Being Impressed by Janet Yellen

L: Dr. Janet Yellen is the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. She spoke on Tuesday at the National Association for Business Economics Annual Meeting (in Cleveland!). I was there. She was wonderful. As is required of all members of the Federal Open Market Committee (which is led by Dr. Yellen), she read her speech. They do that to make sure that the words they are using are the ones they INTEND to be using. The media and market and economic analysts parse the words of these folks so thoroughly that word choice is extraordinarily important. That being said, she was wonderful. Her reading was cadenced and lively. Her message was clear to me, though apparently

Economic Effects of Hurricanes & Eclipses--Who Knew?

J: After accidentally realizing a dream of many years of seeing Yellowstone National Park in the snow (in an unseasonably early cold-and-snow event this week), it seemed like a good idea to opine on the impacts on GDP and other economic data from the solar eclipse, and Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria. (L: We're in Big Sky, MT this week where Jim is giving a speech. It was in the 70's here last week, 30's with snow this week. Yikes!) J: Few people thought about what happened to GDP on August 21 when millions of people were given (or took) the day off to experience the first total solar eclipse to be seen only in what is now the US since 1257. The exception was the firm of Challenger, Gray a

Whoo-eeee!! Real GDP Hits 3!

J: On August 30 the BEA surprised all economic forecaster with their "Second Estimate" for real GDP growth in the second quarter of 2017. The consensus was for a tiny upward revision to 2.7 percent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate from 2.6 percent originally reported. Instead, we were told that growth had risen to 3.0 percent on a quarter-over-quarter basis. As the chart shows, that was the highest growth rate since the 3.2 percent posted in the first quarter of 2015. The bulk of the increase came from real personal consumption expenditures (PCE), which grew at a 3.3 percent pace. That was a healthy rise from the 2.8 percent previously reported on July 28. Of course, as the next cha

Robots and Jobs: Not Time to Panic

L: This guy is not quite ready to take ALL the jobs. I know that we keep hearing the scary predictions of tech folks (like Elon Musk, for heaven's sakes) who are warning that the jobless future is imminent. A 2013 study by researchers at the University of Oxford (yep, that's the British one) reported that nearly half of all jobs in the US were at risk of being fully automated over the next 20 years. These forecasts are darn-right hair-raising! So, to make you feel a bit better, I shall provide a public service and tell you about an article that ran in the September issue of Wired. (The author is James Surowiecki (@jamessurowiecki) who is also the author of The Wisdom of Crowds and a seni

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