was “not so good” or “poor.”
When asked whether the economy was getting better, getting worse, or roughly the same, voters were split evenly between the three choices.
And when asked if a voter’s family financial situation had improved in the past two years, just 29% of respondents said it had.***

 (Click to enlarge)