• Poor Pickings

    In 2018, a volatile year for markets, just 38% of actively managed US stock funds outperformed their passively managed (indexed) counterparts, down from 46% in 2017, a placid year. Over the past decade, just 26% of actively managed funds beat their index benchmarks. Unsurprisingly, managed funds are … [Read More...]

  • 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...]

  • Dwelling Deficiency

    With San Francisco Bay Area housing prices in the stratosphere, the private sector is now planning to raise $500 million for affordable housing. Assuming affordable housing costs $400,000/unit, this will create just 1,250 units! The real problem: since 2010 the region has gained 700,000 jobs and … [Read More...]

  • Matrimonial Money

    While wages of men and women with at least a HS diploma are similar early in life, they diverge dramatically with age. The gap peaks at about age 50 with men earning about $76,000/year and women earning about $49,000/year. However, at all ages there is no gap between single women, single men and … [Read More...]

  • Petrol Prices

    As recently as 2010, cheap oil was great for the US as oil production was low. However, due to fracking, US production has doubled since 2010 to 11.6 million bbl/day. Lower prices reduce corporate investment which leads to reduced employment. But due to productivity gains, oil field expenditures … [Read More...]


Dollar Delivery

The state with the highest ratio of federal revenues received to federal taxes paid is KY at 2.35. They paid $30.1 billion but received $70.8 billion, a difference of $9,145/person. NM followed at 2.34, or $8,692/person. CT had the worst ratio, 0.74 as federal taxes paid were $55.5 billion, but they … [Read more...]


It’s a “Wreck”

Elliot spoke to the Fredericksburg (Virginia) Area Association of Realtors and the Fredericksburg Area Builders Association on March 6, 2019.  See the write-up in the Free … [Read more...]


Comparative Caffeine

 The Friday File: While the cost of a plain 16oz cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Starbucks and 7-Eleven ranges from roughly $1.20 to $2.65, caffeine content/cup also varies, specifically, from a low of almost 150mg/cup to almost 350mg/cup. Now, comparing milligrams of coffee per dollar, … [Read more...]


China Cooling

  While China’s exports fell a whopping 21% in 2/19, averaging out January and February the decline is just 4.6%; nearly identical to the decline of 4.4% in 12/17. Averaging is important because much of the February decline was due to China’s weeklong Lunar New Year holidays. That said, exports to … [Read more...]


Stock Salience

December retail sales were dismal, declining 1.2% M-o-M, their worst performance in years. They have since rebounded and January sales were up 0.2%. While there are many possible explanations, including the government shutdown, the near 20% decline in the stock market is at least partly to blame. In … [Read more...]


Concrete Construction

During the 20th century, the US consumed 4.4 gigatons of cement. By contrast, during 2011-2013 China used 6.4 gigatons of cement; 45% more than the US used in 100 years; amazing! Why? China has 221 cities with over a million persons; the US just 35, China’s population is vastly larger than the US … [Read more...]


Weird Work

With just 20,000 new jobs, the February job report headline was disappointing. But, aftermath from the government shutdown continued to impact the data, as did severe weather during the survey week. Separately, since the current expansion began, each time there has been a lousy month, it’s been … [Read more...]


Wonderful Women

  The Friday File: Today is International Women’s Day, which was first held in the US on 2/28/1909 in honor of the 15,000 female garment workers who marched for better working conditions in NYC in 1908. The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911 in four European nations after the … [Read more...]


Tax Tables

In 2016, the latest year for which data are available, there were 140.9 million taxpayers. The top 1%, (AGI > $480,804), earned 19.7% of all income, paid 37.3% of all income taxes, and had an average tax rate of 26.9%. By contrast, the bottom 50% of taxpayers, (AGI < $40,078), earned 11.6% of … [Read more...]


Diverging Data

Last week, a key manufacturing sentiment index fell to its lowest level in over two years but remains solidly in expansion territory. Yesterday, an equally important services sentiment index rose to one of its highest levels of this almost 10-year economic recovery. And today, we learned the trade … [Read more...]