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Cheat Sheet Q & A:
Topics: What economic data can you trust?
The question: I'm now one of those people who have lost faith in the veracity of the government. It used to be that certain statistics were objective. They were put together by career people rather than political appointees so, at least theoretically, had no axe to grind. But now I wonder. Pollsters are suspect too. It all depends on the question being asked.
So the question is what sources would you suggest that give a more accurate portrait of the economy?
Bottom Line: I’ll take the poll question first (it’s the easiest to address). I’ve always believed in using poll averages on like questions rather than paying attention to any one particular poll. What you suggest is correct. The way a question is worded, the sample size, the composition of the sample are among the potential variables that can skew any particular poll. By the time you take an average of three or more polls from accredited firms, you’re likely to have a pretty accurate portrayal. These days it’s easier than ever as Real Clear Politics does a terrific job aggregating polling data on like questions being polled.
Economic data is inherently more difficult to trust, aggregate and project. That’s why we have so many economists and analysts. So what to do? I’ll break down some of what I track:
So while there will be revisions to those numbers the Government number mostly computes against its private sector tracking number and we can infer that apox 200,000 jobs were added in November – so that number can be trusted this month.
The most recent
So in summation, gathering good economic info is a constant effort and in my view comparing Government data with private sector comparisons can help you determine what’s valid and what isn’t. It’s because of this complexity that big money is spent by big firms and why many people and companies pay big money for research they trust.
If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me: email@example.com
Chick-Fil-A’s mobile order and payment app is progressing in beta & could change the way we handle fast food.
Bottom Line: The fast food process has been slowing down. We’re spending more time in fast food drive thrus. What Chick-Fil-A is working on could reverse that process permanently. Chick-Fil-A’s mobile order app is entering the final phase of beta before going live. They picked six locations in the country and one is the
When you arrive it’s waiting for you. Pretty cool. That’s fast food…
If you own your home & stocks you're worth more & are part of a record:
Bottom Line: Driven by the continued housing recovery and especially the rising stock market household net wealth reached a new record of $77 trillion in the 3rd quarter. Wealthy increased by $1.9 trillion in the quarter, a huge three month increase. Of the increase:
The Federal Reserve through 0% interest rates and QE having been pushing people towards housing and stocks for years. If you haven’t fought the Fed you’re likely wealthier than you were just a few months ago.
We're shopping local for mortgages:
Bottom Line: If you’ve been turned down by a big bank… Look to a local mortgage company before you give up… Or you could just start there. For the first time on record more mortgages are being originated by local mortgage companies than through the big banks. About 60% of all mortgages are now being originated by the local and/or mortgage origination only companies. As recently as 2009 only about 39% were originated by these companies.
Often the bigger banks will add their own mortgage origination restrictions, beyond Government regulations, that the local companies won’t place on mortgage products. For many people it can be the difference between a rejection and a home mortgage.
The real unemployment rate:
Bottom Line: So many are more skeptical than ever with regard to the Federal Government unemployment rate. After a dramatic drop from 7.3 to 7% without any dramatic job growth to support the drop. The biggest issue, among many, in the calculation of the percentage is what happens to the people who exhaust their unemployment benefits. Suddenly in the eyes of the government they are in effect counted as employed because they aren’t factored in as unemployed any longer. We continue to languish with a historically low labor participation rate of 63%. So what is the real unemployment rate if you factor these people in the number?
Quite the difference from 7% isn’t it?
The top 1 & 2% isn't what it seems... New research shows that 20% of Americans meet the "wealthy" threshold at some point in their lives:
Bottom Line: Class warfare has been alive and unfortunately well in recent years. As the President, political allies and fringe groups like “Occupy” have banded together to portray the top 2% as rich fat cats taking advantage of everyone else. Never mind for a moment that the top 2% account for about 36% of all Federal income taxes paid. The implication is the same people continue to rake year after year at the expense of everyone else. In reality a majority of the 2% are different people year after year…
The threshold for the top 2% (as defined by the Federal Tax code and targeted for tax increases this year) are those who earn $250,000 or more in a year. Here’s where the narrative gets interesting.
The top 2% are not the same people year after year. Far from it… In fact more than 20% of Americans are part of the top 2% at some point in their lives. It could be for a year or several years or an occasional year but the point remains that it’s not an exclusive club of fat cats that have been perpetuated by interest groups and Socialist politicians. So how/why does this happen?
Some have investment gains in a year or certain year that put them in this group. Some are paid on commissions and will have a huge year. Some are in business for themselves and will have good years and bad. Some have will have good paying careers only to lose that job. So our progressive tax policy really is regressive for the overwhelming majority of the top 2% in any given year that are trying to make the most out of their most productive years.
Company holiday party or cash? It's not even close:
Bottom Line: The company holiday party isn’t what it once was for many. It’s part economic and part changes of what’s acceptable in society today. If you ask a majority of employees, they’d much prefer to just stop the party altogether and take the money that would have been spent on the party instead. MetLife studied employees and found that:
So the end of many company holiday part traditions isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the eyes of a majority of people in the workplace. Actually they may welcome the end of the party.
Weight gain & cardiac events during the holidays:
Bottom Line: This isn’t a positive story but it may be better than you’d expect. I’ll explain. How many pounds do you think the average American will gain from Thanksgiving thru Christmas? This is the silver lining…
I’d imagine that’s less than you guessed… So that’s potentially a positive. This next number isn’t as positive…
So… We’re not adding 5% to our waist line so it must be the stress…
Spending per student tops $115,000 - 2nd highest in world and what we get is...:
Bottom Line: So the annual
Average it all together and we have about the worst performance of any developed country (and lose too many developing countries).
What’s worse… We now spend more than $115,000 per student in public education in the
A Christmas Story" House is open for you on the 30th anniversary of the movie... You can stay for a few nights via winning the EBay bid:
Cheat Sheet Q & A:
Topic Minimum wage:
Hi Brian, this morning you gave stats on the increase of the federal minimum wage. Would you please post those on your cheat sheet or send them back to me. This is the kind of information a person really needs to be armed with when being confronted with socialist ideas.
Bottom Line: I studied data from the
Those on the Federal Minimum Wage are:
So in short the rhetoric about many Americans having to support households on the Federal minimum wage simply doesn’t compute – it’s less than 1%. I, like most, once worked on minimum wage until I became more valuable. Most should realize that minimum wage jobs, which are clearly entry level work, were never intended to be careers to support the family. Even in these economic times that is still the case. Additionally, because cost of living is so vastly different for state to state (and really city to city) minimum wage arguments are best left to the states.
If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bottom Line: So yesterday brought another wild revision with important economic data from the Feds. This time it’s the 3rd quarter
The reported growth rate of 3.6% is a good number. If we could sustain economic growth at 3% we’d have a healthy economy that we’ve all been waiting for since the beginning of the Great Recession – which occurred six years ago. Unfortunately we aren’t going to be able to sustain that growth rate. Here is what I found in the number:
So the good news is that an economy growing above 3% is exactly what we need. The bad news is that it won’t be sustained in the 4th quarter. In fact based on this number economic growth will likely be 2% or lower.
The political bottom hasn't occurred yet for President Obama as his average approval dips below 40% for the first time:
Bottom Line: First the first time in his Presidency President Obama has officially fallen below 40% average approval putting him on course to be in company only shared by President’s Truman and G.W. Bush. Yes there have been occasional polls that have had President Obama below 40% but not an average of all polls until now.
Less than a year into his second term President Obama has become the second fastest to the under 40 threshold (G.W. Bush reached it two months quicker in his second term) and is on pace to become just the third two-term President to average below 40% approval in his second term.
It’s worth noting that once Truman and Bush averaged under 40% they never made it back above that threshold. They both averaged 36.5% for their second term.
Fastest growing game app ever:
Bottom Line: If you like trivia and have a iPhone you’ll likely love a new app called QuizUp that has become the fastest growing game app thus far. It’s only available for iPhones thus far but it achieved 1 million users in 8 eight days and 3.5 million users within three weeks. Fastest ever to each of those numbers. You can quiz with friends or random people through the app.
A new laser company says they can make first down calls much more accurate:
Bottom Line: The Company is called FirstDown Laser. They say they can make spotting the football for close spots faster and more accurate. If you’re a football fan you know that there can be multiple points of failure / variance in spotting. First it’s up to a ref to estimate the right spot, then it’s up to them to toss the ball to the nearest hash mark, then they have to bring our the chains to measure. Three points of failure. FirstDown Laser says that their tech can immediately and accurately detect whether a first down has occurred as soon as a ref spots the ball. That eliminates two points of failure and saves time. Hopefully the NFL will pay attention.
AT&T is finally offering a new plan that's actually a good deal:
Bottom Line: If you have paid off your smart phone and use AT&T for data you can now save at least $15 per month. AT&T now has what’s called the Mobile Share Value plan. This allows you to separate your data cost from your wireless service if you’ve already paid for your smart phone (which would be the case if you bought it at full cost originally or if you’re past your two year contract). This will save you at least $15.
Guess what we seem to have the Christmas spirit!:
Bottom Line: A quick hitter for you… Through December 3rd Christmas tree sales are selling at a record pace up 16% over last year! Maybe it’s the Hallmark Christmas movies…