Apr
06

Patty Procurement

 The Friday File: After a 9% jump to 1.46 billion in 2017, France, for the first time ever, consumed more hamburgers than jambons-beurres, whose sales totaled 1.22 billion. The split baguette with ham and butter had been the best seller since the 19th century! Interestingly, the French also love … [Read more...]

Apr
05

European Economics

 Despite being a train wreck heading into 2017, Europe is enjoying an economic upswing. The eurozone grew 2.5% in 2017, its fastest rate in a decade, and on par with US growth. This surprisingly strong progress has pushed the euro up 17% against the dollar. Moreover, French business confidence is … [Read more...]

Apr
04

Trade Tiff

The currently proposed but not yet implemented trade tariffs by China on the US and vice versa will probably reduce US GDP by 0.15 of a percentage point and boost inflation by 0.1 of a percentage point, impacts small enough to be largely ignored by the Fed and others. The fear; a full-fledged trade … [Read more...]

Apr
03

More Money

 While it’s often reported that US median income has barely budged in inflation-adjusted terms since 1979, new data show median income up 51% since 1979 to $73,200. Three methodological improvements are why. First, household size is shrinking. Second, the new results study after-tax income and … [Read more...]

Apr
02

Dynamic Durables

Orders for durable goods rose a solid 3.1% in February, the biggest gain since 1/17. Better yet, orders for machinery, which slumped in November, December, and January, rose 1.8% in February, the best increase since 9/17 and the highest level of such spending since 2014 when booming energy prices … [Read more...]

Mar
30

Amazing Amazon

The Friday File: With Amazon now selling prescription drugs, the FDA will, for the first time, allow Amazon to cross-sell. For example, “If you like Vicodin then you’ll probably love Fentanyl”. The FDA is also going to permit those buying drugs through Amazon to review them online and say things … [Read more...]

Mar
29

Unbelievable Unemployment

 First-time claims for unemployment insurance came in last week at 215,000, the lowest weekly level since 1/27/73, 45 years ago! Moreover, first-time claims have now remained below 300,000 for 160 straight weeks, tying the previous record that ended on 4/4/1970. Despite rising rates, trade tensions, … [Read more...]

Mar
28

Taxi Trouble

 In early 2014, before there were any ride-hailing apps such as Lyft or Uber, New York City cabs in all five boroughs had 15 million pickups/month. By 12/17, cab pickups numbered just 10 million/month, while ride-hailing apps numbered 15 million/month! A perfect example of lower prices boosting … [Read more...]

Mar
27

Dwelling Dearth

 Friday’s new housing sales data was troubling. February sales of 618,000 were up just 0.5% Y-o-Y and YTD sales are up just 2%! Maybe it’s the new tax laws, maybe it’s rates; in a few months we’ll know. The immediate problem; new home prices are skyrocketing, up 9.7% Y-o-Y, and inventories of … [Read more...]

Mar
26

Rising Rates

 When it met last week, the Fed strongly suggested two more quarter-point rate hikes will happen this year. I expect three hikes, assuming nothing goes wrong such as a debilitating trade war, serious geopolitical frictions, etc. It’s easy to raise rates if the incoming economic data warrant; it’s … [Read more...]