The Fed’s latest Beige Book business survey, which takes the pulse of economic activity across each of the nation’s Federal Reserve Districts, came out yesterday afternoon. It declared that that the U.S. economy as a whole has seen “modest to moderate” gains, except in one district. That outlier is the 11th District, home to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, which has seen “strong” growth since the last survey (in April):
The Eleventh District economy expanded at a stronger pace over the past six weeks than in the previous reporting period. Manufacturing activity increased overall, and many contacts were more optimistic in their outlooks. Retail sales activity improved during the reporting period, and auto sales held steady. In the nonfinancial services sector, demand for accounting services was strong, legal firms reported modest growth, and most transportation services firms noted improvement. Staffing services contacts said demand was steady. The housing sector continued to improve, with further gains in sales and construction. Office and warehouse leasing activity remained steady. Financial institutions noted modest growth in loan demand, and energy activity improved during the reporting period. Drought conditions worsened across the Eleventh District. Prices remained stable at most firms, and employment levels were steady.
Except for the drought — and the prospect of all of Texas withering away some day for lack of water — seems pretty, pretty good.
In a speech yesterday, Dallas Federal Reserve president Richard Fisher said the Fed’s done all it can do to spur job creation and that Congress has got to get its act together in dealing with deficits.
Fisher has been critical of the Fed’s buying of bonds to bolster the economy. In considering what steps should be taken next, he says an that end to this form of stimulus shouldn’t be a scary prospect for the government.
He likened developments in the Fed’s monetary policy to a Shakespearean play starring a “daring captain,” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, steering the ship of the U.S. economy.
“Act IV, just beginning, will involve the drama of introspection, with the FOMC evaluating the utility of its navigational tactics, and, perhaps, fine-tuning them, if not altering the course,” Fisher said, referring to the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee, in remarks prepared for delivery to the C.D. Howe Institute Directors’ Dinner in Toronto. Fisher is not a voting member of the committee this year.
Asked if he was concerned about the impact of rising bond yields on the economy, he said it should be monitored but that policymakers could not let markets dictate policy.
“We cannot live in fear that gee whiz, the market is going to be unhappy that we are not giving them more monetary cocaine,” he said.
I would not have known there was a Navy Week in Dallas until I received an email this morning canceling it. The Navy Office of Community Relations blames sequestration cuts.
What is a Navy Week? Glad you asked. “Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans living throughout the country the investment they have made in their Navy, and its role in preserving security and prosperity.” In other words, they are PR blitzes in certain key Congressional districts to keep the pressure on for more spending on the Navy.
All of which leads me to believe this sequestration thing is working out nicely. Maybe the Navy can use the money saved for more cool gizmos like this. You know, stuff that actually protects us.
Steve Jacobs has the latest figures over at D Healthcare Daily. Teen births are down nation-wide and in Texas (good news) but repeat births are up in Texas (very bad news). This is a case where the argument over abstinence-only vs. sex education doe not apply. These young ladies know the consequences of their actions. So we are in entirely different territory. A second baby is fulfilling some perceived need that they believe will be met by the male (hope over experience) or in family-forming. Regardless, the social and fiscal costs are enormous: $1.2 billion in Texas alone.
Theoretical physicist Dirk Brockmann used network theory to track how dollar bills circulate. The result shows regional economic borders, the thick blue lines marking where dollars are unlikely to cross. As you can see, Texas dollars tend to circulate in Texas, seeping a little west into New Mexico and east into Louisiana — and big surprise — Arkansas.
On the other hand, Texas and Oklahoma might as well have our own Berlin Wall. What’s with that? Don’t Sooners bring down their dollars for Texas-OU? Don’t busloads of Texans play blackjack at WinStar? (H/t FastCompany)
The Ticket’s own Gordon Keith has an op-ed today in the Morning News (paywall) about the annual “What People Earn” issue of Parade and about our desire to know what our friends and neighbors and favorite quarterbacks make. Gordon leads his story with an anecdote involving me, Eric Celeste, and Adam McGill. Careful readers will recognize those last two names; they belong to guys who used to work at D Magazine. Here’s how Gordon spins it:
We were on the patio of a pub and the sun was sinking when my buddy brought up the matter of money.
“Let’s go around the table and every guy give his salary.”
I laughed in my beer at this gathering cloud of beautiful tension. Alcohol is an idiot’s truth serum and a daredevil’s fuel. So Eric went first, then Adam. Tim paused, pregnant with info guaranteed a complicated delivery. He and Adam had the same job at the same place. Tim announced a number several thousand richer than Adam’s.
Through our braying, Adam “figured as much” and assured us that it was “no big deal.” After the flurry, our excitement curdled and the table fell into a glassy regret. It was like the morning after for new swingers. Our version of “Wouldn’t it be great if we knew how much everyone made?” somehow didn’t feel great.
Gordon was kind enough to ask me ahead of time whether I minded if he used that anecdote. This scene went down more than a decade ago (I think at the time Eric was working at the Observer). I have only the faintest memory of it. And, anyway, Gordon had already checked with Adam, who said it was fine with him to have the story told. Adam, by the way, got out of the journalism game a few years ago and now has a respectable job that pays him a real wage. If we went around the table again, pretty sure he’d scoreboard me, which is why, when I go eat pizza at his house tonight, I’m not offering him a dime.
Police Need Help Cracking Murder Case Involving Senior: A 79-year-old woman in East Dallas was found slain in her home Saturday, and police are turning to the public for help. There were signs of forced entry, but no word on whether the residence where the woman was found was burglarized. And Bernie Tiede’s locked up, so you can scratch him off the list of suspects.
Should UNT Dallas Open New Law School When Law Grads Can’t Find Jobs? That’s one of the questions put to Ellen Pryor, associate dean for academic affairs at the new UNT Dallas College of Law, which is set to open in the old Dallas City Hall in August 2014. Her answer? Well, yes, of course, but she adds that in the current economic and education environment, UNT Dallas is in a unique position to rethink the value and shape of legal education.
Trends: We Like Driving, Botox: The tranquility of the country and the distance between Dallas and Fort Worth contribute to the percentage of North Texans with “mega-commutes,” daily drives of at least 90 minutes and 50 miles. And all that driving makes the lunch hour one of the few times during the day to take care of little errands, you know, like face-lifts.
— Alana Rocha (@viaAlana) February 28, 2013
— Alana Rocha (@viaAlana) February 28, 2013
Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck was on the Daily Rundown on MSNBC this morning, talking the Voting Rights Act and the sequester. I imagine this whole tax-hike idea will not play well in Arlington, but it could all just be political jostling.
Sequester Cuts Would Burn in Texas: If automatic cuts to federal spending kick in Friday, Texas stands to lose millions in funding to military bases, ports, pre-school services, tuition assistance, teachers, environmental programs, law enforcement, and more according to state-by-state cut details released by the White House Sunday.
Mayor’s Education Fix a Bore: The Dallas Morning News’ Tod Robberson has been tracking the progress of the education component of Mayor Rawlings’ GrowSouth initiative, and, as it turns out, students get bored and don’t pay attention during large assemblies hosted by local celebs high school kids have never heard of. Who would have thought?
Visitors Stranded on Zoo Monorail: Okay, forget those images of children dangling helplessly while a tiger paces below licking his chops. Sure, firefighters had to rescue about 100 people who were stuck on the Dallas Zoo’s monorail Saturday, but the monorail did not stall over any animal exhibits.
Four-Alarm Fire Takes Down Shooting Range: As it turns out, the reason why it is illegal to fire tracer rounds in a shooting range is a pretty good one.
A new report released yesterday by the Austin-based Workers Defense Project found that half of all construction workers in Texas are undocumented. The group worked with UT-Austin researchers to determine that nearly 400,000 undocumented immigrants worked in the construction field statewide, interviewing 1,200 workers from Dallas, El Paso, Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Results were not broken down by city.
“Despite the fact that many sectors of the US economy are dependent on immigrant labor, immigrant workers have not benefited from their contributions to national progress,” the report reads. “Current federal immigration policy denies them the right to work legally, forcing them into an underground economy where low pay, dangerous working conditions, and illegal practices are rampant. Current policy hurts workers, honest businesses, and taxpayers in Texas and the US. Policymakers and businesses are realizing the importance of creating better federal immigration policies that can meet the needs of our dynamic and growing nation, while ensuring the millions of undocumented people living and working in the US can fully participate in their communities and local economies.”
U.S.-born construction workers earned an average of $3.12 per hour more than undocumented workers, who reported earning an average of $11.10/hour. Construction officials were skeptical of the numbers, the American-Statesman reports:
Construction industry representatives said they couldn’t confirm the report’s conclusion that half of Texas construction workers are undocumented.
“That sounds a little high,” said Frank Fuentes, chairman of the Austin-based U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association. Licensed trades like plumbing and electrical tend to have few undocumented immigrants, he said, while specialties like concrete and drywall probably have more than 50 percent undocumented workers, he added.
Jump for the full report:
Is the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System Overinvested in Real Estate? There are so many questions raised by this lengthy report on how the pension fund that owns Museum Tower ended up managing the luxury proprieties it propped-up with large cash infusions after the real estate bubble burst. For example: What are the properties really worth now? Should the pension fund be managing Hawaiian estates and Napa Valley resorts? Is fund administrator Richard Tettamant having too much fun hobnobbing on the taxpayer’s dime? If speculative land plays don’t pan out, is it really accurate to report them as investments in “natural resources?” Is Tettamant cutting sweetheart deals for developer buddies? Are his efforts to beat market returns putting the future of the our city’s finest – not to mention the pocketbooks of Dallas taxpayers – at considerable risk? Lots of questions. But here’s the one I want to ask: did the fund really need to pay to move a piano from Hawaii to the lobby of Museum Tower? I mean, they sell pianos in Dallas, right? Really nice ones, I bet.
As American Swallows U.S. Airways, Airline Field Thins: There was a time when airports were packed with brands like Pan Am, TWA, Eastern, Braniff — all of which have gone the way of the Concorde. Now the “extraordinarily complex” merger between American and U.S. Air leaves just four major carriers: American, United, Delta and Southwest.
Tim Tebow to Speak at First Baptist: The announcement that the incredibly meh quarterback will speak at Robert Jeffress’ First Baptist Church raises all the expected questions about whether or not Tebow endorses statements Jeffress has made in the past about homosexuality, Mormonism, Islam, and on and on. And I suppose those are pertinent questions to ask, even if I wish the only question surrounding anything regarding Tim Tebow was “who cares?”
Perry Goes to California to Poach Businesses: Rick Perry is on tour of California, where he hopes to swoop-in and woo businesses to Texas. It’s a trip that puts the epic state showdown in context:
In that corner, Athens. In this one, Sparta. Each serves as the other’s foil, the Ali to its Frazier, the Moriarty to its Holmes, the red to its blue. Each sees itself as the economic, cultural and political engine of the future.
Services to be Held Today for Chris Kyle at Cowboys Stadium: After today’s memorial at Cowboys Stadium, there will be a 200-mile funeral procession Tuesday as the former Navy Seal’s remains travel from Midlothian to Austin.
Kelly Clarkson Meets Miguel: Burleson’s Kelly Clarkson took home a Grammy last night for best pop vocal album, but during her acceptance speech, the singer was a little distracted by an earlier performance by the singer Miguel:
“Miguel, I don’t know who the hell you are, but we need to sing together. I mean, good God. That was the sexiest dancing I’ve ever seen.”
Here’s what she was talking about.
Prompted by this New York Post story today about unhappy Jets fans selling off their personal seat licenses, I headed to SeasonTicketRights.com to see what the scene was like at Cowboys Stadium. The result: lots of people, trying to sell lots of seats.
Like this one:
Amenities – Best sightlines in the stadium – Roomier, cushioned seats – Access to the Field Level Club – Private, exclusive Founders Club – All-inclusive food & Beverage – Complimentary, reserved VIP parking – Opportunity to purchase seats to all other events – Exclusive invitation to team events Have a friend that would like to sell her seat which is right next to mine. We bought 2 seats as a couple. These seats are a part of the founders club, which means you receive high incentives & benefits. Like 1. your own VIP Parking with your name on it. 2. 4 meals free prior to game and all during game. 3. Free Alcoholic beverages 4. Complimentary on field passes and much more….
That one goes for an asking price of $200,000, plus an additional $113,157.79 in debt. Reminder that this is for one seat, and doesn’t include the actual price of any tickets.
Or this one, which makes the previous one look like a steal, since it’s only $300,000 for eight seats:
We have 8 seats (4) in section C310 Row 4 seats 15-18 & (4) in section C310 Row 5 seats 18-21 asking $37,500 each for seat option. They are on the 50 yard line and are aisle seats. These seats come with Miller Lite access to the team tunnel to see players coming in and off the field. This listing is for season 2013
The Miller Lite tunnel! Huzzah!
I understand the PSL game is a money-making venture for many people. One that can pay off huge.Â But it’s also fair to say that the number of licenses for sale probably wouldn’t be quite as high if the Cowboys were even making the playoffs.
The University of Texas’ college football is valued atÂ $761.7 million, which makes it more valuable than the Jacksonville Jaguars, a recent study indicates.
The Longhorns are the most valuable college football team, but their hold is slipping. The team’s worth fell five percent from the 2011 evaluation, and Michigan – the second-most valuable – is fast approaching atÂ $731.9 million. For comparison’s sake, the Jaguars – a professional team, though it often does not play like one – were sold for $760 million in 2011.
Other teams of note:
Oklahoma: $454.7 million
Texas A&M: $278.5 million
Texas Tech: $211 million
Oklahoma State: $209.1 million
TCU: $76.6 million
Baylor $71.3 million
Mostly, in favor. Begrudging favor.
Four Texas Republicans voted for the bill: U.S. Reps. Pete Sessions of Dallas, Kevin Brady of Conroe, Mac Thornberry of Wichita Falls and Lamar Smith of San Antonio. All Texas Democrats supported it.
“I am pleased to join my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to make critical parts of our tax code permanent for all North Texans. As job-destroying taxes from ObamaCare hit families and businesses this year, it is crucial to provide permanent tax certainty in the marketplace to allow our economy to grow and for small businesses to invest and hire.
“This urgent action on the fiscal cliff tax provisions is simply the first battle, and we must now work to reduce government spending. The President’s out-of-control spending and our skyrocketing debt are unsustainable. I strongly urge Senate Democrats and the President to engage with House Republicans to create responsible spending reforms now to get our nation on a path towards fiscal solvency.”
Senator-elect Ted Cruz couldn’t vote, but would’ve voted against the bill. Via Facebook:
While I understand the merits of trying to prevent tax increases on as many Americans as possible, this legislation will increase taxes on millions of Americans, including small business owners, which hurts economic growth and jobs. Raising taxes on investors will reduce investment in America which hurts entrepreneurs and working people. It increases spending, extending unemployment even further.