US Economy: “Humming Along Just Fine”

Numbers for the end of October show that there was a 3.1% increase in wages and salaries (according to the Employment Cost Index – ECI) and 227,000 jobs created (far exceeding the actual expectation). US economy clocked one of its best six month stretches in the past decade with growth up 4.2% in the second quarter and 3.5% in the third quarter.

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US Consumer: “In Good Shape”

The current state of the average American consumer, is, according to CEO at The Hershey Company, Michelle Buck a good one. Americans’ confidence in the economy is positive. Brian Cornell feels similar.  As CEO of Target he sees similar activities to his peer Buck, purporting that the “consumer environment may be the strongest [he’s] seen in [his] career.”

One reason for this – Cornell believes – is because Americans are “seeing wages rise.”  According to entrepreneur and investor Kevin O’Leary, it is the “small domestic companies” we have to thank for this.  He said:

“Small domestic companies are the unsung hero of the policy that’s emerged from this administration.”

With a staggering 6.7 million job openings seen at the end of  June 2018; a situation which has been described as “an unprecedented imbalance.” Indeed, as numbers from the Department of Labor show for the end of October, 2018 the amount of people receiving extended jobless benefits – 1.636 million – is the lowest since 1973.

O’Leary further explained that:

“We are having the best year ever — ever in the last decade,” O’Leary said. “The deregulation in the state and the municipal and the federal level has given confidence to these operators to do something they haven’t done in 10 years: to actually take out loans and invest in their businesses, and create jobs, and increase sales, enhance margins, scale up.”

Still, there is some cause for concern since there are currently 7.14 million job openings, which basically means Americans are not skilled enough (or too lazy) to fill these positions.  So there needs to be some work on job training and career guidance.

The midterm elections and policy-making from now until 2020 could have a substantial impact on this.

America vis-à-vis its Chinese Trade War

America is back in business.  At least according to a recent World Economic Forum Index  ranking the nation as the world’s “most competitive country,” a position it has not had for the last decade, concluding that “economic recovery is well underway, with the global economy projected to grow almost 4% in 2018 and 2019.”

While this is extremely positive, the forum also found that there is room for improvement on social issues.    Caution was called for since “recovery remains vulnerable to a range of risks and potential shocks,” such as the simmering trade war between America and China.  According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal:

“The U.S. has levied tariffs on a total of $250 billion of Chinese goods and China has retaliated with tariffs on $110 billion of U.S. exports as the two nations spar over trade imbalances and other issues.”

When looking at China vis-à-vis America, with the trade war, there has been an expansion of its economic deceleration with the deterioration of the trade war.  There has been a distinct loss of momentum in China’s economy in 2018, linked to the efforts made by its government to curb the high debt levels.

Clearly both America and china are losing out with the current trade war. Here, we find 11 experts offering possible exits to the war.

Hedvig Hricak & Colleagues Honored by National Academy of Medicine

Three members of the National Academy of Medicine were recently honored for their outstanding service. As the National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau explained,

“These distinguished members have shown extraordinary dedication to furthering science and improving the health of our nation. The countless hours they have volunteered in various roles year after year have been crucial to helping the National Academy of Medicine address critical issues in health, medicine, and related policy, and inspire collective action across sectors. We are delighted to honor them today.”

The three doctors included Elaine L. Larson, Hedvig Hricak and Nicholas Peppas. Here are a few details about each of these distinguished medical leaders.

Elaine L. Larson: She is a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University and she has been a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine since 1986. During that time, she has served on more than 50 projects and 17 committees, councils and boards. She was awarded with the Walsh McDermott Medal for her distinguished service with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for an extended period of time.

Hedvig Hricak: She is the chair of the department of radiology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Since she was elected in 2002, Hricak has worked tirelessly for NAM and National Academies with her work with many committees and symposia. She was awarded the David Rall Medal which is awarded to someone who has shown distinguished leadership as the chair of a study committee or with another National Academies activities. She has shown commitment above and beyond what is expected. As a prepared statement said, “Through her exemplary service over about 15 years, Hricak has treasured the NAM as a valuable stimulus for improving science in medicine, the quality of health care, and the state of public health in the U.S. and around the world.”

Nicholas Peppas: He is a professor and director of the Institute for Biomaterials, Drug Delivery, and Regenerative Medicine and Cockrell Family Regents Chair in Engineering #6 at the University of Texas at Austin. He has received more than 150 awards and he has been elected to several domestic and international societies. He received the Adam Yarmolinsky Medal which is given to a member who comes from outside the health or medical sciences and has shown real commitment to the mission of NAM.

Market Alert

Martin Feldstein – Economics Professor at Harvard University – reports on FOX Business on “how the Trump administration reached a trade deal with Canada and Mexico. Feldstein also discussed the current state of the U.S. economy.”

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US-Foreign Relations: A Snippet of 3 Regions

US-foreign relations are continually in flux as different regions change expectations and US policy is subject to change. Here, we take a look at three different regions today and how American relations with those nations are faring:  Portugal, Malaysia and Canada.

New Bedford and the South Coast have been hosting excellent Portuguese-US relations as of late.  In recognition of this, various companies were nominated for the Portuguese-American Business Recognition Awards and later this month will appear for an honor on Good Morning, SouthCoast Breakfast.  These are:

Antonio’s Restaurant, Azores Airlines/SATA, Castelo Group, Club Madeirense S.S.Sacramento, DeMello International Center, DeMello’s Furniture, Fernandes Masonry, Hair In Motion, Horacios Inc., Luso-American Financial, Luzo Auto, No Problemo, Places to Go Transportation, Sagres Vacations and WJFD 97.3.

Malaysia’s US relations could have been described as strained since the May elections.  With Mahathir Mahamad’s visit to the US at the end of September, that might now be changing.  Mahathir doesn’t have the best track record with American relations sinceduring his tenure back in the 1980s, “U.S.-Malaysia relations were especially fraught with tensions over a range of issues even as aspects of cooperation continued at the working level, including on the defense side.”  Things improved thereafter, especially over the last ten years when Najib Razak was in power.  Now Mahathir has come back, the situation is once again a cause of concern.  But this visit could help and it should be remembered that it is unlikely Mahathir will remain in power for long since there is talk of Anwar Ibrahim taking over soon.

Even though tensions have been escalating between Canada and America’s governments, Justin Trudeau insisted the “relationship [between the two regions] will endure.”

The Canada-U.S. relationship will endure despite any possible friction between the two governments, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said as he faces a looming deadline in trade talks:

“The relationship between Canada and the United States is far deeper than between the Canadian government and the U.S. administration. There will be moments where there is better alignment or worse alignment between our two governments, and the relationship will just continue to create, frankly, prosperity and opportunity and security for our citizens.”

Minorities Thriving in the US Business World

Minorities in America are making it in 2018. At least, that seemed to be somewhat the conclusion of a recent Guidant Financial survey. Minority 2018 Small Business Trends – together with Lending Club – surveyed 2,600 business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Minority business owners in America have increased substantially in just 12 months. Indeed, the finding showed that:

“The number of African American small business owners in the United States has increased by a staggering 400% in just a year.”

In 2015, a mere 15 percent of business owners were from minority ethnic groups. So it really has come a long way.

Still though, there is work to be done. Out of the small business owners (black) only 37 percent were women. But at least movement is in the right direction. According to Guidant Financial’s CEO, David Nilssen:

“Growth amongst all minorities including women is promising in America as small business ownership becomes more favorable and easier to attain. We anticipate and hope to see a continued increase.”

Lack of capital is generally what keeps more individuals in minority groups from pursuing their dream of becoming a Small Business Owner. Thus more resources should be created to rectify this.

Good News for US Economy

The US economy is doing well. It’s a fact. If numbers are anything to go by that is. A recent US Census Bureau Report. 2017 witnessed the highest levels on record of middle class income (to $61,372 for median household – an increase of 1.4 percent from 2016) with a simultaneous decline in national poverty rate (a drop of 2.5% from 2014). Millions of US residents have found jobs again as the deep recession has subsided and thus having two people in a family home work again is a huge contributing factor to these figures.

Caution is still needed however. According to a recent article in The Washington Post debating these figures, there are still many problems:

“While the poverty rate is now at the lowest level since 2006, it is still a full percentage point above the rate in 2000, the last time unemployment was this low… The poverty rates for African-Americans and Hispanics also remain substantially higher than for whites and Asians although the unemployment rates for African-Americans and Hispanics have come down swiftly. Twenty-two percent of African-American households and 19.4 percent of Hispanic households live in poverty compared to 11 percent for whites and 10.1 percent for Asian-Americans, the Census Bureau reported.”

Yet at the end of the day the above figures are still worth celebrating. There is a general consensus that the best way of testing the fiscal status of a typical middle class home is via its median household income. And the Census shows that growth.

IDKD – Women in Radiology

As president of the Radiological Society of North America, and Chair of the Department of Radiology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center,Professor Hedvig Hricak has become recognized for her work in radiology and medical imaging.  As such, she is suited to her position as one of the US advisors to Switzerland’s International Diagnostic Course Davos (IDKD), a role she began in 2014.

Born in Croatia (thus boasting a European background), today Hricak lives in the US.  In 1983 she was one of only two women to be a faculty member of the IDKD. Thanks to the work that has been done by the organization – “one of the world’s leading post-graduate educational courses in diagnostic radiology” – the IDKD today has a faculty which has expertise in “medical imaging, interventional radiology, nuclear medicine, pediatric radiology, and breast imaging (mammography).”

Gender is not a deciding factor at the IDKD but it is positive to see more women in this industry. One recent example was seen at the first meeting of IDKD – Women in Radiology earlier this year whereby women made up 38% of course teachers.

Hedvig Hricak is the IDKD’s Honorary Advisor of the “Diseases of the Abdomen and Pelvis” Courses.