Saturday, January 28, 2017

Investing Requires Reliable Governmental Economic Information

As a fiduciary investment advisor, I do daily macroeconomic and financial research which is very lengthy and time consuming.  If I could not rely on unbiased (ethically professional), independent (without political interference) U.S. governmental economic statistical data, all efforts at economic and financial research would be meaningless.  Whether any current fears and concerns regarding the future of U.S government economic and scientific data are legitimate does not remove the absolute need for reliable statistically unbiased economic data which must be vigorously protected in order to have a free, democratic society.  While no statistical model is perfect, the professional ongoing debate on the construct of statistical models which are data based rather than result oriented based is fundamental to ethical professional conduct.

A lot of misunderstanding of BLS data has been repeatedly manifested, to the point where is almost a meme, by politicians who do not care if they are ignorant or lie and "financial" talking heads or wanna be talking heads who make money taking advantage of people. 

There are always professional concerns about statistical models and how they might be better, but the data has to be independent of political bias.  Brent Moulton at Political Arithmetick has written an excellent professional critic and concern for the need of independent U.S. government economic data, particularly with respect to the BLS.

Mark Thoma of  Economist's View has written at CBSmoneywatch on the political economic concerns which result if economic data is not factual data based (documentable as independent)  without political bias.  To skew the data reporting to promote a belief rather than a factual data set analytical result would make it impossible for economists to know what is going on in the economy and impossible for investors to make investment decisions within a factually known economic environment and trend.



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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Is the Gig Economy the New Feudalism?

 Isabella Kaminska at FTAlphaville has demonstrated the gig economy is rigged against the workers in a series of articles, while nakedcapitalism has run a series of articles by Hubert Horan on Uber's destructive business model which is dependent on having enough money to run an unprofitable business until the competition is forced to disappear.

The Gig Economy is reliant upon a defenseless workforce which signs up for opportunity and become dispensable units is a business model which does not acknowledge its workers much less value them.


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Monday, January 23, 2017

Are Soda taxes a Tax Regressive Health Failure?

From the Jayson Lusk, a food and agricultural economist, is a new post of his in which he points to new research by Emily Wang et al and in which he points out as he has again and again:

"First, even if we believe people suffer from various behavioral biases, higher prices almost certainly make people worse off.  Second, when we raise the price of one unhealthy thing, people might substitute to consume other unhealthy things.  Third, if the tax is just added at the checkout counter and not on the shelf display, it may not have nearly the effect on purchase behavior as assumed.  Forth, if people know the reason for the tax, some may "protest" and buy more instead.  Fifth, the projected weight loss from such taxes often relies on unreasonable rules of thumb like 3500kcal=1lb. Six, even when taxes have an effect, the causal impact may arise more from an "information effect" rather than a "price effect."  Seventh, such taxes may induce unanticipated effects because of how sellers respond to the policy.  Finally, soda taxes are regressive - having a proportionally larger effect on on lower income households (see also my co-authored paper on effects of "unhealthy" food taxes more generally)."

Cook County passed a soda tax in 2016 and the idea is being floated in the Illinois General Assembly.  I do not drink soda pop, because it contains high fructose corn syrup and I prefer brown sugar, although I have never been a fan of too much sugar in food and often cut sugar amounts in recipes.  Taxing "sugar", more likely high fructose corn syrup, will in crease tax revenue but it is unlikely to make people more healthy and the argument the tax will decrease obesity should be discarded as a political excuse to impose a regressive tax on lower income citizens.


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