Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Waiting for the Federal Reserve

Markets shed points off their highs in late March. The DOW closed at 39,282, or up 5.6 percent on March 28, then sank more than 1,400 points through April but recovered by mid-May to nearly touch 40,000 at 39,908, or up 5.9 percent.

Fed Chair Powell and his board are not cutting interest rates but after the May meeting lower price pressure and a strong sense of a soft landing, the market was greatly relieved. Three rate cuts were expected beginning in June. Now, the market will be pleased with one before year end. However, market watchers are still optimistic and predict an up-DOW/year of 9 percent. Notice the tech heavy NAZ and broad S&P index are up nearly two times the DOW for the year.

The positive viewpoint reflected the amazing resilience of an economy that has faced a surge of post-pandemic inflation, aggressive rate-hiking and geopolitical turmoil from two wars and two hostile great powers. In spite of this, the GDP is up, consumer spending is strong, and unemployment is down.

Dow Jones May 2024

Some observers believe US stocks are overvalued, especially technology and the US is heading for a major slowdown with a market dip. But Jamie Dimon observes investment money from around the world believes the American market remains the safest, and its top companies are worth the pricey valuations.

Bull Market Continues to Run (February 29, 2024)

Monday, May 20, 2024

Nederland Repeals Rights of Nature Resolution as Harmful to Water Security

Middle Boulder CreekNederland diverts drinking water from Middle Boulder Creek. (Town of Nederland photo)

Gary Wockner (formerly Save the Poudre River, Save the Colorado, and now Save the World’s Rivers) is not happy. One of his first “rights of nature” towns, Nederland, with “guardians” appointed, has repealed the resolution because it is being used in ways that could jeopardize the town’s water security. The repeal is a major setback as Nederland was a high profile victory for the movement and the repeal is receiving major coverage in environmental press.

Michael Booth’s report of the controversy provides considerable evidence of the deceptive arguments made to local municipalities by advocates when campaigning for the resolutions. (Colorado Sun May 7, 2024, also Inside Climate News 5-7-24-Kate Surma and NPR Northern Colorado 5-9-24, Michael Lyle)

The so-called guardians said they just provide watershed information and are not policymakers. But Wockner made clear that he “fights dams”, and will do so regardless of the Town of Nederland’s interests or policy preferences. Mayor Giblin was an articulate advocate for the town’s interest in protecting its water rights and option for water storage. He pointed out that Wockner and Save the World’s Rivers filed legal objections against numerous projects, saying “I have major concern with an outside organization fighting to dictate conditions to local communities in our efforts to secure our water rights.”

Several other Colorado towns and cities have adopted or have been solicited to adopt Right of Nature resolutions. They should consider the Nederland experience.


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Trump Confident, Dems Stressed

TIME Cover Photograph by Philip MontgomeryPhotograph by Philip Montgomery for TIME

Six months out, Donald Trump and his campaign appear confident and Democrats increasingly stressed. Trump’s ebullient mood was showcased in his Time Magazine interview where he described his aggressive, authoritarian initiatives for the next term. Democrat nervousness is highlighted by the Administration trying to lock in Biden Presidential executive orders and Beltway cocktail chatter on countries to move to.

Polls are producing the current Democratic gloom. Joe Biden’s State of the Union address produced a brief surge, but the national polls are now deadlocked with little movement. Democrats’ main problem is the electoral college. Biden is losing most of the battleground states. Out of seven, Biden is only close in three.

Also ominous is Biden’s trailing Trump in trust to handle key issues such as the economy 46% to 32% (see table), inflation 44% to 30%, crime 41% to 33% and immigration 47% to 35%. Biden wins abortion 41% to 29% but it was judged less important. (ABC News poll Gary Langer)

Presidential Polls
Below is a polling average drawn from RealClear Politics (RCP) with regular comparisons to FiveThirtyEight (ABC News) website, Gallop, and other credible polls.

2024 Presidential Poll 05-06-2024

There are no credible national political analysts who believe Biden is on a winning trajectory. As Peggy Noonan opined in the WSJ on Saturday, “Mr. Trump is ahead in most if not all of the battleground states, and I’m struck by the number of political operatives, veterans and thinkers now asking, honestly, if there is anything the president can do to pull it out.” (WSJ 5-12-24)

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Law & Order Now Tops Police Reform as Public Concern

Joseph and WalshLeora Joseph and Jon Walsh | Photo Alex Edwards, Denver Gazette

A demand for more security in schools, downtown streets, and neighborhoods has intensified since the end of the pandemic. District attorney contests today tend to be battles between post-George Floyd police and legal reforms and newer, intense demand for law and order to stop a surge in high profile snatch and grabs, shootings, assaults, carjackings, and break-ins. And the reformers are on the defensive with even some DAs being recalled.

In Denver’s primary on June 25 for retiring DA Beth McCann’s open seat, both candidates claim to be tough on crime, so money, endorsements, and ability to attract voters attention in a likely modest summer primary vote will be important.

John Walsh, former Colorado US Attorney, is running against Leora Joseph, the director of the Colorado Office of Civil and Forensic Mental Health. Walsh has the advantage in money ($355,000 to $280,000) and endorsements from a host of former Denver DAs (including the retiring incumbent), mayors and both US Senators. Joseph has the police and fire fighters’ unions.

In describing the race, Denver Gazette reporter Carol McKinley wrote:

“The money helps turn out the vote,” said longtime Colorado pollster and commentator Floyd Ciruli, who predicted that the race would see “a pretty modest turnout” in Denver’s primary election.

“Both Walsh and Joseph have positioned themselves as law and order candidates, which Ciruli said is an important issue to Denver voters this year.

“You saw it in Denver related to the school district election, when voters were very concerned about violence in the schools. You saw it in the mayor’s election, when the public wanted to know the candidates’ positions with police and with the homeless,” the pollster said.

“So, we’ve had two major elections in which crime and the public’s security were big issues and it’s likely to be that again for the Denver District Attorney race,” Ciruli said.

“This year’s race promises to be much closer, Ciruli said that both candidates “have elements of law and order. My sense is that this is important in this political atmosphere.”

Read Article

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Pro-Palestinian Protests Lack Public Support

Remnants of the pro-Palestinian protest encampment at UCLARemnants of the pro-Palestinian protest encampment at UCLA on May 2, 2024. (KTLA)

Campus presidents and chancellors have another group to consider as they try to balance students’ free speech rights, engaged facilities and finishing the school year and commencements – an unhappy public.

New polls show pro-Palestinian protests are opposed by the public two-to-one over support. In fact, 47 percent of the public would ban them. The following table shows support and opposition for the protests from YouGov and Morning Consult polls.

Support and Opposition for Recent Pro-Palestinian Protests

Nearly one-third (30%) of Americans 44 years old and younger oppose the pro-Palestinian protests. Another 31 percent are “not sure.” Among 45 year olds and older, 62 percent oppose protests. Not surprising, Jews and Muslims are completely polarized on the issue.

Three quarters of the public (76%), including 67 percent of 18 to 34 year olds, support “asking police to protect campuses from violence.” A pro-Palestinian ban on demonstrations had support of 47 percent of voters, including 42 percent from 18 to 34 year olds.

Campus Protests Helped Elect Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon
Gen Z Bails on Israel

Monday, May 6, 2024

House Vote on Military Aid

Ukrainian soldiersUkrainian soldiers take part in a training exercise Photo: Kyodo via AP Images

The dramatic Saturday US House vote on military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan highlighted the division within the Republican Party and may presage more bipartisan collaboration.(4-20-24)

  • Israeli aid lost 58 votes, with the majority from Democrats, 37 refusing to endorse Israel’s Gaza campaign.

    The US House Vote on Military Aid
  • Ukraine aid lost 112 Republican votes, one more than 109 majority of the House Republicans. If far right dissidents want to remove Speaker Johnson, they have a substantial base of votes in the anti-Ukraine aid crowd but 101 Republicans voted for Ukraine aid. They would be unlikely partners in the removal. In addition, Mike Johnson’s victory has him widely heralded and the level of chaos and criticism would be substantial.

  • If the far right tries and fails to remove him, it will confirm their gadfly image; if they succeed, it will be a blow to many moderate Republicans up for reelection and candidates in competitive seats.

    Mike Johnson’s maneuvering on the aid package demonstrated political skill, was broadly praised as principled, and celebrated across many worldwide media platforms. Republicans have a hero.

  • Taiwan aid’s 385 yes vote shows that both parties have a substantial commitment to its defense.

All in all, a very good day for US national security and the defense hawk wings of both parties. A bad moment for Marjorie Taylor Green.

Switch: Americans Now More Supportive of Ukraine than Israel

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Will More Funding Be Directed to Colorado Water Projects?

Betting kiosk in Monarch casinoBetting kiosk in Monarch casino | Photo by Kevin Simpson, The Colorado Sun

Colorado voters may be asked to direct more sports gaming revenue to water conservation projects.

Jerd Smith of Fresh Water News reports on new legislation with bipartisan support including House speaker Julie McCluskie that will refer a ballot issue to voters in November. It will shift any gaming revenue over a $29 million cap in the original ballot proposition to water projects.

I said the measure should pass with leadership support and that voters are likely to be supportive.

  1. Voters are concerned about water conservation
  2. The measure would not expand gaming or increase taxes
    • Gaming interests (Fan Duel or DraftKings) are not opposed
    • Environmental interests appear supportive

“While the original sports betting ballot measure received tepid support, the tax question, if it makes the ballot, may win broader support due to ongoing voter concerns about water conservation and protection and the high-profile crisis on the drought- stressed Colorado River, veteran pollster and political analyst Floyd Ciruli said.

“I have not seen any polls that negate what we knew strongly back then, that water conservation and water protection are environmental issues that Coloradans care strongly about,” he said."

Link to article: Colorado voters may be asked to send more sports betting money to water projects