70 Words

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...]


Energy Exporter

For the week ending 11/30/18, the US exported 3.2 million barrels/day of crude oil and 5.8 million barrels/day of gasoline, refined products. Those 9 million barrels/day of exports exceeded the 8.8 million barrels/day of imports, making the US a net oil exporter for the first time in decades! US oil … [Read more...]


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...]