Who Is Growing Fastest?

Green Grass Close UpWHICH COUNTRY IS GROWING FASTEST – HAS THE WORLD’S FASTEST GROWING ECONOMY?

We all know China’s growth is slowing. Last week, China’s Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli indicated the country is on pace to match its growth target of 6.5 percent to 7.0 percent for 2016. As we’ve mentioned before, the Conference Board believes Chinese government growth numbers are inflated. It estimates China’s true growth rate at 3.7 percent for 2016, which is unchanged from 2015. Continue reading

The Market is a Riddle Wrapped in an Enigma

yellow glass buildingsWhen is a door not a door?

The answer, of course, is: When it’s ajar.

Investors and analysts were trying to find the answer to a different riddle last week: When are strong retail sales not strong retail sales?

The answer is: When the retailers are department stores. Continue reading

Crony Capitalism

photo-1439736637365-748f240b24fbIN TERMS OF CRONY CAPITALISM…

FIFA, while not a country, tops the charts.

And among cronified countries, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that Russia is top dog. In many countries around the world, crony capitalism has thrived during the past two decades. The net worth of wealthy business folk, who worked closely with their governments, was almost $2 trillion in 2014, an increase of about 385 percent from 2004. That is about one-third of the total wealth of billionaires around the world. Continue reading

Markets Up To Mother’s Day

flowers in vaseMarkets Up To Mother’s Day

Reading economic portents can be tricky.

For example, do signs that economic growth is slowing – like last week’s employment report, which was anemic relative to consensus forecasts, and first quarter’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth – mean the economy is headed for trouble? Or, does it mean the economy is going to continue to grow slowly?

It all depends on whom you ask Continue reading

Federal Budget and Future Generations

Future generationsWHEN SOMEONE SAYS, “FEDERAL BUDGET,” DO YOUR EYES GLAZE OVER? Apparently, enough folks tune out when the federal budget is mentioned that the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution developed a digital game to make the matter more palatable. ‘The Fiscal Ship’ gives players a chance to choose tax and spending policies for the United States and see how those choices affect the country.

These dollars-and-cents decisions aren’t simple. Continue reading

GDP and Living Standards

building - roughGDP and Living Standards

“Which would you prefer to be: a medieval monarch or a modern office-worker?” If you immediately answered medieval monarch, take a moment to ponder life without “…modern dentistry, antibiotics, air travel, smartphones, and YouTube.”

Last week, The Economist used this example to illustrate the challenges of accurately measuring living standards over time. Continue reading

Go Outside

HappinessDividend.MindfulMotivation.0116.47WANT TO MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER? GO OUTSIDE!

On average, Americans spend 91 percent of their time indoors or in a vehicle. Just 7 to 8 percent of their time is spent outside. These were the findings of The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS) which measures variation in human exposure to pollutants. Continue reading

Mindful Investing at Market Highs II

Candle - power of lightMINDFUL INVESTING AT MARKET HIGHS II

U.S. stock markets finished last week in heady territory – returning once again (for the 3rd time) to the place where I wrote the original Mindful Investing At Market Highs (perhaps worth a brief review). The stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 has been roughly flat since November of 2014… but it certainly doesn’t feel like it was flat.  Continue reading

Politics and Economics – Who Wants Kool-Aid in The Drinking Fountains?

thumbs-upWHAT DO ECONOMISTS THINK ABOUT “WOULD BE” PRESIDENTIAL PROPOSALS?

How do politics and economics mix? As they’ve traveled across the country, U.S. Presidential candidates have made a variety of economic proposals and promises. National Public Radio’s Planet Money asked 22 economists from across the political spectrum for their two cents on the matter. Survey participants were given three options: good, debatable, or bad. Here are their opinions: Continue reading

Guessing The Future

photo-1433360405326-e50f909805b3CARLY SIMON USED TO SING, “WE CAN NEVER KNOW ABOUT THE DAYS TO COME…”

However, that doesn’t stop anyone from guessing the future of companies, financial markets, and economies. As we enter the second quarter, investment and business professionals have been offering their insights: Continue reading