70 Words

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...]


Energy Expenditures

With the recent sharp decline in energy prices, the percentage of household spending devoted to energy in Q4/14 was 4.9%, its lowest level since Q1/09. The last time it was below 5% for an entire year was 2003. The lowest quarterly percentage this century was 3.97% in Q1/02, while the highest was … [Read more...]


Burgeoning Buck

While the strength of the US dollar was for a long time the result of central bank policy in the US, the dollar is now, to at least some extent, a determinant of Fed policy. Because the surging dollar is dampening inflation, hurting exports, lowering corporate profits, and will probably harm … [Read more...]


Parental Poverty

The Friday File: The cost of raising a child from birth to college is $245,340, or $13,630/year for families with annual incomes of $82,790. Of course this excludes college costs and forgone income while being a stay-at-home parent. Conservatively those two items sum to over $150,000, bringing the … [Read more...]


Productivity Problem

While 3.2 million new jobs were created in 2014 making it a great year for job creation, GDP grew by a very pedestrian 2.4%. This suggests that labor productivity is either growing very slowly, or worse, may be declining. Either way, it means when labor force slack disappears inflation pressures may … [Read more...]


Budget Balance

In calendar year 2014, the budget deficit was $488 billion, $72 billion less than in 2013 and the smallest deficit since 2007. Since the start of 2010, revenues have risen from $2 trillion to $3 trillion, while spending has been flat at $3.5 trillion. If revenues continue rising by $200 … [Read more...]