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Gender: Male
Hometown: Minnesota
Member since: Sat Jan 1, 2005, 04:45 AM
Number of posts: 10,507

About Me

Thanks for all the good wishes. A wellness check was done several days ago My next door neighbor of 43 years is looking out for me

Journal Archives

Jackie Little, suspected in mosque fires, vandalizing Rep. Ilhan Omar's office, arrested

Jackie Little, suspected in mosque fires, vandalizing Rep. Ilhan Omar's office, arrested and facing federal charge, WCCO News, 4/30/23

The suspect who allegedly set two fires at mosques in south Minneapolis last week has been arrested and now faces a federal arson charge, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota.

Jackie Little, 36, was charged by warrant earlier this week in Hennepin County in connection with a fire at Masjid Al Rahma Islamic Center.

A federal complaint accuses Little of starting a fire in the bathroom at the Masjid Omar Islamic Center April 23, as well as in a hallway at Masjid Al Rahma a day later. A representative of Masjid Al Rahma told investigators the fire caused "tens of thousands of dollars" in damages, the complaint states.

Per the complaint, Little's mother told investigators he "extensively harassed a Muslim female" in the past and "has had a fascination with fire from a young age." She said she suspected him in "several unreported arson events."

Little's mother identified him in surveillance footage of the arsons. Plymouth police also recognized Little from a previous arson investigation.

More: https://www.cbsnews.com/minnesota/news/minneapolis-mosque-fires-suspect-arrested/

-The article also discusses the vandalizing of Rep. Ilhan Omar's office

-CAIR (Minnesota Council on American-Islamic Relations) has gotten enough in donations to hire a full-time professional who will work with the 92 mosques in the state to apply for grants for safety measures

-Little will make his first court appearance Monday (that's today). Pic below.

- Good news video at the link

YW 😊 Busy day economy wise: Personal Income, Personal Spending, Employment Cost Index,

Consumer Sentiment, and PCE inflation.

I'll be particularly interested in looking at the Employment Cost Index as it is said to be a much better indicator of wages and compensation than the usual go-to metric of average hourly earnings that comes out on first Fridays (usually). The ECI is said to looks at trends in the same occupations, whereas average hourly earnings gets distorted by job losses or gains occurring in certain sectors more than others; last hired first fired stuff (in the pandemic that caused the averages to soar). Whatever. I'm saying this off the top of my head, there are better explanations out there.

The downside of the ECI is that it's quarterly - meaning a long wait for updates, and then the updates have some old data in them.

The AP story I linked to has just this on today's ECI report:

A separate government report Friday showed that companies continued to provide solid pay raises to their employees last quarter. The report, called the employment cost index, which measures wages, salaries and benefits, rose 1.2% in the first three months of the year. That was up from 1.1% in the final quarter of last year.

That looks good because the CPI rose 0.94% in the last 3 months, and the PCE 0.98%. So that means an actual real (inflation-adjusted) increase, for a change.


Their table shows the 12 month inflation-adjusted number is -0.2%. At a glance I don't see their inflation-adjusted 3 month number anywhere.

From: https://www.piie.com/blogs/realtime-economic-issues-watch/us-wages-grew-fastest-pace-decades-2021-prices-grew-even-more
The BLS releases ECI statistics, showing compensation, wage, and benefit growth over the prior three months, four times a year. The ECI shows changes in wages and benefits in a manner that fixes the composition of the workforce. This is important, particularly when there are large changes in employment, because these data are not subject to the same distortions as the monthly average hourly earnings series, which can artificially be increased when low-wage workers lose their jobs and drop out of the sample (as happened in 2020) or artificially be decreased when these same workers are hired back (as happened in 2021) [1].

By fixing workforce composition, the ECI provides a more accurate picture of what is actually happening to wages.

[1] The Pandemicís Effect on Measured Wage Growth, The WHite House, 4/19/21


This particular one is inflation-adjusted wage and salaries for private sector workers.

Note the build-up to the Q2.2020 peak. Then it plateaued through Q1.2021, President Biden's first quarter, then went down.
Finally it has been turning up since a local bottom in Q3.2022 for a couple of quarters.
The last reading is 3.7% below the peak, and 3.4% below the Q1.2021 value.

Source: https://fredblog.stlouisfed.org/2018/02/are-wages-increasing-or-decreasing

I tediously moused over point by point gathering the data from their graph (the numbers for each point pop up, so I didn't have to "read" the graph like back in middle school). Edit: There's a "Download data" link at the lower left of the second graph at the Source that I had been aware of and had clicked and thought it was just downloading a PDF file of the page. But it turned out it was offering to download the Excel data for the graph which is of course what I wanted. So I did that and verified that the data was the same, to within 0.0 accuracy, as used for my graph, but I went ahead and replaced my old data with it (since it has a few more digits to the right of the decimal, and heck why not).

The source link just above also compares to inflation-adjusted average hourly earnings and also to inflation-adjusted median usual earnings of full-time workers.

This (the ECI) is reportedly the Fed's favorite wage and salary indicator as explained earlier in the post.

Inflation Graphs

The PCE Inflation report came out today, Friday 4/28/23. It was good on the overall inflation (see the red bars in the below graph), but the core PCE inflation still remains high, and has not come down much in recent months -- see the blue bars.

The Federal reserve's favorite inflation gauge for projecting FUTURE inflation has been the core PCE (which is the PCE less food and energy). It's not that food and energy are unimportant, but are quite volatile from month to month. The core measure is thought to be better for projecting trends into the future.

Below is the CORE PCE inflation trend -- the rolling 3 month average and the rolling 6 month average

The rolling 3 month average should improve quite a bit next month when the January +0.6% number falls outside the 3 month period.

PCE News release: http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/pi/pinewsrelease.htm

The above shows the last 5 months. I found the latest 12 months (and way beyond) at FRED:

PCE: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/PCEPI
CORE PCE: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/PCEPILFE

The rolling 3 month and 6 month figures are calculated from the index values from the above FRED series for the CORE PCE (not from doing one digit math averages).

Consumer Price Index (CPI) released April 12

For comparison purposes, here is the most recent consumer price index graph (through March, released April 12)

CPI - https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUSR0000SA0&output_view=pct_1mth
CORE CPI - http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUSR0000SA0L1E&output_view=pct_1mth
(Choose "More Formatting Options" at the upper right of the page for other views such as rolling averages of past 12 months, past 6 months, past 3 months)

Inflation measures - last 3 months annualized

PCE 4.00% † † 4.85%
CPI 3.82% † † 5.11%
PPI -0.28% † † 3.61% (Producer Price Index, aka Wholesale Prices)

Cooling wholesale prices should ideally be reflected in the PCE and CPI in the next month or two, but seems not to be that good of a predictor.

A key inflation gauge tracked by Fed remained high in March, AP, 4/28/23

Interestingly it says that rents carry twice the weight in the CPI as in the PCE.

This is an excellent summary not only of the PCE inflation report that came out today, but also of the Employment Cost Index and the Personal Income and Personal Consumption Expenditures (consumer spending) reports that were also released today.

Here are some excerpts from the inflation part --

A key index of underlying inflation that is closely followed by the Federal Reserve remained elevated last month, keeping the Fed on track to raise interest rates next week for the 10th time since March of last year.

The index, which excludes volatile food and energy costs to capture ďcoreĒ prices, rose 0.3% from February to March and 4.6% from a year earlier ó still far above the Fedís 2% target rate. Some Fed officials are concerned that core inflation hasnít declined much since reaching 4.7% in July.

Overall prices ticked up just 0.1% from February to March, the smallest monthly rise since last July and down from a 0.3% increase from January to February, Friday's Commerce Department report showed. Compared with a year ago, inflation slowed to just 4.2% from 5% in February, though much of that decline reflected lower gas prices. That is the lowest year-over-year overall inflation figure in nearly two years.

The Fed is thought to monitor the inflation gauge that was issued Friday, called the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, even more closely than it does the governmentís better-known consumer price index. Typically, the PCE index shows a lower inflation level than CPI. In part, thatís because rents, which have been among the biggest drivers of inflation, carry twice the weight in the CPI that they do in the PCE.

The PCE index showed that food prices dropped 0.2% from February to March. Gas costs plummeted 3.7%, which partly reflected seasonal changes. Prices at the pump have since increased in many states.

The latest inflation figures point to the dilemma confronting officials at the Federal Reserve: Across the economy, price increases for many goods have slowed significantly. And some previous drivers of inflation, notably clogged supply chains, have eased. Yet prices for many services, including restaurants, auto insurance and hotel rooms, are still surging, fueled by robust demand from consumers who in many cases have enjoyed rising wages.

Graph: real (inflation-adjusted) retail sales

Advance Real Retail and Food Services Sales (RRSFS) (1982-84 dollars)

The bottom is April 2020, the peak is March 2021. Very interesting how Covid / stimulus money pushed it way up above pre-pandemic levels to the March 2021 peak, and since then its been treading water at best, but still above the level of the pre-pandemic trend line.

====== The below are NOT adjusted for inflation: =======

Advance Retail Sales: Retail Trade and Food Services (RSAFS) (FRED) - this matches "retail sales" in media reports

Percent change from prior month: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MARTSMPCSM44X72USS

Links to data series with graphs. Note: the *CORE* CPI is +0.4% in March

(it's a 4.7% annualized rate when calculated with the actual index values) and its rolling 3 month average is 5.1% annualized. This 3 month average was 5.2% annualized in February. So RECENT CORE inflation still seems stuck at around 5%. (Reminder: the Fed uses core measures to predict future inflation, whether we like it or not, although specifically they target the core PCE, not the core CPI https://www.democraticunderground.com/10143053501#post5 )

CPI news release: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm

CPI time series: https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUSR0000SA0
† † Monthly increases: https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUSR0000SA0&output_view=pct_1mth

CORE CPI: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUSR0000SA0L1E
† † Monthly increases: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUSR0000SA0L1E&output_view=pct_1mth

CPI excluding shelter - https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUUR0000SA0L2
FRED: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CUUR0000SA0L2

Core CPI excluding shelter - I sure would like this time series, but apparently I haven't found one yet. It's said to be a Fed favorite.

Table 3 has CPI ex shelter, as well as Core ex shelter https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.t03.htm

Rent (SA) https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUSR0000SEHA
Fred: (SA) Rent of Primary Residence in U.S. City Average https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CUSR0000SEHA

SA is seasonally adjusted. NSA is Not seasonally adjusted

Real average hourly earnings of production and non-supervisory workers
private workers: https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000013

In all of the BLS ones, one can change/add 1 month, 2 month, 3 month, 6 month and 12 month rolling averages by clicking "More Formatting Options" at the top right and checking the appropriate check boxes

Yup, they sure were serious about meeting the 2% target

Below is a graph of the Federal Reserve's target interest rate and the CPI from 4/1998 to 12/2001

# CPI: https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUSR0000SA0
(In "More Formatting Options" at the upper right one can change/add 2 month, 3 month, 6 month, and 12 month rolling averages, as well as show the 1 month changes. All with graphs.

# Fed Funds Target Rate (until 2008) -- https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DFEDTAR
† (Context: it spent most of late 94 to late fall 98 at above 5%),

Per the NBER, the recession began March 2001.

I suspect likewise that nowadays the Fed is serious about the 2% target, but mindful of not crashing the banks. Core PCE is well over 4% on a rolling averages basis. https://www.democraticunderground.com/10143053501#post5

I'm frankly surprised that so many think the Fed is going to let inflation sit at more than twice their target rate, and that the 2% target is just for shits and giggles.

A 3.5% inflation rate (the peak plateau level shown in the above graph) may not be red-hot, but it's enough to cut the purchasing power of the dollar in half in about 20 years, and down to a quarter in 40 years.

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