China Wins! Weekend updates start with the news that China has overtaken the US as the largest economy in the world. Except it’s not true. According to the IMF, using one measurement of economic magnitude, China has overtaken the US. Of course the US media jumps all over this story despite the fact that the measurement called PPP is controversial for many reasons. In fact China’s economy is considerably smaller and poorer than the US. However, it should be pointed out, when your neighbor is saying ‘things are better now’; if the US continues to have sub par growth (par in this case would be a normal dynamic growth of 4% or more for the same length of time as the recession), China will eventually overtake us. All the more reason to advocate growth policies focused on production, rather than trying to stimulate consumption. Protesters, variously reported as protesting the Ferguson Grand Jury decision and advocating for a higher minimum wage, blocked I35W just outside of the downtown Minneapolis. (Editor’s Note: The confusion in reporting got me talking about minimum wage, but the effect is the same. I don’t understand how making people angry because they sit in traffic for an hour makes them amenable to the cause, whatever that is.) The kinds of people who make more money are the people who develop time and productivity saving innovations, and figure out how to market them. Increasing wages by fiat won’t make anyone’s life better in the long run. Moreover, it’s possible in the short run, some fast food and service industries that employ human beings will automate most of these processes and actually improve service and the quality of their product. Low and middle skilled labor in the next twenty five years will face some grim employment challenges. Protesting this sea-change in the production and labor equation, is spitting into the wind. Black Friday sales are down, provoking all kinds of discussion about ‘what it means for the economy and retailers’. Probably nothing, either way. But, it does provoke a discussion about why some retailers are going out of business, and it isn’t because they’re not offering discounts. Its because they’re not retooling properly for the new consumers who don’t want to wait until the day after Thanksgiving for the best deals, and they want better service. Some stories from the consumer front prove this thesis. For example, a new study says people care more about the WIFI connection than they do the bed, when it comes to choosing a travel hotel. Did the North Koreans really hack Sony Pictures. Not so fast. Investigators now think it was a disgruntled employee. But the real story is how much these Hollywood types are making … but you won’t see any minimum wage protesters on the Sony studio complex. Meanwhile, more TV viewers are streaming their favorite shows, and its happening with radio too as people listen to podcasts and services like Pandora, over the internet. Finally, that all meat diet you’re on may actually be better for your heart than the gluten free bagel diet. New studies show its the carbs that kill your heart. Sponsored by Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul, and by Depotstar.
Immigration Reform. (Midweek update, a little late due to a long podcast with Andrew Richter and Jason Bradley. The point of podcast 254 is that you can stop unelected regional boards from encroaching on your town. While critics of organization say you have to have candidates who inspire people to get involved first, where will the candidates come from? Local politics is one of those areas were individuals can have a huge impact. Thanks again to Community Solutions MN for joining the Bob Davis Podcasts.) President Obama prepares to issue executive orders granting amnesty to some three million illegal immigrants across the US, igniting a political fire storm. The President wants Republicans to pass the Senate Immigration ‘Reform’ bill, which has been languishing since last year, Republicans don’t want to pass it. So, the President will issue orders that accomplishes the same thing. Sort of. The idea of using executive orders to ‘legislate’ from the White House is controversial; one of the oldest constitutional arguments in the Republic. Courts have supported Presidents who use executive orders in an ’emergency’, but that doesn’t make them any less controversial and politically provocative. George W. Bush got into hot water with detentions , surveillance and ‘Gitmo’. Obama questioned how far he could go on immigration as late as last year, suggesting to supporters in the Latino Community that he could only use executive power related to existing legislation. Now he appears to have changed his mind. Since the President and now minority Democrat leadership in the House and Senate are moving to the left, expect more executive orders designed to ignite debate and draw attention to their issues, and their agenda in preparation for 2016. Don’t expect President Obama’s actions to be designed to help Hillary Clinton. Rather, it might be suggested the President, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are moving to the left, to lay the groundwork for an Elizabeth Warren presidential run. Deflation is now the number one financial news story after being featured on the Bob Davis Podcasts last month and earlier in November, 2014. With Japan in recession, Europe on the brink and China in trouble, central bank stimulation and big government public works projects are not working. The solution? More central bank intervention and public works projects! Really? Meanwhile, depending on what fourth quarter US economic numbers show, get ready for sandbagging. Already defenders of more public works projects and cotton candy from the central banks are pointing to ‘cold weather’ as the reason for potentially (hasn’t happened yet, but just in case) negative economic numbers. We have had earthquakes, hurricanes, hot summers and cold winters during economic boom times as well, but suddenly ‘the cold’ (which has lasted two weeks) is causing an economic slow down? Keep in mind as late as a week ago the media was telling us the reduction in oil and eventually gas prices would act as a boon to the US economy. What happened to that line of reasoning? “Cheaper gas acts like a tax cut” they say. Really? Bottom line is, Keynesian economic policies don’t work. One thing cheaper gas means, according to Bloomberg.com, is people will be flooding onto the nation’s highways for the Thanksgiving Holiday. A whopping .1 percent increase as compared to air travel this year. The Bob Davis Podcasts will be out on the road to report on this story. If you plan on driving to this year’s Thanksgiving feast at the relatives, Podcast 255 has some suggestions on how to avoid the traffic. Sponsored by Baklund R&D.
Economic Doom. Inflation, Deflation, Disinflation. Is the economy booming, or crashing? In the fantasy world created by the media, there are only winners or losers. The reality is somewhere in between. What is inflation, deflation and disinflation? Do we have inflation in the United States, or not? Despite the Federal Reserve pumping trillions into the banking system in America, we’ve seen only slow growth at best; Not enough growth to bring out self-mothballed workers from the ranks of those who have given up looking for work. Yet, we are told the US is reaching ‘full employment’, and that the economy is ‘roaring’ back. With only 76 percent of our industrial capacity utilized, a significant amount of that capacity in the oil, and mining sectors, the concern is disinflation, and perhaps deflation. In the Euro Zone, the ECB is worried about Deflation. In China they’re worried about a slow down. In Japan, huge inflows of cash from the central bank and government has produced mixed results. Yet, with a new set of economic numbers this month, economists, reporters and political cheerleaders are saying the US economy is ‘set to grow’ and we’re back to the Rosy Scenario. When things don’t pan out as they predict, it will be ‘unexpected’ or ‘surprising’. Reporting like this is devoid of context, and grossly misinforms the public, leaving them confused and angry when they can’t get a higher paying, better job. For instance, the much vaunted consumer is constantly told he accounts for 70 percent of the US Economy. Not true. We are being told new housing construction is up. In fact its apartment houses. We’re told the housing market is back, but a closer look reveals many cash buyers who are buying homes to rent out. A recent drop in housing sales is attributed to cash buyers pulling out of the market because homes are ‘too expensive for cash buyers’. Inflation and Deflation have both been associated with stagnant growth in various countries, sometimes disaster. We’re told ‘cheaper gas’ gives consumers the where-with-all to spend, and yet gasoline has only been somewhat less expensive for about a month. (Editors Note: Yeah gas is cheaper, but I’m not taking the money I’ve ‘saved’ on a shopping spree.) With Europe and China and other parts of the world in a seeming synchronized slow down, oil and commodities dropping, the markets moving and up and down wildly, suddenly some are alarmed and concerned. Is it possible that years of government borrowing and spending, and central bank intervention in markets have added so much malinvestment, the chickens are finally coming home to roost? Why do governments and big debtors love in inflation, and fear deflation? The takeaway is, it’s time to start thinking about what we expect these sclerotic and expensive governments to actually do, and start demanding they operate with as little debt as possible, and that our money be based on something stable like, uh…Gold or Silver. The reason? When governments can print their way out of debt, citizens actually pay the cost in higher taxes and inflation. Sponsored by Depotstar.