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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

Category: Stock market
October 9, 2014 at 10:19 AM

What’s spooking the market?

Regular readers know that I adhere to the axiom that nobody really knows what causes sudden, big moves in the stock market, short of war or another obvious shock. If one sticks to “greed” and “fear,” that’s about as accurate as it gets. Still, as I write, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down more…

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April 11, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Vote: The tech stock meltdown

The Nasdaq suffered its worst selloff since 2011 on Thursday. It’s down again today. There are a few exceptions: Microsoft is doing OK. But most tech stocks are selling off. As I write, Amazon.com shares are down 1.8 percent. The situation is not limited to tech — markets worldwide suffered a severe collapse overnight — but…

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January 27, 2014 at 11:08 AM

A world of worry for the stock market

So much for the “economy will improve in 2014 (really!)” stories. The stock market is struggling to avoid another big sell-off today. But bargain hunters are facing the downdraft of jitters over emerging markets. As their stock markets crash and fear gathers about Chinese manufacturing and debt, it will be more difficult to continue the…

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Comments | More in Stock market | Topics: Emerging markets, Fed tapering

December 4, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Explaining the Obama market rally

A reader writes, under the heading: “Care to explain the reasons for the dramatic rise in the stock market indices since 1/01/13?:

Low federal minimum wage? Low minimum wage affects only a very, very small segment of all people employed in this country, and even smaller portion of the number of people casting votes for president in 2012.

Leftist’s goal is something close to equality of outcomes.  Not mathematical equality, but something closer to equality of outcomes.

Are you aware of any instances where machines are being yarded-out in order to make room for more employees? Higher minimum wage advocates are complaining about symptoms, paying no attention to causes of inequality.  The pickle that the (so-called) machinists are in vividly demonstrates what higher wage costs do; drive employment away.  The desire for higher profits on the part of shareholders is a given, and not easily satisfied.

The pickle that the City of Detroit is in can be attributed to a few things, higher employment costs being one of them, street gangs and unbelievable violent crime rates being others. “Rent-seeking” in Detroit was and probably still is rampant. Want to be elected in Detroit?  Promise a fat pension, then face no consequences when unable to deliver 30 years down the road.

The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation will not be required to help.

How do you like long dead liberal politicians now?

The assembly line, improved upon by Henry Ford, cut unit labor required to build an automobile by about 90%.

Cutting recruitment and training costs more than made up for increases in hourly labor rates. H. Ford was not a shining example of an altruist.

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June 21, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Vote: Are you prepared for retirement?

This week the National Institute on Retirement Security released a report showing that 90 percent of working-age households aren’t saving enough for retirement. About 45 percent have nothing saved. The result is a retirement savings gap between $6.8 trillion and $14 trillion. For those near retirement, the median retirement account balance is $12,000, and for all households it totals $3,000.

The findings confirm that the American Dream of retiring comfortably after a lifetime of work will be impossible for many. Based on 401(k)–type account and IRA balances alone, some 92 percent of working households do not meet conservative retirement savings targets for their age and income. Even when counting their entire net worth, 65 percent still fall short.

This is not exactly new-news. The baby boomers were the first generation to be forced into 401(k)s instead of pensions, and all too often they were given little schooling about the mechanics or stakes of this dramatic change. The new benefits were hostage to the stock market and the participants were completely on their own. Company matching contributions became more rare. In addition, changes in the economy such as globalization and the decimation of unions left huge portions of the workforce without any job-related retirement benefits at all, even as overall wages were stagnating. Much wealth was lost in the housing crash. This squeeze is worse for younger workers facing lower wages and high college debt. To make matter worse, politicians keep wanting to cut “entitlements,” including Social Security that is essential to senior citizens (it would be better to call them what they are: Earned benefits). And if we’re expected to work until we die, there have to be jobs and employers willing to hire older workers.

In a heavily unequal America, the top 20 percent or so will do fine. What about you? (Honor system: Answer if you are not retired already, having benefited from the middle class at its zenith).

Read on for some of the important stories you might have missed.

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