Avoid student loan regret with 4 tips

Student loan pros and cons handwritten on a blackboard

Nearly half of all Americans with student loan debt regret not going to a cheaper college, according to the FINRA Foundation’s 2018 National Financial Capability Study.

And the study suggests many with student loans did not fully
understand what they were getting into when they took out that debt,
with just 43 percent reporting they tried to estimate monthly payments
before taking out the loan.
If you or your child are among those who must borrow at least some
amount to pay for college, fear not. Here are four ways to stave off
buyer’s remorse when it comes to that college education.

 Avoid regret with these four

1. Understand the True Cost.  
2. Manage Your Salary Expectations.
3. Find Ways to Borrow Less.  
4. Know Your Goals—And How to Achieve Them. 

Read the details at: 


6/8/19: El Paso and Dayton mark 2019 as the worst year for mass shooting violence in America on record

In the wake of the extremely sad events of the last two weeks, it took me some time to run through the data from the https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/ on mass shootings in the U.S. 2014-2019 (to-date), and the numbers are shocking. The El Paso, TX shooting of August 3, followed by the Dayton, OH incident on August 4  (with combined numbers of those killed or injured at 82 with 30 people dead, may they rest in peace) have shaken the world (see, for example, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/06/world/europe/mass-shooting-international-reaction.html). 

Here is a summary table on U.S. mass shootings over the last 5 years and 7 months:

So far, 2019 has been the deadliest year on record in terms of overall number of mass shooting incidents, in terms of the numbers of people killed and injured, in terms of the number of people killed, in terms of the number of people injured, and in terms of the number of incidents with 10 or more people killed and injured.

Here is a summary of the 26 largest mass shootings on record:

There appears to be little in terms of distributional trends, especially given small number of years in data coverage, but so far, data suggests that there can be an ongoing increase in the number and severity of mass shootings over the years, with 2019-to-date reconfirming 2016-2017 dynamics that were partially reversed in 2018.

Two visualisation charts, identifying the Texas mass shooting of August 3rd:


As the charts above clearly show, August 3, 2019 shooting in Texas is the fourth largest in terms of people either killed or injured (46) after October 1, 2017 mass shooting in Nevada (500), June 12, 2016 shooting in Florida (103), and November 5, 2017 mass shooting in Texas (47).

Overall, there has been 1,925 mass shootings in the U.S. over 2042 days since the start of 2014, with 2,163 people killed and 8.160 people injured. Since January 1, 2014 through August 4 2019, on average, almost 1.06 persons died and 4 persons were injured in mass shootings per day.

The impact of these horrific incidents is, of course, far deeper-reaching, touching the lives of those close to people killed or injured, as well as those in public vicinity of those directly impacted. There is also an unquantifiable broader impact on the society at large. We need better data to better understand these deeper and broader impacts.

We also need better data to try and decipher any causal links and drivers for these horrific crimes. And we need more analysis of the deeper roots and causes of these.

As a tail end of the post, my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those taken away by the gunmen in mass shootings, and indeed by all gunmen in all guns-involved violent events, and my best wishes for full and speedy recovery for all those injured by them.

8/8/19: Upbeat Jobs Reports Miss Some Real Points

Unemployment claims down, the weekly jobs report seemed to have triggered the usual litany of positive commentary in the business media

But all is not cheerful in the U.S. labor markets, once you start scratching below the surface. Here are two broader metrics of labor markets health: the civilian employment to population ratio and the labor force participation rate, based on monthly data through July:

The above shows that

  1. Civilian labor force participation rate is running still below the levels last seen in the late 1970s, and the current recovery period average (close to the latests monthly running rate) is below any recovery period average since the second half 1970s recession end.
  2. You have to go back to the mid-1980s to find comparable ‘expansion period’-consistent levels of labor force participation rate as we have today. This is dire. Current recovery-period and President Trump’s tenure period averages for labor force participation rate sit below all recovery periods’ averages from 1984 through 2006. 

So much for upbeat jobs reports.

26/8/19: ifo Survey Shows Increasing Business Concerns in Germany

Ifo Institute’s Business Climate indicator for Germany is falling off the cliff:

In simple terms, current business situation assessment has now fallen to its lowest reading since March 2015, forward business expectations are the lowest since June 2009, and overall Business Climate index is at its lowest reading since November 2012.

August 2019 marks fifth consecutive month of decline in the overall Business Climate index, current Business Situation index, and Business Expectations index.

Overall, the indicator is still pointing to a downturn in growth, as opposed to a recession:

The Dispersion Index – a measure of the degree of businesses-perceived uncertainty about the future direction of the economy – has now risen to the levels last seen in April 2010.

8/8/19: Irish New Housing Markets Continue to Underperform

New stats for new dwelling completions in Ireland are out today and the reading press releases on the subject starts sounding like things are getting boomier. Year on year, single dwellings completions are up 15.5% in 2Q 2019, scheme units completions up 2.6%, apartments up 55.6% and all units numbers are up 11.8%. Happy times, as some would say. Alas, sayin ain’t doin. And there is a lot of the latter left ahead.

Annualised (seasonally-adjusted) data suggests 2019 full year output will be around 18,000-18,050 units, which is below the unambitious (conservative) target of 25,000. And this adds to the already massive shortage of new completions over the last eleven years. Using data from CSO (2011-present), cumulated shortfall of new dwellings completions through December 2018 was 125,800-153,500 units (depending on target for annual completions set, with the first number representing 25K units per annum target, and the second number referencing target of 25K in 2011, rising to 30K in 2016 and staying at 30K through 2019). By the end of this year, based on annualised estimates, the shortfall will be 132,400-162,250 units. Taking occupancy at 2.1 persons per dwelling, this means some 278,000-341,000 people will be shortchanged out of purchasing or renting accommodation at the start of 2020.

Here is a chart summarising the stats:

Let’s put the headline numbers into perspective: at the current ‘improved’ construction supply levels (using annualised 2019 figure), it will take us between 6.3 and 7.7 years to erase the already accumulated gap in demand. If output of new dwellings continues to grow at 11.8% per annum indefinitely, Irish construction sector will be able to close the cumulative gap between supply and demand by around 2029 in case of the targeted output at 25K units per annum, or worse, by 2031 for the output target of 30K units per annum.

10/8/19: Irish Debt Sustainability Miracle(s): ECB and MNCs

As a part of yesterday’s discussion about the successes of Irish economic policies since the end of the Eurozone crisis, I posted on Twitter a chart showing two pivotal years in the context of changing fortunes of Irish Government debt sustainability. Here is the chart:

The blue line is the difference between the general Government deficit and the primary Government deficit, which captures net cost of carrying Government debt, in percentages of GDP. In simple terms, ECB QE that started in 2015 has triggered a massive repricing of Eurozone and Irish government bond yields. In 2012-2014 debt costs remained the same through 2015-2019 period, Irish Government spending on debt servicing would have been in the region of EUR 49.98 billion in constant euros over that period. As it stands, thanks to the ECB, this figure is down to EUR 27.94 billion, a saving of some EUR 4.41 billion annually.

Prior to 2015, another key moment in the Irish fiscal sustainability recovery history has been 2014 massive jump in real GDP growth. Over 2010-2013, the economic recovery in Ireland was generating GDP growth of (on average) just 1.772 percent per annum. In 2014, Irish real GDP growth shot up to 8.75 percent and since the start of 2014, growth averaged 6.364 percent per annum even if we are to exclude from the average calculation the bizarre 25 percent growth recorded in 2015. Of course, as I wrote on numerous occasions before, the vast majority of this growth between 2014 and 2019 is accounted for by the tax-optimisation transfer pricing and assets redomiciling by the multinational corporations – activities that have little to do with the real Irish economy.

25/8/19: My talk at IIBN event

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

Nassim Nicholas Taleb was asked whether public protests in Athens is a Black Swan Event. He replied: “No. The real Black Swan Event is that people are not rioting against the banks in London and New York.”

“Getting worse more slowly is not the same as getting better”, Prof. Brad DeLong

12/8/19: OECD Tax Plans: Some Bad News

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

Nassim Nicholas Taleb was asked whether public protests in Athens is a Black Swan Event. He replied: “No. The real Black Swan Event is that people are not rioting against the banks in London and New York.”

“Getting worse more slowly is not the same as getting better”, Prof. Brad DeLong

15/8/19: Winning Trade Wars: Round 3

A couple of days ago, Germany’s info Institute published two scenarios estimating the impacts of the latest President Trump threats to China, the imposition of a 10% tariff on Chinese exports to the U.S.

Per ifo’s Scenario 1: “If the US imposed 10 percent tariffs on additional imports worth USD 300 billion, this would mean additional income of EUR 94 million for Germany, EUR 129 million for France, EUR 183 million for Italy, EUR 25 million for Spain, and EUR 86 million for the United Kingdom. It would amount to EUR 1.5 billion for the EU28 and EUR 1.8 billion for the US. China would see losses of EUR 24.8 billion.” Note: the U.S. ‘gains’ do not account for U.S. agricultural subsidies supports increases announced by the Trump Administration, but include estimated consumer impact. Potential depreciation of yuan was also not accounted for in these estimates.

Summarising Scenario 1, ifo noted that “The additional tariffs on US imports from China threatened by US President Donald Trump would negatively impact China, while giving the US, Europe, and the UK moderate advantages.”

“However, Chinese retaliatory tariffs could turn the US advantage into a disadvantage, while somewhat reducing China’s losses,” ifo notes in relation to the estimates of the impact under Scenario 2 that includes retaliatory tariffs by China. “These retaliatory measures would lead to even greater advantages for the UK and the EU. …If China imposes a further 10 percent tariff on US imports, it could see its losses fall to EUR 21.6 billion, while turning profits for the US into losses of EUR 1.5 billion. The UK and the EU would have the last laugh and come off best. Germany would see additional income of EUR 323 million, with EUR 168 million for France, EUR 231 million for Italy, EUR 25 million for Spain, and EUR 58 million for the United Kingdom. The EU28 would benefit to the tune of EUR 1.7 billion.”