Sunday, October 11, 2015


I don't know how good of a speaker Kevein McCarthy would have been, but, in his first speech, he seemed illiterate.  He even kept making the same grammatical mistakes over and over.  Of course from a Republican standpoint, his worst offense was that he reinforced, what we already knew, that the Benghazi committee's purpose was to harm Hillary Clinton's Presidential aspirations.

So it looks like John Boehner will stay as Speaker for the foreseeable future.  I hoped as a parting gift that he would let the Senate Immigration Bill be voted on in the House, but no such luck.  I view him as a weak speaker, caving in again and again to a vocal nihilistic group in his Party, but maybe he is better than any alternative.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


On net, illegal immigration to the U.S. per year seems to be leveling off.  There is an official drop in illegal immigrants of about 100/yr between 2009 and 2013, perhaps within the rounding errors.*  You are urged to read the entire article taken from a Pew report in 2014 (quotes are in italics).

In 2012, children with at least one unauthorized immigrant parent accounted for 6.9% of U.S. students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
From 2009 to 2012, according to new Pew Research Center estimates, the population of unauthorized immigrants rose in seven states and fell in 14.
More than half the 2012 unauthorized immigrant population (60%) lived in the six states with the largest numbers of such immigrants—California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas. At the opposite end, six states (Maine, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia), had fewer than 5,000 unauthorized immigrants each in 2012.

Share of K-12 Students with Unauthorized Immigrant Parent(s), 1995-2012
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Thursday, October 8, 2015


I must say I find the jobs picture to be confusing.  On the one hand , things don't look good (see italics below).*

It wasn't just, then, that September was bad, with its meager addition of 142,000 jobs that was way below the Street's estimate of 203,000. There were plenty of other issues.
Instead, the [August] report got knocked down to a paltry 136,000. Ditto for July, with the robust 245,000 print coming down to 223,000. Six of the past eight reports have been revised lower in subsequent months.
The establishment survey's diffusion index is a fairly simple sentiment measure of whether more companies are hiring or laying off. A reading above 50 denotes expansion; a reading below signifies that hiring is contracting.
The level for September was 52.9. Yes, that represents that more companies are hiring than not, but it's down from 55.5 in August, 60.1 from July and 61.4 a year ago. 

On the other hand, layoffs continue to be very low (see italics below):**

The number of Americans filing new applications for jobless benefits fell more than expected to a near 42-year low last week, pointing to ongoing tightening in the labor market despite the recent slowdown in hiring.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 263,000 for the week ended Oct. 3, the Labor Department said.
That was the lowest since mid-July when the number of claims was at its lowest since 1973. Hitting such a historical low is remarkable considering the U.S. workforce has grown considerably since the 1970s.
It was also the 31st straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is usually associated with a strengthening labor market.
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Tuesday, October 6, 2015


I have long been against stock buybacks by companies except in the most unusual cases.  I feel companies do this because they have nothing better to do with the money.  I don't understand why they don't just give a special dividend.  As it is, I believe stock buybacks are a huge waste of money.  I personally know of no company that is buyback stocks with flat or declining earning that have a positive return after stock buybacks.  I might say that in case I am wrong, I have bought an ETF that invests in companies doing stock buybacks.  Currently this fund is down 4.88%, although it was positive earlier in the year.  There are analyses now coming out questioning the value of stock buybacks and that they are "returning value to the investor" (see excerpts from the article in italics).  You are urged to read the whole article.

In 2014, buybacks represented 2.9% of the S&P 500 Index’s market capitalization. When this distribution of cash is added to the 1.9% dividend yield of the S&P 500, it produces a dividend-plus-buyback yield of 4.8%. For yield-thirsty investors, this combination appears to be an oasis in the capital market desert. To be that oasis, however, buybacks must not be diluted by net new issuance.
Dilution of earnings can also occur because a company issues debt, funneling earnings away from dividend payments to shareholders and toward principle and interest payments to the company’s lenders. Aggregate net debt issuance by public companies was $693 billion in 2014, almost equivalent to the $696 billion of buybacks in the same year. Our analysis of U.S. publicly held companies’ cash flow statements for the 2014 fiscal year reveals a similar story: often a company’s repurchase of its stock was accompanied by a net increase in debt.
The dilution rate for the U.S. equity market in 2014 was 1.8%, equivalent to roughly $454 billion. Companies thus issued significantly more shares than they repurchased. The historical rate of dilution, 1.7%, for the 80-year period from 1935 to 2014. The 2014 dilution rate of 1.8% for U.S. equity market investors, in aggregate, was essentially the same. We find no evidence of a reduction in net dilution coincidental with the recent increase in buybacks.
Alas, like the cool pool of water shimmering on the desert horizon that turns out to be only the refraction of light from blue sky onto hot sand, the 4.8% dividend-plus-buyback yield in the U.S. equity market is a cruel mirage. The reality is that publicly traded companies in the United States are issuing far more new securities than they are buying back, diluting existing investors’ ownership and reducing growth in earnings and dividends per share well below the growth of their reported profits. There is, in fact, no net transfer of cash from the coffers of U.S. corporations to the wallets of U.S. equity investors



Well it turns out that that there is still a Benghazi committee in congress.  There was a committee long ago that made 29 recommendations to the Secretary of State.  Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary at the time, said that she was accepting all recommendations.  Maybe because of this or other reasons, there have been no more embassy, consulate, or other foreign service locations since then and now 3 9/11's have gone by without incident.  Of course it turned out that the spark for the Benghazi attack was the anti-Mohammad movie trailer after all.*  Although the Benghazi attack was probably not the State Department's finest hour, it was one of the smaller attacks as attacks on State Department and DOD facilities go.*

Of course, now  it is leaked that the committee's true function is to hurt Hillary Linton's presidential bid.***

For other comments on Benghazi, see**


Friday, October 2, 2015


Here are some excerpts from an interesting article on opportunities in the wind energy field:

In 2012, there were 3,200 wind tech jobs; by 2022, it is expected to jump to around 4,000.*

"We have the jobs, but we can't find the people," said Ron Widup, CEO of Irving, Texas-based Shermco Industries, which provides maintenance and repair services to the wind industry, among others. "There's a tremendous demand for that classification of technician and engineer." *

"You are coming in as an entry-level job probably $40,000 to $45,000 a year and with overtime very quickly can get to $60,000 to $80,000," he said. "Then in a few years it's not uncommon to get to six figures pretty quickly in this field."*

The school also makes sure the students can handle a critical part of the job, working a couple of hundred feet off the ground. You can't have a fear of heights if your career takes you where the wind blows. *


Friday, September 25, 2015


Housing start continue to recover from the Great Recession.*

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Meanwhile, employment of U.S. residential specialty trade contractors, which account for most home-construction labor, stands at nearly 1.8 million workers. That’s nearly 28% less than at the home-building market’s peak in 2006.*

Even so, construction labor is getting hard to find, especially because of fewer Mexican workers:*

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