Jul
13

Illicit Intoxication

The Friday File: In 2013, coca-plant production in Colombia bottomed at 119,000 acres. It’s since skyrocketed to 361,000 acres and Columbia now accounts for 68% of global coca plant production, a new high. Not to be left out, opium-poppy production in Afghanistan is also up from 346,000 acres in … [Read more...]

Jul
12

Pyongyang Pursuits

North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests. While that does not sound like many, only five nations have conducted more such tests since 1945. The US leads the way with 1,032 tests, followed by Russia/USSR with 715, France with 210 and China and the UK with 45 each. The only other countries that are … [Read more...]

Jul
11

Kavanaugh Court

Judge Brett Kavanaugh will, whenever possible, vote to rein in federal agencies and their vast and growing rulemaking authority, absent clear congressional authorization. This includes regulations on housing, net neutrality, global warming, credit card fees, labor laws, and much more. Kavanaugh has … [Read more...]

Jul
10

Trade Tariffs

Already announced trade tariffs should reduce GDP by 0.1% at peak impact in mid-2019. If widened to include all proposed tariffs including autos, a 10% tariff on $400 billion of Chinese goods and equivalent retaliation, the temporary maximum hit to GDP would be 0.5% by summer 2019. The worst-case … [Read more...]

Jul
09

Jumpin’ Jobs

Net June job creation was a strong 213,000, and April and May numbers were collectively revised up 37,000! The unemployment rate rose to 4% from 3.8% as the labor force participation rate pleasantly climbed to 62.9% from 62.7%. Wage growth remained quiescent at 2.7% Y-o-Y; 0.2% M-o-M. This is … [Read more...]

Jul
06

Whopping Walmart

The Friday File: 55 years ago this week, a retailer opened an 18,000 square-foot discount store in Rogers, Arkansas called Wal-Mart, as the proprietor’s name was Sam Walton. Today, there’re 11,718 stores in 28 nations, and Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue at $486 billion/year. That … [Read more...]

Jul
05

Darn Dwellings

May pending sales of existing houses declined 0.5%, are at a 4-month low, and have declined Y-o-Y for 5 straight months. Similarly, existing home sales in May declined slightly and through 5/18 are down 1.4% compared to January-May 2017. They are down Y-o-Y for three straight months. Lastly, first … [Read more...]

Jul
03

Awesome Anniversary

 Tomorrow’s our 242nd birthday! In 1776, there were just 2.5 million residents of the world’s newest nation and 56 of them signed the Declaration of Independence. The oldest 7/4 parade is in Bristol, RI where they have been celebrating since 1785. There have been 27 different US flags, we will eat … [Read more...]

Jul
02

OPEC Obsolescence

OPEC appears to be again losing control over oil prices. Oil has been rallying despite promises of higher production from the cartel. Prices are rising due to plummeting Venezuelan production, Iranian sanctions, problems in Libya and other production crises. But the key reason is major producers … [Read more...]

Jun
29

Exquisite Equation

The Friday File: When 14 mathematicians were given fMRI scans of their brains as they viewed 60 mathematical formulas, the formula that generated the most activity in the brain area stimulated by moral, musical and visual beauty was ei pi+1=0, or Euler’s (pronounced oilers) Identity, which magically … [Read more...]