• fast-fashion

    Poor Productivity

    During Q1 2014, GDP declined at an annualized rate of 2.9% while employment growth increased at a rate of 1.5% meaning more workers produced less stuff and labor productivity collapsed. The last time GDP fell this much and employment increased was Q1 1974, after OPEC quadrupled the price of oil … [Read More...]

  • TR007241

    Wonky Wages

    Seattle’s decision to boost its minimum wage to $15/hour, the highest anywhere, is bad policy. Unlike a rise in the federal minimum wage which affects all employers, this increase only applies inside the city. Thus, employers in low-wage industries in Seattle will be at a distinct financial … [Read More...]

  • The newspaper  GOOD NEWS  and coffee

    Nice News!

    On Monday we learned that existing home sales in May jumped 4.9% to a rate of 4.89 million/year, the best pace since last October. Better yet, yesterday we learned that new home sales jumped from a rate of 433,000/year in April to 504,000/year in May, the best activity level since 5/08 and that … [Read More...]

  • euro

    Mediocre Monetary Meddling

    Rather than using a cannon, last week the ECB used a popgun. By reducing the rate it charges banks on loans and by charging banks on deposits held at the central bank, the ECB hopes to spur lending. It won’t happen. Separately, it’s also finally injecting liquidity into the banking system. What … [Read More...]

  • percentage-dice

    Rotten Returns

    Why are rates so low? Let me count the reasons: flight to quality due to rising geopolitical risk, the Fed’s promise to keep short-term rates low for a long time, Japan’s massive monetary stimulus, the ECB’s decision to start printing money, weaker than expected US growth, no evidence of commodity … [Read More...]

Aug
20

Lower Level

slow1

Since 1947 real GDP growth has averaged 3.26%/year. Since 1/1/10 it’s averaged 2.3%. Economists think that some of the decline will persist for a while because of both slower productivity gains and population growth. Therefore, the neutral Federal Funds rate, the rate that’s neither expansionary nor … [Read more...]

Aug
19

Rotten Rates

yellen

While 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield just 2.4%, yields on 10-year German government bonds are a ridiculously low 1%, and 10-year Japanese government bonds yield a microscopic 0.507%. Yields this low tell us markets think GDP growth will remain anemic in the industrialized world for a while longer. … [Read more...]

Aug
18

Delightful Divergence

monetary policy

While the Bank of Japan is engaging in expansionary monetary policy and the ECB probably will in early 2015, the Bank of England will likely raise rates by 4/15 with the Fed following soon thereafter. While this monetary policy divergence reduces global growth, it keeps commodity inflation down and … [Read more...]

Aug
15

World Wide Wine

Wine

The Friday File: The #1 wine producing nation in 2013 was Italy with 1.2 billion gallons (BG). Spain followed with 1.13 BG then France with 1.1 BG. Collectively, these three nations produced 46.8% of all wine. Rounding out the top five was the USA with 581.2 million gallons and Argentina at 396 … [Read more...]

Aug
14

Simply Supply

wheat

In 2012, in the midst of a terrible drought and skyrocketing demand from China, front-month wheat futures went as high as $9.35/bushel and soybeans for as much as $17.94/bushel. Today, a combination of flat demand and perfect weather have farmers expecting a record crop for both corn and soybeans. … [Read more...]

Aug
13

Neutral Numbers

slow

On one hand, small business optimism is at a post-recession high, the budget deficit at 2.8% of GDP is at its lowest level since 2008, and job openings are back at pre-recession levels. On the other hand, retail sales disappointed for a second straight month, inventories look a bit high, and first … [Read more...]

Aug
12

Business Boost

invest

GDP growth over the next year will be largely determined by the rate of growth in gross private domestic investment. It’s composed of spending by firms on tools, machinery and factories, as well as residential construction and inventory changes. Inventories have been very volatile and unhelpful; … [Read more...]

Aug
11

Wages & Wealth

badpay

A major reason why new home building has not substantially recovered is because outside of the upper classes real wages have been stagnant since the end of Great Recession. Worse, despite a rising stock market, a majority of Americans own no stock. Lastly, among households headed by individuals … [Read more...]

Aug
08

Moving Mission

moving

The Friday File: Dividing the number of persons moving to a state by those moving to and moving from the state give the percentage of in-migrants. Using this method, Oregon is the most popular state with 61% of movers moving there while just 39% moved away. Rounding out the top five are SC at 60%, … [Read more...]

Aug
07

Unusual Unemployment

unemployment

Last week’s first time claims for unemployment insurance came in at 289,000, the second lowest reading since May 2000. Importantly, the claims numbers from three weeks ago, which came in at 279,000, were the absolute lowest since May 2000 (yes, 14 years ago). The less volatile 4-week moving average … [Read more...]