Economy | timiacono.com - Part 5

Income Inequality Chart of the Year

Via this item from Pavlina Tcherneva comes the graphic below that goes a long way in explaining why there’s been so much fuss about growing income inequality.

Anyone with a good sense for statistics surely realizes the reason this data is so compelling is because it represents incremental change rather income data in absolute terms. It’d be interesting to see this same data broken down by the 1 percent versus the 99 percent.

While both fiscal policy and monetary policy are key drivers behind the trends shown above, one need look no further than this chart to understand just about everything there is to understand about the role of the Federal Reserve in all of this.

Keynesian vs. Austrian Economics

Here’s a pretty neat infographic from the Austrian Insider detailing the key differences between two very different schools of thought on economics – Keynesian and Austrian.

After working as an engineer for many years before even looking closely at this, I never understood the fixation on supporting aggregate demand regardless of how you got to the position where aggregate demand needed to be supported (i.e., reckless credit expansion leading to asset bubbles), which is why I’d guess that most engineering-types who look at this sort of thing favor the Austrian view.

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August Retail Sales Rose Broadly

The Commerce Department reported(.pdf) that retail sales rose broadly last month, up 0.6 percent in August following an upwardly revised increase of 0.3 percent in July. Excluding autos, sales rose 0.3 percent during each of the last two months and, excluding both autos and gasoline, sales increased 0.5 percent last month after a gain of 0.3 percent in July.

So-called core retail sales, excluding autos, gasoline, building materials, and food service rose 0.4 percent during both July and August, this figure being important because it feeds directly into the calculation of Gross Domestic Product.

Sales gains in dollar terms were led by the auto industry where motor vehicles sales rose 1.5 percent. Building materials & garden equipment sales increased 1.4 percent while the much smaller miscellaneous store retailers category jumped 2.5 percent.

Falling energy prices resulted in gasoline station sales dropping 0.8 percent and general merchandise retailers were the only other major group to post a decline, down 0.1 percent.

On a year-over-year basis, retail sales rose to a 13-month high of 5.0 percent, up sharply from the winter slowdown that saw the annual sales gain dip to as low as 1.6 percent.

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Seniors and Student Loans

The data in this new General Accounting Office report(.pdf) on seniors and student loans is both fascinating and disturbing, especially when viewed in relationship to the burgeoning for-profit college system (as detailed nicely by John Oliver the other day) and the dim prospects for anyone without a college degree in today’s U.S. economy.

There’s more in this WSJ story that details how a rapidly growing number of senior citizens are having their social security/disability checks garnished as a result.

About the only good news here is that at least college kids are getting better grades, as evidenced by the graphic below from this item at the Economist.

In the words of Walter White during another highly entertaining (and greatly appreciated) repeat of the Breaking Bad Binge on AMC, “So, there’s that”.

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