• Heading Home

    In 1965, the US home ownership rate was 63% and rose to 65.6% in 1980. Home ownership then fell and held steady at about 64% from 1984 through 1994, when it began a meteoric rise and peaked at 69.4% in 2004. It’s since collapsed and is now 63.5%, where it was last in 1967. Demographics aside, home … [Read More...]

  • Meaty Measurement

    The Friday File: Assuming exchange rates and prices eventually adjust to make the same item equally priced everywhere, the Big Mac Index was developed. In Switzerland, a Big Mac is a whopping $6.82, its currency is hopelessly overvalued. In Russia, $1.88. Putin, clearly a meaty monetary master. … [Read More...]

  • Expensive Entitlements

    In FY 2014, Medicare, Medicaid and other healthcare programs accounted for 25% of federal government spending, Social Security was 24%, welfare and other entitlements claimed 11%, and interest on the debt was 7%. That leaves 33% for discretionary spending. But defense was 17%, leaving just 16% of … [Read More...]

  • Spending Splurge

    Household spending should remain healthy for four reasons. First, household net worth hit a record $84.9 trillion in Q1/15, up $1.6 trillion from Q4/14 and the ratio of household net worth/personal disposable income (PDI) is at its highest level since Q3/07. Second, household debt service as a … [Read More...]

  • Inefficient Income

    The US corporate tax rate of 35% is the highest in the world. In Germany it’s 16%, Canada 15% and Ireland 12.5%. Worse, it raises little money. In 2014, US pre-tax corporate profits were $2 trillion. 35% of that would be $700 billion. But due to loopholes and fancy accounting, the corporate income … [Read More...]

May
24

Go Gambling

Last week the Supreme Court legalized sports betting. Based on other nations with mature betting markets, this is a $100 billion/year (maybe a $150 billion/year) industry now that no one will be forced into black market offshore wagering and bookies. This should generate a meaningful rise in state … [Read more...]

May
23

Delivery Dearth

 Last year, 3.85 million babies were born, the lowest level since 1987! Moreover, the fertility rate for women age 15 to 44 was 60.2 births/1,000 women, the lowest since this rate was first recorded over a century ago. Only women aged 40 to 44 saw a rise in fertility in 2017; to 11.6 births/1,000 … [Read more...]

May
22

Energetic Economy

 Higher oil prices used to severely depress GDP. That’s no longer so. Household energy spending/GDP has been generally declining for decades and is now near its lowest percentage ever. Thus, the recent price rise will probably knock just a quarter-point off GDP. Moreover, because we’re now the … [Read more...]

May
21

Extra Education

 In 1992, college graduates were 26% of the labor force, those with some college or a technical degree comprised 25%, high school dropouts were 13%, and high school graduates were a whopping 36%. Today, college graduates are 41% and rising, and are the only group that has significantly grown! Those … [Read more...]

May
18

Tiny Trips

 The Friday File: The least visited country in the world last year was the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, which greeted 2,000 visitors. It was followed by the South Pacific nation of Kiribati, hosting 5,000 visitors. The third least visited state was Niue, also an Island nation in the Pacific, … [Read more...]

May
17

Rocking Rails

 US rail traffic is outstanding! Railroads originated 1,099,000 intermodal (shipping) containers in April, up 6.8% Y-o-Y and the 15th straight Y-o-Y intermodal increase. Moreover, weekly April volume was the third highest ever, and for the seventh straight month intermodal volume was the highest … [Read more...]

May
16

Dwelling Disappointment

Seasonally adjusted annualized April housing starts were 1.287 million. While that is up 10.5% Y-o-Y, and 8% YTD, housing growth is painfully weak, and all because of single-family activity. Multifamily has fully recovered and will henceforth move sideways. However, single-family starts of 894,000 … [Read more...]

May
15

Double Deficits

The recent tax cuts and spending increases will push up business and household spending, which will necessarily boost imports, which in turn will hurt our trade deficit. At the same time, these policies will also widen the budget deficit. And, looking back in history, every $1 billion rise in the … [Read more...]

May
14

Developing Disaster

 Several developing markets including Argentina, Indonesia, and Turkey, are getting whacked! While each is unique, these developing nations generally suffer from high externally denominated public and corporate indebtedness, large deficits, and high inflation. What lit the fuse is the greenback’s … [Read more...]

May
12

Matchless Moms

 The Friday File: 86% of Americans will celebrate Mother’s Day, spending an average of $180, taking total spending to $23.1 billion, just slightly below last year’s record-level and equal to the GDP of Iceland. Individuals 35-44 will be the biggest spenders, averaging $224, edging out the average … [Read more...]