• slow_4

    Lower Level

    Since 1947 real GDP growth has averaged 3.26%/year. Since 1/1/10 it’s averaged 2.3%. Economists think that some of the decline will persist for a while because of both slower productivity gains and population growth. Therefore, the neutral Federal Funds rate, the rate that’s neither expansionary nor … [Read More...]

  • TR007241

    Wonky Wages

    Seattle’s decision to boost its minimum wage to $15/hour, the highest anywhere, is bad policy. Unlike a rise in the federal minimum wage which affects all employers, this increase only applies inside the city. Thus, employers in low-wage industries in Seattle will be at a distinct financial … [Read More...]

  • The newspaper  GOOD NEWS  and coffee

    Nice News!

    On Monday we learned that existing home sales in May jumped 4.9% to a rate of 4.89 million/year, the best pace since last October. Better yet, yesterday we learned that new home sales jumped from a rate of 433,000/year in April to 504,000/year in May, the best activity level since 5/08 and that … [Read More...]

  • euro

    Mediocre Monetary Meddling

    Rather than using a cannon, last week the ECB used a popgun. By reducing the rate it charges banks on loans and by charging banks on deposits held at the central bank, the ECB hopes to spur lending. It won’t happen. Separately, it’s also finally injecting liquidity into the banking system. What … [Read More...]

  • percentage-dice

    Rotten Returns

    Why are rates so low? Let me count the reasons: flight to quality due to rising geopolitical risk, the Fed’s promise to keep short-term rates low for a long time, Japan’s massive monetary stimulus, the ECB’s decision to start printing money, weaker than expected US growth, no evidence of commodity … [Read More...]

Nov
21

Music Mad

DJ

The Friday File: 77% of all revenue from recorded music goes to the top 1% of bands and solo artists. The 10 best-selling tracks now generate 82% more sales than 10 years ago, while the top 10 songs receive twice the airtime today than in 2004. Seven of the 10 most popular songs of all-time were … [Read more...]

Nov
20

Dynamic Data

data

While the rest of the planet economically cools or worse, goes into reverse, today’s data shows that the US economy is doing well. First-time weekly claims for unemployment insurance fell and are remarkably low, existing home sales rose 1.5% and are at their highest level of the year, the … [Read more...]

Nov
19

FHA Fix

FHA

The annual FY14 FHA audit finds that it went from having net worth of negative $1.1 billion to positive $4.8 billion and now has a capital reserve of 0.41%, or a leverage ratio of 243! Because of this “success” some now suggest reducing the FHA annual mortgage premium from 1.35%. Lowering it will … [Read more...]

Nov
18

Nervous Nippon

japan

With Q3 Japanese GDP growth coming in at -0.4%, Japan is back in recession for the third time since the end of the Great Recession. Amazingly, since the start of 2010, Japan has been in recession 47% of the time and Japanese GDP is now back where it was in Q4 2008. All too predictably, economists … [Read more...]

Nov
17

Immigration Idiocy

ellis island

President Obama’s looming decision to grant amnesty to millions of illegals via Executive Order following a political drubbing is incomprehensible. It suggests Obama believes he can’t pass immigration reform through legislation, and is willing to deprive the next president the chance to do so in … [Read more...]

Nov
14

Relaxing Riches

vacation

The Friday File: Between 1976 and 2000, Americans used an average of 20.3 vacation days/year. Since then, it’s steadily declined and now stands at just 16 days/year. As some of the unused days cannot be paid out, banked or rolled over, Americans lose 169 million vacation days/year. Worse, this lack … [Read more...]

Nov
13

Tired Trade

trade1

While US exports are weakening, don’t worry. Exports account for just 14% of US GDP, less than for any other developed nation. Exports account for 30% of Canadian GDP, 51% of German GDP, 15% of Japanese GDP, and 53% of South Korean GDP. Moreover, US exports to Europe are just 15% of all exports. A … [Read more...]

Nov
12

Bad Brazil

rouseff

In a very close election, Brazilians recently re-elected Dilma Rouseff. The result: the Brazilian real fell 2% and is near a 10-year low, and the stock market fell almost 3%. Worse, Brazilian sovereign debt is close to being downgraded to non-investment grade, inflation is high and the economy is in … [Read more...]

Nov
12

Omaha-area housing permit activity down, but new subdivisions offer reason for optimism

By Cindy Gonzales with references to Elliot Eisenberg Homebuilding activity picked up as leaves fell in the Omaha area, but the spurt of single-family housing permits issued this fall likely won’t be enough to push 2014 sales beyond those of 2013. Still, area builders and suppliers … [Read more...]

Nov
11

Valiant Veterans

veterans

There are currently 18 million male veterans, 15.6% of the male population, and 1.6 million female veterans. 7 million served in Vietnam, 5.2 million served in the Gulf War Era (8/90 through today), 1.3 million in WWII, 2.1 million in Korea, and 4.7 million in peacetime. The oldest living veteran is … [Read more...]