National Economy

Common Cents for July 6, 2018

July 6, 2018, by John Norris

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about Canada legalizing marijuana at its Federal level. Ultimately, the discussion got around to whether the stuff would ever be legal in Alabama. My thoughts were/are simply this: “at some point, it will be impossible for our state to effectively enforce its cannabis laws, and it will become legal as a matter of course if not a matter of law.” My buddy looked at me as...

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Common Cents for June 29, 2018

June 29, 2018, by John Norris

This past Wednesday night, I made a presentation down in Mobile. During the Q&A, one person asked whether the growing economy has already made back the money the Federal government ‘lost’ due to the “tax cuts.” The pure black & white, straight accounting answer, the one the opposition will use during the mid-term elections, is quite simply: no. There will be no getting around the issue, and plenty of GOP candidates will hem, haw, and...

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Is It Common Cents on June 15, 2018? We Will See.

June 15, 2018, by John Norris

This morning, the Administration imposed a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of goods from China. To put that number into better perspective, in 2016, the US imported roughly $463 billion (excluding services) from the Chinese. So, the Administration put a 25% tariff on about 11% of US imports from that country. In terms of pure dollars and cents, this imbroglio is the proverbial mouse that roared. Then again, trade deficits are sort of like...

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Common Cents for May 25, 2018

May 25, 2018, by John Norris

Back in early 2003, the finance committee of the City of Birmingham summoned me to explain the negative performance for 2002 in the account it had entrusted to my then employer’s care. To be sure, given the roughly 60% weight to stocks, it would have been a real magic trick to have generated a positive return in that portfolio for the year. What’s more, we had done much better than most, much, although I completely...

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Some Quick & Easy Common Cents for May 18th

May 18, 2018, by John Norris

There is an old expression: “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” We all know this, and have all forgotten it at least once in our lives. Something for nothing (or with very little effort) is powerful catnip indeed, even if we all know there really aren’t many good substitutes for hard work, preparation, and a willingness to fail. This is what makes the recent economic data somewhat concerning to me....

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A Small (and Short) Amount of Common Cents for May 4, 2018

May 4, 2018, by John Norris

This past Monday afternoon, I told a group of Oakworth associates the major stories this week would be the FOMC meeting/statement on Wednesday and today’s Employment Situation report. Although neither so-called big event was terribly surprising, sometimes simply ‘getting it over with,’ whatever it may be, is more important than anything else. As I type here on Friday, May 04, 2018, much is as it was and has been for a while. The Fed will...

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Common Cents for Friday the 13th (April 2018)

April 13, 2018, by John Norris

Yesterday, a co-worker told me they really like my weekly newsletter. They complimented me on my alleged ability to make boring economic commentary slightly less boring (at least I think they meant it as a compliment). However, they also told me the following: “I don’t read it every week like I did in the past…it has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with how I now consume news. I like to listen...

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Common Cents for April 6th, 2018

April 6, 2018, by John Norris

Section I Although the stock market has been a veritable roller coaster ride this week, interest rates and gold really haven’t done much of anything substantial. Oh sure, a few basis points here and a couple of dollars there, but nothing I would call out of the ordinary. This is significant, because if hell really were coming to dinner like a lot of people think, so-called safety assets would be performing a lot differently. Two...

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Common Cents for March 30, 2018 (I hope it is Common Sense)

March 26, 2018, by John Norris

During the Q & A session of my public speaking engagements, I have been known to be the one asking the questions. There is one in particular I like: “what was the primary cause of the financial meltdown in 2008?” As you might imagine, I hear/get all kinds of responses, usually of the low-hanging fruit variety: predatory lending practices, Wall Street greed, Main Street stupidity, the ratings organizations not doing their jobs, Fannie Mae and...

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Common Cents for March 16, 2018

March 16, 2018, by John Norris

Section I Does anyone really like surprises? By that, I mean are there really people who want to wake up without any clue as to what the day might bring? The source of their next meal? Where they will sleep in the evening? With whom they will interact? The environment in which they will live? Is anyone so spontaneous, living so in the moment, they eschew all form of structure? To the point where any...

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