Barataria

Apr 15

The Amazing Dollar

Even if most people don’t believe it, the economy is certainly improving for some people. The Federal deficit has declined to $415B, or 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), from a high of over 10% as recently as 2009. This has been fueled by a large increase in tax revenues combined with a drop in spending on unemployment insurance, mortgage assistance, and so on. Our trade deficit with other…

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Apr 13

Resurrection

“How good it is for us when the Lord unsettles our lukewarm and superficial lives.”
- Pope Francis, tweeting as @Pontifex, 7 April 2014

Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week. This is the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a humble donkey, a hero to the adoring crowds.  His subsequent challenge to the authorities who were jealous of his popularity got him tortured to death in just five days. It is a…

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Apr 10

The Case for Optimism

The Case for Optimism

A short time ago, I asked my friends on facebook if they were optimistic about the economy. Scratch that – I insisted that the negative case for this slowly improving economy was bunk and got an eyeful of responses. Needless to say, my friends aren’t in the mood for Mr. Sunshine, as some of the commentators here have called me. Talk about fundamentals improving? Show them the money. Building a…

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Apr 8

Velocity and Inflation

Since 2008, the Federal Reserve has more or less printed over $3.2 Trillion in three rounds of “Quantitative Easing”, now tapering off to zero. Many have speculated that this has to result in inflation for the simple reason that there are more US Dollars out there than ever before. That’s based on the most fundamental principle of any market, supply and demand –more of these things called…

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Apr 6

Enough Work?

Income inequality is certainly the rallying issue for many progressives these days. Paul Krugman goes as far as to call it the one issue, the only important one. “Inequality is, indeed, the defining challenge of our time. Will we do anything to meet that challenge?” he asked last December.

Whether or not that is overstating the issue, the debate over inequality is not going away soon. Solutions…

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Apr 3

Jobs: Back to Even!

Jobs: Back to Even!

According to ADP, the largest payroll processer in the US, the total number of private sector jobs made up the net loss in the last official recession last month. In January 2008 the total number of jobs stood at 116.0 million in January 2008, falling to 107.2 million by February 2010. The net loss of 8.8 million jobs was finally regained in March 2014 when we hit 116.1 million total. That…

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Apr 1

Markets’ Big Day

Markets’ Big Day

The S&500, the broadest measure of stocks, hit a new high of 1884 today. The stock market celebrated by stopping trading for a moment to watch a debate on the future of the market unfold on CNBC.

It was a strange spectacle that also lit up twitter when IEX’s Brad Katsuyama took the challenge verbally shoved at him BATS Global Markets president William O’Brien and explained, in detail, how the…

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Mar 30

Industrial Arts

If you have any fear for the future of American, visit a FIRST Robotics League competition. Your worries will simply melt away.

Three days with my son’s team (2491 No Mythic) at the Northstar Regionals, where we were knocked out in the Finals, constantly percolated with passion, grace, and ingenuity. The 800 plus high-schoolers in Mariucci Arena, and another 800 next door in Williams Arena,…

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Mar 27

Can’t Wait ‘til Payday

Can’t Wait ’til Payday

The woman ahead of us in line at the convenience store had a bit more than the impatient, bored look we all shared. She held her head high and spoke to the cashier in a friendly tone, paying for the gasoline she was going to pump. Like many people at this store, in this part of St Paul, she paid with cash – but hers came in crisp twenties slid neatly out of a bank envelope. After we paid our own…

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Mar 25

Fault Tolerance

It’s been a long week, already.  I need a little break, and this piece from 3 years ago is still very relevant.  

You pay the insurance bills every month.  Car, home, life – they’re all about the same, a bet against yourself that you actually hope is money wasted.  But when things go wrong, like a drunk driver smacking into you one sunny day, it’ll be there when you need it.  If you listen to the…

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Mar 23

A More Open Fed?

A More Open Fed?

There is arguably no more powerful job in the world than Chair of the Federal Reserve. When Janet Yellen took the gig in February, it was only natural for a lot of words to be written wondering what kind of leader she would be. Betting money was on more of the same, given her long tenure at the bank.

With her first press conference behind her, we do indeed have more – of the same, yes, but so…

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Mar 20

Seek the Original Source

Seek the Original Source

The internet is a wide, rolling river of information. It can be treacherous and dangerous to wade into if you’re not careful. If you’re looking for a cool drink of truth, the muddy brown of this mighty Mississippi of data often has a harsh stench of bias bubbling along with the waves. What can a reader thirsty for knowledge do?

The answer is to seek the source – the cool, clear stream that feeds…

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Mar 18

Golden Years?

Are you ready for retirement?  While the idea might have its appeal, especially with the winter weather making for long commutes this year, an awful lot of workers are not on a track to be able to retire.  That’s according to a survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute(EBRI), conducted annually.  They found that only 18% are “very confident” that they’ll have enough for retirement and a…

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Mar 16

MN Minimum: Half a Cent per Buck

MN Minimum: Half a Cent per Buck

Raising the minimum wage has become a progressive rallying cry.  While President Obama’s call to raise it to $10.10 per hour throughout the US is a longshot, given the Republican House, many states have either raised their wage or are considering it.  Minnesota is contemplating raising our minimum wage to $9.50 per hour by 2016, possibly indexed to inflation afterwards, and it is likely to pass.

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Mar 13

St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day

Good people go to Heaven, but the Celts went everywhere. There isn’t a corner of the globe where you can’t find us if you look hard enough. Nations as far flung as Canada and Australia are largely Celtic in origin, and the majority of those Celts came from Ireland.

Our people have wandered the earth like almost no other, and for one day we all return home with the help of a hyphen. Many of us…

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