Economically Speaking

John Norris: Which came first? The consumer or the product?

September 18, 2017, by John Norris

My daughter will periodically declare herself a vegetarian for a number of different reasons, none of them dietary in nature. This will last for a few days or until the next time we have spaghetti for dinner, whichever comes first. It seems her convictions are no match for a good Bolognese sauce. A couple of weekends ago, she came home from college and we all went for a hike at one of the parks here...

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John Norris: When it comes to business, fairness is relative

September 12, 2017, by John Norris

While he wasn’t the first to bring up the idea, Karl Marx was known for saying: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” The thought process is the strong will carry the weak, until it is their time to be weak. That sounds fair, and isn’t that the way it should be? Some months ago, my daughter and I had a conversation about economics. When I gave her my thoughts...

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Some Common Cents for September 8, 2017

September 8, 2017, by John Norris

The Science Channel has a new program called “The Planets” which airs on Tuesday evenings. I missed the first episode on Jupiter, but I found the second one on Venus to be absolutely riveting. Where do these people come up with these crazy hypotheses? Have they nothing better else to do? For instance, who would have thought the proximate cause for the inhospitable climate on Venus was/is a collision with a more minor planet during...

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Some Common Cents for September 1, 2017

September 1, 2017, by John Norris

Recently, someone said to me: “with everything that is going on in the world, I bet there is no shortage of things for you to write about.” To be sure, it seems as though we are tearing ourselves apart at the seams, with Mother Nature lending a helping hand. However, there is a difference between headline stories and what actually impacts how we live our lives and conduct business. There are times when living in...

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John Norris: When it comes to shopping, know what you’re paying for

August 29, 2017, by John Norris

The other day, I went to a local grocery to buy a couple of helium balloons for my wife’s birthday. A small sign on the counter at the floral department directed me to the customer service desk for attention. I waited there a few minutes before a relatively young employee sauntered – a good word choice – over to ask how they could help. I told her, and she ambled over to another employee no fewer than five aisles...

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Some Common Cents For August 25, 2017

August 25, 2017, by John Norris

Earlier this week, someone forwarded to me a link to an old video clip of a debate, if that is the right word, between Milton Friedman and Phil Donahue. The issue at hand was greed. Donahue’s argument was the, presumed, inherent greed within capitalism leads to an unfair distribution of resources. Depending on how you view the world, Friedman’s response was either completely misguided or analogous to the virtuous killing of a mosquito with a...

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John Norris: Country’s tax code is beyond ridiculous

August 22, 2017, by John Norris

Years from now, if not after next year’s elections, historians may wonder how the GOP squandered a wonderful opportunity to pass meaningful tax reform. While I am not privy to all the back door machinations in Washington, outward appearances certainly suggest the ruling party is kind of disinclined to work with itself, let alone those on the opposite side of the aisle. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. While no one really likes...

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Some Common Cents for August 11th, 2017

August 11, 2017, by John Norris

During a conference call on Monday, I told our wealth management associates the markets were/are as boring as I had/have seen them in my career. A steady diet of modest economic growth and acceptable, if unremarkable, earnings will do that. Further, there is really nothing on the foreseeable horizon to suggest any significant change. Yesterday, the stock markets sold off, and a number of people have asked me whether this is the start of something...

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Norris: Income inequality is about to accelerate

July 26, 2017, by John Norris

The other day, I saw an advertisement on the television for a company which delivers snacks to your house. While I doubt executive management would put it like that, that about sums it up. My initial reaction was: “Are are we really so lazy we can’t even go to the store to stuff our face between meals?” My second one was wondering where the pretzels and ranch dressing were. What was this with all the...

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Norris: Why has Alabama’s employment rate spiked so dramatically?

July 21, 2017, by John Norris

In my last column, I mentioned how Alabama seems to be on an employment tear thus far in 2017. While I have read numerous articles and scoured any number of websites, I can’t seem to find an ironclad business reason why the state’s labor market has strengthened so dramatically in such a short period of time. Consider this: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Household Data survey, the national economy created roughly 812,000 new...

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