ITEL Radio 2.15.14 – Weather and the Economy, Olympics, Obamacare
ITEL Radio for Saturday, February 15, 2014 delved into the economics of severe weather on the U.S. economy. In addition, the Sochi Winter games, turbulent seas surrounding Obamacare, and some updates on Syria and Ukraine filled out the balance of the show. You can catch the entire show here:
Winter Weather Wreaks Traveller Havoc
The onslaught of Winter storms has wreaked havoc on airport flight schedules. From the beginning of the Winter reporting period, which begins on Dec 1 and ends at the end of February, U.S. airlines have cancelled over 75000 flights through February 15, 2014. 75,000 cancelled flights represents a record for flight cancellations during the Winter reporting period since 1978, the year that data collection began.
In the week of February 8 – 15, Flightaware reported 18,681 cancelled flights, of which 15,170 were reported within, into, and out of the United States.
There are many factors that go into decisions made by the airlines to cancel flights, including weather, rules that govern rest requirements for pilots and crew, government regulations that prevent airlines from holding passengers on the tarmac for more than 3 hours, as well as reduced operational costs and faster returns to normal flight schedules once storms pass.
It is not just the airlines that have been experiencing stresses in operating revenues and profits. Automobile production fell a staggering 5.1% while overall losses in the manufacturing sector was down .3% in January 2014. Automobile inventories saw a large spike as unsold cars for GM rose from 81 days in December 2013 to 114 days in January 2014. Ford’s inventories expanded from 73 days to 107 days. The industry considers 60 days to be a healthy and normal level. Demand for autos has been steadily eroding since September 2013, with demand in January falling nearly 3%.
The Federal Reserve’s position is that the economy was doing fine and that the Dec/Jan period represents losses due to weather and not a general weakening of the economy.
A bright spot in the auto sector is Honda Motors, which saw the company become a net exporter of vehicles, importing 88,500 vehicles from Japan but exporting 108,700 vehicles from its Ohio production plant.
Sochi Olympics Update
Day number 9 was in the books and ITEL Radio looked into some of the stories surrounding the Sochi Winter Olympic games. The main story revolved around NBC and what many view as slanted and unprofessional coverage. Failure to accurately cover the opening ceremonies, a constant harping on the shortcomings found in the surrounding environs of Sochi, some of which appear outright petty and irrelevant, were but some of the issues dogging NBC.
The Twitter hashtag, “#nbcfail” was raised, an apparent social protest against NBC and its programming/coverage of the Sochi Winter Games.
Other stories included the controversy surrounding Lebanese skier Jackie Chamoun whose topless photo shoot of some three years ago found its way into a heated debate within Lebanon.
Other stories include the tragic accident of Russian freestyle skier Maria Komissarova who suffered a serious spinal injury in training. Her injury was so severe that surgery was required. Her status as of this writing was unknown.
Obamacare – Uncontrollable Tailspin?
Flak continues to explode all around Obamacare as new revelations came out that showed that a large minority (25-30%) of customers who have signed up for Obamacare are simply not paying for the premiums. Mathew Wiggins, a spokesperson for Aetna stated that 70% of those who signed up for Obamacare plans failed to make payments, while Wellpoint’s Kristin Binns stated that fully 24% of new customers had failed to pay for the premiums. Humana stated that only 75% of its 200,000 new customers had paid their premiums.
The issue has become such a problem that Obama has requested that companies extend their grace periods to make payments.
What is clear is that Obamacare may be heading into an unrecoverable tailspin, a fitting circumstance owing to the lies and deceptions needed to get the law passed in the first place.
Catch all these stories and more in ITEL Radio for February 15, 2014, right here: