Friday, October 30, 2020

COVID Protection Legislation-38th District U.P. Michigan

If you are a business owner in Michigan, especially the U.P., you will want to keep up with the new rules, regulations, and legislative changes. There have been a number of changes that have helped U.P. residents. It is helpful for people and businesses to be aware of these changes so as to navigate the local environment (...especially as it relates to COVID).

Senator McBroom's release provides details on the Covid Protection help. If your so inclined to watch politics, especially local politics, you may want to view his webpage and sign up for these releases just to keep aware. It may also be beneficial for you to check out any Democrat candidates to create a rounder perspective of what is important to both parties. That is what helps us understand what the area needs and what the stakeholders need. Remember politics is about helping our people and country...and we will have to work across the isle. 

Explanations were.......

"Senate Bills 886 and 911 would continue unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks for eligible workers out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SB 1108 would allow boards of local governments and other public entities to meet electronically for a limited time.

SB 1094 would reduce the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes by implementing recommendations of the Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force. Among other things, this bill requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in consultation with LARA to implement a process to create Care and Recovery Centers within nursing homes for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.

House Bill 6159 would provide liability protections for health care providers for services related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and HB 6192 would extend expiration deadlines for Michigan driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations until Dec. 31, 2020."

Thursday, October 29, 2020

3Q 2020 GDP Rises 33.1%-Could Manufacturing/Export Improvements be Coming?

I'm watching the markets and trying to gain a grasp of what the market is doing and how our abilities to adapt as well as the changes in the market due to the pandemic impact our export abilities. This is a blog post so I'm not going to justify everything I say or use citations for a basic discussion. However, the information presented is based in solid logic and in general research support. What I am mostly interested in is the connection of pre-markers that signal a fundamental change in the economy that would hint at a specific type of recovery.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) provides information and data for public consumption. It is important for governments to provide this type of information so that companies, investors, intellectuals, etc... can try and make meaning out of the information for business decision making as well as gauge our current economic health.  The BEA came out with some powerful GDP improvements in Q3 2020 mounting to a 33.1% increase.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis provides the following explanation...."The increase in real GDP reflected increases in personal consumption expenditures (PCE), private inventory investment, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by decreases in federal government spending (reflecting fewer fees paid to administer the Paycheck Protection Program loans) and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased (table 2)."

The IMF seemed low as a benchmark for the U.S. so my argument is that it will likely be much higher than expected based on the uniqueness of the economy as having a number of central supply chain hubs. I wrote a little article about how I think they were a little low and there might be a different projection for the U.S.  What the IMF is Right and Wrong About on their Economic Projections for the U.S.?  A boost in GDP may also create a little more investment rip environment.

Based on the theoretical assumptions I have been working off of, I believed that Q3 and Q4 are likely to be strong quarters. It is an adaption kind of concept with a little chaos theory mixed in. It is important to remember that all economics is the measurement of human activity regardless of the currency or measurements we use. Thus, we must understand human behavior and financial behavior to better understanding of the market and how they interplay to create improvements/declines.

You can read a bout a few of these projections. GDP Contracts 1st Q of 2020-Is It a Short Lived Shock and Digital GDP Recovery? After the first major economic contraction we found that the fundamentals of the society stayed the same and he investment markets were strong. We can also see this in the Q3 BEA statistics that are showing how there is money that can be used for investment, purchases, and general capital availability that move beyond government stimulus. 

What I might consider looking at as well are any export and inventory markers that would indicate subtle shifts from important to export orientation.  There has been some indication that there could be a shift in import and export ratios when we see the trade gap narrow recently. You can read Delta County Great Lakes Shipping Infrastructure-Opportunities for National Exports!

While we have some indication that exports are improving there doesn't appear to be as much movement there as there was in GDP improvement. What we might want to watch is Q4 GDP numbers and if by the beginning of the Q4 if we will see a bump in exports as well. Many nations are beginning to think about post-COVID life and a number of companies/people may have delayed purchases which could be realized if we see sales in heavy equipment and inventory (as a precursor to purchases).

No idea if it will happen. So far it seems to be fairly close to projections. I'm not a career economist just a person with advance degrees in business and significant economic understandings.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Let's Put Stimulus Where it Counts! Building Diverse Business Ownership and Economic Competitiveness

Stimulus conversation is in buzz and lawmakers are thinking through all of the different ways to enhance economic activities. The problem many of these lawmakers faces is that they are fighting over not only the amount but also where the money is going to be spent. Personally, I think we can enhance our long term infrastructure that leads to increased economic opportunity and the biggest bang for the buck if we do something a little different and really focus on fostering investment rich economic environments (i.e. clusters) that bring prosperity to our diverse young population.

We have old cities and we have a trade war with China. There are protesters on the streets and general distrust of government  is on the rise. There is extremism and hate brewing on both sides of the political perspective. Few things can get done if we are all fighting. I'm going to make some very basic and probably incorrect assumptions here. 

1. Our politicians want our country to succeed and would be willing to put aside their differences to pass a plan that has a large economic impact. 

2. As a nation we want to solve the systemic racism problem and move forward in our national development as a unified people with the same basic assumptions of our institutions (i.e. justice, government, etc...).

3. We want to be at the center of the global economic supply chain and create economic prosperity for our children. 

If these are three very basic assumptions (and probably not completely accurate) that we can sort of agree on then we must ask ourselves what policies in terms of stimulus are going to help us on multiple fronts. To me we have a need to prepare the Millennials and develop a creative export oriented economy. That requires us to align our current physical structure to the global market using the innovative capacity of the new digital economy. We are not just investing in one time programs that do nothing but investing in the communities ability to compete on the global market. 

That will require us to think about how to create some economic equity that is likely to create a net positive return on society. We know cities still maintain some of its industrial infrastructure (prior to outsourcing) and we know that Millennials (of different backgrounds) like enjoy a more diverse metro life. We also know they are likely to be poorer than previous generations. Perhaps we can equalize and fix some problems if we work to realign our cities to the global market while at the same time create investment rich export oriented cities that impact minorities heavily. Moving forward all of our youth must come along together as a sign of a more universal society ready to tackle the global markets for the future of our beliefs and way of life.

Here is a pretty cool article about stimulus plans by Jacob Mitchell "Democrats & Republicans: Two pathways, one destination for markets"

Protest Goals?-Encouraging Pro Business Urban Environments

Watching the protests a few blocks away, hearing the helicopters, the BLM signs in all of the store windows, police sirens, ambulances and chanting crowds.  Each morning the chaos becomes quiet as though there was some battle the evening before and everyone went home for donuts and coffee. What is often left behind are broken windows, burnt cars, looted stores, injured officers, arrested protestors and lots and lots of headline news. The problem is that is that real change comes from changing the environment. There is the raising awareness side and there is a practical side to raising local opportunities for personal and economic growth.

I'm not sure shutting down the downtowns or damaging downtown property is the best approach. Sure, getting destructive does raise awareness for a cause but also associates that cause with negative images in the viewers eyes (i.e. the consumer of information and BLM values).  If the strategy is to raise awareness of a global economy and global justice where everyone is treated with dignity then one might consider being more business and investment friendly to raise opportunities. 

I'm not ignorant of what discrimination and hatred look like. My children are mixed race and thus seen by some members of society as "lower than". I also have a Muslim name and no matter how much I have served my country or things I have done in my life (good and bad) some people can't move beyond their own ignorance to see what the essential values of being an American are. What started a little as a college experiment ended up more providing insight into the deep roots of hate and racism. 

Being destructive is a short-term strategy that damages the brand of the movement and the very real and genuine need for more equality in society (Personal I think we need a truer form of capitalism as BLM, 99%,etc... are talking about similar perspectives of opportunity and access to decision making). A much better strategy would be to encourage business to develop in the area, push government to spur international investments in local communities, and foster an education system that meets and beats market needs. That would require a lot of societal stakeholders to be on the same page of our national interests (Maybe we need to save ourselves from our ourselves 👀🤔. 

I have been working on a theory that may or may not have merit in the future but is good enough to talk on this blog about (A big economic puzzle). So far it appears to be doing a pretty good job at explaining a post COVID Digital GDP type economy (even though the theory is fully complete yet but its framework is functional). The theory discusses methods of attracting businesses and realigning them through a cluster approach which creatives innovative and investment rich environments that encourage adaptation. Its not finished but ....HERE.

When we realign our local industries we can produce products the global market needs. Many of the complaints of discrimination are based in economic justices and lack of opportunities.  By realigning cities as centers of entrepreneurial activity and innovative manufacturing we can create new opportunities in a way that most people (right and left) would agree with. New development helps people to create employment opportunities, diversify/integrate our cities, and help our national economy at the same time. 

Thus one long term strategy might be to leave the businesses alone and encourage more to move downtown to create clusters. Retail is great for bringing in foot traffic but moving toward firms and new businesses has long term regional value. If we are going to have true equality we need opportunities that attract and enhance Millennial talent (This is an egalitarian group that needs more opportunities.). Let's become competitive as a nation and improve the "investability" and livability (i.e. green cities) for enriching environments that helps Americans fully develop their personal abilities. That would be in stark contrast to the old dilapidated and trash covered downtowns of the modern era that provide almost no opportunity or hope. We can redesign our cities and our education to create new national competitivness (...of course we can continue to use the same policies by the same thinkers. I think COVID and the digital economy might be challenging many of the assumption of older theories now).

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Are we going to have a big GDP growth 3Q 2020?

The Fed is expecting to announce a huge GDP growth. I don't know what that means but by the end of the year it is hoped we have a full recovery and by the end of Q1 2021 we see improvements over pre-Covid closures. With any luck we could even find a big bump 2-3 years down the road. 

Between Empathy and Firmness in Employee Management

 Most people who have managed others will attest there are all types of personalities and a spectrum of motivation levels. The hardest part of managing people are the employee problems that creep up that have little to do with work. These are family problems, crisis problems, and issues that distract from the work setting. We also know that things come up and we have to adjust and change to help our employees. However, there are some that seem to always have problems those are the ones where empathy and firmness can work together. 

Its not easy to find that balance. You want to be flexible and give people an opportunity to overcome their own personal issues while at the same time trying to better ensure people are focused on the organization's tasks and goals. 

I believe one of the better approaches is to offer flexibility in the first incident and increased gradation for punishment thereafter. There is a point where someone has to perform and personal problems can't always be resolved in the workplace. Once ok...twice we might have an issue kind of thinking.

I've seen people swing the pendulum too far in either direction. Too light and people take advantage and too hard you loose some great candidates. Finding that spot where you can put together a fair and consistent approach can be helpful. 

One could write these approaches into the policy book or they can make them part of the unwritten cultural expectations of the workplace. There are risks to either way as differences in treatment can lead to questioning. If it is written in stone you are going to be stuck to that policy even when someone is "gaming" the system while at the same time unwritten explanations often hold up in court. 

What is it like to Fitness Train for Outdoor Sports?

 I'm a little bit of an outdoor enthusiast and engage in outdoor sports. I would love to consider climbing Mount Everest someday. Some might wonder what it is like to train for extreme sports and activities. The wild is not like sports played in a controlled environment. The outdoors is nature and holds real risks for people beyond sprained ankles and bruised egos. 

There is lots of learning. Whenever I can I read about the topic, watch videos, and engage in a community of people who do these types of activities. Having as much knowledge as possible before heading out on a risky adventure can make a big difference. 

For example, this morning it is cold (i.e. 20 degrees) and freezing and wind is whipping making it feel much colder. It is also 4:30 in the morning and I'm having a quick cup of coffee before I head out to jog around Big Bear Lake. 

Sure....I could go to a gym and workout in comfort. Yet that doesn't mimic what happens in the real world on the side of a mountain where the wind can knock you off of a cliff face. Add some snow and things can get real tricky (likely why I have to go to the U.P. and Colorado to do some ice climbing). 

It would be much better to stay in bed and sleep. However, it wouldn't be as meaningful life as I could make it. It would sort of just be "safe" and normal. I guess I'm just not normal and enjoy challenges when they are worth the effort. 

The real reward is how you feel when you are done. You went out and ran in the cold! You trained and you did most of your workout while most people are still sleeping. As your body gets into better shape and you get closer to your can take pleasure in taking the road less traveled. 

Done with coffee! Brrrrrrrr!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Michigan Has Opportunities for Growth-Political Protectionism?

I'm reading an article by Scott Lincicome entitled by "Tariffs, Michigan and the Perils of 'Political Protectionism" from Cato at Liberty. I must say I like what he did here in terms of putting together data on a scatter plot and showing how tariffs have an impact in 2018 and 2019. I think that most of us would expect these short term adjustments in the import and export market. There can be no change without adjustment and we should expect to see that within the data. 

Where the "proof in the pudding" will be is in the 2021 and 2022 years where the risks of COVID decline, new factors like online transition, and where organizations have adjusted to new import/export adjustments, and then in turn develop stronger strategies to meet market demand (assuming they have the capacity to do so). 

I guess that is the point of challenging China now versus a decade down the road when our manufacturing has been further hampered and we are not in the same place. There are risks to every strategy but typically it is best to challenge when a long-term risk is recognized and you still have the capacity to take a dominant position in the market. That doesn't mean it will be easy. 

Any strategy we take is going to have some risks. If we don't do anything we have long-term generational risks but if we go after the global supply chain now before they fully shift we might have a better chance.  Perhaps we lose everything but I serious doubt that will happen. If anything we might get a shift back to the U.S. and its central place in the supply chain (Let us wait and see what happens..I'm curious myself).

I agree with the author that those states that are more exposed to the import and export market are going to have the biggest changes that in turn create more adjustments in economic markets that hint at certain outcomes. Markets exposed to the global economy are also subject to that market. Thus far many of these states seem to have been impacted more by import changes than export changes (I would like to see the regression on the scatterplot). 

Here is an article that discusses how China has been matching us U.S. China Comes Close to Passing the U.S. in Doctors, Patents and Scientific Discoveries. We are at a cross roads to act or to not act at this there is lots of room for debate. 

I suspect we will take a hit for a short time as companies in the U.S. begin to bring back operations, supply chains, etc... in order to manufacture more at home. That all takes time. One complex factor that has come into the mix is COVID-19 that changed some of the fundamentals but in turn disrupted existing supply chains and habits in a way that could be a long-term strategic advantage if we learn to adapt to new digital GDP models and advanced manufacturing. I wrote something here about the risk and benefits of a trade war with China...Trade War...Good or Bad?

Let's Not Forget Michigan in National Politics

National politics are important and we should pay attention. In our desire to engage in national debates let  our politicians not forget about the needs of Michigan. Each of the parties has their mantras, beliefs, pulpit topics, and party line requirements. Money is flowing in and its likely to become a very contentious race. What we don't want to do is forget the needs of Michigan. 

First, localized government is more responsive to the needs of the people. Each individual vote makes a difference in the process of government management. While we may not always feel connected to national politics we should feel connected to our local politics. 

It should also be important to note that our politicians work for people who adhere to both parties. That means Republicans also work for people who vote Democrat and Democrats have responsibilities  over people who vote republican. 

We are not voting for one side or another as much as we about the needs of our state and the needs of Michigan people. Thus, local needs should really filter through the process and national party politics should be tapered by local needs. 

Michigan has work to do in terms of its education systems, attracting investment, equality, small business, and bring back high paying jobs. We are centrally located in the Great Lakes and haven't truly mastered our geographic location and state skills to reconnect and compete on the global market. While national politics influences our local needs it is our local needs that should be part of our national politics. 

When Regulations are Helpful and Unhelpful?

Regulations are a necessary part of modern life. Let people do what they want and the last thing they think about is the impact on the environment community. We also need our industries working toward the health and strength of their nation and people. Regulations are an important part of nudging industries forward and protecting the greater good. However, regulations can be harmful and/or helpful and we need to keep both in mind when making a decision. 

If we have no regulations we have problems and if we have too many regulations then we have different kinds of problems. Regulation should be used when there is no way to get industry to self-regulate. Government provides the goals but industry determines the best way to reach those goals; unless they shirk their greater responsibility. 

Much of the choices at the senior leadership positions are based in making choices to follow or not follow regulations. Sometimes it can be seen as a cost factor that makes no difference beyond the cost of the regulation (i.e. violations as a business cost). 

As much as we can we should conduct a situation analysis to determine which regulations make sense and which one's don't. Some will create net positive value and some may be well meaning but don't really make much of a difference. Law makers should think about removing those restrictions and regulations that make no real difference and implement those that are more protective toward society.