• Copious Confidence

    According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence rose to 137.9 in October, its highest level since 9/00. According to the University of Michigan, consumer confidence is at 98.60, down slightly from the 3/18 reading of 101.4, the best reading since 1/04. While stock market declines and … [Read More...]

  • Vendor Value

    In 18Q3, the vendor most popularly expensed by business travelers in North America was Uber, accounting for 11% of all transactions. Starbucks followed with 4.09%, while Amazon was third at 4.05%. Delta, American Airlines, Lyft, United Airlines, Walmart, Shell and McDonald’s round out the top 10. … [Read More...]

  • Pricey Pets

    The Friday File: In 2017, Americans spent $72 billion on pets. That is equal to the GDP of the 70th largest nation in the world, edging out Myanmar and Luxembourg. $30 billion went for food, $18 billion for veterinary care, $16 billion for supplies, $2 billion buying the pets, and $6 billion on … [Read More...]

  • Split Sales

    With existing home sales flat in July, and August at a rate of 5.4 million/year (solidly down from a peak rate of 5.7 million/year last November), I think existing sales move sideways from here on. Rising prices, higher interest rates, and tight inventories make a meaningful rise unlikely despite a … [Read More...]

  • Horrible Hurricane

    Here's how Hurricane Florence will impact economic data: initially, weekly first-time unemployment claims will rise, with the amount of the increase quickly telling us the hurricane severity. September auto sales will fall, but October sales will spike due to buyers replacing flood damaged cars. … [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...]

Nov
16

Luxurious Lipstick

The Friday File: Used first by Queen Puabi of Ur approximately 4500 years ago, global lipstick sales totaled $11.2 billion in 2017. Outside of the $14 million H. Couture Beauty Diamond Lipstick, that comes in a diamond encrusted case, the costliest lipstick is La Bouche Rouge for $160; refills cost … [Read more...]

Nov
15

Disagreeable Debt

Since 1/1/2008, US public debt has risen from $5.1 trillion to $15.9 trillion. Luckily, rates have been low. In 2017, interest costs were $263 billion, 6.6% of government spending and 1.4% of GDP; very manageable. However, by 2028, and assuming no recession, debt service will skyrocket to $915 … [Read more...]

Nov
14

Crude Concerns

With oil prices down 25% due to rapidly rising supply, slowing world growth, and more waivers than expected for Iranian oil purchases by nations such as China and India, OPEC has two unpleasant choices. Cut production to keep prices up but inevitably lose market share to US frackers, or keep … [Read more...]

Nov
13

Costly Cars

The price gap between new and used vehicles is as wide as it’s been in years, pushing buyers towards used cars. New cars are bigger, come packed with fancy technology, and average almost $37,000. Conversely, a used 3-year-old car costs $23,000 despite rising due to reduced repossessions and fewer … [Read more...]

Nov
12

Staggering Sacrifice

World War I ended on November 11th at 11:00am, making yesterday the 100th anniversary of the armistice.  It’s known as the Great War, as the number killed and wounded was unfathomably high. The last soldier killed; American Henry Gunter at 10:59am. Among the Allied Powers (which include US … [Read more...]

Nov
09

Mega Marijuana

The Friday File: This week, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational weed. In 1969, 12% of Americans favored legalization, it hit 50% in 2011, and it’s now 66%. 75% of Democrats favor legalization, it’s 71% for Independents, and 53% for Republicans. Among those 55 and older, 59% … [Read more...]

Nov
08

Copious Confidence

According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence rose to 137.9 in October, its highest level since 9/00. According to the University of Michigan, consumer confidence is at 98.60, down slightly from the 3/18 reading of 101.4, the best reading since 1/04. While stock market declines and … [Read more...]