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Semi-Good News October 22, 2010

Posted by Michael in Economics.
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One of the most sensitive indicators of our economic condition is hotel occupancy rates.  Do the math.  If you think about it, it’s a reliable indicator of the extent of business and tourist travel, and a leading indicator for the health of the economy as a whole.  (It’s also very seasonal, so ignore the hump and look at the year-over-year comparisons.)

I watch this to make personal financial decisions, and I get the news at Calculated Risk, which is full of interesting information.

Here’s the latest (click to enlarge):

It could be worse

So, it’s still bad, but better than it was a year ago, and trending towards normal.

Now would actually be a good time to book a vacation, before room rates rebound.  Cathy and I are looking at Costa Rica.

Well, we’re really going to do Costa Rica with Marriott points, so the occupancy rate just affects how good a room we get, not how much it costs.

I guess this is good news.  Sort of.

Comments»

1. geoff - October 22, 2010

I really like that blog. He also had some good news a couple of days ago: architectural billings are up. These are the sorts of things that have me thinking that the real recovery is starting.

2. Michael - October 22, 2010

Yup. I’m actually looking at that blog because I’m thinking about a retirement decision.

3. Spider crawling down lauraw's back - October 22, 2010

I find it very difficult to “ignore the hump.”

4. Cathy - October 22, 2010

I love humps. And I love your graph, Michael-sweetie.

Thanks.

5. lauraw - October 22, 2010

Does this mean I can stop waking up in the middle of the night with dread-gut?

We want to hang on. But if things don’t really show any signs of letting up, my store will be all done for this Spring.

6. geoff - October 22, 2010

Well, you may remember that friend of mine (Kent) who came by quite a while ago – he raised quite a ruckus with his views on health care. Anyway, he tells me that Caterpillar and Bobcat are both having trouble hiring fast enough to meet demand, as are their suppliers.

And the vast majority of companies met or exceeded their earnings last quarter. A couple more signs that things are picking up.

There are so many things that can still go wrong (as Monty points out), but from the business perspective, I think things are actually stabilizing and turning around. That’s not yet a commonly accepted view, though (but projecting trends before they hit the mainstream is why you pay me the big bucks).

7. Michael - October 22, 2010

projecting trends before they hit the mainstream is why you pay me the big bucks

You are worth every penny, Mr. McChartypants.

8. Michael - October 22, 2010

Telecom revenue in the business segment is also turning around, by the way, which is very good news because it’s largely a function of the number of fannies in chairs.

It’s also worth noting that the trough of this recession has been enormously long in duration by historic standards, not just deep. By now the economy would normally be expected to be booming during the recovery. Makes one wonder where we would actually be without the disastrous leadership of Obama/Reid/Pelosi. I’m guessing that just neutralizing Obama’s ability to do any more damage by taking the House will do a lot to inspire business confidence and get the recovery on track.

9. lauraw - October 22, 2010

You guys make me feel great.

Somebody go bite Monty’s ass for me, willya?

10. geoff - October 22, 2010

I’m guessing that just neutralizing Obama’s ability to do any more damage by taking the House will do a lot to inspire business confidence and get the recovery on track.

That’s the primary reason I think the economy is sputtering back to life. Businesses are starting to see the possibility of relief from the relentless hammering of Obamanomics.

11. Michael - October 22, 2010

Yeah, I’ve noticed that Monty has a penchant for doom and gloom. My company is investing tens of billions in capital to deal with growth. I don’t think we’re being stupid.

What’s the worst that could happen? Let’s say the EU implodes, the Euro collapses, and Europe descends into widespread rioting and chaos. After they purge the Muslims and restore order, Europe will be a pleasant and affordable place to visit again, full of friendly peasants eager to welcome Americans. We can dust off our 40-year-old copies of “Europe On $1 A Day.”

See, you just have to look on the bright side.

12. geoff - October 22, 2010

The dawn of a new age of ugly Americanism!!

I’ve gotta go practice my patronizing provincialism.

13. Michael - October 22, 2010

The dawn of a new age of ugly Americanism!!

Heh. Let’s make it “Europe On $2 A Day” to account for some BJs.

14. lauraw - October 22, 2010

*practices sneering/ bitching, “Don’t you people speak ENGLISH??!” in mirror*

15. Michael - October 22, 2010

One other point — unlike other recent recessions, the effect of this one has been to repair the balance sheets of both businesses and consumers. Debt has been reduced dramatically, and the savings rate is way up.

Long story short, although it has been a painful adjustment, as a nation we’re coming out of the recession on a much more solid financial footing then we had when it started.

16. Michael - October 22, 2010

Don’t let them bluff you, Laura. Rest assured that they all speak English. You just have to speak slow and loud, like you would with a retard.

17. Michael - October 22, 2010

The recession has also squelched and even reversed the runaway growth of state and local governments, including the education system. That’s a good thing.

The remaining problem is Uncle Sam.

18. Michael - October 22, 2010

By the way, libtards always say that we conservatives talk tough about fiscal prudence, but don’t really want to give anything up.

Tell you what. Make me Emperor of the United States for a few years, and the following will happen:

1. Close the Department of Agriculture. (By “close” I mean phase out all programs, giving the states enough time to assume whatever functions they deem useful, and eventually fire all the employees and sell the buildings.)

2. Close the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

3. Close the Department of Education.

4. Defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.

5. Suspend all foreign aid and disaster relief, at least until we can figure out how to do more good than harm.

6. Withdraw from the U.N. and NATO.

7. Gradually up the retirement age for Social Security to 70.

8. Gradually means-test social security benefits.

9. Replace the current income tax with a simple consumption tax that can be described in a 20-page bill.

10. Sell Amtrak, the TVA and the Post Office to private investors with no strings attached.

11. Shut down about half of the U.S. embassies located in places that we really don’t give a shit about.

12. Open up all coastal waters and ANWR to oil exploration, and clear all roadblocks to the safe development of domestic coal, natural gas and nuclear power.

13. Eliminate the EPA’s ability to regulate CO2.

14. Legislate a sane and scientific definition of “species” into the Endangered Species Act.

15. Close the Federal Office of Contract Compliance and rescind the executive order that created it.

16. Close the Common Carrier Bureau of the FCC.

17. Make public sector unions illegal.

18. Consolidate the FBI, DEA, ATF, INS, TSA, the enforcement division of the SEC, FinCEN, the Secret Service, the enforcement division of the Department of Labor, and umpteen other federal cop shops into one cabinet level agency that does not report to the Department of Justice. Limit the role of Justice to representing the United States in court.

19. Repeal Obamacare, repeal the antitrust exemption for insurers, allow the sale of insurance across state lines, preempt state regulation of insurance, and create a singe federal agency to provide the oversight that 50 state agencies are now doing. Phase out Medicare and Medicaid. Implement a program to provide private health insurance to citizens who are poor, receiving unemployment compensation, etc.

19. Michael - October 22, 2010

Oh, I forgot —

20. Eliminate federal flood insurance. In the event of flooding, have the National Guard erect bleachers in safe locations to accommodate spectators who want a good laugh. Eliminate non-hurricane related flooding as a “disaster” recognized by FEMA.

21. Repeal the Fair Labor Standards Act (it is an anachronism that serves no useful purpose). Otherwise, I would probably let the Department of Labor and the NLRB survive.

20. Retired Geezer - October 22, 2010

So if you up the Retirement Age to 70, I’ll still be ‘grandfathered’ in?

Other than that, you have my vote.

21. Michael - October 22, 2010

Yes, all of this stuff would involve grandfathering and a phased approach, to deal equitably and humanely the reliance interests of entrenched constituencies. You can’t for example, just eliminate food stamps, federal school lunch programs, or our national babysitting service (Headstart) overnight. Plus, you would need to give state and local governments, charities, and churches the time and opportunity to pick up whatever missions they deemed worthwhile.

I’m not saying that all this stuff is bad. It’s just not the purpose of our federal government and we don’t need pinheads in D.C. making six-figure incomes to get it done.

22. Michael - October 22, 2010

22. Shut down all non-military operations of the Army Corp of Engineers. Put their work up for bid to companies like Bechtel.

23. Michael - October 22, 2010

23. Consolidate all back-office operations like procurement, IT, and payroll for all branches of the military within the Department of Defense. Fire a bunch of paper pushers in the process. Put all fixed wing aircraft in the Air Force with consolidated training, supply chain, etc., including the flight wing of a carrier task force. Tell the Navy their job is to drive the boats and drop off Marines.

Also, between the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, CIA, we need to figure out how many special ops units we have and eliminate some of the redundancy. I think there are 20 or 30 of these outfits. I can’t believe we need them all.

24. Michael - October 22, 2010

24. Make the use of PowerPoint or any similar program by any federal employee a felony (or whatever is comparable under the UCMJ), unless it is used exclusively for graphics. This offense would be punishable by up to five years of imprisonment, with a minimum of 6 months in jail for a first offense. The sentence would be doubled if the slide displayed bullet points.

That right there would save us billions of our hard-earned tax dollars.

25. Michael - October 22, 2010

25. Eliminate any federal legal requirement to provide free schooling, Social Security, welfare, ambulance service, emergency room service, health care or other social services to illegal aliens. Eliminate any legal requirement to educate children in any language other than English.

26. Michael - October 22, 2010

*scratches head*

I’m running out of gas. Did I forget anything?

27. Michael - October 22, 2010

Oh yeah, I did.

26. Stop wasting gabillions of dollars of law enforcement budget, corrupting other nations, and enabling criminal cartels, with the giant sucking sound of the U.S. market for marijuana and cocaine. Regulate and tax these products like we do with even more dangerous drugs like alcohol and nicotine, and deal with them as a public health issue, not a criminal issue.

Our policies regarding controlled substances are nuts. We could shut down a whole lot of prisons and save a bunch of money if we rationalized our approach to this issue.

My basic position is this — if it isn’t more dangerous than a caipirinha, it should not be a crime.

28. Cathy - October 22, 2010

He’s on the roll,

but I’m gonna take notes.

Dis sh!t is good.

29. Cathy - October 22, 2010

27. Immigrants who become citizens must learn English and know it well enough to pass their driving tests and to vote. Voting and all election materials should be written in English only.

30. Michael - October 22, 2010

[This comment has been deleted and is now a post.]

31. lauraw - October 22, 2010

Make me Emperor of the United States for a few years

Aren’t you the ‘Lutheran Millenium Re-Education Camps’ guy?

*trouble brewing*

32. xbradtc - October 22, 2010

Michael, re: your #23, a goodly amount of the training for aviation IS already consolidated. But there are excellent reasons why the Navy should maintain its own aviation assets.

The carrier environment is an entirely different operating environment than the land-based scenario for the Air Force. Not only the mechanics of operating aircraft at sea, but much of the logistical effort and planning/scheduling are based on differences, both operational and cultural.

Lastly, I firmly believe that a strong carrier based aviation capability is crucial to our national security. If we place the responsibility for carrier aircraft in the hands of the Air Force, that capability will soon be sacrificed. It has happened to every nation that put the Air Force in charge of its naval aviation.

That isn’t to say there isn’t room for improvement and efficiencies. Just that your proposed approach is a loser.

33. Cathy - October 22, 2010

^ Yea. What Xbrad said.

34. Lipstick - October 23, 2010

8. Gradually means-test social security benefits.

I don’t like that idea. Everybody has to pay in so everybody should get something back.

35. Dave in Texas - October 23, 2010

Yeah, he lost me at “I’m Robert S. McNamara”

36. Michael - October 23, 2010

Brad, why you wanna spoil the fun? #23 was supposed to piss off MCPO.

37. Michael - October 23, 2010

Everybody has to pay in so everybody should get something back.

The problem is that you are not actually “paying in” to anything. The “trust fund” is an accounting gimmick, the money from your past Social Security taxes has already been spent. The idea that you have some kind of savings account with Social Security is a fraud, perpetuated by the deceptive “statements” they send out.

It’s really just a welfare system where current taxpayers support current retirees. Why give welfare to affluent retirees? As many others have pointed out, Bill Gates does not need a Social Security check to feel secure about his old age. I don’t mind social security as a minimum foundation for the retirement plans of most people, but I do think we should gradually revise the system so younger workers do not have to subsidize somebody like me.

38. Michael - October 23, 2010

Yeah, he lost me at “I’m Robert S. McNamara”

But you’re on board with #24, right?

39. Michael - October 23, 2010

By the way, it strikes me that means testing of SS benefits would have to be progressive and very gradual loss of benefits, rather than a simple cutoff point, to avoid perverse disincentives to save for retirement, and you would want to set the bar rather high so that the only people affected are those for whom a social security check is really not a big deal.

40. Dave in Texas - October 23, 2010

I would have been ok with #24 until I saw combat operation briefings from the 3rd ACR and the 1/7 CAV.

So, no.

41. Russ from Winterset - October 23, 2010

Does the fact that Iowa State is beating the Texas Longhorns 14-3 at halftime IN AUSTIN qualify as “semi-good news”? It’s not truly good news, since they’ve still got the second half left to screw it up.

42. xbradtc - October 23, 2010

PPT is actually pretty useful at the lower levels. Let’s just prohibit its use in any briefing to a General Officer, and throughout the Pentagon.

43. Michael - October 23, 2010

Oh, now I know why Dave is bein’ all grumpy.

44. Dave in Texas - October 23, 2010

It’s not grumpy,

I’m pullin for the Army. And you want to take their technology away you fuckin commie.

45. kevl - October 23, 2010

From what I have seen at my job, Michael, SpecOps from different branches of the military is consolidating their commands to one location at Ft. Benning.

46. Michael - October 23, 2010

I’m pullin for the Army. And you want to take their technology away you fuckin commie.

Army technology is good boots, a serviceable rifle, a Zippo lighter, and recruits with sufficient intelligence to yell “Hooah!” on command.

Which distinguishes them from Marines, whose battle cry is “Oorah!” and they otherwise need good boots, a serviceable rifle, and a Zippo lighter.

47. Michael - October 23, 2010

SpecOps from different branches of the military is consolidating their commands to one location at Ft. Benning.

I’ve actually read about that. I was mostly just ranting, but I still gotta suspect there are redundancies. That’s not all bad, to be honest. There is no “free market” for military service, so inter-service rivalries provides us with sort of a proxy for what a market would do.

That’s really why I think that naval aviation is not a bad idea. It keeps the Air Force on their toes, because they always gotta be thinking that maybe the naval projection of force is a better solution to the problem.

Inter-service rivalry is an essential component of our military hegemony. It may be somewhat inefficient, but it is essential.

The good thing about having redundant SpecOps units is this: If a nasty job needs doing, you have about twenty officers raising their hand and saying, “Hey, me me me. Let me do that nasty job.”

Most of the time, the nasty job gets done, by brave men and women who love their country.

48. Michael - October 23, 2010

Oh, I forgot, the Army prolly also needs some glorified air-conditioned SUVs that they call a Bradley Fighting Vehicle so guys like XBrad can joyride around the desert, whooping it up and having a good time killing camels and sheep so they have something to BBQ with the fire started by that Zippo they need.

The bad guys manage to do this with machine guns mounted on Toyota trucks, at a fraction of the cost. They also need a Zippo.

49. Dave in Texas - October 23, 2010

SpecOps was a consolidated command structure, partially in response to our failure to rescue the hostages in Iran in 79.

It was a streamlining of redundancy. Because a failure of planning and control led to failure in the field.

KEVL-FM is exactly right about this.

50. Michael - October 23, 2010

It was a streamlining of redundancy. Because a failure of planning and control led to failure in the field.

And our President, a really smart peanut farmer and nuclear engineer, had no ability to sniff this out.

Thank God we now have a really smart community organizer in the White House, who is at least a veteran of Chicago thug politics.

51. xbradtc - October 23, 2010

Brads and Humvees weren’t air conditioned back in my day. Temps of over 140 weren’t uncommon. Nowadays, most of the fleet does have air conditioning and it keeps the temps inside to a reasonable 100 or so.

52. Michael - October 23, 2010

If you want my opinion about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — here it is:

Obama’s instincts are basically right. He has recognized that we are propping up corrupt kleptocracies, and we learned from Viet Nam that this is a losing strategy.

So, he is flailing about for a strategy to extricate the U.S., with honor, that leaves the natives with a reasonable chance to evolve from tribal societies to functional nations.

That’s a tough nut to crack, and he rashly campaigned on the notion that Afghanistan is the war worth winning, when Afghanistan is really the culture least susceptible to modernization. Iraq really has a pre-Saddam history that gives it a better chance of success.

I feel sorry for the guy.

53. Michael - October 23, 2010

Brads and Humvees weren’t air conditioned back in my day. Temps of over 140 weren’t uncommon.

Heh. I knew you were gonna say that. You already said that at H2 or somewhere else.

You still ate like a king on that BBQ camel.

54. BrewFan - October 23, 2010

At some point Obama will realize that he has no chance to be re-elected so he will order a withdrawal, consequences be damned, to solidify his place in history as the black Gandhi.

55. daveintexas - October 23, 2010

It was why I worked as a software engineer on the MC-130H Combat Talon II.

Fly through the dust storms. See.

56. kevl - October 23, 2010

Boots, a rifle, and a Zippo? I sure hope you’re kidding Michael.

Cause if you’re not, I suspect you are simply drunk.

57. daveintexas - October 23, 2010

Armored warfare has always depended upon combined forces, tanks are just targets without infantry, infantry can’t punch hard without tanks. They work together, in WWII it was halftracks, antitank vehicles, tanks and soldiers. Working in tandem.

Kinda the same today. I’m sure I glossed over the modern particulars, and xbrad can correct me, but boots, a rifle and a zippo really aren’t enough for the modern warfighter.

58. xbradtc - October 23, 2010

Boots, a rile, and a zippo is a pretty good start, Kevl.

I can think of times I carried a bunch of crap I didn’t need.

59. Cathy - October 23, 2010

Boots, a rifle, and a Zippo? I sure hope you’re kidding Michael. Cause if you’re not, I suspect you are simply drunk.

Kidding and drunk.

60. Cathy - October 23, 2010

Kidding, drunk, and a deep seated need to express irreverence.

61. Michael - October 23, 2010

Hush yo mouf!

62. kevl - October 24, 2010

Well then, Cathy.
He’s just being his adorable self.
Carry on Michael.

Although by now I’m not sure you feel like being irreverent. Unless you drank some really good whiskey and are hangover free.

63. Dave in Texas - October 24, 2010

Lutherns are allowed to go to church with a hangover.

64. Pupster - October 24, 2010

Hangover free Whiskey?

It’s called “Sweet Tea”.

65. daveintexas - October 24, 2010

In the motion picture bidness, I remember learning that in all those westerns when cowboys were slamming down whiskey, it was actually tea.

Except for John Wayne.

66. Michael - October 24, 2010

John Wayne was drinking Kahlua like some poofter?

Erm, excuse me, I meant to say — John Wayne was slamming down Coffee-Flavored Tequila like a man?

67. Lipstick - October 25, 2010

The problem is that you are not actually “paying in” to anything. The “trust fund” is an accounting gimmick

But the money they take from us is real.

So the response is “HA HA, we fooled you!”? That’s acceptable to you?

68. Michael - October 25, 2010

It’s not acceptable, it’s just a fact. They did fool us.

69. daveintexas - October 25, 2010

Go ahead, fuck with Zombie John Wayne.

Been nice knowin ya.

70. Lipstick - October 25, 2010

It’s not acceptable, it’s just a fact. They did fool us.

Oh screw you and your “logic”.

*stomps off in a huff, kicks the neighbor kid and TPs the other neighbor.

71. Michael - October 25, 2010

Oh screw you and your “logic”.

*pats Lipstick on the head*

Sweetie, don’t you worry your purty little self about these things. Just fix your hair, bring me a beer, and vote Republican like I told you.

72. Russ from Winterset, you know...Winterset....John Wayne's Birthplace? - October 25, 2010

Somebody want to talk some trash about The Duke?

73. Michael - October 25, 2010

The wonderful thing about The Duke is that he made it through an entire career in Hollywood, became a beloved American icon, starred in a zillion successful movies, without ever once attempting to learn how to act.

74. Michael - October 25, 2010

I mean, jeebers, even Clint Eastwood got significantly better than his Rowdy Yates character on the Rawhide TV series. Plus he learned how to direct.

You want to know who I admire in Hollywood?

Ron Howard.

Not too many childhood stars have the gumption to put together a career like that.

Hayley Mills is another one. But I’m not impartial about Hayley, because I was in love with her.

75. daveintexas - October 25, 2010

>> You want to know who I admire in Hollywood?

No. But thanks.

76. Lipstick - October 25, 2010

Sweetie, don’t you worry your purty little self about these things. Just fix your hair, bring me a beer, and vote Republican like I told you.

One more remark like that and I’m pressing the button here that is wired to your Zippo. KA-BLAM!

77. Michael - October 25, 2010

But, but, that Zippo is in my front left pocket, right next to my . . .

.

.

.

I’ll be quiet now.

78. Michael - October 25, 2010

No. But thanks.

Dave, here is a general rule of thumb that you should remember — when I ask for opinions, I didn’t really mean to include you.

79. Cathy - October 25, 2010

Dave, here is a general rule of thumb that you should remember — when I ask for opinions, I didn’t really mean to include you.

FTR, Dave, he doesn’t want my opinion either.

80. xbradtc - October 25, 2010

I want your opinion, Cathy.

Honest.

81. Lipstick - October 25, 2010

I’ll be quiet now.

Excellent.

*Sends Cathy extra Zippo Kablooie button.

82. xbradtc - October 25, 2010

Well, I want Lips opinion also.

83. Cathy - October 25, 2010

Ron Howard ought to stick to directing and otherwise stfu!

84. xbradtc - October 25, 2010

Lips, is that in any way related to Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie?

85. Cathy - October 25, 2010

Hey Xbrad. Is it your birfday?

86. xbradtc - October 25, 2010

Yep. 44 today.

Say, how do you feel about younger guys?

87. Lipstick - October 25, 2010

Lips, is that in any way related to Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie?

I have a vague memory that “kablooie” may be related to Calvin and Hobbes.

88. Lipstick - October 25, 2010

Cathy, younger guys who are older than their years are hawt!

89. xbradtc - October 25, 2010

HH&tGK was Calvin’s favorite bedtime story.

90. xbradtc - October 25, 2010

g’night, dear things.

91. Cathy - October 25, 2010

Happy Birfday, Fella!

Say, how do you feel about younger guys?

I’m allowed to feel?

92. Lipstick - October 25, 2010

Heck yeah, Cathy, you have the body of a 20-year old, so you should get to feel the young’uns!

93. Cathy - October 26, 2010

Cool.

94. kevl - October 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Xbrad. We are about the same age. Ain’t it grand?

Lips, I don’t know.

Mr Kevlar is younger than me, but has the ancient and weary mentality of Gandalf the Grey, or Treebeard. Fortunately he does not talk much and just stands there scowling most of the time. Those scowls can usually be mitigated by a sharp elbow to the ribs.

95. xbradtc - October 26, 2010

Kevl, you can rough me up anytime. I’ll scowl just for you.

96. daveintexas - October 26, 2010

All these youngsters.

I’m gonna celebrate my next b-day like Charlie Sheen did last night, totally fuck up a midtown hotel suite, get trashed, nekkid, and have the cops show up after a screaming hooker locks herself in the bathroom and dials 911.

Provided of course I can get me a kitchen pass.

97. kevl - October 26, 2010

Dave, think you’ll make it to 10pm? Good luck.

98. daveintexas - October 26, 2010

I probably could if I got all coked up like he used to.


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