Economically Speaking

Norris: Why has Alabama’s employment rate spiked so dramatically?

July 21, 2017, by John Norris

In my last column, I mentioned how Alabama seems to be on an employment tear thus far in 2017. While I have read numerous articles and scoured any number of websites, I can’t seem to find an ironclad business reason why the state’s labor market has strengthened so dramatically in such a short period of time. Consider this: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Household Data survey, the national economy created roughly 812,000 new...

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Some Common Cents for July 14th, 2017

July 14, 2017, by John Norris

The other night, I dreamt a massive meteor hit the earth. Since I typically dream in comedy and am not prone to worrying during waking hours, this was both a departure from the norm and somewhat disconcerting. After all, not much good will come out of a cube with 1 mile edges hurtling into the earth from deep space at what could only be described as a very rapid rate of speed. Perhaps my dream...

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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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Some Common Cents for June 30th, 2017

June 30, 2017, by John Norris

I am able to track how many people who directly receive Common Cents actually go to the trouble to open it. Last week, I apparently touched on a subject of particular interest, because the number of ‘click throughs’ was significantly higher than it has been in, quite literally, months. If you didn’t read it, it was about the discussion surrounding a consolidated form of local government for the Birmingham metropolitan area (MSA). More specifically, the debate...

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John Norris: Creativity should matter more in Alabama’s economy

June 26, 2017, by John Norris

Years ago, I had an internationally recognized economist tell me it didn’t matter if the U.S. physically manufactured a single thing. After all, the value added proposition of many finished products, if not most, is in the design, engineering and technology. In her way of thinking, the production process is a means to an end, and people don’t really pay for it. They pay for the creativity behind the product or service. If this seems a...

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Some Common Cents for June 23rd, 2017

, by John Norris

This is sort of part one in an intermittent series. Recently, I received an email with a link to a study about the need for a consolidated form of government in the Birmingham metro area (MSA). For those of you not familiar with Birmingham, most of the suburbs have incorporated themselves. All of them have their own fire and police departments, and the larger, wealthier ones have their own school systems. Some of these cities/suburbs,...

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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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Norris: Corporate America can’t hit snooze button on economy

May 24, 2017, by John Norris

Recently, a reporter called to ask my thoughts about the ongoing scandal in Washington surrounding former FBI Director Jim Comey, the Russians and the White House. Is it enough to cause the stock market to crash? In so many words, my response was simple: “only if it causes a slowdown in economic activity and a corresponding drop in corporate profitability. Absent that, long-term, no.” Obviously, his follow up question was whether the turmoil would put the...

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