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Illinois Economy, Jobs Suffer Under Potential Presidential Candidate J.B. Pritzker

Illinois Economy, Jobs Suffer Under Potential Presidential Candidate J.B. Pritzker

By Ted Dabrowski of Wirepoints

With rumors heating up…



Illinois Economy, Jobs Suffer Under Potential Presidential Candidate J.B. Pritzker

By Ted Dabrowski of Wirepoints

With rumors heating up about Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s potential run for president and the federal governments’ recent release of GDP numbers for the first quarter of 2022, it’s a good moment to review the governor’s economic performance since he took office in 2019. Polls today consistently show economic issues as the biggest concern for Americans.

Illinois’ growth and jobs numbers aren’t pretty for Gov. Pritzker and they’re dwarfed by the much better numbers coming from Illinois’ neighboring states. 

Illinois’ real GDP (adjusted for inflation) has grown an anemic 0.5 percent over the three-year period the governor has held the economic reins, according to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data. 

Contrast that to Indiana’s GDP increase of 6.1 percent and Iowa’s 5.2 percent. Michigan, Kentucky and Missouri all experienced an increase of more than 3 percent.

Slower-growing Wisconsin managed to grow 1.6 percent – still three times more than Illinois’ 0.5 percent growth.

Overall, Illinois’ GDP growth ranks 41st nationally (50 = worst) during the governor’s three years in office.

The governor can’t separate himself from those poor GDP numbers given the Covid policies he’s imposed on Illinoisans over the last two-plus years. His lockdowns and other mitigations have been among the most draconian in the country. A recent study published through the National Bureau of Economic Research gave Illinois an “F” for its handling of Covid – one of just five states to get an “F” – and found that the state’s policies did more economic harm than good.

In fact, Gov. Pritzker continues to declare Illinois and all its counties a “disaster area,” allowing him to maintain his executive order powers over masking, school and business closures, and vaccinations. None of Illinois’ neighboring states have any such disaster declaration or emergency rules. See our Instagram reel on Gov. Pritzker’s most recent disaster declaration.    

The impact of those policies can be seen in the collapse of the state’s GDP compared to Illinois’ neighboring states. The graphic below shows the cumulative growth for each state since Q1 2019, when Pritzker became governor. 

Illinois was the last to recover its economic losses from the pandemic and it has lagged its neighbors throughout. 

The failure to grow has negatively impacted Illinoisans’ overall wealth and welfare. The growth in economic output over the three years was the equivalent of just $300 per capita in Illinois. In Indiana, it was 10 times higher at $2,994 per capita. The full comparison of Illinois versus its neighbors is in the appendix.

And when it comes to jobs, Illinois’ unemployment number still lags far behind the rest of the nation. The state is tied with Pennsylvania for the nation’s 4th-worst unemployment rate.

Illinois’ unemployment rate is a full percentage point higher than the national average of 3.6 percent. It’s also more than double Indiana’s 2.2 percent rate. 

What if Illinois’ unemployment rate was the same low rate as Indiana’s? An additional 155,000 unemployed Illinoisans would have work today.

Pritzker’s poor economic record stands in sharp contradiction with the record he’s been pushing at the state and national level. In recent speeches, he’s been taking credit for what he claims are “balanced” state budgets, as well as Illinois’ first credit upgrades in two decades.

But those credit upgrades and “improved” finances have nothing to do with any fiscal or economic reforms implemented by the governor or the legislature. He’s passed no reforms of any consequence. In fact, most of the laws passed since Pritzker took office have increased the cost of government – we’ve documented much of that here and here.

The real difference in Illinois’ situation, which the governor fails to acknowledge, is the $186 billion in federal Covid aid that the private and public sectors in Illinois have received over the last two years. That influx of cash has pushed up the state’s tax receipts to record levels and that’s taken immediate pressure off of the state when it comes to repaying its bond holders. Illinois has gotten credit upgrades as a result, the first in more than 20 years. Just two years ago Illinois was just one notch away from a junk rating.

To buttress our point, it’s been a similar story in New Jersey and Connecticut, two of the nation’s other fiscal basket cases. There, floods of federal cash also bailed them out, resulting in the first credit upgrades in 20 years for both New Jersey and Connecticut.

An honest appraisal

If Gov. Pritzker would give an honest assessment of Illinois, he’d tell Americans that the massive inflow of COVID aid is only temporarily hiding the state’s major problems. That Illinois still has the country’s worst and biggest pension crisis. That it is one of the country’s three states with a shrinking population. That Illinoisans are punished by the country’s highest property taxes. And that Illinois is still only three notches away from a junk rating, the worst in the country.

And an honest assessment would tell Illinoisans that the state needs massive reforms to begin fixing the above. 

Unsurprisingly, we’re not going to get that kind of assessment from a politician more concerned with his presidential aspirations than with his record in Illinois. 


Tyler Durden Mon, 07/11/2022 - 18:40

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Costco Tells Americans the Truth About Inflation and Price Increases

The warehouse club has seen some troubling trends but it’s also trumpeting something positive that most retailers wouldn’t share.



Costco has been a refuge for customers during both the pandemic and during the period when supply chain and inflation issues have driven prices higher. In the worst days of the covid pandemic, the membership-based warehouse club not only had the key household items people needed, it also kept selling them at fair prices.

With inflation -- no matter what the reason for it -- Costco  (COST) - Get Free Report worked aggressively to keep prices down. During that period (and really always) CFO Richard Galanti talked about how his company leaned on vendors to provide better prices while sometimes also eating some of the increase rather than passing it onto customers.

DON'T MISS: Why You May Not Want to Fly Southwest Airlines

That wasn't an altruistic move. Costco plays the long game, and it focuses on doing whatever is needed to keep its members happy in order to keep them renewing their memberships.

It's a model that has worked spectacularly well, according to Galanti.

"In terms of renewal rates, at third quarter end, our US and Canada renewal rate was 92.6%, and our worldwide rate came in at 90.5%. These figures are the same all-time high renewal rates that were achieved in the second quarter, just 12 weeks ago here," he said during the company's third-quarter earnings call.

Galanti, however, did report some news that suggests that significant problems remain in the economy.

Costco has done an incredibly good job at holding onto members.

Image source: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Costco Does See Some Economic Weakness

When people worry about the economy, they sometimes trade down when it comes to retailers. Walmart executives (WMT) - Get Free Report, for example, have talked about seeing more customers that earn six figures shopping in their stores.

Costco has always had a diverse customer base, but one weakness in its business may be a warning sign for its rivals like Target (TGT) - Get Free Report, Best Buy (BBY) - Get Free Report, and Amazon (AMZN) - Get Free Report. Galanti broke down some of the numbers during the call.

"Traffic or shopping frequency remains pretty good, increasing 4.8% worldwide and 3.5% in the U.S. during the quarter," he shared.

People shopped more, but they were also spending less, according to the CFO.

"Our average daily transaction or ticket was down 4.2% worldwide and down 3.5% in the U.S., impacted, in large part, from weakness in bigger-ticket nonfood discretionary items," he shared.

Now, not buying a new TV, jewelry, or other big-ticket items could just be a sign that consumers are being cautious. But, if they're not buying those items at Costco (generally the lowest-cost option) that does not bode well for other retailers.

Galanti laid out the numbers as well as how they broke down between digital and warehouse.

"You saw in the release that e-commerce was a minus 10% sales decline on a comp basis," he said. "As I discussed on our second quarter call and in our monthly sales recordings, in Q3, big-ticket discretionary departments, notably majors, home furnishings, small electrics, jewelry, and hardware, were down about 20% in e-com and made up 55% of e-com sales. These same departments were down about 17% in warehouse, but they only make up 8% in warehouse sales."

Costco's CFO Also Had Good News For Shoppers

Galanti has been very open about sharing information about the prices Costco has seen from vendors. He has shared in the past, for example, that the chain does not pass on gas price increases as fast as they happen nor does it lower prices as quick as they sometimes fall.

In the most recent call, he shared some very good news on inflation (that also puts pressure on Target, Walmart, and Amazon to lower prices).

"A few comments on inflation. Inflation continues to abate somewhat. If you go back a year ago to the fourth quarter of '22 last summer, we had estimated that year-over-year inflation at the time was up 8%. And by Q1 and Q2, it was down to 6% and 7% and then 5% and 6%," he shared. "In this quarter, we're estimating the year-over-year inflation in the 3% to 4% range."

The CFO also explained that he sees prices dropping on some very key consumer staples.

"We continue to see improvements in many items, notably food items like nuts, eggs and meat, as well as items that include, as part of their components, commodities like steel and resins on the nonfood side," he added.


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Under Pressure From Fat Activists, NYC Bans Weight Discrimination

Under Pressure From Fat Activists, NYC Bans Weight Discrimination

Discriminating against fat people is now illegal in New York City, after…



Under Pressure From Fat Activists, NYC Bans Weight Discrimination

Discriminating against fat people is now illegal in New York City, after Mayor Eric Adams on Friday signed off on a ban that will affect not only employment, but also housing and access to public accommodations -- a term that encompasses most businesses. 

We're in safe company using the word "fat," as champions of the cause refer to themselves as "fat activists." With the mayor's signature, two more categories -- both weight and height -- are added to New York City's list of protected personal attributes, which already included race, gender, age, religion and sexual orientation. 

As Mayor Adams signs the law, self-described (and everyone else-described) fat activist Tigress Osborn consumes more than her share of the backdrop (James Messerschmidt for NY Post)

Embracing one of 2023's innumerable strains of Orwellian brainwashing, Adams declared, "Science has shown that body type is not a connection to if you’re healthy or unhealthy. I think that’s a misnomer that we’re really dispelling.”

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say obesity is an invitation to a host of maladies, including to high blood pressure Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, many types of cancer, mental illness and difficulty with physical functioning. 

“Size discrimination is a social justice issue and a public health threat," said Councilmember Shaun Abreu, who introduced the measure. "People with different body types are denied access to job opportunities and equal wages — and they have had no legal recourse to contest it," said Abreu. "Worse yet, millions are taught to hate their bodies." 

A full 69% of American adults are overweight or obese, but our woke overlords would have us believe the real "public health threat" is a nice restaurant that doesn't want Two-Ton Tessie working the reception desk, or a landlord who's leary of a 400-pound man breaking a toilet seat or collapsing a porch.  

The enticingly-named Tigress Osborn, who chairs the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, said New York's ban "will ripple across the globe" -- perhaps something like what would happen if the hefty Smith College Africana Studies graduate were dropped into a swimming pool.  

Councilmember Shaun Abreu said he gained 40 pounds during the pandemic lockdowns and noticed people treated him differently

The New York Times reports that witnesses who testified as the measure was under consideration included "a student at New York University said that desks in classrooms were too small for her [and] a soprano at the Metropolitan Opera [who] said she had faced body shaming and pressure to develop an eating disorder." 

Some have dared to speak out against the measure. “This is another mandate where enforcement will be primarily through litigation, which imposes a burden on employers, regulators and the courts,” said Kathryn S. Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, speaking in April. 

Implicitly putting the weight ordinance in the same category as Brown vs Board of Education, Abrue said, “Today is a monumental advancement for civil rights, size freedom and body positivity and while our laws are only now catching up to our culture, it is a victory that I hope will cause more cities, states and one day the federal government to follow suit.” 

Taking effect in six months, the law has an exemption for employers "needing to consider height or weight in employment decisions" -- but "only where required by federal, state, or local laws or regulations or where the Commission on Human Rights permits such considerations because height or weight may prevent a person from performing essential requirements of a job." 

We pray there's a federal exemption for employers of strippers and lap dancers. 

Think we're joking? We remind you that the chair of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is named "Tigress" -- and this is her Twitter profile banner photo:

via Tigress @iofthetigress
Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 15:30

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‘Kevin Caved’: McCarthy Savaged Over Debt Ceiling Deal

‘Kevin Caved’: McCarthy Savaged Over Debt Ceiling Deal

Update (1345ET): The hits just keep coming for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as angry Republicans…



'Kevin Caved': McCarthy Savaged Over Debt Ceiling Deal

Update (1345ET): The hits just keep coming for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as angry Republicans have been outright rejecting the debt ceiling deal which raises it by roughly $4 trillion for two years, doesn't provide sticking points sought by the GOP.

In short, Kevin caved according to his detractors.

Some Democrats aren't exactly pleased either.

"None of the things in the bill are Democratic priorities," Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) told Fox News Sunday. "That's not a surprise, given that we're now in the minority. But the obvious point here, and the speaker didn't say this, the reason it may have some traction with some Democrats is that it's a very small bill."

*  *  *

After President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) struck a Saturday night deal to raise the debt ceiling, several Republicans outright rejected it before it could even be codified into a bill.

Here's what's in it;

  • The deal raises the debt ceiling by roughly $4 trillion for two years, and is consistent with the structure of budget deals struck in 2015, 2018 and 2019 which simultaneously raised the debt limit.
  • According to a GOP one-pager on the deal, it includes a rollback of non-defense discretionary spending to FY2022 levels, while capping topline federal spending to 1% annual growth for six years.
  • After 2025 there are no budget caps, only "non-enforceable appropriations targets."
  • Defense spending would be in-line with what Biden requested in his 2024 budget proposal - roughly $900 billion.
  • The deal fully funds medical care for veterans, including the Toxic Exposure Fund through the bipartisan PACT Act.
  • The agreement increases the age for which food stamp recipients must seek work to be eligible, from 49 to 54, but also includes reforms to expand who is eligible.
  • Claws back "tens of billions" in unspent COVID-19 funds
  • Cuts IRS funding 'without nixing the full $80 billion' approved last year. According to the GOP, the deal will "nix the total FY23 staffing funding request for new IRS agents."
  • The deal includes energy permitting reform demanded by Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
  • No new taxes, according to McCarthy.

Here's McCarthy acting like it's not DOA:

Yet, Republicans who demanded deep cuts aren't having it.

"A $4 trillion debt ceiling increase?" tweeted Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA). "With virtually none of the key fiscally responsible policies passed in the Limit, Save, Grow Act kept intact?"

"Hard pass. Hold the line."

"Hold the line... No swamp deals," tweeted Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX)

"A $4 TRILLION debt ceiling increase?! That's what the Speaker's negotiators are going to bring back to us?" tweeted Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC). "Moving the issue of unsustainable debt beyond the presidential election, even though 60% of Americans are with the GOP on it?"

Rep. Keith Self tweeted a letter from 34 fellow House GOP members who are committing to "#HoldTheLine for America" against the deal.

"Nothing like partying like it’s 1996. Good grief," tweeted Russ Vought, President of the Center for Renewing America and former Trump OMB director.

In short:

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 11:30

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