Plenty of good news – just look by Ron Finke

In present times, one must know where to seek out good news. Based upon the old saying, If it bleeds, it leads, we have more than a bumper crop of awful things to contemplate. So, being an incorrigible optimist, let me share some items of which I learned recently.

We in the US still creating gross domestic product (GDP) are still in first place in the world economy by a long shot. In 2016, the World Bank and FT Advisors report that we produced 24.6 percent of total world output, followed by 14.8 percent by China. Is that not amazing? Less than 5 percent of world population achieves that in comparison with China at about 16 percent.

If you, your children or grandchildren want a job, this is their time. There are approximately 6 Million jobs advertised at the moment. This is more than the number of people who report they are seeking a job. Please don’t tell me they are all in the wrong places or not suitable. Take a job like all of us had to do 40 or 50 years ago. Then figure out the rest while you are already working.

On a relative basis, our energy is cheap. The Permian oil field of our Southwestern states produced more oil in 2017 than did our entire country in 2008. We produce more oil per day than Saudi Arabia and we are approaching the level of Russia. The wells we are drilling now produce 10 times as much per well as a few years ago.

Is all that carbon-killing us? In 1990, we produced about 2,900 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. The CO² emissions at that time was over 1,800 million metric tons per year. Now electric production has risen to over 3,800 billion kilowatt-hours, but carbon emissions have fallen to 1982 levels, just over 1,700 million metric tons per year. This is a reduction of about 27 percent since 2007.

US carbon emissions have reduced by 650M tons from 2000 through 2017. The next largest reduction is the United Kingdom with about 190 tons. Other top 20 contributors to cleaner air are all European countries plus Japan. Meanwhile, China during the same time period increased its carbon emissions by about 5,800M tons. I am sure glad China signed the Paris Climate Agreement.

How about the manufacturing we do not perform anymore? By value-added measure, in 2017, about 12.5 million of us turned out a record $2.18T worth of products. This compares to about $500B worth in 1978. In 2016, our one nation’s manufacturing output was higher than the total GDP of all other countries except China, Japan, Germany, UK, and France, in that order.

The bad news? The output per employee has risen from about $30,000 in 1978 to about $180,000 in 2017. Do we want to go back to wheel barrows instead of forklifts to have more jobs?

What about medical science? When I was a young pup returning to Independence after law school, Lloyd Uptegrove plugged me into the American Cancer Society as a volunteer in 1977. The statistics were awful. Over 100 per 100,000 Americans per year died of the various kinds of cancer.

After peaking in the early 1990’s, the mortality rate has continued to fall. In 2015, it was something above 80 per 100,000. Why then do we know so many afflicted? We—you and I—know more seniors and there are many more 100,000’s of people around us now.

I feel better just recounting these. I hope you do too. I have First Trust Advisors L.P. of Wheaton, Illinois, and Jim Bowen in particular to thank for compiling positive information and trends for us. The best is yet to come!

(Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Advice is intended to be general in nature.)

August 29th, 2018|Categories: Economy, News & Events|