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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