Feb
15

Minimal Music

The Friday File: In 2000, the average Billboard Top 100 song was 250 seconds, it’s since steadily declined and is now 210 seconds. Why? Each time a song is streamed the artist receives roughly half-a-cent/song, not per minute! Moreover, since the royalty is so low, streaming volume is critical … [Read more...]

Feb
14

Valuable Valentine

Valentine’s Day spending is expected to reach $20.6 billion, up from $19.6 billion last year and exceeding the prior record high of $19.7 in 2016. This year, 51% of Americans plan to celebrate, down from 55% last year and well down from the peak of 63% in 2007. Average per capita spending among … [Read more...]

Feb
13

Egregious Euro

Economic growth in the European Union has consistently exceeded growth in the eurozone since the euro debuted on 1/1/99. The two most important reasons are a total loss of control over monetary policy and, maybe worse, since 2012 eurozone governments have been forbidden to run deficits greater than … [Read more...]

Feb
12

Outstanding Openings

On 12/31/18 there were a record 7.335 million job openings, and 6.294 million unemployed persons, or 1.17 jobs/unemployed person, the ninth consecutive month openings have exceeded the unemployed. Relatedly, the number of job openings has exceeded the number hired since 1/15. The number of openings … [Read more...]

Feb
11

Excellent Energy

In an amazing turn of events, the US petroleum trade deficit in 11/18, the latest month for which we have data, was just $625 million. As recently as mid-2008 it was a record-high $40 billion/month. What happened? Lower oil prices, down from almost $150/bbl to just $53/bbl, and the fracking … [Read more...]

Feb
08

Sticky Stamps

The Friday File: Until recently, licking was the only way to affix a stamp to an envelope. The caloric content in the adhesive on US stamps is/was 1/10 of a calorie, for UK stamps; on average 5.9 calories (different adhesives). In 1995, Dean Gould of the UK licked a record 450 stamps in four minutes … [Read more...]

Feb
07

Disability Dynamics

The labor market is so strong the number of persons who left Social Security disability (which pays the same as working full-time at minimum wage) because they found gainful employment hit 51,302, the most since record keeping began in 2002, and well above the 37,000/year back in boom years … [Read more...]

Feb
06

Amazon’s Activity

Amazon currently accounts for 49.1% of all US retail e-commerce. In distant second is eBay at 6.6%, then Apple at 3.9% and Walmart at 3.7%. No other firm exceeds 2%. Moreover, Amazon now delivers 26% of its online orders using its own shipping service. In 2013, no Amazon deliveries were made that … [Read more...]

Feb
05

Embattled Europe

A key reason 10-year Treasury bond yields have fallen from about 3.1% in Mid-November to just 2.75% today, despite a strong domestic economy, is weakness in Europe. Yields on 10-year German bonds have fallen from 0.55% in October to just 0.15%. Why? Italy is in recession, Brexit hangs over the … [Read more...]

Feb
04

Loving Labor

Despite a partial government shutdown and volatile markets, 304,000 net new jobs were created in January, the second-best increase since 7/16, and the 100th straight month of employment gains, more than double the next best stretch. Y-o-Y wage growth remains a strong 3.2% and the labor force … [Read more...]