Enjoy this edition of the Curious Cat Investing, Economics and Personal Finance Carnival. This carnival is different than many blog carnivals: I select posts on those topics from what I read (instead of posting those that submit to the carnival as many carnivals do). If you would like to host the carnival add a comment below.
- The Economics of Netflix’s $100 Million New Show – “ith Netflix spending a reported $100 million to produce two 13-episode seasons of House of Cards, they need 520,834 people to sign up for a $7.99 subscription for two years to break even.”
- Chart of Top Countries for Manufacturing Production 1999-2011 by John Hunter – “the four leading nations for manufacturing production remain solidly ahead of all the rest. Korea and Italy had manufacturing output of $313 billion in 2011 and Brazil moved up to $308 are in 4-6 place. Those 3 countries together could be in 4th place (ahead of just Germany). Even adding Korea and Italy together the total is short of Germany by $103 billion.”
- Why a Transaction Fee Matters to You by David Brin – “By raw extrapolation, this zero-point-zero-three-percent (0.03%) fee could raise a whopping deficit-curbing $352 billion dollars in ten years, while helping capital markets to settle down” [I agree we should use a very small fee to raise money and reduce incentive for high frequency trading/frontrunning - John]
- Mexico: The New China – “Today, what Shenzhen is to Hong Kong, Tijuana is becoming to San Diego. You can drive from our San Diego engineering center to our Tijuana factory in 20 minutes, no passport required. (A passport is needed to come back, but there are fast-track lanes for business people.)”
The story of global manufacturing production continues to be China’s growth, which is the conventional wisdom. The conventional wisdom however is not correct in the belief that the USA has failed. China shot past the USA, which dropped into 2nd place, but the USA still manufactures a great deal and has continually increased output (though very slowly in the last few years).
The story is pretty much the same as I have been writing for 8 years now. The biggest difference in that story is just that China actually finally moved into 1st place in 2010 and, maybe, the slowing of the USA growth in output (if that continues, I think the USA growth will improve). I said last year, that I expected China to build on the lead it finally took, and they did so. I expect that to continue, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see China’s momentum slow (especially a few more years out – it may not slow for 3 or 4 more years).
As before, the four leading nations for manufacturing production remain solidly ahead of all the rest. Korea and Italy had manufacturing output of $313 billion in 2011 and Brazil moved up to $308 are in 4-6 place. Those 3 countries together could be in 4th place (ahead of just Germany). Even adding Korea and Italy together the total is short of Germany by $103 in 2011). I would expect Korea and Brazil to grow manufacturing output substantially more than Italy in the next 5 years.
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 157,000 in January, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 7.9%, the USA Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised from +161,000 to +247,000, and the change for December was revised from +155,000 to +196,000 which means this report shows an increase of 284,000 (157+86+41). In 2012, employment growth averaged 181,000 per month.
The number of unemployed persons, at 12.3 million, was little changed in January. The
unemployment rate was 7.9% and has been at or near that level since September 2012.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.3%), adult women (7.3%), teenagers (23.4%), whites (7.0%), african-american (13.8%), Hispanics (9.7%), and Asians (6.5%) showed little or no change in January.
In January, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was about unchanged at 4.7 million and accounted for 38.1% of the unemployed. The continued high level of long term unemployment is a continuing concern.
Health care continued to add jobs in January (+23,000). Within health care, job growth occurred in ambulatory health care services (+28,000), which includes doctors’ offices and outpatient care centers. In the last year, health care employment has increased by 320,000.
Manufacturing employment was essentially unchanged in January and has changed little, on net, since July 2012.
Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 4 cents to $23.78. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1 percent. In January, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 5 cents to $19.97.
No, it is not time to sell Apple, if your portfolio is not already too heavily overweighted in Apple it would make sense to buy. There is about as much wrong with Apple today as Toyota 3 years ago, which means essentially nothing is wrong. Yes, neither company is perfect. Maybe people were carried away with how awesome Apple was, but I don’t think the stock price every was.
Apple was a great buy at $700. Of course in the same situation buying it at $500 would be even better. I think it is a great buy at $500 today. I think Apple is going to move ahead just as Toyota has the last few years. The people jumping around at every single rumor of a data point are going beyond reacting to each data point they are reacting to rumors of data points.
I could be wrong. If Apple’s earnings cave over the next 5 years people can claim they say early signals. After a long time watching investors react to data and rumors and speculation I think they are just being foolish. Even if Apple is deteriorating, there needs to be a much better explanation for why investors should believe that than I have seen.
The best reason to question Apple is how long of a run they are on. Figuring the “law” of convergence in mean should make investors wary. That isn’t really true but that idea – that you just don’t stay on such a run (especially when you are huge and the have the largest market capitalization in the world).
But that is more just saying Toyota can’t keep being awesome. There is some sense that most likely they will stumble. But the problem is it is more likely about every other company will stumble first. The winners keep winning more than they start failing. But they also do often start failing. 100 years from now there is a decent chance Apple doesn’t exist. But there is a greater change most of the other companies you can invest in won’t. And there is a greater chance most other investments will do worse than Apple. That is my guess. Other investors get to place their money where there mouth is and we will see in 5 and 10 years how things stand.
I’ll stick with Apple and Toyota and Google and Danaher and Intel and….
A recent report by Deloitte, The Hidden Costs of U.S. Health Care: Consumer Discretionary Health Care Spending provides some interesting data.
Between 2006 and 2010 USA health care expenditures increased by 19%. Government spending accounted for 40% of costs (remember that figure is lowered due to Deloitte’s including inputed value for care of relatives). Those 65 and older account for 61% of the inputed cost care that is provided.
I find this imputed value largely not worth considering. There are problems with the way we count GDP and economic activity (that affect health care and lots of other things). It is fine to be aware that they think $492 billion of extra care is given by family members but using that figure in any sensible way (other than saying hey there is a huge cost in people’s time to dealing with our health care system and sick people that isn’t counted in economic data) is questionable.
It is useful in looking at the increasingly old population we will see in the future and judging their is a large need for supervisory care that is not captured in just looking at the costs included in economic data currently. Not only will our grandkids have to pay for our living beyond our means today they will have to do so while providing unpaid care to their parents and grandparents.
The burden of long term supervisor care (that which can be provided by a non-health care professional) is one reason a resurgence in multi-generation housing options make sense to me. There are other good reasons also (child care, socialization, financial support to the young…). There are some real advantages and real disadvantages to such options. But I think economic advantages are going to encourage more of this going forward.
Related: Personal Finance Basics: Long-term Care Insurance – Health Care in the USA Cost 17.9% of GDP, $2.6 Trillion, $8,402 per person in 2010 – Resources for Improving Health Care System Performance
Those that want to continue the policies of the last few decades of policies that tax our grandkids to pay for us living beyond our means seem to have won the day again. Not a surprise; very sad though.
In my reading stories on the wonderful success of “avoiding the fiscal cliff” seems to amount to passing the George Bush tax cuts again (except this time when in a much much worse budgetary position) and modifying the extent to which the absolute richest benefit from those cuts (so the richest don’t get quite as step cuts as they had been getting but still are getting big cuts from before the Bush tax cuts were made. And the recent trend of treating trust fund babies as the absolute most favored taxpayers was continued (though a few of the absolute richest trust fund babies will have to have some taxes withheld from their windfalls).
I haven’t read anything about them getting rid of the “hedge fund manager” tax favors. Did they? Did they even bother to change the law so retired managers don’t get the super huge tax favors too?
On the spending beyond our means issue they seem to have just decided that having the grandkids continue to fund our spending is wonderful.
If it were up to me I would have continued some of the Bush tax cuts (certainly not for those making more than $200,000 – unless we can cut spending way more than I would guess in which case I would be fine having taxes even for the richest few lowered). I would have continued treatment that reduced taxes owed on dividends and capital gains, though perhaps a bit less than they did. I would cap mortgage deductions (at say $50,000 a year or something).
I certainly would not have supported such massive Bush tax cuts without large spending cuts. If this level of spending is what we intent to do, we need to pay for it and not just bury our kids and grandkids with huge bills. Without spending cuts I would not have voted again for the Bush tax cuts, which seems to be the main extent of their “solution” (taking a bit of the tax cuts for the wealthiest off the plate but pretty much just passing Bush’s tax cut again).
The Curious Cat Investing, Economics and Personal Finance carnival is published monthly with links to new, related, interesting content online.
- Health-care bill in retirement: $240,000 by Elizabeth O’Brien – “Here’s a breakdown of where their $240,000 goes: 32% goes to premiums for Medicare Parts B & D, which cover doctor visits and drugs, respectively; 23% goes to prescription drugs expenses not covered by Medicare Part D; and 45% goes toward Medicare cost-sharing provisions, including copayments, deductibles, other services not covered by Medicare, and any optional Medigap policies purchased.
For all their detail, Fidelity and EBRI’s retirement health-care estimates have a whopping exclusion: the cost of long-term care, which could be provided at home or in an assisted living or nursing facility.”
- We’re Headed For A Disaster Of Biblical Proportions by Henry Blodget – “The rise in population, the ten-fold increase in wealth in developed countries, and the current explosive growth in developing countries have eaten rapidly into our finite resources of hydrocarbons and metals, fertilizer, available land, and water.”
- Save What You Can, Increase Monthly Savings as You Can Do So by John Hunter – “My favorite tips along these lines are: spend less than you make, save some of every raise you get…”
- A Better Way to Deliver Aid by Dr. William Brindley and Douglas Sabo – “To increase the speed of delivery and put decision-making power into the hands of beneficiaries, the international aid community has made a concerted effort over the last decade to transition away from the distribution of in-kind goods to the direct transfer of cash payments to assist those in need”
I am glad we have a “fiscal cliff” to finally get some reduction in the future taxes both parties have been piling on with abandon the last few decades. When you have enormous spending beyond your income, as the USA has had the last few decades, cutting current taxes is just raising taxes on your grandchildren to pay for your spending. Shifting taxes to your grand children is not cutting taxes it is shifting them to future generations.
If you want to really cut taxes you must cut taxes and not pass on paying for your cuts to your kids. It seems pretty obvious those that advocating cutting current taxes the last few decades were only interested in living beyond their means today and foisting the responsibility to pay to their grandchildren. That is despicable behavior.
The fiscal cliff is an opportunity to return to a budget that has the generation doing the spending paying the taxes (last seen in the Clinton administration). The fiscal cliff outcome is going to be far from perfect. But the result will be a much more honorable outcome than foisting ever increasing taxes on future generations to pay for our current spending.
Obviously, if you reducing how much you are adding to your credit card balance each month and start paying your bills that means you don’t get to live off your future earnings today. So you will suffer today compared to continuing to tax the future to pay for your spending.
I hope the compromise results in spending cuts and an elimination of the Bush generation shifting taxes (cutting taxes on the the current wealthy without spending cuts – so just taxing the future to pay for tax cuts today). It is unlikely the fiscal cliff results in us actually paying for our spending (the best possible result is not an elimination of adding to the taxes future generations must pay but just a reduction in the level of tax increases we are imposing on the future every year).
Lots of little things should be done to save a few billion (maybe it could add up to $50 billion a year if we are very lucky). But the serious spending cuts have to come from reductions in military spending, reducing waste in the health care system and making social security more actuarially sensible (social security is not part of the fiscal cliff discussions though). Reducing tax breaks also has to happen, unless absolutely huge spending cuts can be found which is not at all likely.
Building your saving is largely about not very sexy actions. The point where most people fail is just not saving. It isn’t really about learning some tricky secret.
You can find yourself with pile of money without saving; if you win the lottery or inherit a few million from your rich relative via some tax dodge scheme like generation skipping trusts or charitable remainder trusts.
But the rest of us just have to do a pretty simple thing: save money. Then, keep saving money and invest that money sensibly. The key is saving money. The next key is not taking foolish risks. Getting fantastic returns is exciting but is not likely and the focus should be on lowering risk until you have enough savings to take risks with a portion of the portfolio.
My favorite tips along these lines are:
- spend less than you make
- save some of every raise you get
- save 10-15% of income for retirement
- add to any retirement account with employer matching (where say they add $500 for every $1,000 you put into your 401(k)
Spending less than you make and building up your long term savings puts you in the strongest personal finance position. These things matter much more than making a huge salary or getting fantastic investing returns some year. Avoiding risky investments is wise, and sure making great returns helps a great deal, but really just saving and investing in a boring manner puts you in great shape in the long run. Many of those making huge salaries are in atrocious personal financial shape.
Another way you can boost savings is to do so when you pay off a monthly bill. So when I paid off my car loan I just kept saving the old payment. Then I was able to buy my new car with the cash I saved in advance when I was ready for a new car.
The Curious Cat Investing, Economics and Personal Finance Carnival is published monthly with links to new, related, interesting content online. Also see related books and articles.
- QE3 is Ben Bernanke’s masterstroke of market manipulation by Matt Phillips – “it’s way more profitable to make mortgages now than it was during the peak of the housing frenzy. This is because at that time banks were competing like crazy to make new mortgages, driving profit margins way down.”
- Long Term View of Manufacturing Employment in the USA by John Hunter – “In 1980 manufacturing jobs accounted for over 22% of USA jobs; by 1990 that fell to 17%, by 2000 to 14% and by 2010 to 10%.” During this period jobs fell from 18 million to 12 million while manufacturing output increased.
- Let’s Increase America’s Savings Rate in November! by Jim Blankenship – “Recent figures have shown that we Americans are doing a little bit better of late, at a 5% savings rate versus around 1% back in 2005 – but this is a dismal figure when you consider how most folks are coming up short when they want to retire.”
- The Importance Of Elizabeth Warren by Simon Johnson – “We should confront excessive market power, irrespective of the form that it takes. We need a new trust-busting moment. And this requires elected officials willing and able to stand up to concentrated and powerful corporate interests. Empower the consumer – and figure out how this can get you elected.”