October 28, 2013

Big spenders on strike

The data are rather compelling. US expenditures on factories, trucks, machinery, computers and software have been running abnormally low for years. Whether measured against total GDP, S&P 500 sales or depreciation of fixed assets, total spending on such big ticket items is a small part of the economy. But it does have far-reaching ripple effects, resulting in even more spending, profits and jobs over the years. That's why this kind of spending is so important.

Has this demonstrable strike on the part of public companies — our usual big spenders — been the result of fear, conservatism or just uncertainty over the direction of the economy?

October 24, 2013

October 21, 2013

Surgeons do better with checklists...

Peering through the smoke and fog surrounding the just-resolved government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis, I noticed something interesting from recent studies of casualty rates at major city hospitals: Mortality is much lower when surgeons are given written checklists.

When evaluating the US economy in the fourth quarter of 2013, perhaps investors could use a checklist too.