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John Norris: When it comes to shopping, know what you’re paying for

August 29, 2017, by John Norris

The other day, I went to a local grocery to buy a couple of helium balloons for my wife’s birthday. A small sign on the counter at the floral department directed me to the customer service desk for attention. I waited there a few minutes before a relatively young employee sauntered – a good word choice – over to ask how they could help. I told her, and she ambled over to another employee no fewer than five aisles...

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John Norris: Fundamental flaw in minimum wage debate

July 12, 2017, by John Norris

A group of economists recently released a research paper that suggested Seattle’s increase to a $15/hour minimum wage has had a negative impact on the lowest skilled workers. It would seem the market clearing rate for unskilled labor out there is around $13/hour. Up to that level, hourly workers largely benefited from the gradated rate increases, in aggregate. Past that, the report implied the well-intended $15 minimum wage has had some ironic consequences on a...

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Norris: Get ready for massive changes in Alabama’s economy

June 13, 2017, by John Norris

In a recent letter to clients, I wrote how the investment industry will likely have to reassess how it defines industry sectors. For instance, Google (Alphabet) is obviously, and correctly, classified as a technology stock. However, Tesla gets lumped in with the rest of the automotive group, and Amazon is considered a consumer discretionary company just like, say, Tractor Supply Co. We can discuss the merits of these classifications, but do investors really buy Tesla...

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John Norris: Value is in the eye of the beholder

May 16, 2017, by John Norris

Recently, I was at my parents’ house, and my father pointed to a smallish watercolor on the wall. He said that it had been a wedding present for my grandmother during the Great Depression, and that it could possibly be the most valuable thing in their house. That certainly piqued my interest. Frankly, the painting seemed pretty pedestrian to me, but I am admittedly no expert. So, I googled the artist’s name on my phone,...

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John Norris: Alabama has two economies

May 9, 2017, by John Norris

Over the years, readers have asked me to be more of a homer in my columns, meaning I should accentuate the positive to a much greater degree than I do. When I respond, I typically say I can rah rah with the best of them. However, in my opinion, we get enough of that already. Besides, ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away. We know our state lags the national averages in a lot of...

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Some Common Cents for April 7th, 2017

April 7, 2017, by John Norris

You would think 60 Tomahawk missiles into a Syrian airbase might cause some consternation in the world’s financial markets. I certainly thought so last night when the news came across the television. In fact, the first thing I did was look at stock futures and the Asian exchanges to see how they were responding. At the time, they wobbled a little, but not as much as I would have thought. This morning, it would appear...

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Some Common Cents for March 27th, 2017

March 27, 2017, by John Norris

This week, you might think investors are agonizing over the particulars of the proposed healthcare legislation. Some might be; however, I would argue the details aren’t as important as the Administration’s ability to get legislation through the Congress. After all, the markets assume President Trump has a pretty aggressive pro-growth agenda, and this is the first major test of his actual political clout in Washington. If this fails, what will happen when the tax reform...

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Column: Norris: Federal Reserve doesn’t have all the answers

March 23, 2017, by John Norris

Recently, a reporter buddy of mine in Birmingham asked me for a quote about the Fed’s recent rate hike. Did I think it adequate? Was it premature or overdue? That sort of thing. I have known him for long years, and know he is typically looking for a quick soundbite. Of course, funny is always nice. I pretty much gave him what we have been telling clients for the better part of a year now....

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Some Common Cents for January 27th, 2017

January 30, 2017, by John Norris

This morning, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its first stab at 4Q 2016 Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Since the BEA estimated the economy grew at a 3.5% annual rate for 3Q 2016, no one was expecting a huge number (or shouldn’t have). However, the 1.9% figure the BEA gave us was less than the so-called ‘consensus’ estimate of 2.2%, but it wasn’t surprising. In fact, it was the somewhat gaudy 3Q estimate I...

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Column: Will Bitcoin craze last?

January 19, 2017, by John Norris

Whenever I write anything about Bitcoin, I receive a number of emails from, um, well-wishers calling me any number of colorful names, to put it politely. It seems people have really strong opinions about their cryptocurrencies. Anyone who isn’t completely onboard with them is a Luddite, or worse, as I found out in no uncertain terms. I have a friend who knows my general opinion on Bitcoin, and he has been quick to tell me...

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