Largest Lingos

The Friday File: Looking only at native speakers, the most spoken language in the world is Chinese with 1.3 billion first-language speakers. A distant second is Spanish with almost 440 million speakers. English is third with 372 million native speakers, and Arabic follows with 295 million. In fifth … [Read more...]


Iranian Inflation

At the beginning of 2018, one US dollar was worth about 41,000 Iranian rials. By the time President trump pulled the US out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, the exchange rate was 60,000 rials/dollar and now it is 120,000 rials/dollar. Inflation is over 100%/year, social unrest is on the rise, and while … [Read more...]


Facebook Failure

 Last Thursday Facebook lost $119 billion, 19% of its market value, after predicting slowing revenue growth in the remainder of 2018. It was the largest one-day dollar decline for a US company ever, ahead of Intel’s $90 drop in 4/00.  This decline was equal to the GDP of Kuwait or Morocco. The … [Read more...]


Tariffs Today

In 2017, federal government revenues were $3.316 trillion, of which 1%, or $34.6 billion, came from tariffs. While more money will come from tariffs, how much is unknown. Firms may import non-tariffed substitutes, they may buy the product from a US producer, or sales may be lost due to higher … [Read more...]


Great GDP

The US economy grew 4.1% in 18Q2, its fastest pace since 14Q3. Better yet, excluding volatile exports, inventories and government purchases, growth was a stellar 4.3%, and I see Q3 growth coming in at a strong 3%. Longer term, I’m apprehensive. In the two quarters following President George W. … [Read more...]


Perfect Pitch

The Friday File: With data showing pitcher performance declines considerably when facing opposing batters for a third time, innings pitched by starters is averaging just 5 1/3 innings. This makes relief pitching critical. And, because relievers on average pitch to just 4.5 batters/game because data … [Read more...]


Recession Recognition

An inverted yield curve, a situation where short-term rates are higher than long-term rates, has preceded each of the past seven recessions by 8 to 23 months. At present, the yield curve is very close to inverting. But, rarely have we had massive fiscal stimulus this late in a cycle, or a central … [Read more...]


Weak Wages

While wages are increasing very slowly in response to the remarkably low unemployment rate, regrettably inflation is also rising and is at a six-year high. Real wage growth, which has been slowing since late 2016, was flat Y-o-Y in May and declined by 0.2% in June. This is surprising as we’re late … [Read more...]


Chinese Choice

China’s economic growth slowed to 6.7% in 18Q2, from 6.8% the previous three quarters. Given government efforts to slow debt growth by reigning in risky lending, along with decelerations in investment growth, industrial output, and retail sales, 6.7%, if true, is good. However, add rising trade … [Read more...]


Crummy Comment

Last week President Trump said he hoped the Fed would stop raising rates. Bad comment. Markets value central bank independence, and Trump’s comment could easily backfire. The Fed may raise rates earlier than planned to assert independence, and if conditions weaken and the Fed slows its pace of rate … [Read more...]