Daily Bread for 4.10.24: Inflation Remains Stubborn

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 66. Sunrise is 6:18 and sunset 7:32 for 13h 13m 48s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 4.4 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1872, the first Arbor Day (in America) is celebrated in Nebraska.

Jeanna Smialek reports Inflation was quicker than expected in March, likely unwelcome news for the Fed:

A closely watched measure of inflation remained stronger than expected in March, worrying news for Federal Reserve officials who have become increasingly concerned that their progress on lowering prices increases might be stalling.

The surprisingly stubborn inflation reading could raise doubts about when the Fed will be able to start cutting interest rates, and how much they will be able to reduce borrowing costs this year.

The Consumer Price Index climbed 3.8 percent on an annual basis after stripping out food and fuel prices, which economists do in order to get a better sense of the underlying inflation trend. That was stronger than the 3.7 percent increase economists expected, and unchanged from 3.8 percent in February. The monthly reading was also stronger than what economists had forecast.

On an overall basis, the inflation measure climbed 3.5 percent in March from a year earlier, up from 3.2 percent in February and faster than what economists have anticipated. A rise in gas prices contributed to that inflation number.

Lower than it was a year ago, higher than consumers (and the Federal Reserve) would like.

Some cats are bigger than others:

Daily Bread for 3.14.24: SpaceX’s Third Starship Launch

 Good morning.

Thursday, Pi Day, in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of 50. Sunrise is 7:05 and sunset 7:01 for 11h 55m 37s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 23.2 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1903, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge becomes the first national (federal) wildlife refuge in the U.S.:

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is a United StatesNational Wildlife Refuge (NWR), and part of the Everglades Headwaters NWR complex, located just off the western coast of North Hutchinson Island in the Indian River Lagoon east of Sebastian, Florida. The refuge consists of a 3-acre (12,000 m2) island that includes an additional 2.5 acres (10,000 m2) of surrounding water and is located off the east coast of Florida of the Indian River Lagoon. Established by an executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt on March 14, 1903, Pelican Island was the first National wildlife refuge in the United States.[3] It was created to protect egretsand other birds from extinction through plume hunting. The oldest government wildlife refuge of any kind in North America is the Lake Merritt Bird Refuge in Oakland, California. Oakland Mayor Samuel Merritt declared it a wildlife refuge for migrating birds in 1869. In 1870, the state of California designated Lake Merritt a state game refuge.

Today has begun as a gain for American technology, as SpaceX has conducted its third launch of Starship. Kenneth Chang and Michael Roston report Here is what to know about Thursday’s SpaceX launch

SpaceX launched Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, on a journey part of the way around Earth. It was the rocket’s third test flight.

The nearly 400-foot-tall vehicle is being built to carry astronauts to the moon for NASA, and perhaps someday to send humans to Mars.

The vehicle flew twice last year from a SpaceX launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Both flights ended within minutes, resulting in explosive events, providing useful data for SpaceX’s engineers as they aim to complete a full mission.

During this third trip, SpaceX is hoping to achieve a better performance for the rocket, reaching higher altitudes and perhaps even speeds that would be capable of carrying the vehicle to orbit.

Here’s what else you need to know about the flight:

  • The launch began at 9:25 a.m. Eastern time, more than an hour into a 110-minute launch window that started at 8 a.m. Later starts during test flights are not uncommon. The company said it needed to clear boats from a safety zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and weather conditions did not prevent a liftoff.


  • The Starship system consists of two stages — the Super Heavy rocket booster and the upper-stage spacecraft, which is also called Starship. The company intends both to be fully reusable in the future.

The ship was likely lost well after launch, but for today, it was the launch and higher altitude that mattered (as they were the key hurdles of this phase of the project). 

Tornado in northeast Kansas captured on video

Daily Bread for 3.10.24: The Positive Outlook for Wisconsin Employment in 2024

 Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 45. Sunrise is 7:12 and sunset 6:56 for 11h 43m 55s of daytime. The moon is new with 0.1 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 241 BC, at the Battle of the Aegates, the Romans sink the Carthaginian fleet bringing the First Punic War to an end.

The latest national job-creation numbers were again impressive. See U.S. Employers Add 275,000 Jobs in Another Strong Month (‘Economists are trying to gauge whether forecasts of a slowing labor market were mistaken or just premature. For now, gains are consistent and strong’). Wisconsin’s 2024 outlook is also positive. Erik Gunn reports DWD economist offers an upbeat picture for jobs, employment in 2024:

Wisconsin’s employment and jobs picture got off to a strong start in January, setting records in the number of jobs, the number of private sector jobs, the number of construction jobs as well as overall employment, the state labor department reported Thursday.

“We’ve been setting new employment records most of all last year and continued into this year,” said Dennis Winters, chief economist at the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), in a briefing Thursday on the January numbers. Looking ahead, there’s “nothing, that seems to us, that’s going to turn things down much.”

Data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that nearly 3.05 million Wisconsin residents were employed in January. The figure is derived from a federal government household survey.

From a separate survey that asks employers how many jobs they have on their payroll, the BLS projected there were nearly 3.03 million jobs in Wisconsin, including more than 2.6 million private sector jobs and 140,000 construction jobs.

All four data points marked new records for the state, Winters said.

Hundreds of kangaroos invade golf course in Australia:

Daily Bread for 2.13.24: National Inflation Rate Continues to Decline

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 37. Sunrise is 6:53 and sunset 5:24 for 10h 30m 15s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 18.6% of its visible disk illuminated. 

The Whitewater School Board’s Calendar Committee meets at 4 PM, and Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets at 6 PM.

On this day in 1689, William and Mary are proclaimed co-rulers of England.

Rachel Siegel reports Inflation eased further in January as Fed weighs when to cut rates (‘The report comes as the Federal Reserve is pressing on in its fight to tame high prices — with plenty of success already in the rearview mirror’):

Prices cooled further in January, offering the latest sign that inflation has eased significantly since its pandemic-era surge but still hovers above what policymakers consider normal.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday morning showed prices rose 3.1 percent in January, compared with the year before. They also rose 0.3 percent compared with the previous month.

The report comes as the Federal Reserve presses on in its fight to tame high prices — but the central bank already has plenty of success in the rearview mirror. After sprinting to hoist interest rates in 2022 and 2023, officials are entering a new phase: cutting borrowing costs multiple times this year. The message is that even though inflation hasn’t settled all the way down, the economy is stable enough for the Fed to take its foot off the brake.

NASA’s Perseverance rover sees Martian moon Phobos transit the Sun:

Daily Bread for 2.2.24: National Labor Market Soars, Again

 Good morning.

Groundhog Day in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 41. Sunrise is 7:07 and sunset 5:09 for 10h 01m 59s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 53.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1913, Grand Central Terminal opens in New York City.

By Detroit Publishing Co. – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID det.4a24546. Commons: Licensing., Public Domain,

First Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early Spring, and then the federal government reports notably strong national employment gains for January 2024 — much as I love winter, conditions are looking up. Lydia DePillis reports U.S. employers added 353,000 jobs in January

The United States delivered a much bigger-than-expected batch of jobs last month, adding further evidence that the economy still has plenty of steam.

Employers added 353,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department reported on Friday, and the unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent.

After the loss of 14 percent of the nation’s jobs early in the Covid-19 pandemic, the labor market’s endurance for more than three years has surprised economists, who expected factors including the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases to slow hiring more sharply. The strong data on Friday is likely to reinforce the Fed’s patience in beginning to cut rates.

“There’s layoffs happening, but workers are able to find new positions,” said Sara Rutledge, an independent economics consultant. “It’s almost like a ‘pinch me’ scenario.”

Ms. Rutledge helped tabulate the National Association for Business Economics’ latest member survey, which found increasing optimism that the country would avoid a recession — matching a turnaround in measures of consumer confidence as inflation has eased.

The growth in January was all the more impressive on top of upward revisions to the prior two months, which brought the monthly average job gain in 2023 to 255,000. Professional and business services accelerated to pile on 74,000 jobs, while health care added 70,000. The only major sector to lose jobs was mining and logging.

The bumper crop of added jobs, nearly twice what forecasters had expected, mirrors the similarly surprising strength in gross domestic product measurements for the fourth quarter of 2023.

Now’s the time for communities across America to take advantage of this favorable environment. Now’s the time for Whitewater. 

Wildlife photographer Varun Aditya records a pride of lions: 

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Daily Bread for 1.25.24: Now is Whitewater’s Time to Seize an Improving National and State Economy

 Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 39. Sunrise is 7:17 and sunset 4:59 for 9h 43m 36s of daytime. The moon is full with 100% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Lakes Advisory Committee meets at 5 PM and the Board of Zoning Appeals meets at 6 PM

On this day in 1945, the Battle of the Bulge ends in an Allied victory. 

When the national economy is poor, it’s unlikely that Whitewater (having for years lagged the national economy) would do well. When the Wisconsin economy is poor, it’s unlikely that Whitewater (having for years lagged the state economy) would do well. Even when the national economy was doing well years ago, Whitewater was behind

As it turns out, happily, the state and national economies are again doing well. Those favorable economic conditions are an opportunity for Whitewater — now’s the time to join in America’s and Wisconsin’s achievements. Of those national economic gains, there’s more good news from across a continent with 340 million people. Ben Casselman reports U.S. Economy Grew at 3.3% Rate in Latest Quarter (‘The increase in gross domestic product, while slower than in the previous period, showed the resilience of the recovery from the pandemic’s upheaval’):

The U.S. economy continued to grow at a healthy pace at the end of 2023, capping a year in which unemployment remained low, inflation cooled and a widely predicted recession never materialized.

Gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, grew at a 3.3 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. That was down from the 4.9 percent rate in the third quarter but easily topped forecasters’ expectations and showed the resilience of the recovery from the pandemic’s economic upheaval.

The latest reading is preliminary and may be revised in the months ahead.

Forecasters entered 2023 expecting the Federal Reserve’s aggressive campaign of interest-rate increases to push the economy into reverse. Instead, growth accelerated: For the full year, measured from the end of 2022 to the end of 2023, G.D.P. grew 3.1 percent, up from less than 1 percent the year before and faster than in any of the five years preceding the pandemic. (A different measure, based on average output over the full year, showed annual growth of 2.5 percent in 2023.)

Emphasis added. 

Now’s the time. 

Rare double brood of cicadas will emerge this spring:

Daily Bread for 1.12.24: Federal Reserve Officials at Wisconsin Forum Discuss Inflation Fight

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be snowy, with significant snowfall, and a high of 31. Sunrise is 7:23 and sunset 4:43 for 9h 19m 26s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 1.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1991, an act of Congress authorizes the use of American military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.

Joe Schulz reports Inflation is coming down, but there’s a long way to go, Fed tells Wisconsin banking officials (‘Efforts to combat inflation haven’t caused a spike in unemployment’):

Ron Feldman, first vice president and chief operating officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said the declining rate is encouraging, but it’s still short of the central bank’s goal of bringing inflation down to 2 percent.

“A lot of progress (has been) made on inflation, not at the point at which we are comfortable because we are not at our target,” he said. “We’re likely maybe near a peak (in terms of interest rates), but we’re not at the point at which we can sort of say, ‘We know exactly what we’re going to do.'”

Feldman said projections from the Fed show inflation is expected to continue to come down slowly through 2024, and it’s expected to return to the goal of 2 percent in 2026. During that time, he said unemployment is expected to hover around 4.1 percent.

Feldman also said the Fed may begin lowering interest rates as inflation gets closer to the 2 percent target, but said it’s still too early to know when that will happen.

“If things continue the way they’re going, there’s gonna be some decreases,” he said. “But when those happen, how those happen, and if they happen at all are going to be dependent on the data that comes in.”

Porcupine crossing: Rodent stops ski slope traffic:

Daily Bread for 1.5.24: National Job Growth Remains Strong

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 35. Sunrise is 7:25 and sunset 4:35 for 9h 10m 13s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 35.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority will hold a Visioning & Planning Workshop at 11:30 AM

On this day in 1781, Richmond, Virginia, is burned by British naval forces led by former American general, and traitor to our people, Benedict Arnold.

Talmon Joseph Smith reports U.S. Job Growth Remains Strong (‘The labor market showed continued resiliency in December, with employers adding 216,000 jobs last month, a sign that economic growth remains vigorous’):

The labor market ended the year with a bang.

Employers added 216,000 jobs in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department reported on Friday, surpassing the expectations of economists.It was the 36th consecutive month of gains.

Altogether, the U.S. economy added roughly 2.7 million jobs over the past year. That’s a smaller gain than in 2021 or 2022, during the economy’s initial resurgence from the pandemic lockdowns. Yet the gains of 2023 are still stronger than those in the late 2010s.

The numbers are buoying expectations of what has been called a soft landing — in which the economy is able to avoid significant job loss while shifting into a calmer, more sustainable gear, after the years of disorienting volatility that began with the arrival of Covid-19 roughly four years ago.

Many experts caution that data for December is notoriously hard to calculate in any year because of the hiring churn caused by the holiday season.

The unemployment rate, based on a survey of households, was unchanged at 3.7 percent.

Average hourly earnings for workers — a common measure of wage gains — rose 0.4 percent from the previous month and were up 4.1 percent from December 2022.

Layoffs remain near record lows, beneath prepandemic levels.

A mixture of economic data in the past couple of months that appears neither too hot nor too cold has given a lift to both investors and policymakers at the Federal Reserve, who have been pleasantly surprised at the continuing balance between falling inflation and sustainable growth.

Freakishly Smart Falcons Run These [Falkland] Islands (‘The success of wild striated caracaras in a test suggests that the intellects of more bird species may be underestimated’): 

Daily Bread for 12.31.23: Recapping Major Events of 2023

 Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will see flurries and ice with a high of 33. Sunrise is 7:25 and sunset 4:30 for 9h 05m 36s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 80.5% of its visible disk illuminated. 

On this day in 1759, Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000-year lease at £45 per annum and starts brewing Guinness.

Recap of Major Events in 2023: Elections, AI, Writers’ Strike, & the Mystery of Chinese Spy Balloon:

 The New York Times annually publishes a year-in-pictures album. Here is an open link to their 2023 album

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Daily Bread for 12.18.23: So, What Did Happen to Wonder Bread?

 Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be windy with a high of 32. Sunrise is 7:20 and sunset 4:22 for 9h 01m 55s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 35.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

The Whitewater School Board enters closed session shortly after 5:30 PM and returns to open session at 7 PM. Whitewater’s Library Board meets at 6:30 PM

 On this day in 1865, US Secretary of State William Seward proclaims the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment, prohibiting slavery throughout the United States.

What Happened To Wonder Bread?:

Wonder Bread’s annual sales sits around half a billion dollars for its owner Flowers Foods, despite healthier alternatives like whole grains and sourdough dominating the fragmented U.S. bread industry. While consumer preferences started shifting away from white bread starting in the 1960s, Wonder Bread still enjoys a 94% brand awareness according to Flowers Foods. Watch the video above to learn more about how the once beloved American staple has stuck around a century later.



01:45White bread in America

04:40Saving the brand

06:10Stable contributor

Small owl living in a family’s Christmas tree goes unnoticed for four days:

Friday Catblogging: The Return of Ocelots?

Embed from Getty Images Christine Dell’Amore writes Ocelots once roamed the U.S. Can we bring them back? (‘Ocelots are a quintessentially American cat—yet a single tropical storm could wipe them off the U.S. map. Will a pioneering new partnership make a difference?’): Only a few centuries years ago, the northern ocelot was a quintessential American…

Daily Bread for 11.30.23: The End (for Now) of Interest Rate Increases?

 Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 44. Sunrise is 7:05 and sunset 4:22 for 9h 16m 48s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 89.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1938, in London, the Crystal Palace is destroyed by fire.

By Philip Henry Delamotte (1821–1889) – Smithsonian Libraries, Public Domain,

Jeanna Smialek and  report Fed Officials Hint That Rate Increases Are Over, and Investors Celebrate (Stocks and bonds were buoyed after even inflation-focused Federal Reserve officials suggested that rates may stay steady):

Taken together with other recent remarks from Fed officials, the latest comments offer an increasingly clear signal that central bank policymakers may be finished with their campaign to increase interest rates in a bid to slow demand and cool inflation. Interest rates are already set to a range of 5.25 to 5.5 percent. The Fed’s next meeting will take place on Dec. 12-13, and investors are overwhelmingly betting that the central bank will hold rates steady, as policymakers did at their last two meetings.


Fed officials have been nervously watching continued strength in the economy: Gross domestic product expanded at a breakneck 4.9 percent annual rate [later revised to 5.2] in the third quarter. The concern has been that continued solid demand will give companies the wherewithal to continue raising prices quickly. 

But recently, job growth has eased and consumer price inflationhas shown meaningful signs of a broad-based slowdown. That is giving policymakers more confidence that their current policy setting is aggressive enough to wrestle price increases fully under control.

Positive national economic news is an early Christmas present from Americans to America. 

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Elk:

Daily Bread for 11.28.23: Opportunity If We’ll Take It

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 23. Sunrise is 7:03 and sunset 4:22 for 9h 19m 44s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 98.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Finance Committee meets at 5 PM

  On this day in 1895, the first American automobile race takes place over the 54 miles from Chicago’s Jackson Park to Evanston, Illinois. Frank Duryea wins in approximately 10 hours.

  A 11.21.23 essay from Brookings by author Homi Kharas describes what fuels middle-class optimism. (Kharas has a new book, The Rise of the Global Middle Class, that I have not yet read. For today, this post confines itself to Kharas’s 11.21 essay.) 

Kharas notes the rise of a global middle class:

Joining the middle class has been a ticket to the good life for two centuries now, a history I trace in a new book “The Rise of the Global Middle Class.” The American Dream, the glorious years of European reconstruction after World War II, miracle economic growth in Japan and other East Asian countries, Xi Jinping’s great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and India’s software revolution each brought hundreds of millions of people into the ranks of the global middle class. Today, thanks to this progress, most of the world, upwards of 4 billion people, enjoy a middle-class or better lifestyle for the first time ever.

Yes. (I’ll note that the period of China’s greatest economic success came only after liberalizing her economy toward freer markets, and that period of liberalization is regrettably over.)

Here’s how Kharas describes middle-class optimism:

Middle-class life satisfaction rests on two pillars. The first is the idea that hard work and self-initiative will lead to prosperity. The second is that thanks to this prosperity, the children of middle-class families will enjoy even more opportunities for the good life.

There’s a local aspect to this. To be successful, a community needs to have middle-class success. 

In Whitewater, CDA types in the decade from 2010-2020 failed to capitalize on state and national economic gains. See Whitewater’s Still Waiting for That Boom. (“While Wisconsin and America advanced, these gentlemen were left admitting reluctantly their own poor performance. (There was a national boom, uplifting many cities, but it passed by Whitewater. What did Whitewater get after the Great Recession, years into a national boom? Whitewater received a designation as a low-income community.  The gentlemen speaking, these ‘Greater Whitewater’ development men, were by their own accounts at the center of local CDA policy during most of the years that the state and national boom ignored Whitewater.) See also A Candid Admission from the Whitewater CDA (“This new EOZ program allows for private investments to be made, with significant tax benefits, in lower income communities like ours that need a boost to their economy,” said Larry Kachel, Chair of the Whitewater Community Development Authority (CDA).” Emphasis added.)

We have a chance for better. See A Development Director for Whitewater (“Whitewater’s development policy is meant to be a community development policy, not one captured against the public interest by a few. Who owns Whitewater? The proper answer — the answer suitable for a beautiful, well-ordered American town — is everyone and no one.”)

Rescued baby turtles scurry into the sea:

Daily Bread for 11.14.23: National Inflation Cools

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 57. Sunrise is 6:46 and sunset 4:32 for 9h 46m 00s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 1.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets at 5 PM

  On this day in 1851, Moby-Dick, a novel by Herman Melville, is published in the USA.

  Jeanna Smialek reports Consumer prices slowed in October:

Inflation eased in October and price increases showed encouraging signs of slowing under the surface, according to fresh data released on Tuesday. The report provides the Federal Reserve with evidence that its battle against rapid inflation is working.

The overall Consumer Price Index slowed to 3.2 percent last month on a year-over-year basis, lower than the 3.7 percent reading in September and the coolest since July. That deceleration owed partly to more moderate energy prices.

Even with volatile fuel and food prices stripped out, a closely watched “core” price measure climbed 4 percent in the year through October, slower than the previous reading and weaker than what economists had expected.

Inflation has come down meaningfully over the past year after peaking in the summer of 2022, and the fresh report showed evidence of continued progress. Fed officials are trying to wrestle price increases back to roughly the 2 percent pace that was normal before the pandemic by raising interest rates, which they hope will slow consumer and business demand.

These are national figures; local prices changes will vary from the national average.

A question, however, presents itself in every community, big or small: in which local officials will residents place their trust to seize the opportunities of improved conditions? Will Whitewater and other cities turn yet again to those who have produced press releases instead of genuine progress in residents’ individual and household incomes?

Will residents in these communities take the measure of the difference between past positioning and current professional performance? 

Massive cracks and fissures in a road following hundreds of small earthquakes in Iceland: