This week would normally be full of reports from various federal agencies.  But, with the shutdown “just over” we don’t know what the lag times will be in getting out delayed data.

Some of scheduled economic news – like the Chicago Fed outlook, which we’ll get to in a second –  hasn’t been impacted by the FedGov shutdown.  Things like tomorrow morning’s Case-Shiller, S&P/CoreLogic housing data.

But there’s a ton of backed up data from the Commerce folks & Census.  We would expect an update on when “which data” will arrive to be one of the first meeting topics for the reconstituted departments.

With the delay and restart issues, no telling whether the advance international trade data will be out tomorrow morning.  Nor can we be too sure about Wednesday’s GDP.  Or, for that matter, Consumer Spending and Inflation data Thursday.  Unemployment data is due to come out Friday, but once again, we’ll just see how that goes.

One of the best “old sayings” from years of reporting is that bureaucracies tend “never to waste a good crisis.”  There’s always someone working an angle on something.

While we’re glad to have the FedGov back up and running at full bureaucratic speed (one of the few measures slower than glacial), there is still the federal vacation matter that’s “stuck in our craw.”

Take the case of a federal worker who had planned for a vacation during the shutdown.  Would they have been paid?  Or, did the shutdown put planned vacations (with pay) on hold?  Haven’t seen the answer to that one.  But seems to me that if I were a federal worker and burned vacation time while the other 800-thousand odd workers got the time off and will get back pay….well, I’m sure you see the point.

As a taxpayer, we don’t like that we got stuck on the hook and will now “pay federal workers for not working” while they continue to accrue seniority and vacation time.  This whole thing smacks as though the federal powers just gave Deep-Staters-in-Training an additional month of paid vacation because that’s how it looks from an accounting standpoint.

And if a deal isn’t forthcoming by mid February?  Will it be another shutdown OR will Trump roll with the National Emergency, which is clearly what democrats are trying to pull-off as a 2020 presidential marketing tool.

Not that there’s anything thinking people can do about it.  Other than another warm-up on the coffee and listening closely for the sound of the next shoe to drop.


Chicago Fed National Activity Index is out.

“Led by improvements in production-related indicators, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) moved up slightly to +0.27 in December from +0.21 in November. Two of the four broad categories of indicators that make up the index increased from November, and two of the four categories made positive contributions to the index in December. The index’s three-month moving average, CFNAI-MA3, edged up to +0.16 in December from +0.12 in November.”

We’ll leave it to your judgment to infer how much impact the federal shutdown really had, but we’re thinking none because this is December data.  Next month could be a different tale.

Tearing Down the Wires

Long ago, on a planet saner than this one, reporters would go into work early – we’re talking 5 AM or earlier early – to “tear down the wires.”

The teletypes were distinguished by their paper and ribbon colors.  Yellow pager and blue-inked ribbons went on the United Press International (UPI) machines while the Associated Press was off-white paper and black ink.

We miss that tactile relationship with the news, much as there’s just something different about reading a good book, or newspaper, as opposed to a reader…

Standing in front of a machine, tearing the stories off, ripping them on the open plexiglass panel (sharpened up to make tearing even), a journo could “test-fit” ideas.  Every day there was a new way to sort-out the state of the world:  International, nation, local, sports, weather (and the odd “kicker” story…  Other times things logically grouped.

Today, such organized approaches are few and far between and trends rule what we read.  Still….there was a time.

But, enough of nostalgia.  Let ‘er rip…

The Trump Administration Has Warned Europe Not to Try Evading Sanctions on Iran.  Which we might pair with EU to challenge U.S. duties on Spanish olives and offer it as “tit-for-pit…”

Or, we might notice that “Facebook tightens paid ads rules ahead of EU elections.”  Which gets us to thinking if EU elections might result in witch hunting such as we’ve been through here, if we can get someone to make up opposition research.  Hmm… Facebook to set up two regional centers for monitoring election content.

Caterpillar forecasts 2019 profit below estimates sends us looking at where out market indicators are.  Using the early futures prices, our Aggregate was holding about 22.570.

Here’s the point:  January 2, of 2018, our index closed at 22,574.  In terms of the “Trump Bump” we have gone exactly nowhere in the last year.  Oh, big ups, big downs, but on average?  Nowhere.

Hell, we could have all taken the year off, for what the stock Aggregate did.  And with the next outbreak of Dividing America in the gearing-up mode…

Speaking of which:  We liked Howard Schultz (ex-CEO of Starbucks) calling BS on both political parties.

And speaking of national aspirations, the East Bay Times coverage of Kamala Harris kicks off presidential campaign with Oakland rally
We are here because the American Dream and our American democracy are under attack … like never before.” is a useful read.

The real question is when “the dividing” will start-up.  Right now we’re in the “gathering of sheep” mode.  The “us-against-them” period follows the conventions, if I’m remembering right.

Almost time for a warm-up as Fox is rolling “Trump skeptical about future wall deal as possibility of another shutdown looms.”

So does another war: Venezuela crisis: White House ‘will respond to threats against diplomats’

With the futures down almost 200 when I looked, and Bitcoin down to $3,418, seems to me that “just another Monday” may not be as reality comes into focus…

Moron the ‘morrow… (I’ll play the moron part…)