Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

No, We Won’t See a Torrent of Investment From the Tax Bill

No, We Won’t See a Torrent of Investment From the Tax Bill One of the arguments that Republicans are using to support their tax bill is that it will unleash investment.  The data says otherwise.  Currently, most US economic sectors are operating far below maximum capacity utilization. Let’s start with manufacturing: Figure 1

2018 Midterm election economic forecast: a struggling expansion that may amplify a wave

2018 Midterm election economic forecast: a struggling expansion that may amplify a wave We are now one year out from the 2018 midterm elections. Generally speaking, only the more involved voters show up for midterms, which seem to turn mainly on how much voters who “strongly” disapprove of actions in Washington outnumber those who “strongly” […]

Two thoughts on the Virginia election: it’s the net strong disapproval,stupid! But is the primary driver education or age?

Two thoughts on the Virginia election: it’s the net strong disapproval,stupid! But is the primary driver education or age? It’s a slow week for economic news, but we sure had some electoral fireworks on Tuesday! Since I am a data nerd, here are two metrics from Virginia that caught my attention, which I’ll discuss in […]

Halloween potpouri

Halloween potpouri Some comments on the economic data from yesterday and this morning… 1. Personal income and spending. Real, inflation adjusted income was flat, while real spending was up +0.6%. Which means the personal saving rate declined to a new expansion low: We’ve had a steep decline in the savings rate in the past year. […]

Gimme shelter: the real cost of renting vs. homeownership

Gimme shelter: the real cost of renting vs. homeownership What is the real cost of shelter? Over the last decade there has been lots of discussion of housing prices in isolation. Sometimes that discussion includes an inflation adjustment — which is problematic, since housing constitutes nearly 40% of the entire consumer price index, so in […]

“Hurricane adjusting” initial claims has proven its value

“Hurricane adjusting” initial claims has proven its value For the last month, I deduced a “hurricane adjusted” number for initial claims, which showed that the previous underlying positive trend was intact, with the four week average remaining in the 230,000’s. That approach was borne out by this week’s report, which, at 222,000, was the lowest […]

Underlying industrial production trend ex-hurricanes remains positive

Underlying industrial production trend ex-hurricanes remains positive A few weeks ago, I suggested a hurricane workaround for industrial production. That approach was to average the four regional Fed indexes excluding Dallas, and add the Chicago PMI, and finally discount for the unusual strength this year in these regional indexes vs. production. Here was my conclusion: […]

A housing teaser

A housing teaser Here is something I have been working on for the last month.  As it happens, last week Kevin Drum posted some aspects of the same data. House prices have exceeded by a substantial margin median household income: But the monthly mortgage payments have not: This is because, while the prices of houses […]

A thought for Sunday: the Rule of Gerontocracy

A thought for Sunday: the Rule of Gerontocracy The US looks like government of, by, and for senior citizens. President Donald Trump just had his 72nd birthday. He assumed office at age 71, the oldest person ever to do so. In Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is 75 years old.  His Democratic counterpart, Charles […]