"Where economics isn't just a job, but an adventure"
Danger Zone by John Tommasi on Amazon
Hi all, one good thing about the quarantine is I have finished the great American novel. It is an action- adventure, detective mystery that is loosely based on my tenure working for the state of NH as an undercover operative. The action goes from NH to Florida and Jamaica to the Bolivian jungles; Enjoy! It is also available on paperback. ps you can download it to a pc or phone with the kindle app from Amazon, it is free for Prime members.
January An Impeachment Primer February The Coronavirus and the Market. March/April Balanced Budget and Term limits May The Cost of the Quarantine and Recovery
Blog Topics 2019
March The Burgeoning US Debt May China, Trade and Tariffs June Income taxes: Obama v Trump July/Aug The China Threat Sept/Oct The High Cost of College: Part 1
Blog Topics 2018
January What Kills Bull Markets May Are Cheap Oil Prices here to Stay July California and Mandatory Solar Panels August Tariffs and Trade September Is a Recession coming? November Increasing Healthcare Costs December The Oracle of Omaha
Blog Topics 2017
January Trumponomics Part 2 February The Keystone Pipeline Revisited March Border Adjustment Tax April Are Liberal Prof's..... May Moral Hazard Through a Libertarian's Lens (guest blog from a student) July What's causing the Opioid Crisis September The minimum Wage re-visited November Everything You Want to Know about 401K December How The New Tax Bill Affects you (spoiler alert: the middle class makes out great)
blog topics for 2013 - 2016 are at page bottom
May Jobs Report
The Market expected an unemployment rate of over 19% and a decrease in jobs of over 8 million. Unexpectedly, more than 2.5 million jobs were created in the economy, the greatest increase in US economic history. The only other month to create over 1 million jobs was in 1983 as a result of the Reagan stimulus. Many of the gains were in the restaurant and leisure industry where the layoffs were temporary in nature. From CNBC: the declines in the unemployment rate were not spread equally: white men saw a decline from 12.4% to 10.7% and white women dropped from 15% to 13.1%. However, the rate for African-Americans edged higher by one-tenth of a percentage point to 16.8%, though the rate for men fell from 16.1% to 15.5%. From the BLS: In May, the number of unemployed persons who were jobless less than 5 weeks decreased by 10.4 million to 3.9 million. These individuals made up 18.5 percent of the unemployed. The number of unemployed persons who were jobless 5 to 14 weeks rose by 7.8 million to 14.8 million, accounting for about 70.8 percent of the unemployed. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 1.2 million, increased by 225,000 over the month and represented 5.6 percent of the unemployed. The labor force participation rate increased by 0.6 percentage point in May to 60.8 percent, following a decrease of 2.5 percentage points in April.
Just Before the mid-day hour, the Dow is down 8 points at 25,772 in lack luster trading. The Dow was down in the pre-market, however, positive vaccine news from Pfizer gave the Dow a positive sentiment. A study of a coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech showed the drug created neutralizing antibodies. The results were released online, but have not been reviewed by a medical journal yet. Pfizer is up over 5% at $34.36. Other stock news of the day is that Tesla has surpassed Toyota in market cap at $210 billion making it the largest car company by market cap in the world even tho its sales are under 10% of Toyota's. Tesla is currently trading at $1129/share and it has no P/E ratio because it is not profitable. From CNBC; ADP and Moody’s Analytics said private payrolls jumped by 2.37 million in June. Payrolls for May were also revised to a gain of more than 3 million from a loss of 2.76 million. Meanwhile, The Institute for Supply Management said U.S. manufacturing activity grew to its highest level since April 2019, recovering from a sharp contraction in May. In other news, bank deposits have grown by $2 trillion since the beginning of the year. In April alone, they went up by $865 billion, more than all of last year, compliments of covid 19 and the government stimulus checks and enhanced federal unemployment benefits. In April, the savings rate was 31%, the highest ever in the United States.
After being up over 500 points in the premarket yesterday, the Dow bled off over the day to finish at 26,119. down 170 points. The reason was the fear of a resurgence in covid 19 cases. Even tho cases are up, we have become better at treating the disease and the 20 day moving average (chart below) on deaths continues to decrease. Deaths have been under 1000 for 10 of the past 11 days. Deaths, in my opinion, are down because younger people are getting them and are more resilient in addition to better methods of treatment. The media has made a big deal of the fact that in the US we have 2.2 million cases of covid 19, however, they fail to say that in the 2018-2019 flu season, 35 million people contracted seasonal flu and 45 million contracted it the previous season. Today, about an hour before the open, the Dow is down about 200 points after being slightly in the green earlier. Covid 19 fears are obviously continuing into today. Similar to yesterday, airlines, retailers and cruise lines led the early declines. United Airlines fell by 3.3% while cruise lines Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean traded lower by 6.5%, 5% and 2.9%, respectively. Regardless of the losses, The Dow and S&P are up over 2% this week while the tech heavy NASDAQ is up over 3%. The ten year yield is down to .73%, the dollar and gold are stable at $1.12/Euro and $1725/oz oil is also trading sideways at $37.96/barrel and the price of a gallon of regular gas nationwide is up to $2.111.
This just in: initial jobless claims this week came in at 1.5 million, down from last week and down for the 11th week in a row.
Updates/Advisories 6-17 -2020
And away we go. After dropping 1800 points on Thursday of last week as a result of a perceived covid 19 resurgence and adverse effect on the economy , The Dow has advanced 1160 points in the past 3 days (below chart) and is up 200 points about 15 minutes prior to the markets open today. The impetus is the proposal by the president of another trillion dollar stimulus (the debt by the way is over $26 trillion), a retail sales figure that showed retail sales increasing by over 17% last month when 7% was expected (an all time record) and a very effective treatment out of England. English doctors found that a common and cheap steroid, dexamethasone, decreased covid 19 deaths by 35% of the seriously ill. Amazon and Apple each rose 0.9% in the premarket while Netflix climbed 0.7%. IBM and 3M were both up more than 1% and were among the best-performing Dow components in early trading. From CNBC, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell’s semiannual two-day testimony to the Senate banking committee started on Tuesday. The Federal Reserve’s announcement to beef up monetary stimulus with direct purchases of corporate bonds on Monday boosted sentiment. As stocks increased,the 10 year bond yield decreased to .76%, the dollar is $1.12/Euro, gold remains strong at $1725/oz oil continues to go up as demand increases to $37.98/barrel and the price of a gallon of regular gas nationwide is up to $2.105.
With about an hour left in the trading day, the Dow is down over $1700, 6.3%, points on fears of a 2nd wave of covid 19 infections compliments of network media generated hysteria. On last nights network news, Lester Holt emphasized on covid 19 cases are spiking in 7 states. What he failed to say was that it was down from 14 states showing a spike 3 days ago. Outside of CNBC and FOX Business News, I have lost all respect for the media, if it bleeds it leads and they all have their own agenda; lately it's been anything to unseat Donald Trump. For instance, the 1.3% decrease in unemployment for May and the creation of 2.5 million jobs which were records. ABC network news stated that there was a small decrease in the unemployment rate along with a small increase in jobs. I have lost all respect for the media except for CNBC. In financial news, the FED stated that it sees s 6.5% decrease in GDP this year followed by a 5% increase next year. In addition, they see no change in existing interest rates until 2022. From CNBC; Traders dumped airlines, cruise operators and retailers after piling into those names over the past month amid expectations of a swift economic recovery. Shares of United Airlines, Delta, American and Southwest all dropped more than 10%. Carnival Corp. and Norwegian Cruise Line shares fell more than 14%. Gap and Kohl’s shares traded lower by 7.6% and 10.9%, respectively. Oil is down about 9% to $35.76/barrel, the yield on the 10 year is down to .65% and 30 year fixed mortgages are under 3%, the dollar is stable at $1.13/Euro, gold is up to $1735/oz and the price of a gallon of regular gas nationwide is up sharply to $2.085 but still low by historical standards when adjusted for inflation.
One of the many sayings on Wall street is that you never lost money by realizing a profit. After the past 5 sessions where the Dow rose 8.6%, the Dow seems to be taking a breather today as it is down 285 points about 1 hour before the markets open. Also hurting the Dow, and this shouldn't come as a surprise, is that NBER (the National Bureau of economic Research) declared the the US officially entered into a recession in February of this year ending the longest economic expansion, 128 months, in US history. First, a word on NBER and recessions. Contrary to conventional wisdom (which is anything but wisdom) a recession is not 2 consecutive quarters of negative GDP. A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, normally visible in production, employment, and other indicators. A recession begins when the economy reaches a peak of economic activity and ends when the economy reaches its trough. It is prolonged, pervasive and protracted throughout the economy. NBER is a nonprofit organization that was formed in 1924 in Cambridge and is comprised of the best economic minds in the country. Ben Bernanke, the former FED chair was a member of the organization. However, I'm willing to bet this will be the quickest recession in US history. A world bank economist is predicting a worldwide decrease of 5.2% in GDP as a result of the covid 19 virus. The speculative trades that have led the latest leg of the market’s comeback on optimism about the reopening of the economy were lower in early trading Tuesday. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines each dropped more than 6% in premarket trading. Cruise lines Carnival and Royal Caribbean declined more than 5% (CNBC). Covid 19 cases are still trending down (see chart below 6/8 advisory) with under 600 deaths reported yesterday. Job openings data and small-business optimism numbers await investors on Tuesday while companies Chewy, GameStop and Tiffany are slated to reported quarterly earnings. The 10 year yield is down slightly to .88%, the dollar is stable at $1.13/Euro, gold is up to $1713/oz, oil is down slightly to $37.86/barrel and the price of a gallon of regular gas nationwide is up to $2.05.
After the May jobs report (see above) blew away expectations, the Dow advanced over 900 points on Friday and all sectors were in the green. The airlines and energy sectors were the big gainers as OPEC+ is adhering to production cuts and affirmed those and increased those cuts during a meeting on Saturday. The + in OPEC+ stands for Russia which is one of 3 top producers in the world; the other two being the US and Saudi Arabia. Oil is down slightly today, 1.4% (after a 5% rise on Friday), probably as a result of the adage, buy on the rumor and sell on the news. It is currently trading at $38.88/barrel which is very strong given that it was trading negative on April 18. Today, the Dow is up 280 points at 27,390 about 30 minutes into the trading day. Last week it surged 6.8%. Apple has reached a new high at 330 and watch for OPK to move at 11 Am since it will be making an announcement of phase 3 trials on the efficacy of one of its drugs. There is also good news on the covid 19 front as under 400 deaths were reported on Sunday and the 20 moving average of deaths (chart below) continues to decrease Day 1 is March 21. Coming during the week, Investors will be concentrating on the Federal Reserve’s statement on interest rates Wednesday and a press conference from Chairman Jerome Powell. The Fed is expected to reiterate its commitment to unlimited asset purchases to keep markets functioning. The yield on the 10 year is up to .9% as investors dump bonds in favor of stocks, the dollar is weaker (which is good for exports) at $1.13/Euro, gold remains strong at $1691/oz. While gold usually declines as stocks increase this hasn't been the case. Possible, as a hedge against future inflation as the deficit approached 26 trillion and consumers begin to spend as the economy recovers. The Savings rate hit an all time high of 31% recently. The previous high was about 25% during WW 2. As oil increases so does gas as a result of supply cuts and demand increasing. The price of a gallon of regular gas nationwide is up to $2.03.
Click to Enlarge
As you can see from the attached charts, the stock market mirrors the American Economy, and granted, there are bumps in the road but both ALWAYS recover. Stop checking your retirement accounts and do nothing. You, and believe or not, even me (yes I am making fun of myself), cannot time the market, but it will recover. Today the Dow dropped 10%, 2352 points, which is the worst point drop ever and the largest point drop since Black Monday in 1987 where it dropped over 23%; and this drop occurred in spite of the FED announcing that it would inject up to $1 trillion into the economy. Once again, there are no rational expectations in the market, just hysteria and the hysteria will eventually diminish.
The wealth effect is an increase in consumption (and accompanying decrease in savings) as a result of an individuals assets (usually a portfolio or land/home) increasing in value. A negative wealth effect is just the opposite, and since most indexes declined more than 10% and tested bear market territory, this appears to be the case. Conversely, the market recovered in January and all losses and more were covered.
FICO SCORES Fair Isaac Company reports that it's FICO scores (FICO being an acronym for Fair Isaac Co) reports that the average FICO score in the US has reached an all time high of 700 nationwide amongst adults. The share of consumers who are viewed as the riskiest from a credit perspective (these are sub-prime and have a score lower than 640) reached a new low of about 40 million — or 20 percent of adults in the U.S. that have FICO scores. according to the Wall St Journal. A lot of you may be asking what is a FICO score, how is it calculated and how it affects me. Fair Isaac uses use information provided by one of the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian or Trans-Union. From this, they have a formula to get a credit score which can be as high as 850. The biggest part is your payment history, followed by how much you owe, credit history, credit mix and new credit (see chart). Next, how do you interpret your FICO Score: anything > 800 is excellent (and gets you low interest rates on loans and credit cards), 740-799 is very good, 670-739 is good, and anything less than 670 is considered not good and sub-prime (chart). Lastly, as no surprise, the older you are, the better your score (chart)
Strangulation by Regulation: The tax code is 77,000 pages, under Obama there were 4000 new EPA regulations (info from CBS) Dodd-Frank imposed somewhere between 310-500 new requirements on banks(various analysts CNBC) and Obamacare has over 20,000 pages of regulations (Washington Post); and people are complaining because Trump is trying to streamline government. He has signed the "2 for 1" executive order that mandates all agencies to do away with 2 regulations for every one they pass. I can run my life and spend my money, much better than the government and I applaud Trump's efforts in doing away with economically ruinous legislation.
UNH Study Results 5-31-2016
In other News: First, a little history. In 1800, 90% of the adult population were farmers (lots of factory child labor), by 1900, 25% of the population and currently, about 2% as a result of technology garnering greater yield/acre. As a result much farmland from the 19th century is no longer. In a recent study out of UNH, it was found that 75% of the farmland from the mid 19th century is now covered by trees and this is contributing to warmer winters. Trees causing higher temperatures you say; how is this possible? It is very simple physics. In the winter in NH (and most other states), farm pastures are covered with snow, and this reflects sunlight, and heat, into space. Now that 75% of these pastures are covered with trees, the dark trees absorb the heat and it permeates into the atmosphere causing a general warming and milder winters. If you've ever wondered what a stone wall was doing in the middle of the woods, those woods were once pastures and delineated borders that contained live stock.
Just as a reminder from my blog of October 2013, Carbon dioxide composes only .0387% of our atmosphere (in decimal form that’s .000387), and of all the CO2 currently being produced on the earth, man only accounts for 3.4% (.034 in decimals). Therefore, if you want to calculate the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere caused by man, you would multiply .034 x .000387 to get .0000131 or .00131%.
The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consulafft, at Bergen, Norway.
Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared.
Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.
I apologize, I neglected to mention that this report was from November 2, 1922. As reported by the AP and published in The Washington Post — 96 years ago! The text in the above example is a genuine transcription of a 1922 newspaper article, an Associated Press account which appeared on page 2 of the Washington Post on 2 November of that year
Commentary on Minimum Wage
The main argument concerning minimum wage is that it will help to alleviate poverty. That is clearly not the case. As you can see from the chart at the left, the poverty rate dropped dramatically in the 1960's. This was a function of great society legislation; specifically, increase in Social Security benefits in addition to the inception and implementation of Medicare and Medicaid. Since then, the poverty rate has fluctuated between 9-15% and is highly correlated with the unemployment rate. The vertical grey area's in the graph represent periods of recessions in the US. As can be expected, unemployment rises during recessions and peaks at the end (unemployment is said to be a lagging indicator). As you can also see from the chart, so too does the poverty rate. There is no indication whatsoever that the poverty rate is affected by increases in the minimum wage. Generally, this is quite the contrary. As can be evidenced from the below left chart, increases in minimum wage can contribute to unemployment and as we can infer from the above chart, as unemployment increases so to does poverty. If you look at NH, they have the lowest state poverty rate in the nation and it generally parallels the national unemployment rate. By raising the minimum wage, you increase business costs. As a result; businesses either pass these costs onto the consumer (in which case inflation nullifies any wage increase), substitute capital for labor, or simply go out of business. If you look at the chart below right, UAW (United Auto Workers) membership has decreased in the late 1970's from 1.5 million to 350,000 in 2009. The reason for this is simple. Detroit isn't making fewer cars, they are making more, but they have made their assembly lines more robotic and have substituted capital for labor, which became cheaper in the long run. This can also happen to those fast food workers who want a $15 minimum wage. There is currently a machine on the market that can make 300 burgers/hour. In other words, capital can be substituted for labor. Someone please e-mail me and explain how someone is better off unemployed at $10-15/hour as opposed to being gainfully employed at $7.25/hour
You cannot legislate equality. If you want to decrease poverty, implement policies to insure that higher levels of education is available to all.
BLOG Topics 2013
January Do Protected Seals lead to Depleted Fish Stocks February Prohibition: Profits to Cartels & Increased Violence for Americans March Increased Minimum Wage & Extended benefits lead to Higher Unemployment April Ethanol from corn & Agflation May Cash for Clunkers lead to Higher Used Car Prices & Wasted Tax Dollars June The Affordable Care Act; Anything but Affordable Part 1 July The Affordable Care Act; The poster Child for False Advertising August Detroit: Higher Taxes + Liberal Benefits = Bankruptcy September No Keystone Pipeline leads to more pollution October Global Warming! Or is it Global Cooling! November Poverty & Benefits December Does Affirmative Action lead to Reverse Discrimination?
Blog Topics 2014
January Will Lake Meade become another Aral Sea February Does Taxing the rich hurt the economy March The Cause of the Great Depression April Temporary Agricultural Subsidies lead to wealthy Farmers and Higher Prices May The Presidents Stance on Gun Control leads to Increased Gun Ownership June Is there really a Gender Pay Gap July Did the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade lower the crime rate August Department of Education and wasted Money October The Financial Follies of the EPA November Social Security and Portfolio Diversification December The White House and Terrorism
Blog Topics 2015
January Does Implementation of the Death Penalty lead to higher costs February Less Competition and Higher Hospital Costs March Millionaires Who Get Subsidies from the Affordable Care Act April The Unintended Obama Legacy May The NY Times and $15 Minimum Wage June Are Disability Payments Bankrupting Social Security August Seattle's $15 minimum wage and it's Surprising Consequence October The Great Stagnation: The Obama Legacy November Poverty in the United States December Should Insider Trading be Legalized: Part one by Olivia Marchioni
Blog Topics 2016
January Should Insider Trading be Legalized: Part 2 February The Presidential Election & the Economy March Does Narcan Increase Heroin Use April Is NOAA destroying the American Fisherman June Will California Style Power Outages Happen in New England July Textbooks, Inflation & the FTC Sept Economic strangulation by Regulation Oct Is this the Best we have? Nov The High Cost of Prescription Drugs Dec Trump, the Economy & Animal Spirits
The United States has amongst the lowest savings rate for all technological nations. The iOMe challenge is a nationwide competition between Colleges where teams submit a 10,000 page essay on how Americans can improve their savings rates. In addition, teams must produce an approximate 60 second video which complements the essay. If you click on the iOMe logo above, it will take you to Bentley University's 2012 video submission. The faculty adviser for the challenge is John Tommasi and is offered during his Fall EC 351 course, Contemporary Issues in Economics. I'm pleased to announce that on February 15, Bentley was declared the winner of the iOMe video portion of the contest. Congrats to the team members and great job!
EC 3900 Energy Economics
EC 3900, Energy Economics and International Markets, is a 3 credit, Short Term Program, that is offered during Spring semester. After 7 weeks of lecture, the class takes a 10 day educational/cultural tour to France where 80% of their electricity is produced by nuclear power. During the 10 day trip, students travel to, and tour various nuclear facilities Last year's class visited; Marsailles, Aix en Provance, Lyons, Brest and 4 days in Paris.
If there were ever words that can strike fear into the hearts of any man women or child, it's: "I'm from the Government and I'm here to help". On a monthly basis my blog, from an economic standpoint, will explore government laws, decisions and actions, which while well intentioned, had inadvertent results that were either disastrous, or made a bad situation worse. It wouldn't surprise me if you reached the conclusion that congress does two things well, nothing and overreact; and you may ask yourself, do Congressional members vote for what is best for the economy, or what will get them re-elected.