Wednesday, October 22, 2014

National Rifle Association political arm doesn't endorse Republicans Justin Amash and Ruth Johnson in Michigan

Rep. Justin Amash, MI-3, gets a "B-" grade from the NRA's Political Victory Fund, while Secretary of State Ruth Johnson gets a "B" grade. Amash is notable for crossing the aisle to lend support on 4th Amendment issues and to argue for enforcing the War Powers Act, but many of his friends on the right are disappointed with Amash's voting record on the 2nd Amendment, among other things.

The Republican governor of the state, Rick Snyder, also gets a "B" grade from the NRA, but unlike Amash and Johnson, Rick Snyder gets an endorsement.

There isn't a single other endorsement of a B-graded politician in the state as of September 15th, and just six Democrats receive endorsements, all in Michigan's House of Representatives, which has 110 (!) districts.

The NRA endorses no one in six of Michigan's fourteen US House districts, and endorses Terry Lynn Land for US Senate and gives her opponent, Gary Peters, an "F" grade.

Other notables getting "F" grades are Amash's opponent Bob Goodrich in MI-3, a fellow traveler if ever there was one, Dan Kildee in MI-5, Pam Byrnes in MI-7, Sander Levin in MI-9, Amash's buddy John Conyers Jr. in MI-13, and Brenda Lawrence in MI-14. Conyers infamously likes to read Playboy for the articles in coach class, and couldn't get enough signatures to be on the ballot this time but got on anyway with help from a Democrat judge.

More getting "F" grades are State Senate Democrats Coleman A. Young II in District 1, Morris W. Hood III in District 3, David Knezek in District 5, Rebekah Warren in District 18 and Shari Pollesch in District 22.

There's just one "F" grade in the State House: District 2's Democrat incumbent Alberta Tinsley-Talabi.

Republicans in the State Senate with grades less than "A" like Amash include Mike Nofs in District 19 with a "B-", Brendt Gerics in District 27 with a "C+", and Darwin L. Booher in District 35 with a "B".

Low scoring Republicans in the State House include:

Kelly Thompson in District 12 with a "C"
Harry Sawicki in District 13 with a "B-"
Nathan Inks in District 14 with a "C"
Carol Ann Fausone in District 21 with a "B-"
Michael Ryan in District 27 with a "B-"
Michael D. McCready in District 40 with a "D"
Henry Vaupel in District 47 with a "B-"
Lu Penton in District 49 with a "C"
Eric Leutheuser in District 58 with a "B"
Brandt Iden in District 61 with a "B"
John Bizon in District 62 with a "B+"
David C. Maturen in District 63 with a "B-"
Chris Afendoulis in District 73 with a "C"
Donijo DeJonge in District 76 with a "B-"
Carlos Jaime in District 96 with a "B+"
and Larry C. Inman in District 104 with a "C+". 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

United Parcel Service again to raise rates broadly beginning December 29th, by nearly 5%

When's the last time you got a 5% raise?

Story here:
UPS says it is raising rates for a number of its shipping services by an average of 4.9 percent for 2015. The Atlanta-based company said Monday it is increasing rates for its ground, air, international, UPS Freight, and UPS air freight rates within and between the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The increase goes into effect on Dec. 29.

Similarly-sized rate increases occurred in both 2011 and 2012, reported here:

According to company officials, non-contractual 2012 rates will be comprised of a net increase of 4.9 percent for UPS ground packages and a net increase of 4.9 percent on all UPS air services and U.S. origin international shipments. This increase is identical to the one the transportation bellwether rolled out a year ago for 2011 rate hikes.

Uh huh.

The all-items CPI rose by 1.4% in 2010, 3.02% in 2011, 1.76% in 2012 and just 1.5% in 2013, despite all the federal interventions to target inflation at 2.0%. The average rise was 1.9%.

Average hourly earnings nationwide, meanwhile, over the exact same periods increased by 1.7% in 2010, 1.98% in 2011, 2.11% in 2012 and 1.94% in 2013.  The average rise was also 1.9%.  

Since the last market peak in August 2000, real returns from stocks have averaged just 1.61% per year through August 2014

The inflation-adjusted market peak was in August 2000 at S&P500 2044.67, still unequalled (2011.36 is as high as we've gotten). Through August 2014, your average real return from stocks, that is, your return adjusted for inflation with dividends fully reinvested along the way, has been just 1.61% per year for 14 years. Without dividend reinvestment, your return actually has been negative annually because of inflation. Nominally your return has been 3.95% per year, dividends reinvested.

Compare bonds over the last 15 years to date. Take VBMFX, Vanguard's Total Bond Market Index Fund. Morningstar shows your nominal 15 year return this morning at 5.49% per annum. VBIIX, Vanguard's Intermediate Term Bond Index Fund, has done even better, at 6.59% per annum, nominal.

Clearly, bonds have beaten stocks over the long haul since 2000. And valuations tell you why. Yardsticks such as the Shiller p/e have not dipped below 15 to any meaningful degree over the whole period, meaning stocks have been pricey for the performance you get. The higher the price, the poorer the return.

Expect the same from stocks going forward as long as valuations remain as elevated as they are. Today's Shiller p/e starts out at 24.95.