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    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...]

Jun
13

House Holdings

household wealth

 Household net worth climbed by $2.3 trillion in 17Q1 and it is now a record $94.8 trillion and a record 5 times GDP, well higher than during the housing or dotcom booms. Stock market wealth rose by $1.3 trillion and real estate by $500 billion. This wealth increase boosts consumer confidence, but … [Read more...]

Jun
12

Fearsome Fed

relief emjoi

From 1914-2006 there were 19 interest rate rising cycles. We’re now in the 20th. In 16 of the 19, a recession followed, meaning 84% of the time a recession followed a sustained rise in short-term rates. However, since WWII there have been 14 rate rising cycles and a recession followed only 11 times. … [Read more...]

Jun
09

Drug Data

painkiller

 The Friday File: Through age 30, the percentage of Millennials that consume alcohol (80%), marijuana (20%) and cocaine (3%) is virtually identical as it was for Gen-Xers of the same age. For all three substances, it is Boomers that were the keenest consumers. Painkillers are different. Through age … [Read more...]

Jun
08

Costly Congress

georgia congressional race

 Before the final vote is cast, the upcoming 6/20/17 special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District will be, by far, the most expensive US Representative race in history, with total spending as of 5/25/17 of $37 million. The previous high watermark of $29.5 million was set in 2012 in … [Read more...]

Jun
07

Open Opportunities

now hiring

 Job openings hit an all-time high of 6 million in April, and the number of hires fell by 259,000 to 5 million. The gap between openings and hires of 1 million is also the highest on record and suggests that finding qualified workers is very tough. For purposes of comparison, there are 6.86 million … [Read more...]

Jun
06

Crummy Cars

crummy cars

 After bottoming at a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 9 million cars and light trucks in 2/09, car sales increased almost nonstop through 10/15 when sales hit 18.1 million. Since then, only in 12/16 did sales exceed 18 million, last month they were 16.7 million. Moreover, employment has … [Read more...]

Jun
05

Jolly Jobs

jolly jobs

Despite just 138,000 net new May jobs and downward revisions to March and April, US job growth is solid and well above the level needed to absorb new job entrants. To wit, the unemployment rate fell to 4.3%, the lowest rate since 5/01. But weak wage growth and weak inflationary pressures suggest … [Read more...]

Jun
02

Bed Bucks

sleeping

The Friday File: It’s known that sunset is much earlier on the eastern edge of a time zone than the western edge. Separately, research shows people sleep longer when the sun sets earlier and more sleep is thought to improve job performance. Indeed, a one-hour increase in total weekly sleep in a … [Read more...]

Jun
01

E-commerce Employment

ecommerce

 In 2000, when e-commerce was 1% of retail sales, department store employment was 1.8 million. Today, e-commerce sales are 8.5% of retail sales and department store employment is 1.3 million. During the same period, employment at non-store retailers rose from 425,000 to 560,000. Less than 30% of … [Read more...]

May
31

Tax Trouble

tax cuts

 Tax cuts, let alone tax reform, are becoming increasingly impossible. The White House and Senate nixed a border tax adjustment, and that will reduce revenues by $1 trillion over a decade. Moreover, the healthcare reform bill that passed the House will reduce the deficit by just $120 billion over … [Read more...]