70 Words
Feb
22

Limited Labor

 Even with unemployment near 20-year lows, labor is weak. In 1952, work stoppages involving 1,000 workers or more totaled 470, the most ever. In 1959, the number of lost work days from such strikes peaked at 60.85 million. As recently as 1974, there were 424 strikes, and in 1970 lost work days … [Read more...]

Feb
21

Incapacitated Infrastructure

 While the US desperately needs better infrastructure, the current White House plan will not work. The proposal relies way too much on already financially pinched state and local governments. Moreover, rising interest rates make borrowing more costly, lower personal income tax rates make purchasing … [Read more...]

Feb
20

Healthy Housing

 January housing starts came in at a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 1.326 million, their second highest level since 8/07. Single-family starts are also at their second-best level since 2007, 10/07 to be precise. Overall, starts are up 7.3% compared to 1/17 and 18.1% compared to 1/16; good … [Read more...]

Feb
19

Presidential Percentage

 Since 1960, the president that ran the largest average deficit during his time in office was Obama, with an average of 5.7% of GDP, Reagan follows at 3.8%, George H.W. Bush at 3.7%, and Kennedy at 3.3%. By contrast, Clinton ran the smallest average deficit at 0.9%, followed by Nixon at 1% and … [Read more...]

Feb
16

Greenhouse Gas

 The Friday File: The amount of the greenhouse gas carbon-dioxide produced per kilogram (2.2 lbs) of boneless beef is 26.61 kilograms. Lamb follows at 25.58; both are ruminants. Each kilogram of pork embodies 5.77 kilograms, a kilogram of chicken, a paltry 3.65 kilos, the average kilogram of fish, … [Read more...]

Feb
15

Bigger Borrowing

 Outstanding household debt rose $193 billion in 17Q4 to a record $13.15 trillion, 67% of GDP, down from 87% of GDP at the peak in 2009. The delinquent share of total debt is 3.12%, down from 3.19% in 17Q3. Mortgage debt grew by $139 billion and now totals $8.88 trillion but remains 4.4% below the … [Read more...]

Feb
14

Lotsa Loving

 The 54.7% of American romantics who plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day are expected to spend $19.6 billion this year, or $146/person, up from last year’s disappointing $18.2 billion, but below the all-time high of $19.7 in 2016. Total planned spending on jewelry is expected to reach $4.7 billion, … [Read more...]

Feb
13

Global Growth

 In 2017, the economies of the 45 largest democracies with market economies grew in unison. That was the first time this has occurred since the years 2004-2007. Looking back in history to 1979 and including the periods already mentioned, synchronized global growth of this sort has happened in just … [Read more...]

Feb
12

Wacko Wages

 Average hourly earnings of private non-farm employees rose 2.9% Y-o-Y in January. This roiled markets; it was the largest gain since 5/09. But, the gain was exclusive to supervisory workers whose Y-o-Y gain was 3.9%! This fluke outcome occurred because the bomb cyclone prevented low-paid hourly … [Read more...]

Feb
09

Podium Perfection

 The Friday File: With the 2018 Winter Olympics and its 102 events upon us, the question is “How will Team USA do?” While predictions are particularly hard when state-sponsored performance enhancing drug programs are involved, the USA should win 10 golds and at least 33 medals and wind up in the top … [Read more...]