Notable and Quotable

Future University of Arizona Wildcat Alumni, Claire Elley!

May Graphic of the Month

Can markets continue this climb higher or are should we “sell in May and go away”?  The answer is yes to both.  Recessions are what cause the biggest upheavals in the market (see this month’s Graph) and nothing at this point would tend to make us believe that a recession is on the horizon.  Housing sales just saw a burst of activity after some earlier slowing, as inventory levels are on the rise, giving buyers more opportunities than they have had in the past several years.  Even so, we are not at what are considered “normal” inventory levels, so prices continue higher, albeit at a slower pace.  Consumer spending jumped at the end of the quarter … and over 5 million of us are about to spend more than the cost of our first home as we send our freshman off to college this fall … oops, sorry, I digressed for a moment!  Suffice it to say, we are all spending a good chunk of the paycheck

April Graphic of the Month

                                                                                                                                                                                            Source: Statista

The Big Mac Index

The statistic depicts the so-called Big Mac index in 2019. The index is regarded as an indicator for the purchasing power of an economy. The average price for a Big Mac burger in Switzerland was 6.62 U.S. dollars in January 2019. The Bic Mac index has been published annually by The Economist since 1986 and is rated as a simplified indicator of a country’s individual purchasing power.

As many countries have different currencies, the standardized Big Mac prices are calculated by converting the average national Big Mac prices with the latest exchange rate to U.S. dollars. The Big Mac, as a top-selling McDonald’s burger, is used for comparison because it is available in almost every country and manufactured in a standardized size, composition and quality. McDonald’s is a worldwide operating fast food restaurant chain with headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois. Its global revenue amounted to about 21.03 billion U.S. dollars in 2018. Most McDonald restaurants are spread across the United States.

March Graphic of the Month

Source: HowMuch
This map creates a quick snapshot of housing affordability across the United States. There are several pockets in which only the upper middle class and above can afford to own even the average home, most notably across the West and in the Northeast. There are only two states west of the Mississippi River where a worker with an annual salary under $40,000 can afford a mid-level home:  Missouri and Oklahoma. Colorado stands out as the only landlocked state requiring a significant amount of income ($100,200), thanks in large part to the housing market around Denver.

Homes tend to be more affordable in the eastern half of the country, with a notable pocket of “green” (less expensive) states located in the upper Midwest. The North is generally more affordable than the South and the typical home is significantly easier to buy in places like Michigan or Ohio than in Louisiana or Arkansas.

The best takeaway the map offers is that housing remains affordable in large swaths of the country, even though there will always be places like California and New York where there is simply too much demand for the available inventory. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean that buying a home is suddenly out of reach for average Americans in Ohio or Mississippi, for example.
February Graphic of the Month

The chart to the right was published by Mark Perry for the American Enterprise Institute.  The AEI is a national policy thinktank and Mark, in addition to his blog for the AEI, is a professor of economics and finance with the University of Michigan. His graphic here, shows the percent changes since January 1997 in the prices of selected consumer goods and services, along with the increase in average hourly earnings.
See any patterns?  His position is that those goods and services with less import competition, or “Non-Tradeables”  (largely services such as childcare and education) have had cost increases far in excess of those goods considered “Tradeables” (cars, cellphones, etc.) and he believes this can be attributed to the lack of competitive market forces.   While there will be other factors at play (productivity gains which make manufactured goods less expensive, for one example) – it certainly gives us pause for thought as the China trade negotiations continue to dominate headlines. 
And as anyone with a college-bound child or who has seen medical insurance premiums skyrocket can tell you … the disparity is real, regardless the cause.

January Graphic of the Month

C hristmas week was one for the history books. Whiplash, anyone?  Shown are Stock Market charts by day to illustrate the crazy week.

Christmas week was one for the history books. Whiplash, anyone?  Shown are Stock Market charts by day to illustrate the crazy week.

Source: MarketWatch

Source: MarketWatch

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