Last week, I wrote an editorial on Inside Sources highlighting the EPA’s chronic underestimation of the economic costs of its largest regulations. The largest of these by far has been the EPA’s proposal to tighten the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone from the current level of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a point somewhere between 65 and 70 ppb. Over the past year, the NAM modeled the costs of a potential standard at 65 ppb and 60 ppb, each time concluding that the regulation would be the “most expensive regulation ever.” Recently, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified before Congress that only eight counties would fail to meet a new ozone standard of 70 ppb in 2025 in a business as usual scenario—in other words, if EPA simply let states and businesses comply with the 75 ppb standard set in 2008 and the dozens of other regulations on the books that will drive ozone levels lower. (continue reading…)
People might say bipartisanship is missing in the nation’s capital, but you wouldn’t know it if you paid attention to the Export-Import Bank’s annual conference this week in Washington, DC.
Lawmakers and former lawmakers from both parties made clear their support for the Ex-Im Bank, the small agency that facilitates the sale of U.S.-made products abroad. Here’s a brief overview of their comments on Ex-Im: (continue reading…)
The Dallas Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity contracted in Texas for the fourth straight month. The composite index of general business conditions rose from -17.4 in March to -16.0 in April, suggesting a slightly slower pace of decline for the month. Yet, it is clear that manufacturers in the district are struggling with lower crude oil prices and a stronger U.S. dollar. Each was mentioned several times in the sample comments, providing a double whammy to the Texas economy. Nearly 28 percent of manufacturing respondents to the survey suggested that conditions had worsened in April, versus 11.7 percent indicating some improvement. (continue reading…)
Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report:
Durable goods orders jumped 4.0 percent in March, which should be a sign that the sector was growing strongly and rebounding from recent softness. Instead, strong aircraft and motor vehicle sales in the month masked broader weaknesses behind the surface. Excluding transportation equipment orders, durable goods sales dropped 0.2 percent for the month and have edged lower across the past six months. Durable goods shipments were somewhat more encouraging on a year-over-year basis, up 3.7 percent, but they have been essentially flat since September. (continue reading…)
The Census Bureau said that new durable goods orders rose 4.0 percent in March, increasing for just the third time in the past eight months. Strong defense and nondefense aircraft orders helped to push the headline index higher, and motor vehicle sales also rebounded from recent weaknesses. Note that aircraft sales are often bulked together in batches, making them more volatile from month-to-month. As a whole, transportation equipment orders jumped 13.5 percent in March.
Excluding transportation, the news was less encouraging, with durable goods down 0.2 percent. Indeed, durable goods orders excluding transportation have fallen from their recent peak of $169.2 billion in September to $159.9 billion in March, a drop of 5.5 percent over the past six months. To be fair, the September figure might have been an outlier, with an average of $164.6 billion for 2014 as a whole. Still, that represents a softer sales environment than we would prefer for the broader durable goods sector. (continue reading…)
The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing sentiment fell further in April, contracting for the second straight month. The composite index of general business conditions declined from -4 in March to -7 in April. The sample comments tick off a number of challenges for manufacturers in the district, including the strong U.S. dollar, lower crude oil prices, continuing logistics problems from the West Coast ports slowdown and global competition. The index for new export orders (down from -9 to -12) was negative for the fourth consecutive month, reflecting the dollar’s strength and weaknesses abroad. (continue reading…)
As Congress debates whether to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank, small businesses are telling the story of how they’ve utilized Ex-Im Bank to grow exports and add jobs. Some of these small businesses earned a lot of applause today, as the Ex-Im Bank Annual Conference kicks off in Washington, DC.
Among the companies celebrated were fire truck maker W.S. Darley & Co., cheesecake company Love & Quiches Gourmet, and Texas-based Fritz-Pak Corp. These companies have tapped Ex-Im Bank financing to sell their products abroad. (continue reading…)
Manufacturing activity in China contracted for the fourth time in the past five months, according to preliminary data from Markit. The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI dropped from 49.6 in March to 49.2 in April, its lowest level in 12 months. The decline stemmed largely from reduced domestic demand, with the new orders index down from 49.3 to 49.2. The employment index (up from 47.4 to 48.0) has now reflected contracting levels of hiring for 20 straight months. On the positive side, new export orders (up from 49.0 to 50.6) shifted to a slight expansion in April, and output (down from 50.8 to 50.4) expanded ever-so slightly, albeit at a slower pace this month. (continue reading…)
Manufacturers were glad to see House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chair Peter Roskam (R-IL) today raise serious concerns at a hearing about the IRS’ use of outside law firms to question witnesses under oath in on-going audits and litigation. In conjunction with a hearing on the 2015 tax filing season, the Subcommittee issued a report, “Doing Less with Less: The IRS’s Spending Decisions Harm Taxpayers,” which outlines a number of instances of IRS’ wasteful spending, all at the expense of American taxpayers. One of the worse cases described in the report is IRS’ decision to hire a team of high-priced attorneys to help out with an on-going case, at a cost of $2.1 million. (continue reading…)