• 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...]


Cubic Conundrum

 The Friday File: In 1974, Hungarian architecture professor Erno Rubik invents what is now known as the Rubik’s cube. It has 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible combinations, or 43 quintillion. Since its introduction in 1980, 400 million have been sold, and currently global sales are running at 15 … [Read more...]


People Position

 With 325 million people, the US is the world’s third largest nation behind China with 1.4 billion and India with 1.3 billion. By 2100, India will be the biggest at 1.5 billion, followed by China at 1 billion, Nigeria at 800 million, and the US at 450 million. Earth’s population is currently 7.5 … [Read more...]


Income Improvement

 In 1967, 8.1% of households earned more than $100,000 inflation adjusted, 53.2% (the middle class) earned between $35,000 and $100,000, and 38.7% earned less than $35,000. Today, 27.7% of the population earns greater than $100,000 (three times the percentage back in 1967), 42.1% earn between … [Read more...]


Destructive Debt

 While US household debt is slowly rising, as a percentage of GDP it’s 20 percentage points below its housing bubble peak of 100%. Nations with fast rising and high household debt-to-GDP ratios include Switzerland at 130%, Australia at 120%, Canada and Norway at 100%, New Zealand at 95%, South Korea … [Read more...]


Trade Tariffs

 The imposition of a 10% tariff on aluminum and a 25% tariff on steel will boost inflation by upwards of one-tenth-of-one percent and reduce GDP by an equal amount. This is because prices will rise for all items containing these goods. These tariffs will boost employment up from 150,000 in US steel … [Read more...]


Fan Figures

 The Friday File: The PGA is the sport with the oldest fans; an average age of 63.  Horse racing follows at 62, then NASCAR at 59 and cycling at 58. By contrast, soccer fans average just 41 years of age, followed by NBA supporters at 43. Tennis fans earn the most, averaging about $82,000, with NHL … [Read more...]


Exemplary Employment

 The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment for the week ending 2/24/18 fell to 210,000, the lowest level since 12/6/69! This is no fluke. The more stable four-week moving average for initial claims fell to 220,500, the lowest level since 12/27/69. This too is no fluke. First … [Read more...]


Peak Power

 BP expects global demand for oil to peak in 2035 at 110 million bbl/day, up from 98 million today. Shell expects peak oil in 2025, while Chevron and Exxon offer no opinion. The Saudi energy minister expects peak oil demand to be 120 million bbl/day in 2043, while the head of the International … [Read more...]


Monetary Moves

The Fed continues to suggest it will stick to its gradual path of interest rate tightening despite oncoming massive fiscal stimulus. This makes sense. What better environment is there to see what impact running the economy hot will have than in one with low inflation and low inflation expectations? … [Read more...]


Diminished Dwellings

 In 1/18, sales of existing houses came in at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million. That’s 3.2% lower than 12/17 and 4.8% lower than 1/17, the steepest Y-o-Y decline since 8/14. Y-o-Y inventory declined for the 32nd straight month, and at 1.52 million, is the lowest January level since … [Read more...]