Barataria

Aug 26

Player Piano

Kurt Vonnegut’s 1952 novel “Player Piano” was more than his first. It was arguably the first “dystopian utopia” novel of a world carefully described and proscribed for everyone involved. Those with technical degrees were the masters of the carefully planned world, and the rest either joined the army or worked for the “Reconstruction and Reclamation Corps” building infrastructure. Government took…

View On WordPress


Aug 24

Labor in a (Jackson) Hole

Labor in a (Jackson) Hole

The Federal Reserve of Kansas City puts on the big event every year – and why not throw a big party when your territory includes Jackson Hole, Wyoming? This year’s productionconcluded after presentations and official pronouncements from all the top central bankers of the world – Mario Drahgi of the European Central Bank (ECB), Haruhiko Kuroda of the Bank of Japan (BOJ), and our own Janet Yellen.…

View On WordPress


Aug 21

When Great Force Becomes Easy

When Great Force Becomes Easy

The still summer evening was suddenly ripped apart by the heavy THWUP!-THWUP!-THWUP! of helicopters. In this part of St Paul copters are common enough as small emergencies across the state hurry themselves to nearby United Hospital. But this sound was different. It was heavy, immediate, and amplified by three of them flying low enough to sneak up on the otherwise placid city.

Then there was the…

View On WordPress


Aug 19

Six (more) Things Schools Should Teach

Six (more) Things Schools Should Teach

In Junior High I had a class on typing. We meandered to a windowless room full of the clickety-crunch churn of IBM Selectric typewriters, set out in rows on tables. Each had the solid ca-CHUNK keys that let you know that you hit one, even when you became proficient and fast on the things.

It seems like it was the era of the dinosaurs describing it to kids today. They’ve never even seen such a…

View On WordPress


Aug 17

The Opportunity Cost

You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.  It’s a silly old saying with a huge dollop of folk wisdom hidden in the middle of it.  But money spent is sometimes more than just money gone – in an integrated world it’s a choice to make one connection when another one might have been a better choice.

Rather than just measure how much money is going in and out, it might be better to understand what we…

View On WordPress


Aug 14

One Last Bubble?

Is the stock market nothing but a bubble waiting to burst? There are many reasons to believe that there is one last downturn at the exit of this Managed Depression, which may indeed be slowly forming. The risk comes in the nature of how the economy is so carefully managed through monetary policy directed by the Federal Reserve. Years of zero interest and $3.7T in quantitative easinghave produced…

View On WordPress


Aug 12

A Jolt of Confidence

A Jolt of Confidence

There are many ways to measure an economy, as we’ve discussed before. There are thousands of workers toiling away at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and many other agencies providing more data than anyone will ever be able to fully understand. It’s something like the internet in terms of data overload, except many of these measures were developed before the…

View On WordPress


Aug 10

Surviving & Thriving

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

Anyone who has been close to the edge knows what “survival mode” is like.  Small flashes of adrenaline propel you from one day to the next.  Each fitful dawn is a mix of dread and possibility, all of them taken one at a time.  Next week?  Worry about it when it comes.  Next month?  Forever away.

View On WordPress


Aug 7

Stocks Lower Because … They Just Are, Dammit!

Stocks Lower Because … They Just Are, Dammit!

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is down for the third straight day. News outlets that have to attribute it to something attribute it “global tension,” which does appear to be running a bit higher than usual. But the entire exercise of watching an index from one day to the next is a bit silly from the start.

A more interesting question asked by some commentators is, “Does this mean that…

View On WordPress


Aug 5

The Small Stories Inside

The Small Stories Inside

There is a lot happening in the world today, and so much of it is just plain bad. Gaza, Ukraine, West African Ebola – none of this is good news. But there are some smaller stories that are bubbling up that are worth taking a look at. Some of them are from territory we’ve covered before. But I’d hate to have this get lost in the shuffle. Welcome to a Baratariaroundup of some smaller stories that…

View On WordPress


Aug 3

A New Cold War?

A New Cold War?

Is the clouds of a new “Cold War” gathering over Russia and the US? A member of the Russian Duma has declared as much, and it’s resonating through the world for one simple reason – it sure seems right. Sanctions are starting to bite hard throughout Europe as the ties that were formed since the last Cold War ended 25 years ago slowly meandered towards integration.

But was the integration of…

View On WordPress


Jul 31

New Measures for New Times

New Measures for New Times

When the first estimate for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of this year (2Q14) came out, there was reason to cheer. A solid gain of 4.0% seemed to really shake off the fear cause by the figure for 1Q14, revised up to -2.1%. There wasn’t a new recession after all, and growth is back to being robust. Right?

It’s OK, we’re among friends. Your skepticism is justified. The main…

View On WordPress


Jul 29

World Currency

Another summer re-run, this one from 2012.  It’s still valid, if more than before, as Russia and other nations work to reduce the influence of the US Dollar.

Imagine a single currency, all around the world.  No more converting between Dollars and Euros and Pounds, the money in your wallet is your ticket to ride anywhere.

Sound like a fantasy?  Throughout history it’s been more or less the standard

View On WordPress


Jul 27

Making Predictions

Can anyone predict the future? Weatherpeople are routinely called on to tell us more than just what happened today- they are supposed to tell if it’s going to rain and what temperature we can expect. Sportscasters have moved beyond a blank reporting of the Vegas line, say the Dolphins +4, and are expected to put themselves on the line with a solid call every week.

Not economic reporters. When…

View On WordPress


Jul 24

Tea & Coffee

Picture yourself in England at the start of Queen Victoria’s reign.  If you have some skills as a part of the growing middle class, things look better every day.  That life comes in part from unskilled workers driven into the growing (and filthy) cities who are more productive than ever before.  The great symbol of the improving standard of living greets you in the morning as a cup of this once…

View On WordPress


Page 1 of 27