Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The USPS 10-year plan may have future rate increases

What the USPS 10-year plan may have to say about future rate increases

What the USPS 10-year plan may have to say about future rate increases, Steve Hutkins at “Save The Post Office

The mailers were probably disappointed that the Postal Service’s new 10-year plan released yesterday, “Delivering for America,” did not reveal how big of a rate increase the Postal Service intends to make using the new authority it was granted by the Postal Regulatory Commission. While they wait in suspense, here’s a guess: 3.6 percent.

We already know that the calculations the Postal Service submitted to the PRC in February indicate the hike could be as large as 5.56 percent (on top of the CPI increase), but the new system allows some of the rate authority to be banked for future years, so the increase could be smaller. And that is just what the following analysis suggests.

This analysis is based on two tables and a couple of comments that appear in the 10-year plan. The tables show revenue and expenses under two scenarios, a base case using the status quo and an alternative that uses the revenue and cost savings under the Delivering for America plan. The tables contain numbers for projected volumes and revenues over the next ten years that can be used to estimate what the Postal Service is planning for future price increases under the new rate authority.

US Trade Deficit Rises 4.8% in February to Record High

US Trade Deficit Rises 4.8% in February to Record High,” Commenter R.J.S. at Marketwatch 666

Our trade deficit rose 4.8% February, as both our exports and imports decreased, but the value of our exports fell by almost three times as much as the value of our imports did….the Commerce Department report on our international trade in goods and services for February indicated that our seasonally adjusted goods and services trade deficit rose by $3.3 billion to $71.1 billion in February, from a January deficit that was revised down to $67.8 billion from the $68.2 billion deficit reported a month ago…in rounded figures, the value of our February exports fell by $5.0 billion to $187.3 billion on $4.8 billion decrease to $131.1 billion in our exports of goods and a $0.2 billion decrease to $56.1 billion in our exports of services, while our imports fell $1.7 billion to $258.3 billion as a $2.0 billion decrease to $219.1 billion in our imports of goods was partially offset by a $0.3 billion increase to $39.2 billion in our imports of services….export prices averaged 1.6% higher in February, which means our real exports fell more month over month than the nominal decrease by that percentage, while import prices rose 1.3%, meaning that the contraction in real imports was greater than the nominal decrease reported here by that percentage…

The decrease in our February exports of goods resulted from lower exports of capital goods, consumer goods, soybeans, and of automotive vehicles, parts and engines…referencing the Full Release and Tables for February  (pdf), in Exhibit 7 we find that our exports of capital goods fell by $2,451 million to $39,094 million, led by a $738 million decrease in our exports of industrial machines other than those itemized separately, a $459 million decrease in our exports of civilian aircraft, and a $409 million decrease in our exports of semiconductors, and that our exports of consumer goods fell by $937 million to $15,049 million on a $470 million decrease in our exports of gem diamonds; in addition, our exports of foods, feeds and beverages fell by $727 million to $13,166 million on a $889 million decrease in our exports of soybeans, and our exports of automotive vehicles, parts, and engines fell by $703 million to $11,899 million on a $319 million decrease in our exports of parts and accessories of vehicles other than tires, engines and chassis and a $280 million decrease in our exports of new and used passenger cars, while our exports in other goods not categorized by end use fell by $372 million to $4,968 million . . . partially offsetting the decreases in those end use categories, our exports of industrial supplies and materials rose by $352 million to $46,448 million as a $2,399 million increase in our exports of natural gas and a $503 million increase in our exports of non-monetary gold were partly offset by a $824 million decrease in our exports of crude oil, a $326 million decrease in our exports of plastic materials, and a $300 million decrease in our exports of natural gas liquids…

Risk of Being Killed by Police Varies by Your Ethnicity

A Healthcare Issue

Derek Chauvin trial live: Paramedic who responded to George Floyd told partner.

‘I think he’s dead.’

When paramedics arrived, Bravinder saw multiple officers on the side of the road on top of “our patient lying on the ground next to a squad car. He said he

“assumed there was potentially some struggle still since they were still on top of him.” 

“Prosecutor Erin Eldridge played a clip of officer Thomas Lane’s body camera video, which shows Floyd lying handcuffed, flat on the ground, on his stomach and unmoving as the paramedics bring over a stretcher. 

Bravinder is seen making a gesture with his hand, indicating that Chauvin needs to move his knee so that Floyd can be put on the gurney. Bravinder also tries to ensure Floyd’s head doesn’t slam into the ground while he’s moved because his body is limp, according to the video.”

You can only kill or murder a person once. Anything afterwards is a lack of respect for the humanity.

The link will take you to the article from which these snippets are taken from and leading off this post. What I wish to do today is post on the risk of confrontations and the resulting impact with the police. In most cases, a conversation with a police officer is a matter of intimidation.

Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race–ethnicity, and sex”

Being a numbers oriented person, I approach detail in a different manner. There are writers at AB who are far more nuanced (?) than I am. I am direct and I follow the numbers.

Whether cause related or not, police violence is a leading cause of death for young men in the United States. Over a life time, an approximate “1 in every 1,000″black men will (or can expect to) die from police intervention. “


The risk of dying from police intervention peaks between the ages of 20 and 35 years of age for men and women. This includes racial and ethnic groups. Separate from Black women and men, Latino men, American Indians, and Alaska Natives are more likely to die from police intervention than white women and men.

Race and Gender

An Incomplete Letter

Dear Senator Joe McConnell, Joe McManchin, Joe Manchin:

I write to you not as a constituent because I am not one of your constituents; but, I am confused. It is difficult to align with a politician who changes his persona various times.  I am confused by your series of stances on the filibuster and what you believe it to mean with regard to the Senate and its procedures.

The filibuster was never meant to be the sole action available as taken by a minority within the Senate. It did have a counter which fell by the wayside when suggested such was unneeded due to Senators being more astute and gentlemanly in their manner during Senate sessions.

After a debate was begun, the “Previous Question Motion” was used in the Senate to end debate if needed.  It required a simple majority of voting members to pass. Being such institution was peopled by gentlemen, debate might last a long period of time as party allegiance was not as strict as it is today with one Senator controlling what can and can not be presented to the Senate body for debate. The last 4+ years of control of the Senate have been dictated by one person.

Construction Spending Fell 0.8% in February

Commenter RJS at MarketWatch 666

Construction Spending Fell 0.8% in February after January & December Figures Were Revised Higher

The Census Bureau’s report on February construction spending (pdf) reported that “Construction spending during February 2021 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,516.9 billion, 0.8 percent (±0.7 percent) below the revised January estimate of $1,529.0 billion. The February figure is 5.3 percent (±1.0 percent) above the February 2020 estimate of $1,441.1 billion. During the first two months of this year, construction spending amounted to $213.2 billion, 4.9 percent (±1.0 percent) above the $203.2 billion for the same period in 2020. “…the January annualized spending estimate was revised 0.5% higher, from the $1,521.5 billion reported a month ago to $1,529.0 billion, while December’s construction spending was revised from $1,496.5 billion to $1,510.4 billion annually, which together meant that the January construction spending increase was revised down from +1.7% to +1.2% . . . the $13.9 billion upward revision to December’s annualized spending would mean we’ll see a upward revision of about 12 basis points to 4th quarter GDP when the annual revisions are released later this summer . . .

A further breakdown of the different subsets of construction spending are provided in a Census summary, which precedes the detailed spreadsheets below:

VA Study: How Long Does COVID-19 Vaccine Immunity Last?

This popped up in my email box today. I am not a member of any particular group representing veterans; but, I do use the VA for healthcare as a discharged Marine Sergeant. At times, I have written in support of various actions by different military groups supporting veterans.

With regard to healthcare, Medicare has started to use the VA Pharmaceutical formulary due to their pricing. In some cases such as Metoprolol, Medicare has changed from one version to another as a result of cost saves.

Groundbreaking VA Study Shows How Long COVID-19 Vaccine Immunity May Last

26 Mar 2021 | By Patricia Kime

Among the great unknowns of the COVID-19 vaccines now in use against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is how long immunity lasts and whether booster shots will be needed over time.

Scientists at the VA’s Office of Research and Development in White River Junction, Vermont, have found that the vaccines can provide immunity for at least seven to nine months, a time frame similar to the immune response generated in people who have had COVID-19.

You are either for more people voting or you want to suppress the vote.

It appears, big business is “beginning” to take exception to what Republicans are doing at the local level to suppress the right to vote by the poor, the minorities, etc. It is about time for those who can exert such pressure on state legislatures to do so in support of the right to vote.

It would be cool if the Coca Cola defied the Georgia government and handed out Dasani (water) to voters before they entered a voting line and if Pepsi did the same with their brand Aquafina.

Usually, the law restricting actives near a polling place is a a defined distance of approximately a hundred feet or so.

Heather Cox- Richardson from “Letters from an American:”

Yesterday, more than 70 Black executives wrote a letter urging companies to fight the voter suppression measures under consideration in 43 states.

Ken Chenault, the former head of American Express:

“There is no middle ground here. You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.”

After complaints that companies had been quiet about the Georgia voter suppression bill, the chief executive officer of Delta Airlines, Ed Bastian, issued a statement calling the new law “unacceptable” and noting that”

“[t]he entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections. This is simply not true. Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights.”

Bastian condemned the:

“sweeping voting reform act that could make it harder for many Georgians, particularly those in our Black and Brown communities, to exercise their right to vote.” He pledged “to protect and facilitate your precious right to vote.”

Shortly afterward, the leader of Coca-Cola, James Quincey, followed suit with an interview on CNBC that called the law “unacceptable.”

Revising the 2021 Budget to Pass Additional Budget bills

Democrats have used the the 2021 budget reconciliation process to pass the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. This was made possible because Congress did not pass a budget resolution last year which allows Democrats to make use of it in 2021.

Schumer plans to use the 2022 budget vehicle for individual portions Biden’s infrastructure and jobs plan. Democrats assumed the most they could do with reconciliation until next year when another budget vehicle would become available.

Unless McConnell became accommodating which seems as unlikely as a bipartisan breakthrough, Democrats would be left with multiples of bills the same as when McConnell controlled the Senate. It is also horrifically unlikely to overcome a filibuster with the 60-vote threshold in place. One has to wonder why Schumer isn’t moving on changing the filibuster.  

It appears, Democrats may have found a way to do an end run around McConnell through the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and Section 304. Section 304 allows Democrats to revise the FY21 budget resolution.


“Personal income decreased $1,516.6 billion in February”

Commenter R.J.S., MARKETWATCH 666

Personal Income down 7.1% in February, Personal Spending down 1.0%, PCE Price Index up 0.2%

The February report on Personal Income and Outlays from the Bureau of Economic Analysis gives us nearly half the data that will go into 1st quarter GDP, since it gives us 2 months of data on our personal consumption expenditures (PCE), which accounts for nearly 70% of GDP, and the PCE price index, the inflation gauge the Fed targets, and which is used to adjust that personal spending data for inflation to give us the relative change in the output of goods and services that our spending indicated….this report also provides us with the nation’s personal income data, disposable personal income, which is income after taxes, and our monthly savings rate…however, because this report feeds into GDP and other national accounts data, the change reported for each of those metrics are not the current monthly change; rather, they’re seasonally adjusted amounts at an annual rate, ie, they tell us how much income and spending would increase in a year if February’s adjusted income and spending were extrapolated over an entire year….however, the percentage changes are computed monthly, from one month’s annualized figure to the next, and in this case of this month’s report they give us the percentage change in each annualized metric from January to February…

Hence, when the opening line of the press release for this report tell us “Personal income decreased $1,516.6 billion (7.1 percent) in February“, that means that the annualized figure for US personal income in February, $19,945.6 billion, was $1,516.6 billion, or roughly 7.1% less than the annualized personal income figure of $21,462.2 billion for January; the actual change in personal income from January to February is not provided…similarly, annualized disposable personal income, which is income after taxes, fell by nearly 8.0%, from an annual rate of an annual rate of $19,210.5 billion in January to an annual rate of $17,678.2 billion in February…the components of the monthly decrease in personal income, which can be seen in the Full Release & Tables (PDF) for this release, are also annualized figures…in February, the reason for the $1,516.6 billion annualized decrease in personal income was a $1,584.1 billion annualized decrease in government social benefits to individuals, which was only slightly offset by a $37.7 billion annualized increase in business & farm proprietors’ income and a $15.6 billion annualized increase in interest and dividend income…wages and salaries, which fell by an annualized $0.2 billion, were barely a factor in February’s personal income change . . .

Monday Morning Reads

The Real Border Crisis, The Atlantic, Adam Serwer, March 2021

This border surge is no different than 2019 and going back a decade. It will peak in May and the decline.

What is the border crisis? Is it the recent surge of migrants, or is it the treatment of those migrants in detention facilities? The answer to that question—or whether you consider the situation at the border to be a crisis at all—most likely determines what you think the Biden administration should do about it.

For conservatives, the answer is clear: Democrats invited the increase in migrants with their permissive, open-borders immigration policies. Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has accused President Joe Biden of announcing that “the United States will not secure our border, and that is a big welcome sign to migrants from across the world.”

If the Biden administration’s leniency is responsible for the increase, as Republicans like Cotton believe, then it follows that the U.S. government should employ harsh measures in the interest of deterrence, much like the Trump administration did.

Some Republicans have sought to have it both ways, accusing the White House of being too permissive while also attacking the administration for detaining large numbers of migrants. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida declared on Twitter the increase in apprehensions was “caused entirely by President Biden’s words & actions” and, on the same day, that the administration was “putting kids in cages.”

Seasonal Migrant Surge At the Southern Border

The same as the last 10 years.

We can take this one more step and examine the trend by looking back to 2012 going forward and displaying the cumulative totals by month over eight years ending in 2020.