National Economy

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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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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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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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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Some Common Cents for July 14th, 2017

July 14, 2017, by John Norris

The other night, I dreamt a massive meteor hit the earth. Since I typically dream in comedy and am not prone to worrying during waking hours, this was both a departure from the norm and somewhat disconcerting. After all, not much good will come out of a cube with 1 mile edges hurtling into the earth from deep space at what could only be described as a very rapid rate of speed. Perhaps my dream...

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Some Common Cents for July 7th, 2017

July 10, 2017, by John Norris

I have recently written about the potential for some form of consolidated government in the Birmingham metropolitan area. For those not in the know, many, if not most, of our suburbs have incorporated themselves over the last 70+ years. The endgame has been a relatively diminished ‘center city’ surrounded by fully functioning municipalities with their own unique identities. Tens of thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands, in the metro area might not even...

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Some Common Cents for June 30th, 2017

June 30, 2017, by John Norris

I am able to track how many people who directly receive Common Cents actually go to the trouble to open it. Last week, I apparently touched on a subject of particular interest, because the number of ‘click throughs’ was significantly higher than it has been in, quite literally, months. If you didn’t read it, it was about the discussion surrounding a consolidated form of local government for the Birmingham metropolitan area (MSA). More specifically, the debate...

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Some Common Cents for June 23rd, 2017

June 26, 2017, by John Norris

This is sort of part one in an intermittent series. Recently, I received an email with a link to a study about the need for a consolidated form of government in the Birmingham metro area (MSA). For those of you not familiar with Birmingham, most of the suburbs have incorporated themselves. All of them have their own fire and police departments, and the larger, wealthier ones have their own school systems. Some of these cities/suburbs,...

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Norris: Federal Reserve is walking a tightrope

June 20, 2017, by John Norris

Last week, the Federal Reserve raised the overnight lending target rate between member banks by 0.25 percent, and said it wants to remove some of the stimulus it provided with its quantitative easing programs. Put another way, it wants to take some of the excess cash out of the banking system over time. To do this, it will sell some of its bond holdings, or simply not reinvest them as they mature. The cash it...

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Some Common Cents for June 2nd, 2017

June 5, 2017, by John Norris

This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released The Employment Situation report for the month of May 2017. I will cut to the quick, and tell you it might be one of the more boring releases of its type I have ever read. So much so, I felt sorry for the folks who had to compile the data by the time I finished reading the thing. In a lot of ways, I found it...

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