• fast-fashion

    Poor Productivity

    During Q1 2014, GDP declined at an annualized rate of 2.9% while employment growth increased at a rate of 1.5% meaning more workers produced less stuff and labor productivity collapsed. The last time GDP fell this much and employment increased was Q1 1974, after OPEC quadrupled the price of oil … [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...]

Jul
31

Pittance Pay

lowages

Absent wage growth, it’s not possible to have sustained economy wide inflation. This is because it’s only increasing wages that allow people to continually pay more money for goods and services. If wages don’t rise, price for individual items can rise, such as gasoline or wheat due to geopolitical … [Read more...]

Jul
30

Decent Data

GDP

 Today’s Q2 GDP estimate came in at 4%, better than expected. Moreover, the dismal -2.9% estimate of Q1 GDP was revised up to -2.1%. As for the underlying components, consumer spending increased at a 2.5% annualized rate, which is solid, and housing grew, which beats the shrinking it’s been doing … [Read more...]

Jul
29

Monetary Matters

Fed

While the Fed has been right to keep rates low because inflation has been totally benign for years, that doesn’t mean they will start raising rates at the right moment. They would much prefer to raise rates late and be forced to tamp down some inflation than to raise rates too early and weaken the … [Read more...]

Jul
28

Buenos Bonds

argentina

Should Argentina not pay its bondholders by Friday, it will default for the second time in 13 years. Argentina is paying investors who swapped their previously-defaulted bonds for new, less valuable bonds, but isn’t paying investors who refused the swap. A US judge is now prohibiting Argentina from … [Read more...]

Jul
25

Pot Percentage

marijuana

The Friday File: Since recreational marijuana first became legal in Colorado on 1/1/14, an estimated 485,000 Coloradans, or 9% of the state’s population of 5.4 million, consume marijuana at least once a month. Of those 485,000 consumers, 30% or 145,500 persons, smoke pot or consume edibles more than … [Read more...]

Jul
24

House Holdings

homeequity

Prior to the recession, the average homeowner’s equity percentage in their home was 60%. That percentage is now 53.64% and has been rising steadily since bottoming out at 36.6% in Q1/09. This suggests we are quite close to fully recovering. The catch: house prices are still 15% lower than they were … [Read more...]

Jul
23

Strengthening Sales

homesales

While existing home sales fell 2.3% in 6/14 to 5.04 million from 5.16 million a year earlier, don’t worry. Sales are at their highest level in eight months, and more importantly distressed sales are down from 15% of all sales in 6/13 to 11% of sales in 6/14. As a result, the number of non-distressed … [Read more...]

Jul
22

BRICS Banking

BRICS

Other than their collective animosity towards the World Bank and IMF, the five BRICS nations, despite having little in common, being geopolitical rivals, and disagreeing on fundamental issues, have created a Shanghai-based Development Bank. While undercapitalized, the Bank’s major role will be to … [Read more...]

Jul
21

Troubling Trade

trade

While the labor market, consumer spending, and capital expenditures are slowly improving, net exports are slightly weakening. When the Great Recession began, exports were flat while imports collapsed as our economy weakened much faster than the rest of the globe. Now, oil shipments are dramatically … [Read more...]

Jul
18

Alien Activity

UFO

The Friday File: Since 1974, there have been almost 90,000 reported UFO sightings worldwide, most in the USA! Washington State is number one in sightings per capita (and number two in total sightings behind California) followed closely by Montana and Vermont. Other states with relatively high per … [Read more...]