The Job Skills Gap

We are probably all familiar with the nationwide work force problem relating to the gap between prospective employee skills and employer requirements. It appears that the U.S. military is facing a similar problem.  In 2017 the Pentagon found that 70% of Americans aged 17-24 were ineligible for military service.  The interconnected issues of health and … Continued

“Silent Spring” – Update

“Silent Spring” is an environmental science book written by Rachel Carson, and published on September 27, 1962, that documented the adverse effects on the environment by the indiscriminate use of pesticides. Although “Silent Spring” was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, and led to a nationwide … Continued

Is Cash Obsolete?

It is becoming increasingly evident that money is now almost entirely transferred electronically.  Recently, the deputy governor of the Norwegian central bank suggested that the level of transactions in that Scandinavian country is now so low that it can be considered cashless.  Central bank data indicates that less than 10% of the number of transactions, … Continued

A Strong Economy – More Evidence

Recently, the Army announced that it will not meet its goal of recruiting 80,000 active-duty soldiers this year, and has lowered the goal to 76,500 for 2018. The struggle to meet this year’s recruiting goal was attributed to the favorable U.S. economy, increased completion from private-sector employers and the declining quality of potential recruits. On … Continued

Look Ma, No Hands

While our title comes from the classic anecdote of a kid riding his bike without using his hands on the handle bars, it is certainly applicable to the current enthusiasm for autonomous driving systems. Investors interested in the potential for autonomous driving might want to devote some attention to the question of when rather than … Continued


In retail sales, as defined by Wikipedia, first, customers are “baited” by merchants advertising products or services at a low price, but when customers visit the store, they discover that the advertised goods are either not available or are not as good as expected, or the customers are pressured by sales people to consider similar, … Continued

Is the U.S. Facing a Jobs Crisis?

Recently reported employment data suggests that there are now as many unfilled job openings (6.55 million), as there are unemployed Americans (6.59 million).  This is the narrowest gap, between available jobs and those seeking jobs, in nearly 20 years of record keeping.  At the same time, workforce participation rates remain near record lows. This is … Continued

U.S. Small Business Earnings At Record Levels

According to the results of a recent survey from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), a lobbying organization that represents small business owners nationwide, small business earnings are at record levels and optimism is also at very high levels. NFIB’s chief economist attributes improving consumer spending, the new tax law and lower regulatory barriers … Continued

Crime and Punishment

Corporate misfeasance is not a new problem.  While there are exceptions, such as Enron, the perpetrators, including employees, supervisors, senior management and directors, face little or no serious punishment.  On the other hand, shareholders nearly always take a hit. For example, Wells Fargo has engaged in a number of unacceptable practices and recently agreed to … Continued

Killing the Golden Goose?

Seattle is proposing to levy a tax on local employers that make $20 million or more in taxable gross receipts.  Amazon has announced that it is pausing further construction planning of a building to be built in downtown Seattle and is reconsidering plans to occupy a building that is already built, potentially jeopardizing 7,000 new … Continued

Universal Basic Income – A Setback?

We have previously commented on proposals by economists and political scientists that would substitute universal income polices as credible alternatives to existing social programs such as unemployment insurance.  (see blogs dated 2015-12-17 and 2016-11-22) The idea is straight forward:  Provide citizens with a minimum allowance, without means-testing, that would give everyone the wherewithal to live … Continued


Investors typically think of diversification in terms of fixed income versus equity and a suitable range of specific investments in each asset class.  However, employees of companies with publicly traded shares and robust pension and retirement programs, may not be fully recognizing the additional risks involved. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal, discussing … Continued