70 Words

City Characters

The Friday File: The shortest city name in 28 states has three letters; in 17 states it has four letters. Here is where it gets interesting. In three states, CT (Derby), DE (Dover) and NH (Dover), the shortest city name has five characters, and in VT (Ludlow) it has six. But the winner, tiny Rhode … [Read more...]


Covid Coverage

177.4 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, 53.4% of the population. 40 million cases of Covid-19 have been reported. Assuming no one gets Covid-19 twice, that 53.4% of those testing positive for Covid-19 are vaccinated, and that reported cases are half of all cases, 215 million Americans, … [Read more...]


Money Mayhem

The US Treasury will, unless the debt ceiling is raised, start running out of money around Halloween. The term of Fed Chairman Powell ends on 1/31/22. President Biden must realistically announce his decision before Thanksgiving. Lastly, Congress must pass a budget, or a continuing resolution by … [Read more...]


Labor Lost

The US Economy added 235,000 jobs in August, well below the 700,000 expected, but decent. Blame it on the Delta variant and labor shortages. The leisure and hospitality sector, which has averaged 350,000 new jobs/month through July, added none in August. However, this is also a supply problem. … [Read more...]


Lauding Labor

The Friday File: Labor Day became an official national holiday on 6/28/1894 when President Cleveland signed a bill into law during the infamous and deadly Pullman strike. Back then, the work week was from Monday to Saturday and was 60-65 hours. By the 1920s the workweek fell to about 50 hours, and … [Read more...]


Fed Flexibility

Financial markets are jittery about the Fed’s plans to taper its monthly purchases of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, not so much because tapering itself is likely to raise rates, because it won’t. Rather, markets fear that the end of tapering will be quickly followed by increases in the … [Read more...]


Social Security

The latest projections for Social Security and Medicare find, somewhat counterintuitively, that the combined funds will run out of money in 2034, a year earlier than previously expected, due in no small part to Covid-19. While the pandemic-caused spike in deaths among retirement-age Americans helped … [Read more...]


Inflationary Impulse

Inflation is not all the same. Commodities like soybeans, lumber, oil, and even used cars and silicon chips can fluctuate sharply but have little, if any, momentum. Conversely, wages and movie tickets tend to rise slowly, but importantly, can create their own inflationary energy. We have a great … [Read more...]


Employment Effects

Congress increased the size and duration of unemployment benefits and the universe of unemployment insurance recipients. In June and July, 26 states ended some or all those benefits prematurely to encourage the unemployed to return to work. This patchwork allows for interstate comparisons. The … [Read more...]


Nanoscopic Nations

The Friday File: By square miles (mi2) Vatican City is the smallest country on Earth at 0.19 mi2. Coming in a distant second at roughly four times the size is Monaco at 0.78 mi2. Next comes the southwestern Pacific Ocean nation of Nauru at 8.1 mi2. The west-central Pacific Ocean Island nation of … [Read more...]