50 Amazing Numbers About Today's Economy

In no particular order, here are 50 things about our economy that blow my mind:

50. The S&P 500 is down 3% from 2000. But a version of the index that holds all 500 companies in equal amounts (rather than skewed by market cap) is up nearly 90%.

49. According to economist Tyler Cowen, "Thirty years ago, college graduates made 40 percent more than high school graduates, but now the gap is about 83 percent."

48. Of all non-farm jobs created since June 2009, 88% have gone to men. "The share of men saying the economy was improving jumped to 41 percent in March, compared with 26 percent of women," reports Bloomberg.

47. A record $6 billion will be spent on the 2012 elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Adjusted for inflation, that's 60% more than the 2000 elections.

46. In 2010, nearly half of Americans lived in a household that received direct government benefits. That's up from 37.7% in 1998.

45. Adjusted for inflation, federal tax revenue was the same in 2009 as it was 1997, even though the U.S. population grew by 37 million during that period.

44. In November 2009, the nationwide unemployment was around 10%. But dig into demographics, and the rates are incredibly skewed. The unemployment rate for young, uneducated African-American males was 48.5%. For Caucasian females over age 45 with a college degree, it was 3.7%.

43. About the same number of people was awarded bachelor's degrees in 2010 as filed for personal bankruptcy (1.6 million).

42. According to The Wall Street Journal, "U.S. refineries are producing more gasoline and diesel than ever. And Americans' gasoline consumption is at an 11-year-low."

41. Americans spend an average of 1.8% of their income on alcohol and tobacco. In the U.K., it's 4.8%.

40. In 2009, 5% of Americans accounted for 50% of all health care costs.

39. As the market was "flat" from 2000 to 2010, S&P 500 companies paid out more than $2 trillion in dividends.

38. The Census Bureau now classifies nearly 1 in 6 Americans as living in poverty.

37. The number of Americans who don't have health insurance: 49.9 million.

36. The share of entitlements like Social Security and Medicare going to the bottom fifth of households (based on income) has fallen from 54% in 1979 to 36% in 2007, according to Binyamin Appelbaum of The New York Times.

35. According to Goldman Sachs' Jim O'Neill, China's growth creates the equivalent of a new Greece every 90 days.

34. With a drop in jobs came a surge in grad-school aspirations. The number of people taking the LSAT (law school entrance) exam surged 20% from 2008 to 2009.

33. From 2007 to 2009, Sheldon Adelson's personal net worth fell by $24 billion. That's about equal to what the federal government spends on agriculture every year. (He's since made most of it back.)

32. The entire town of Pray, Mont., was listed for sale last month. The asking price is $1.4 million (or what Sheldon Adelson lost every 30 minutes in 2008).

31. A full 17 years after college graduation, Yale economist Lisa Kahn found those who began their careers in tough economic times earned less than those who started their careers when the economy was strong.

30. Americans age 60 and older owe $36 billion in student loans.

29. The average vehicle on the road today is 10.8 years old -- an all-time high, and two years older than in 2000.

28. Just five companies, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , Cisco, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) , now hold nearly one-quarter of all corporate cash, equal to more than a quarter-trillion dollars.

27. In 2011, the federal government took in $2.3 trillion in tax revenue, and spent the exact same amount on military, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone.

26. Auto sales in regions where debt accumulation was highest during the bubble years are down some 40% since 2005. In regions where debt accumulation was the lowest, sales are actually up 30%.

25. According to Pew, for every dollar newspapers make in new digital advertising, they've lost $7 from traditional print media.

24. In the S&P 500, 334 companies earned more profit in 2011 than in 2007, when the economy peaked. The median gain is 38%.

23. According to economist Michael Spence, sectors of the economy that have no direct foreign competition added more than 27 million jobs from 1990 to 2008. Those that do added almost none.

22. Capital expenditures among S&P 500 companies set a record in the fourth quarter of 2011.

21. Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) is now responsible for about one-third of all Internet bandwidth.

20. The average salary for a Silicon Valley tech worker surpassed $100,000 in 2011.

19. In 2009 and 2010, 93% of the nation's income growth went to 1% of wage earners, according to economist Emmanuel Saez; 15,600 households captured 37% of all national growth.

18. Growth in health care spending in 2010 was the lowest in half a century.

17. In 2010, President Barack Obama set what looked like an unrealistic goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015. After growing an average of 16% a year since, the goal is on track to be met ahead of schedule.

16. Good news: 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been added since 2009. Bad news: Manufacturing employment is still down almost 6 million since 2000.

15. Total government employment has shrunk by almost 700,000 since 2009.

14. According to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, the number of prescription drugs issued fell by 1.1% last year, and doctor visits fell 4.7%.

13. We imported 60.3% of our oil in 2005. In 2010, that figure was 49.2%, and will likely drop further as domestic production rises.

12. For the first time since 1949, the U.S. is now a net exporter of fuel products like gasoline and diesel.

11. The period from March 2009 to March 2012 was one of the strongest three-year market rallies in history -- stronger, in fact, than the 1996-1999 bull market.

10. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, 30% of companies in 2011 had job openings for six months or longer, but couldn't find the right person to hire.

9. Adjusted for inflation, the bursting of the housing bubble destroyed wealth equal to half a 1950s America.

8. At 66.9%, the homeownership rate in America is down considerably from the 2004 peak, but is still above the long-term average of 66%.

7. U.S. apartment vacancies are now at a decade low.

6. A 2008 Swedish study found that unemployed people gradually lose the ability to read.

5. Mike Konczal, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, ran the numbers and found that as unemployment goes up, the divorce rate goes down.

4. According to the Airline Quality Rating, 2011 was the best year ever for airline industry performance (lost baggage, on-time departures, etc.).

3. The combined assets of Wal-Mart's (NYSE: WMT  ) Walton family is equal to that of the bottom 150 million Americans.

2. As the economy tanked in 2009, the top 25 hedge fund managers collectively earned $25.3 billion. On average, that works out to about $2,000 a minute for each manager.

1. Household debt payments as a percent of income are now the lowest since 1994.

For more on the recession's effect on the economy, check out my latest ebook, 50 Years in the Making: The Great Recession and Its Aftermath for your iPad, Kindle, on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. It's short, packed with information, and costs less than a buck.

Check back every Tuesday and Friday for Morgan Housel's columns on finance and economics.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel owns shares of Microsoft and Wal-Mart. Follow him on Twitter @TMFHousel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Wal-Mart Stores, Microsoft, and Apple, and has recommended buying shares of Wal-Mart Stores, Google, Pfizer, Microsoft, Apple, and Netflix. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple and Microsoft, and creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


Read/Post Comments (72) | Recommend This Article (231)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2012, at 4:01 PM, TMFBreakerRob wrote:

    In a very real sense, #35 is a very apt comparison given the growing inefficiencies (and hidden losses) in the Middle Kingdom. I obviously don't expect a default by the country, but a lot of adjustment would seem to be on the way.

    Couple that with their demographic challenges and some off-shoring of manufacturing as wages rise and things should be interesting to watch.

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2012, at 4:18 PM, moneyman35 wrote:

    Just a general observation. The Stock Market and the Economy are not the same thing...

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2012, at 5:35 PM, seattle1115 wrote:

    Some fascinating numbers there - thanks!

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2012, at 5:45 PM, TarynOne wrote:

    Thanks for the really interesting article. I do wish, though, (apart from the Census stats) that some of these were footnoted with a source. Thanks.

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2012, at 6:13 PM, TMFMorgan wrote:

    Taryn,

    Understandable. There's a selfish reason for that: 1), If I footnoted everything, the article would be terribly cluttered, and 2) If I included 50-100 links in the article, most readers would click away and never come back.

    I'll note that Motley Fool has editors and fact checkers, and I'm more than happy to source anything here if you shoot me an email at mhousel@fool.com

    Thanks!

    -Morgan

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2012, at 7:16 PM, sheldonross wrote:

    #40 Illustrates why socialized medicine is scary.

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2012, at 8:02 PM, lesailes wrote:

    I would have thought it was item 37 that was scary!

    40 seems pretty meaninless to me in view of 37. Does this mean that the rich few spend inordinately on health? Or that serious health problesm are confined to a few rich people? Or many other possible causes? Without universal health figures it is impossible to say.

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2012, at 10:25 PM, vidar712 wrote:

    #40. Sounds like 5% of the people were sick during that year. What percentage of the populate would you expect to be sick?

  • Report this Comment On April 05, 2012, at 11:24 PM, JMora wrote:

    sheldonross,

    How so?

    That stat has nothing to do with a single payer or a "socialized" system, especially considering the U.S healthcare doesn't qualify as such.

    All it tells me is that 5% of Americans spend money extravagantly on healthcare (perhaps because they have the resources) or that it's expensive to care for the sickest 5% of Americans.

    It's quite an ambiguous stat.

    #37 is a much more alarming stat! Not only will they be expensive to cover because of the lack of insurance, but an unhealthy worker is a unproductive worker...

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 12:58 AM, JimmyZangwow wrote:

    #25 = Craigslist

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 6:47 AM, The1MAGE wrote:

    Everyone should pay attention to 12 and 13.

    A drop in oil imports, and becoming a net exporter of gas and diesel. This is a significant change.

    Also from what I am hearing, this trend is actually going to continue, and possibly speed up.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 9:44 AM, mott623 wrote:

    Huge grammatical error on #43. Now I can't take the rest of this seriously!! ;-)

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 9:52 AM, VieuxCarre wrote:

    Great read! I had to look up how many americans there are (311,591,917) that means that the Waltons have more money than just under half the rest of the US. #42 in the setting of high oil prices is particularly depressing.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 10:04 AM, TMFMorgan wrote:

    ^ Yikes, should be fixed soon. That was inadvertently changed on the editorial side, for what it's worth.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 10:23 AM, TMFMorgan wrote:

    ^ On second thought, I've been told it's technically correct. Hence why we have copy editors :)

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 1:05 PM, seattle1115 wrote:

    Taken together, #42, #13, and #12 make the current price of gasoline at the pump especially frustrating. Domestic demand is dropping, domestic supply is growing, and prices go up.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 2:11 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    "44. In November 2009, the nationwide unemployment was heavily skewed. The unemployment rate for young, uneducated African-American males was 48.5%. For Caucasian females over age 45 with a college degree, it was 3.7%."

    That makes sense to me. Young uneducated black males don't have any positive skills and no earned respect from the job market. I imagine young white males have the same problem as well as young mexicans, puerto ricans, chinese etc. Probably even uneducated young females. These numbers are skewed, but by UNEDUCATED young people. period. If anybody wants a job, education may be a better path than what I see being taken.

    Glad to see equal rights has given educated women less unemployment than men of all kinds.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 2:13 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    43. About the same number of people was awarded bachelor's degrees in 2010 as filed for personal bankruptcy (1.6 million).

    Makes sense to me. Most are taking bankruptcy to cover ungodly high cost of education and school loans.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 2:15 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    42. According to The Wall Street Journal, "U.S. refineries are producing more gasoline and diesel than ever. And Americans' gasoline consumption is at an 11-year-low."

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm??????? So why is the price going up. Corporate greed and LOTS of gas tax from the government, I think.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 2:18 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    34. With a drop in jobs came a surge in grad-school aspirations. The number of people taking the LSAT (law school entrance) exam surged 20% from 2008 to 2009.

    Lawyers are the only ones making money. Heck I've been involved in THREE class action suits. The largest award I ever got was $12. Wonder what the lawyers got? Wonder what it cost the legal system in time and money wasted.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 2:20 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    Americans age 60 and older owe $36 billion in student loans

    See #43. Wonder what it is if we include all students loans.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 2:23 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    23. According to economist Michael Spence, sectors of the economy that have no direct foreign competition added more than 27 million jobs from 1990 to 2008. Those that do added almost none

    Well of course. Do you want to pay $50/hour for an employee or <$5? Wheeeeeee!

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 2:25 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    17. In 2010, President Barack Obama set what looked like an unrealistic goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015. After growing an average of 16% a year since, the goal is on track to be met ahead of schedule.

    Does that include exporting jobs?

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 2:26 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    16. Good news: 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been added since 2009. Bad news: Manufacturing employment is still down almost 6 million since 2000.

    Isn't that amazing... employment is up in China and India just about 6 million..

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 2:28 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    10. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, 30% of companies in 2011 had job openings for six months or longer, but couldn't find the right person to hire.

    OK, I'll pass on this one and its relationship to EDUCATION. Basketweaving, and theater just don't make it. The Dept of Education has ruined job possibilities for millions of students.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 2:30 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    5. Mike Konczal, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, ran the numbers and found that as unemployment goes up, the divorce rate goes down

    Simple economics... divorces cost money and nobody can do without their spouses income. So fewer divorces and more unhappy marriages.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 2:31 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    2. As the economy tanked in 2009, the top 25 hedge fund managers collectively earned $25.3 billion. On average, that works out to about $2,000 a minute for each manager.

    See what education and low moral standards can do for you?

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 2:38 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    I've had fun with this. Numbers are fun. Hope all who read enjoyed my comments.

    Great article though. Don't know most of those referenced here. My neighbor says 100% of congresspersons are worthless. Guess that's as good a reference as any.

    \

    Happy economy everyone.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 4:09 PM, ibuildthings wrote:

    "In November 2009, the nationwide unemployment was around 10%. But dig into demographics, and the rates are incredibly skewed. The unemployment rate for young, uneducated African-American males was 48.5%. For Caucasian females over age 45 with a college degree, it was 3.7%"

    ============

    Easy to interpret this into some kind of racial bigotry. Do we need more of that noise?

    Thousands of engineering and law degrees in the last decade. Compare racial groups with same GPA from similar colleges and you won't find much disparity.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 4:12 PM, ibuildthings wrote:

    "In 2009, 5% of Americans accounted for 50% of all health care costs."

    ========

    Elderly, babies, drug addicts. If we must prioritize, please start with people who didn't intentionally do things to end up where they are.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 4:21 PM, ibuildthings wrote:

    "According to economist Tyler Cowen, "Thirty years ago, college graduates made 40 percent more than high school graduates, but now the gap is about 83 percent."

    ========

    Our manufacturing jobs have been leaving because "Buy American" is a slogan we reserve for the other guy. Companies wouldn't offshore jobs if we had been willing to pay a little more for a local product. I will grant you that it is becoming harder to impossible to find some US build products.

    And some skill sets are harder to find in US born workers. Kids in school play video games instead of study, then they wonder why they only qualify to work in McDonalds. And even those jobs are competing with undocumented workers who come to the US and get hired.

    Just walk onto any major US university. Go see who is in the basketball program, the arts programs, the "gender studies", the "communications" and other low-impact majors. Go see who is in the doctoral programs in physics and engineering. America is a place where if you do the work you can learn how to get paid in a big way. It would seem that most of the people who understand that came from somewhere else.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 4:25 PM, ibuildthings wrote:

    "Auto sales in regions where debt accumulation was highest during the bubble years are down some 40% since 2005. In regions where debt accumulation was the lowest, sales are actually up 30%"

    -------------------

    Wait, are you saying that people who manage their resources well are more likely to be able to afford things they need when they need them? You could be accused of blaming the poor for their problems. Better repent now before the politicians see this.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 5:38 PM, ajner wrote:

    mountain8:

    Whether people agree with your commentary or not, how is it that you think wasting all that space with your gut-felt opinions is going to convince anybody that Morgan's numbers are wrong? Especially when you don't bother to back any of it with stats and facts from your own research, that is if you did any research other than watching "news." You just wasted some of our time, but mostly yours.

  • Report this Comment On April 06, 2012, at 8:27 PM, kyleleeh wrote:

    <<Our manufacturing jobs have been leaving because "Buy American" is a slogan we reserve for the other guy. Companies wouldn't offshore jobs if we had been willing to pay a little more for a local product. I will grant you that it is becoming harder to impossible to find some US build products.>>

    I don't agree with that at all. Companies move jobs offshore because human labor in Asia is cheaper then automated labor, but automated labor is still cheaper then Human labor in the US. Even if manufacturing had not moved overseas we still would be seeing massive layoffs of factory workers as companies automate their assembly lines. "Buy American" or "Paying a little bit more" would not do anything to change that.

    This was summed up best in a quote from a Thomas Freidman article:

    "Today a modern American textile plant has only two employees...a man and a dog. The mans job is to feed the dog, the dogs job is to make sure the man stays away from the machines."

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 8:07 AM, DaMofo wrote:

    "27. In 2011, the federal government took in $2.3 trillion in tax revenue, and spent the exact same amount on military, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone."

    This should be #1 on everyone's priority list to address among our peers and start a dialogue to find a real solution to our nation's spending problem.

    The naïveté of the general populus must end. This will be our downfall if we cannot work together and make tough decisions for the benefit of this country.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 12:08 PM, jerryguru69 wrote:

    number of angels who can dance on the head of a pIn: 1000.

    how does that Mark Twain quote go? lies, damn lies, and statistics?

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 12:46 PM, steltek wrote:

    #1 should be: The interest payments on US sovereign debt is higher than the GDP of all but 22 nations.

    http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nomin...

    Our country pays in debt every year equal to the total economic output of Sweden.

    It's impossible to borrow one's way to prosperity and debt should only be accumulated by those who feel sure future growth will outpace the interest payments. This does not apply here.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 12:54 PM, richinhisgrace wrote:

    Re: #3. Seems like about an equal exchange since the latter acquires most of their "assets" directly from the former.

    Re: #1. Is low household debt individually healthy, but nationally unhealthy? The "gold standard" of our economy is increased when we all get out of bed each day, go out, and buy stuff from each other. We must not hoard our billions, but keep them in circulation.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 1:29 PM, acomanda wrote:

    You mention in #50 "...a version of the index that holds all 500 companies in equal amounts (rather than skewed by market cap) is up nearly 90%."

    Can you tell me which index that is?

    Thanks!

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 1:30 PM, Momoneypls wrote:

    "Just five companies, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) , Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) , Cisco, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) , now hold nearly one-quarter of all corporate cash, equal to more than a quarter-trillion dollars." And that amount equals ONLY 1.6% of the nation's current deficit. Which begs the question, where is the money going to come from to pay our massive & growing federal government debt?!!!

    Your list is "in no particular order" but if I could provide just a bit of order, the number one item on your list should have been the massive and growing national debt and the lack of desire by the President to do anything about it but talk.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 2:27 PM, ArbiBaby wrote:

    I was raised to never say fool; but this collective seems smart enough to run companies, countries, and their own finances. The "economy" and equity valuations (thankfully) have a disconnected association. Witness #'s 50 and 39. A similar disconnect applies to (hopefully) grammar/syntax and financial acuity too. Pan European economies have muddled along for centuries steeped in graft and corruption with minor currency debasements and assassinations. Pity the Editor and the Germander...each has to deal with the sorta educated. " 'the same NUMBER of people was awarded' " is correct. Carrying the Mediterranean may be proved incorrect. Thank you for authoring an ebook! It will be my first.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 3:01 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    Dear ajner ,

    "Whether people agree with your commentary or not, how is it that you think wasting all that space with your gut-felt opinions is going to convince anybody that Morgan's numbers are wrong? Especially when you don't bother to back any of it with stats and facts from your own research, that is if you did any research other than watching "news." You just wasted some of our time, but mostly yours."

    I don't care if people agree with me or not. Opinions are what these blogs are for. I think I still have freedom of speech. And I love to waste time. 3 out of 74 people waste time at least once a day. According to my neighbor who has an arm full of qualiifications. (again this is cynicism if you didn't recognize it..)

    Second. I don't think Morgan's numbers are wrong. I'm not sure where you got that idea. I just don't think they are complete and could have other meanings that just the bare listing without comment.

    Third. My posits were pretty much cynical, you must have missed that.

    I don't watch the news. I'm a 63 year old retired economist with a major in macroeconomics and a minor in math... statistics specifically. most economic news is lies, damn lies and politics! (reference: Samual Clemmings, american emeritus. Mark Twain to those who don't know) I can pop out numbers for you all day but they will all be skewed in the way I want to express and will be valid but WON"T tell the whole truth. I only make comments to show this can all be looked at differently, and that surface values are just that, and to waste time of course.

    I don't think the article said once that these numbers are etched in stone or don't have other stories inside them.

    Mr Housel is mearly repeating (in this article, I don't know about his book) what he has read, not what he has figured out or verified. If you look closely, you will see this whole article is just an advertisement for his book. He didn't do the research either. However, he did refer only to 15 persons or organizations for his 50 remarks. Wonder where he got his other 35 "facts".

    I don't need referances. I'm making logical responces from lifes experience. Your comments sound like a 30 year old idealist who hasn't seen reality yet. Don't worry, you'll grow bitter as you age like 8 out of 10 persons age 60 or over who live in the world and don't have rickets.

    Never trust numbers in economics. I can make numbers wash the dishes.

    Lastly, thanks for wasting everybody's time with your comment which was only meant for me and nobody else. And for giving me an opening to waste everybody elses time again. You do my job so well. Thanks. Have an economically wonderful day.

    PS. Did anybody enjoy my remarks. Please answer, I'm doing research.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 3:07 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    Dear jerryguru69.

    I stand corrected on Mr Twains quote. I thought the paraphrase was fairly apt though. Did you enjoy it?

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 3:10 PM, mountain8 wrote:

    DEar Arbibaby,

    Thanks for giving another example of people wasting time. I have a masters and really didn't understand a thing to said. You are writing for a Doctor of philosophy with a major in economics. Real people aren't going to undrestand anything you said. I sure miss most of it.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 3:20 PM, ershler wrote:

    For the comments above about US energy production and the price of oil it is important to remember the only reason production has increased is because the price of oil has increased. If the price of oil dropped significantly most of the drilling in the US would stop and production would decline. Look at what low natural gas prices have done to the O&G industry.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 4:52 PM, oberta wrote:

    These days manufacturing employment is a great problem worldwide(16). A reason is that investors are always looking on more production and more effinciency in order to make more money which is their good right.

    The result is in most cases that the production facility has to be increased and this results in the need of less employment. Smaller companies could not compete anymore and this has also a negative impact on the manufacturing employement of those companies.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 6:06 PM, TMFMorgan wrote:

    Acomanda,

    It's the S&P 500 Equal Weight Index.

    -Morgan

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 10:34 PM, jerryguru69 wrote:

    @mountain8 -

    well, there is a volume in the Schaum's Outline Series that is about economic statistics or some such. It is on my to-do-list. I shall ingest same and spout fire as to why all you Fools are, at best, misguided.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2012, at 10:49 PM, jerryguru69 wrote:

    @mountain8

    there is a volume in the Schaum's Outline Series that deals with economic statistics.

    I plan to digest same and spout fire that you are all totally wrong.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2012, at 2:51 AM, jerryab wrote:

    "45. Adjusted for inflation, federal tax revenue was the same in 2009 as it was 1997, even though the U.S. population grew by 37 million during that period."

    Failure to create jobs in the US 2002-2009. Almost 70-million work-years of labor were lost as a result of the failure to continue the existing job creation trendline (1971-2000 = 2-million additional jobs/year--virtual straight line graph).

    "40. In 2009, 5% of Americans accounted for 50% of all health care costs."

    Relatively few people need $300+k medical procedures. Most care is fairly routine and thus not that expensive. But there are enough of the expensive procedures to dramatically move the average--as the statistic shows.

    "27. In 2011, the federal government took in $2.3 trillion in tax revenue, and spent the exact same amount on military, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone."

    A totally bogus comparison. Social Security and Medicare have dedicated funding sources (payroll taxes). Subtract those incomes AND expenses in order to get an idea of where the real losses are being covered up.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2012, at 9:28 AM, TMFMorgan wrote:

    <<A totally bogus comparison. Social Security and Medicare have dedicated funding sources (payroll taxes). >>

    2011 payroll taxes: $819 billion

    2011 SS & Medicare spending: $1.21 trillion

    The difference, largely driven by the payroll tax cut, was mostly made up by the general fund (regular income tax).

    See here:

    http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=254723,00.html

    "The reduction in revenues to the Social Security Trust Fund will be made up by transfers from the General Fund."

    Also, when entitlement programs ran surpluses, the money was borrowed from by the general fund.

    The idea that SS and Medicare have dedicated, walled-off sources of funding gives a false sense of security. It's all just part of tax revenue.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2012, at 11:35 AM, FoolSolo wrote:

    Thank you for the entertaining article Morgan. These are good little fun stats for BBQ parties and watercooler chatter. However, I think the majority knows (should know?) that statistics can be manipulated in many ways, and are often used without context or in-depth analysis to substantiate someone's bias, whether real or contrived.

    As an example, take "40. In 2009, 5% of Americans accounted for 50% of all health care costs.", one could interpret that to mean that 5% of our citizens are very ill and need very expensive specialized care, or it could mean that a small subset of the population spends a tremendous amount of money on specialized and rare medical procedures, or it could mean that certain specialized treatments are ridiculously over-priced in proportion to the standard cold & flu treatments, or it could mean that health care in general is overwhelmingly over-priced, and but a few wealthy and well insured people actually commit to the very expensive procedures.

    List items 15-17 look like great campaign fodder for Obama.

    "17. In 2010, President Barack Obama set what looked like an unrealistic goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015. After growing an average of 16% a year since, the goal is on track to be met ahead of schedule."

    "16. Good news: 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been added since 2009. Bad news: Manufacturing employment is still down almost 6 million since 2000."

    "15. Total government employment has shrunk by almost 700,000 since 2009."

    Again, without context and analysis, these can be picked at and restated in either a positive or negative light, as you prefer. With the primaries and the Republicans currently dominating the media, you certainly won't see stats like these being brought to the forefront. But as the election approaches, there will be plenty of shadowy stats and half-truths spewing from campaign bigots and zealots alike. Just be sure to do a little digging to get the bigger picture. You may find some of them addressed on Factcheck.org, although they don't go very deep either, but at least you can do some quick checking there to start with.

  • Report this Comment On April 08, 2012, at 10:43 PM, dalekin wrote:

    mountain8 -- I applaud your comments. I am amazed that even after the indisputable logic you present all of these posts over #8,10 or whatever keep coming in!

    I learned many years ago that if you are going to discuss an abstract you first must define your terms. Besides politics,ecomomics,religion,and now maybe we should ad statistics to that adage.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2012, at 8:19 AM, DACircles wrote:

    We are now exporting more fuel then we keep but the prices are rising at home. More fuel is being sold for higher prices to other countries at the expense of the American people???

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2012, at 11:39 AM, seattle1115 wrote:

    @TMFMorgan: "Also, when entitlement programs ran surpluses, the money was borrowed from by the general fund."

    There are a couple of different ways of looking at this issue, though. A lot of people think of this as Congress looting the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, and certainly there's some truth to that. On the other hand, *something* has to be done with that money. We could stash it under the national mattress I suppose, or bury it in the world's largest coffee can out behind the White House, but that doesn't seem like good money management. Better to put it in a secure investment that offers some return, even if the rate of return is unspectacular - something like, say, Treasuries. It's true, the government has been borrowing from the trust funds, but it's also true that the trust funds are willing lenders to the government because that's a pretty good way of managing those funds.

  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2012, at 5:33 PM, ArbiBaby wrote:

    Wow.

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2012, at 12:58 AM, TMFVicki wrote:

    In regards to #37 & #40

    In California they've done a number of studies to figure out who the most expensive patients are and found that many of them are homeless folks with chronic illnesses. Getting these folks off the streets decreased their over all expenses to the community significantly.

    http://www.reportingonhealth.org/resources/lessons/million-d...

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2012, at 1:44 AM, actuary99 wrote:

    As someone who analyzes health care cost for a living, #40 isn't surprising. Annual healthcare costs per individual high a highly-skewed probability distribution. In addition, as a general rule the most costly 20% make up 80% of the total costs.

    "Does this mean that the rich few spend inordinately on health?"

    Not sure where you would get this idea. Do the rich choose to have organ transplants? Cancer? Premature babies? No, no, and no. The opposite is true. Higher income is correlated to lower healthcare costs.

    "Without universal health figures it is impossible to say."

    No, it is completely possible to say. I have this data at my finger tips.

    "#40 Illustrates why socialized medicine is scary."

    No, #40 illustrates that healthcare costs have a skewed distribution.

    "In California they've done a number of studies to figure out who the most expensive patients are and found that many of them are homeless folks with chronic illnesses. Getting these folks off the streets decreased their over all expenses to the community significantly."

    This may be true over a lifetime but not necessarily in a given year, which is what #40 refers to. Within a non-homeless, employed population, it is probably still true that 5% of the population make up 50% of the costs.

    "All it tells me is that 5% of Americans spend money extravagantly on healthcare (perhaps because they have the resources) or that it's expensive to care for the sickest 5% of Americans."

    Again, people don't choose to have high healthcare costs. They get/have illnesses/conditions that are expensive, and they choose treatment over death.

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2012, at 1:58 AM, actuary99 wrote:

    "There are a couple of different ways of looking at this issue, though. A lot of people think of this as Congress looting the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, and certainly there's some truth to that. On the other hand, *something* has to be done with that money. We could stash it under the national mattress I suppose, or bury it in the world's largest coffee can out behind the White House, but that doesn't seem like good money management. Better to put it in a secure investment that offers some return, even if the rate of return is unspectacular - something like, say, Treasuries. It's true, the government has been borrowing from the trust funds, but it's also true that the trust funds are willing lenders to the government because that's a pretty good way of managing those funds."

    It would be a good way of managing those funds if they were in fact "putting it in a secure investment that offers some return." They are not. Social Security is a retirement fund. If the officers of a company borrowed their workers' retirement fund money to pay company debts because they company wasn't generating sufficient profit to pay them, they would go to jail. Social security is underfunded because congress has robbed the trust fund. It's going to become a problem if something drastic is not done.

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2012, at 11:30 AM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    -->"It's impossible to borrow one's way to prosperity and debt should only be accumulated by those who feel sure future growth will outpace the interest payments. This does not apply here."<--

    @Steltek - If it is impossible to borrow one's way to prosperity, there would be no need for banks. You attempt to square this fact with your claim by saying "this does not apply here" without any real evidence to back that claim up.

    I'm afraid I do not find that very compelling. It is difficult for me to believe that there is a more sound investment than the American people. The bond market, it would seem, agrees with me.

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2012, at 3:50 PM, hbofbyu wrote:

    DJD,

    Of course I can be prosperous with someone elses money but at whose expense? Banks create liquidity and spread the wealth around but they don't do a lot of "wealth creation" unless you count quantitative easing as a driving economic engine.

    It seems like every vacant lot in my neighborhood is being replaced by a damn bank. It's not a perfect analogy but I would say banks are like leaches. They can help improve your circulation but they won't help you gain weight when you're sick. Of course the leach will gain weight up until the moment you die.

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2012, at 5:55 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    @hbofbyo - Oh, I absolutely agree with your analysis and your analogy. My argument stems from the notion that there are times for which going into debt is a perfectly sane and reasonable - and indeed, profitable - idea. This notion is hardly controversial, and yet it is precisely this notion that Steltek rejected.

    The methods for disbursing those loans, of course, could do with some improving. I think calling the banks "leeches" is perfectly appropriate, as analogies go.

  • Report this Comment On April 10, 2012, at 11:20 PM, dickieduck wrote:

    Not a "huge grammatical error" on 43. In fact, not an error at all. Subject of sentence is "number" (about the same number did this as did that). The word "number" is a singular word and it takes a singular predicate (verb). It would be different if writer had written "About as many people...." In that case, the subject would be "people", which would take a plural verb.

  • Report this Comment On April 12, 2012, at 9:52 AM, Noneleft01 wrote:

    #17. Obama's goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015 *is* unrealistic - it only now *appears* achievable by inflating the nominal value of those exports to the point they are now priced twice as high as in 2010, through QE and negative real interest rates.

    Currency devaluation does wonders for politicians, not only for real debt reduction but also by making selected numbers look bigger. It's the oppositions job to point out the same effect happening with the deficit.

  • Report this Comment On April 12, 2012, at 2:35 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    Currency devaluation can also do wonders for the economy, especially when facing certain types of recessionary pressures. Reducing real wages is sometimes necessary to correct for market excesses, but wages are fairly inflexible on their own and renegotiating every individual contract is time consuming and inefficient, whereas inflation neatly takes care of that adjustment in one go. Not an ideal solution, but one with a great deal more utility than most alternatives.

    The lack of the ability to undertake those devaluations in real wages leads to pretty painful alternative adjustments, as Eurozone countries are discovering.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2012, at 1:57 AM, EK1949 wrote:

    40. In 2009, 5% of Americans accounted for 50% of all health care costs.

    I think most of these people are at the end of life when care is most expensive. But the other point I'd make is that we had better be darn sure that all of these people are insured.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2012, at 11:45 AM, lleach wrote:

    I really enjoyed the diversity of these statistics. The grouping shows how one can pull any set of positive asGrsertions to make statements as meaningless as astrology testimonials.

    I particularly like the one comparing the entire Greek economy to the growth in China. It shows how silly the market's nervousness about Greece is. Or at least the assertions have anything practical to do with market movement. I've used the example of Alabama going broke as equivelent but this one is based on actual numbers. (I haven't compared Alabama's budget to Greece.)

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2012, at 11:18 PM, pastabelly wrote:

    I must agree that the article has a "president Obama bias" as someone implied, but my personal portfolios (401k, IRA,) have been on a steady incline since March, 2009. This is probably just a coincidence since the economy was bound to improve from those depths of 2008 and its hard to imagine that any president wouldn't have tried a stimulus. In 2008 we all received a $300.00 check from uncle Sam (George Bush?) to stimulate the economy in what turned out to be futile, but an attempt no less. In hind sight it was really a subsidy for big oil since gas prices were high then too. In time, the past few years of stimulus from uncle Sam (Barack Obama?) may be viewed as a subsidy for our financial institutions. We have enough people depending on hand outs from the government. Lets not make investers dependent on them as well.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2012, at 1:25 PM, ArbiBaby wrote:

    As regards #40; can a line item estimate be given to vanity? I tee off behind foursomes containing plastic surgeons...the parking lot contains Bentley's and a Bugatti(sp). Faretheewell and become a medical billing code transcriptionist. Sidebar-Amen DJD...NC!

  • Report this Comment On April 16, 2012, at 4:03 PM, setht23 wrote:

    After reading through most of these comments I'm shocked by how many people seemingly don't understand that oil/gasoline is a globalized commodity. Just because we produce more and use less doesn't mean the price goes down. Does anyone think China keeps growing without using more oil? Or that OPEC doesn't adjust the supply when other nations increase production.

    And why is a corporation evil for selling it's goods at the highest profit availiable be it in China, India or the US? Unless you want your tax money going to subsidize gas like Iran, Pakistan, and Venezuela then quit complaining and get rid of your SUV. Personally I prefer my smaller car, and not paying taxes to subsidize others driving habits.

  • Report this Comment On April 16, 2012, at 9:34 PM, ybnvsfool wrote:

    Get out youir pom poms one more time for Obamanonics. How is that working in Greece?

  • Report this Comment On April 17, 2012, at 12:11 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    ^^^ Greece, the country currently being pilloried on conservative economic theories of austerity and deficit reduction?

    Not working out well at all, as it turns out. Neither is it panning out so hot for Spain. Turns out, cutting spending during a recession makes the recession worse.

    If only somebody (Keynes) had made a prediction like that (Keynes) some time in the past (Keynes) then maybe we could have foreseen it coming and dealt with it using some other policy, which maybe somebody (Keynes) might also have suggested some time in the past (Keynes).

    Also (Keynes).

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