Dec
03

Listless London

Superficially, Great Britain looks good despite Brexit. Unemployment is near a record low, wages are increasing at their fastest pace in a decade, and a huge budget deficit has shrunk. However, best estimates suggest UK GDP is 2% smaller than had voters chosen to Remain. Why? Labor force growth has … [Read more...]

Nov
30

Doing Drugs

The Friday File: During the first five days retail marijuana stores (there are just two) were open in Massachusetts, from 11/20 through 11/24, customers bought $2.2 million of pot and pot products! The average amount spent per item, such as 1/8 of an ounce of cannabis flower, was $39.33. A special … [Read more...]

Nov
29

Insignificant Inflation

Despite excellent economic growth, rising wages, and the lowest unemployment rate in 49 years, inflation remains quiescent. The Fed’s preferred inflation measure, core personal-consumption expenditure inflation, rose just 1.8% over the past year, and has been around that level, close to the Fed’s 2% … [Read more...]

Nov
28

Matching Money

World GDP is equal to roughly $80 trillion in nominal terms. One-quarter comes from the US, another quarter comes from Western Europe (about 20 countries) and Canada, another quarter comes from China (about 60% as big as the US), Japan (the world’s third largest economy), South Korea (11th) and … [Read more...]

Nov
27

Decelerating Dwellings

 Builder confidence is at its lowest level since 8/16, housing starts peaked in 1/18, and building permits in 3/18. As for existing housing, sales peaked in 11/17, pending sales peaked in 4/16, prices are rising noticeably slower, inventories are rising, and affordability is near a decade low. But … [Read more...]

Nov
26

Bad Bitcoin

After hitting almost $20,000 late last year, Bitcoin is now trading at about $3,500/coin. Worse, the amount of computing power used by Bitcoin miners to solve complex equations to earn payment in new Bitcoin, and in the process maintain the blockchain ledger, is declining. This suggests the Bitcoin … [Read more...]

Nov
23

Good Gauge

The Friday File: With GDP under attack for focusing on output and not well-being, look to the 2018 World Happiness Report. The happiest nation is Finland, followed closely by Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland, all small, reasonably homogeneous, wealthy democracies. The U.S. ranks 18th. The … [Read more...]

Nov
21

Terrific Thanksgiving

The average American who travels outside their home county for Thanksgiving departs at 3:40pm today and travels 300 miles before arriving at their destination at 9:40pm, where they’ll stay for almost three days. Every $10,000 increase in county median income boosts distance traveled on Thanksgiving … [Read more...]

Nov
20

Fit Finances

While total household debt rose by $219 billion to $13.51 trillion in 18Q3, the ratio of debt to personal disposable income rose just slightly, from 86% in 18Q2 to 86.54% in 18Q3. This ratio has been remarkably steady since late 2014. It peaked at 116.3% in 2008, just as the Great Recession began. … [Read more...]

Nov
19

Groggy Growth

In 18Q3, GDP in Germany (the world’s 4th biggest economy) shrank at a rate of 0.8%/year, Japan’s economy (3rd biggest) shrank at a rate of 1.2%/year, and China (2nd biggest) grew at a rate of 6.5%/year; slowest since 09Q1. US growth was a strong 3.5%/year in 18Q3 but should slow to 3% in 18Q4. Next … [Read more...]