The topic of income inequality and its effects has been the subject of countless analysis stretching back generations and crossing geopolitical boundaries. Despite the tendency to speak about this issue in moral terms, the central questions are economic ones: Would the U.S. economy be better off with a narrower income gap? And, if an unequal distribution of income hinders growth, which solutions could do more harm than good, and which could make the economic pie bigger for all?
Given the decades--indeed, centuries--of debate on this subject, it comes as no surprise that the answers are complex. A degree of inequality is to be expected in any market economy. It can keep the economy functioning effectively, incentivizing investment and expansion--but too much inequality can undermine growth.
Higher levels of income inequality increase political pressures, discouraging trade, investment, and hiring. Keynes first showed that income inequality can lead affluent households…
In September 2013, China became the biggest net importer of crude, beating out the U.S. for the first time. This came as no surprise, given how rapidly China’s thirst for oil has grown, although landing in top place happened a little ahead of U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) predictions that it would take place in 2014. However, where the U.S. has been shoring up its own internal production, China has lagged behind. Between 2011 and 2014, U.S. oil production rose by 31 percent, as opposed to China, which saw its own production increase by a little more than 5 percent over that time. This leaves China utterly dependent on oil imports, a vulnerable position to be in at a time when its economy is beginning to wobble.
Americans lust for things they cannot afford continues as credit usage has rebounded since the height of the credit crisis however, with the Fed's current zero interest rate policy (ZIRP), the ongoing use of credit is not necessarily a thing for concern.
After all, if you were able to refinance your home from 6% down to 3%, that's a good thing, right? Ditto for your credit cards which may have been 9.9% prior to 2008 and now down at much lower levels. Indeed ZIRP has aided corporations and individuals to grab historic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to restructure existing debt and issue new debt for acquisitions for almost nothing.
In that respect, I guess Obama's statement "we're much better off than we were" would ring true here.
What does bother…
My simplistic view of the stock market, the one my muddled brain is able to wrap around, is to imagine that of the waterfalls at the Continental Divide at Glacier National Park in Montana. Numerous rivers, all converging into to one. Hedge funds, pension funds, investment firms, your own 401k, option flows, you name it.........and share buybacks.
Throughout the recovery, the amount of cash being held on corporate balance sheets was in some instances, astounding, leaving many investors wondering if/when the cash would be deployed.
Well if you haven't noticed, they have been deploying more and more. Just imagine the many streams you see in this image to the right. One is M&A which can be the acquisition of a company to compliment ones existing…
Pretty much as I had expected. Consumers are tapped out and you can blame inflation the Fed says doesn't exist the necessities, food and gasoline. Certainly the packages have become small to mask the cost but we all know it's there, lurking. We're getting less and less for our hard earned buck and $20 just doesn't buy what it used to....leaving less for dining out, electronics, clothing, vacations, etc.
Retailers beginning to feel the pinch may shift to more coupons, clearance sales, preferred customer discounts. Others will continue to tighten the belt internally moving more to cloud, temp agencies for personnel (a huge cost savings) and other cost-cutting measures. Insurers for example have discovered that making …
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While Americans' spending in June was generally on par or lower than their average May spending, this month's $7 drop is one of the largest recorded by Gallup during this time of year since 2008, when June spending fell by $10. The June 2008 spending average of $104 is still the highest average for that month in Gallup's six-year trend.
Can it be the new jobs being created (majority at the low end) is weighing on consumers pocketbook? #shocker! But what about the spending of the wealthy lifting all boats? You know; that good old trickle down…
Given today's big GPS miss (-2.9% vs. expected -1.8%), I felt we should take a look at the historical performance of the S&P500 when it comes to recessions. For all of those who harp that the stock market is not the economy, past reactions to recessions is certainly interesting.
Click image to enlarge.
Chart courtesy of ElliottWaveAnalytics
As highlighted here previously, China is clearly not the only country exploring the wonderful world of 3D printing and it's application to housing. Sadly the loser will be the average construction worker.
The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia in Barcelona is working on a set of robots that will soon be able to build complex structures by extruding layers of concrete, a process that might be a bit slow but that will…
Five years since the end of the Great Recession, the economy has finally regained the nine million jobs it lost. But not all industries recovered equally. This awesome interactive from the NYTimes demonstrates what's moving and what is not along with over 200 charts drilling it down in simple terms. Tell your high school and college attendees. Are they in these growth areas? Click chart to make the jump to the interactive.
Here we go again but should anyone be surprised? This is one of those days when people will come out and say "the market is not the economy" yet we all know job growth remains tepid at best and with that, one has to ask "where will the growth come from?" See the ginormous infographic below.
World Bank has lowered its forecasts for developing countries, now eyeing growth at 4.8 percent this year, down from its January estimate of 5.3 percent. Signs point to strengthening in 2015 and 2016 to 5.4 and 5.5 percent, respectively. China is expected to grow by 7.6 percent this year, but this will depend on the success of rebalancing efforts. If a hard landing occurs, the reverberations across Asia would be widely felt.
There's always a BUT
Being reported in the Wall Street Journal, the EU to Investigate Corporate Tax Codes in Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands after criticism of their tax rates for Corporate offshore havens. AAPL specifically being mentioned in the news as theirs use of favorable Irish tax laws allowed it to pay just a 3.7% tax rate on non-U.S. income during its last fiscal year. That, in turn, is a big reason $132.2B of Apple's $150.6B cash balance at the end of FQ2 was offshore. Tim Cook was grilled by Congress last year over Apple's offshore tax payments;…
From a chart point of view, there's a definite divergence in performance in U.S. solar stocks vs. their Chinese competitors. Forget the cold war; is a trade war heating up with China? Charts don't lie - people do. Full disclosure StockBuz recommended long FSLR in 2013.
The United States slapped new import duties on solar panels and other related products from China on Tuesday after the Commerce department ruled they were produced using Chinese government subsidies, potentially inflaming trade tensions between the two countries.
The U.S. arm of German solar manufacturer SolarWorld AG filed a petition…
Moves today in AIG and MET to name a few may be based on speculation whether the Fed will move to regulate some insurers as "systemically important" which was previously discussed in this article on asset managers. Under Dodd-Frank, the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a newly created super-regulator, can designate “systemically important financial institutions,” or SIFIs, and subject them to rules previously reserved for banks. Steve Miller, AIG non-executive Chairman shares his view on CNBC. Full disclosure StockBuz has previously recommended AIG…
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