Column: In land of blind, one-eyed man is king

Royal Gold CrownThe other night, I broke a bottle of soy sauce unloading the groceries. No, this wasn’t me being a clumsy old man. I had removed another item from the same bag, and it simply tipped over and shattered like a stage prop on the counter. Loose leaf paper is thicker than that glass.

If you have ever cleaned up such a mess, you know a few ounces of liquid in a container magically translates into gallons on the floor. Read the full article as previously published in the Montgomery Advertiser August 8th 2016…

Some Common Cents for July 15th 2016

Buy Sell The Economist

The cover of The Economist for the first week of November 1997 is one of my all time favorites. Here it is, and a quick note to the good folks at the magazine: I am not making a dime from this, but thanks:

If you are reading this on your phone, you might have a hard time reading the captions. On the far left, a broker is telling a client over the phone “I’ve got a good stock here that could really excel.”

The man standing next to him overhears the conversation, and wonders: “Really excel?”

This quickly turns into ‘sell,’ which leads to panicked selling.

In the bottom panel, you see one of the mob putting on his hat to leave, saying: “This is madness! I can’t take anymore. Good bye!” Of course, this turns goes from ‘bye’ to ‘buy’ in a hurry, and a buying frenzy erupts. In the far bottom right, the broker is again seen talking on the phone: “I’ve got a stock here.”  …Read On…

The opinions expressed within this report are those of John Norris as of the initial publication of this blog. They are subject to change without notice, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oakworth Capital Bank, its directors, shareholders, and employees. 

Some Common Cents for July 8th 2016

math_problems1This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the Employment Situation report for June 2016. It was pretty good, as the economy apparently created 287K net new jobs last month. That number is even better when you consider employers only created 11K during May. In truth, this wild swing was undoubtedly due to problems with the ‘seasonal adjustment factors’ the BLS uses to smooth out monthly vagaries. To that end, May job gains were probably understated, and June’s were/are likely overstated. An average of the two months, 149.5K, gives a better picture of the true health of the current job market …Read On…

The opinions expressed within this report are those of John Norris as of the initial publication of this blog. They are subject to change without notice, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oakworth Capital Bank, its directors, shareholders, and employees. 

Some Common Cents for July 1st 2016

david cameronI suppose it would be appropriate to write about what I learned from the fallout due to last week’s referendum on the European Union in Britain, the Brexit. Here goes:

British political leaders resign when things don’t go their way.

That about sums it up. Other than that, it is hard to glean too much insight other than the world doesn’t seem to think the long-term economic impact is meaningful, at least as I type. After all, believe it or not, the S&P 500 had a slightly positive total rate of return for June. Sure, the US markets are off a bit since last Thursday’s close, ahead of the poll results, but they are ahead of where they finished out last Wednesday (6/22), before investors placed all their last minute “remain” trades.

Frankly it borders on the surreal. …read on…

The opinions expressed within this report are those of John Norris as of the initial publication of this blog. They are subject to change without notice, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oakworth Capital Bank, its directors, shareholders, and employees. 

Some Common Cents for June 24th 2016

how-would-brexit-affect-expats-pensions-residency-jobs-and-healthcare-136406074460703901-160513131752Hmm. What to write about today?

Last night, I stayed up pretty late watching the BBC report the results of the ‘Brexit’ referendum. I had one eye on the TV screen and another on my iPhone watching global stock futures; it wasn’t pretty. After the vote became a fait accompli, I went to bed knowing today was going to be, well, less than fun, with more than enough red ink to fill the wells of every bureaucrat in the EU.

But, other than the predictable short-term market freak out, what does Britain voting to leave the European Union actually mean? After giving this much thought, before and after the referendum, I can only answer that with: it depends on just how petulant everyone is…Read On…

The opinions expressed within this report are those of John Norris as of the initial publication of this blog. They are subject to change without notice, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oakworth Capital Bank, its directors, shareholders, and employees.  

 

 

Column: Millennials have been duped

Private-student-loansI sort through all kinds of labor market numbers to determine the health of the U.S. consumer. After all, our economy is largely based on consumption, and most people base their expenditures on their paycheck. So, you can’t talk about the U.S. economy without talking about the health of the U.S. consumer. You can’t talk about that without studying the labor markets.

What have I found? The economic equivalent of a peanut butter sandwich and a bag of potato chips is what. Read the full article as previously published in the Montgomery Advertiser June 13th 2016…)

Some Common Cents for June 17th 2016

mad-in-chinaA couple of weeks ago, my father and I got into a discussion about China’s supposedly aggressive behavior in the South China Sea, namely around the Spratly Islands. He was, and still is, very concerned a belligerent Beijing could cause all sorts of international problems in that area, which would engulf the United States in a faraway war. The problem? I suppose it has to do with the presumption there is a lot of oil under the water over there.

Let’s just say I am not as worried about the South China Sea as my father and many others are. First, there is the name: South China Sea. It isn’t South United States Sea. Second, the Chinese are heavily dependent on trade, and would be foolish to do anything which would impact that. Third, the US could be energy independent in less than 5 years, and should be. Fourth, I am dubious the Pentagon is itching for a fight with the People’s Liberation Army/Navy, especially on its turf. Fifth, there is an issue about the debt…Read On…

 

Some Common Cents for June 10th 2016

typeThis morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its Employment Situation report for the month of May, 2016. It wasn’t dreadful in absolute terms like those in 2008, 2009, or during the recession at the start of the century. However, I have poured through hundreds of these reports over my career, some more than others, and I can’t remember another one as worthy of the fireplace as this one.

The headline numbers were: 1) the economy added 38K net, new jobs during the month, and; 2) the Unemployment Rate fell to 4.7%, the lowest rate since November 2007. Hmm. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Sure, we should be adding more jobs, but, you know, a 4.7% Unemployment Rate? That is pretty good, right? …Read On…

Some Common Cents for May 20th 2016

51zsn8kVcWL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I can’t remember with certainty all the various Literature courses I took in college, but it safe to say it was more than the core curriculum required. In truth, we didn’t have a lot of patsy, easy A type classes with which to pad the old GPA, and those we did have normally didn’t carry the same number of credit hours. As a result, the school pretty much required you to attempt to learn something with your non-required course load. Whether any of us did is a different story altogether.

If you think back on what your professors forced you to read, you will probably recall a few books you liked, and probably an equal measure of those you didn’t. One of the works I didn’t favor was The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. If you have never read it, let me give you a 1¢ synopsis: this dude kills a bird with a crossbow, which, for some reason, brings misfortune upon the voyage. Everyone eventually dies but for him, which seems rather unfair, and the ship ultimately sinks in an eddy. The end …Read On…

The opinions expressed within this report are those of John Norris as of the initial publication of this blog. They are subject to change without notice, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oakworth Capital Bank, its directors, shareholders, and employees.

Some Common Cents for May 6th 2016

plantfloorLet’s assume I am a pretty major manufacturer (high-tech) based in California, and have designed a product which I believe will sell well in the overseas markets, particularly China. In fact, I think I can sell $5 billion worth of product outside the US to start, and grow my sales 5% per year for 10 years.

If those numbers seem like funny money, consider Pfizer, who recently ditched a plan to do a corporate inversion in Ireland, got 55.6% of its 2015 fiscal year revenue from foreign markets. Put another way, the company generated $27.147 billion in revenue offshore. For its part, Apple sold $139.851 billion worth of goods & services outside of the ‘Americas’ for its same reporting year, for 59.8%. Some $58.7 billion was in so-called Greater China alone …Read On…