10/26/21

Measuring Consumer Confidence

We are inundated with media, pundits, and bloggers telling America what its opinion should be.

We are similarly flooded with pollsters — who seem to get Presidential elections and politics in general abysmally wrong — telling us what we think.

There are three long term, reliable measures of consumer/business confidence upon which I have historically relied to provide an accurate picture of the state of affairs in the country:

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index

I particularly like to be able to see the trend as I am a firm believer that the trend is your friend. It shows you things that a discrete number cannot.

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10/24/21

CEO Shoptalk — Persuasion

If you are a CEO, a manager, a leader you will of necessity order persons who are your subordinates to do things that need to be done. It is the nature of a senior-subordinate relationship, an employer-employee relationship. It is an every day action in the workplace.

How can you ensure that these things you require to be done are, in fact, done?

There are essentially three ways:

 1. You can mandate that they be done under pain of punishment. Discipline in the work place is always lurking just below the surface.

Taken to an extreme, if you fail to follow the mandate, you will be fired.

In 33 years as a CEO and 5 years an Army officer, I never had anyone defy my orders or found it necessary to discipline anybody for willfully not following my direction.

I had plenty of times when someone did not do something I had ordered to be done well, but that is not what we are talking of today.

 2. You can reward persons for the accomplishment of the task.

Whatever behaviors you reward will be observed by others and duplicated.

Feed the good angels; starve the bad angels. Get more good angels. Money talks.

 3. You can persuade them of the necessity and wisdom that the thing be done.

Persuasion requires education, communication, salesmanship, a bit of cajolery, and the willingness to engage in calm debate wherein the titular power of the CEO is put aside for a second as he/she deploys the power of logic. Continue reading

10/22/21

The Black Magic Of Congressional Arithmetic

When one reads anything these days one is confronted by headline grabbing numbers as to the “cost” of various pieces of legislation — right now this falls under the headings of “infrastructure” and “social infrastructure.”

There are two bills at play now in the US Congress.

 1. Bill No 1 — the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (10 Aug 2021), priced at $1,200,000,000,000.

 2. Bill No 2 — the “social infrastructure” bill, known as the Build Back Better Bill informally, is intended to be passed by reconciliation, a legislative trick that requires a simple majority in both the House and Senate. This bill is priced at $3,500,000,000,000.

These two bills are in addition to the American Recovery Plan Act already enacted by POTUS Biden and the US Congress (the Dems) for $1,900,000,000,000.

We are talking nominal spending of more than $6,600,000,000,000 — which I believe understates the total expenditures by more than $3-4,000,000,000,000 because of Congressional Black Magic Arithmetic.

That is a total of approximately $10,000,000,000,000 which will ultimately add about $7,000,000,000,000 to the National Debt.

Hello, America! Are y’all paying attention to this?

“Who are you going to believe? Me, your Truthful Aunt Nancy, or that rusty bag of bolts, Big Red Car? I’m going to squeeze his headlights but good. Look into my eyes.”

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10/21/21

Cut The Crap — Energy And Inflation

Today we cut the crap about the impact of energy, specifically rising energy prices, and inflation.

 1. The Biden admin made some bold energy moves — cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline, mothballing drilling/leasing/auctions on public lands, cancelling ANWR development, generally pissing on the leg of the energy sector — immediately upon taking office and they have had a negative impact on the price of energy and gasoline in particular.

 2. Inflation — under control for more than a decade — has now reared its ugly head. Even Clown Princess Yellen, Sec Treas, has conceded that inflation will more than double in the immediate future.

Just ponder that one thought — a new admin comes into office and in less than nine months more than doubles inflation and they act like it was a paper cut.

 3. The price of gasoline is a cost component in every product — COGS cost of good sold, for you bean counters — made or transported in America. Everything.

Here is what YOY inflation looks like right now:

As you can see, ENERGY is the skunk at the garden party. It is a component of both Transportation and Housing.

[My personal road trip experience is that gas is up more than 100%. I like to buy gas at Sams Club. I paid $1.52/gal in Tuscaloosa, Ala a year ago. Today, it is right at $3.00/gal.]

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10/19/21

COVID — How Billionaires Game The China Virus

I am a skeptic by nature and practice which I consider to be a feature and not a bug. Whenever I hear something that tweaks my interest I stop and ask myself, “What am I missing?” It has stood me in good stead.

Comes now the story that the philanthropic arms of Messrs. Bill Gates and George Soros are getting into the COVID racket. That would be:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and,

Soros Economic Development Fundteamed up in a new initiative called Global Access Health focused on, among other places, Africa.

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10/18/21

General Colin Powell

I served in the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea when Colin Powell was a battalion commander and the division was commanded by Henry “Gunfighter” Emerson. It was good, hard duty, a long way from home, and I enjoyed it.

“I entered ROTC in the fall of 1954. Here I am in my first uniform. I had found something that I loved and that I did well.”

My combat engineer company crossed his battalion across the Imjin River several times during maneuvers when we war gamed attacking north into North Korea. He would speak to the engineer bridge officer when his men crossed. I was the bridge officer several times. Continue reading

10/17/21

The Swamp Bails Out One Of Its Creatures

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was accused by the Inspector General of the Department of Justice Michael Horowitz of “repeated” instances of “lack of candor” which is how the Swamp describes lying. Horowitz conducted a laudable and unassailed investigation that he presented to Congress.

McCabe was famously the sweaty rodent who testified in front of Congress suggesting he never knew that the Dossier was all baloney and was a co-conspirator with Peter Strzok and his gal pal Lisa Page.

McCabe was fired from the FBI by the Attorney General of the United States though the Trump admin decided not to charge him criminally and bring him to trial. At the time, it seemed like an eminently fair arrangement — fired rather than jailed, no?

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