• 200336479-013

    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...]

  • fwx-diy-big-macs_35

    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...]

  • Money. AFR FIRST USE. 080428. Pic by Michel O Sullivan. Pic shows businessman with his hand out. Use for bonus, money, pay rise, salary.    Photographer  Michel O Sullivan/MAO SPECIALX 83767

    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...]

  • easy-money-man-rain-money

    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...]

  • irs-form-1120-corporate-income-tax-return

    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...]

Oct
04

Outpatient Operations

inpatient vs outpatient

 According to the American Hospital Association, from 1995 through 2014 inpatient admissions to hospitals rose by just 7.6%. By contrast, outpatient visits to free-standing emergency rooms, clinics, urgent care facilities and micro-hospitals rose 81%. Non-hospital operations generate lower revenues … [Read more...]

Oct
03

Flint Failure

flint water

 Between 4/14 and 10/15, Flint, Michigan changed water suppliers, spawning a public-health crisis as the new water contained high lead levels. Research now shows that despite no reported decline in sexual activity, births declined by 12% and fetal deaths rose by a horrifying 58%. This means there … [Read more...]

Oct
02

Tough Taxes

corporate tax rate

 Compared to 188 other countries and taxing jurisdictions, the US has the third highest corporate tax rate. The highest rate belongs to the United Arab Emirates at 55%, followed by Puerto Rico (a US territory) at 39% and the USA at 38.9% (after including the average state rate). The only large … [Read more...]

Sep
29

Happy Horses

race horse

 The Friday File: After hitting a cyclical high of 122 in 2007, the number of half-million dollar and up yearling sales at Keeneland tumbled to a low of 28 in 2010 amid the panic of the Great Recession. Sales volume has since steadily risen and just hit 119, a decade high. Better yet, 2,555 horses … [Read more...]

Sep
28

Productivity Progress

private public

 While labor productivity growth is very weak, we can improve it. Broadly speaking, government policies work best when they address needs that the private sector ignores. These include basic research, infrastructure, early childhood education, schooling, public health and so on. While we may … [Read more...]

Sep
27

Double Deduction

schedule a

 The standard deduction in 2017, if married is $12,700; $6,350 if single. Trump proposes doubling it. This will eliminate itemizing for married households with deductions between $12,701 and $25,400. Based on 2015 data, the average itemizing household with AGI of between $50,000 and $100,000 has … [Read more...]

Sep
26

Major Medical

employee benefits

 The average cost of an employer-offered family health insurance plan in 2017 was an eyewatering $18,764, up 3% from 2016. Employees paid an average of $5,714 or 31% of the premium. For an individual worker, coverage cost $6,690, a 4% rise over 2016 with the employee paying 18% or $1,204. Premium … [Read more...]

Sep
25

Sales Slide

tiny houses 4

Because single-family construction activity is rising much too slowly while multifamily activity shrinks, housing inventory has declined Y-o-Y for 27 straight months, prices keep rising faster than wages, and affordability is at its lowest level since early 2009. As a result, housing sales have been … [Read more...]

Sep
22

Car Crashes

transformers 3

 The Friday File: The movie that destroyed the most cars is Transformers 3 at 532 vehicles, next is Matrix Reloaded at 300. In third, Fast & Furious 5 which wrecked 260, followed by Junkman with 150 vehicles. Fifth is A Good Day To Die Hard with 132 wrecks. G.I. Joe is sixth at 112, while The … [Read more...]

Sep
21

Almighty Amazon

dallas

 With the competition to lure Amazon’s second headquarters in full swing, I think the competition really boils down to just Austin, Atlanta, Dallas, and Nashville. All are relatively inexpensive, have good airports and universities, are large enough for Amazon not to drastically alter the existing … [Read more...]