Global Economy

John Norris: Which came first? The consumer or the product?

September 18, 2017, by John Norris

My daughter will periodically declare herself a vegetarian for a number of different reasons, none of them dietary in nature. This will last for a few days or until the next time we have spaghetti for dinner, whichever comes first. It seems her convictions are no match for a good Bolognese sauce. A couple of weekends ago, she came home from college and we all went for a hike at one of the parks here...

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Some Common Cents for September 8, 2017

September 8, 2017, by John Norris

The Science Channel has a new program called “The Planets” which airs on Tuesday evenings. I missed the first episode on Jupiter, but I found the second one on Venus to be absolutely riveting. Where do these people come up with these crazy hypotheses? Have they nothing better else to do? For instance, who would have thought the proximate cause for the inhospitable climate on Venus was/is a collision with a more minor planet during...

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Some Common Cents for August 11th, 2017

August 11, 2017, by John Norris

During a conference call on Monday, I told our wealth management associates the markets were/are as boring as I had/have seen them in my career. A steady diet of modest economic growth and acceptable, if unremarkable, earnings will do that. Further, there is really nothing on the foreseeable horizon to suggest any significant change. Yesterday, the stock markets sold off, and a number of people have asked me whether this is the start of something...

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Some Common Cents for July 7th, 2017

July 10, 2017, by John Norris

I have recently written about the potential for some form of consolidated government in the Birmingham metropolitan area. For those not in the know, many, if not most, of our suburbs have incorporated themselves over the last 70+ years. The endgame has been a relatively diminished ‘center city’ surrounded by fully functioning municipalities with their own unique identities. Tens of thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands, in the metro area might not even...

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Norris: Federal Reserve is walking a tightrope

June 20, 2017, by John Norris

Last week, the Federal Reserve raised the overnight lending target rate between member banks by 0.25 percent, and said it wants to remove some of the stimulus it provided with its quantitative easing programs. Put another way, it wants to take some of the excess cash out of the banking system over time. To do this, it will sell some of its bond holdings, or simply not reinvest them as they mature. The cash it...

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Some Common Cents for June 2nd, 2017

June 5, 2017, by John Norris

This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released The Employment Situation report for the month of May 2017. I will cut to the quick, and tell you it might be one of the more boring releases of its type I have ever read. So much so, I felt sorry for the folks who had to compile the data by the time I finished reading the thing. In a lot of ways, I found it...

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Some Common Cents for May 26th, 2017

May 26, 2017, by John Norris

This week, a reporter friend of mine asked my thoughts on the prospects of traditional banks and credit unions getting into, what can only be called, the payday lending space IF the Administration’s regulatory reform proposals get through the Congress. It seems some banks have made overtures about doing just that, but this is very anecdotal and far from the norm. Frankly, I am kind of professionally ambivalent on the matter, but I still gave...

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Some Common Cents for May 19th, 2017

May 19, 2017, by John Norris

This week, I had a brief discussion with a very bright individual regarding future economic growth and potential investment opportunities in the United States. His comments were in complete alignment with my thoughts: moving forward, there will be two types of companies which will matter: 1) disrupters, which are companies providing technologies, products, and/or services which fundamentally change our lives and how we conduct business, and; 2) base, which are those providing the essentials of...

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Norris: Washington should focus on economic growth

May 1, 2017, by John Norris

A lot of folks have asked my opinion on the Administration’s tax reform proposals. I think I have surprised them with my less than sophisticated response: anything is better than doing nothing. As the old saying goes, if you are standing still, you are falling behind. In helping run a trust and wealth management department, our Byzantine tax code benefits me professionally. I couldn’t argue otherwise and keep a straight face. Folks will go to...

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Some Common Cents for April 14th, 2017

April 19, 2017, by John Norris

A couple of weeks ago, we raised a little cash in the vast majority of our client accounts. In the grand scheme of things, it was relatively minor across the board. While we would ordinarily send out an email detailing our actions, we didn’t this time as we didn’t want anyone to misprocess our actions as “the sky is falling.” Thus far, the trade has been mostly a wash in terms of overall portfolio performance....

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