The case for optimism

A short time ago, I asked my friends on facebook if they were optimistic about the economy. Scratch that – I insisted that the negative case for this slowly improving economy was bunk and got an eyeful of responses. Needless to say, my friends aren’t in the mood for Mr. Sunshine, as some of the commentators here have called me. Talk about fundamentals improving? Show them the money. Building a strong foundation for the next economy is nothing compared to a strong roof overhead and comfortable home inside. Continue Reading

Can’t wait ’til payday

The woman ahead of us in line at the convenience store had a bit more than the impatient, bored look we all shared. She held her head high and spoke to the cashier in a friendly tone, paying for the gasoline she was going to pump. Like many people at this store, in this part of St Paul, she paid with cash – but hers came in crisp twenties slid neatly out of a bank envelope. After we paid our own way out of the line I asked my daughter if she noticed. “My guess is she just cashed her paycheck because she doesn’t have a bank account,” I told her. It was a good guess, because it turns out that more than 17% of that particular neighborhood’s households have no bank account – and many rely on the UnBank check cashing up the street. Continue Reading

Golden years? Income inequality and the ability to retire

Are you ready for retirement? While the idea might have its appeal, especially with the winter weather making for long commutes this year, an awful lot of workers are not on a track to be able to retire. That’s according to a survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), conducted annually. They found that only 18% are “very confident” that they’ll have enough for retirement and a further 37% are “somewhat confident”. That’s up from the 2013 survey, in which only 13% was “very confident”. Continue Reading

St. Patrick’s Day: Our day, everyone’s day

Good people go to Heaven, but the Celts went everywhere. There isn’t a corner of the globe where you can’t find us if you look hard enough. Nations as far flung as Canada and Australia are largely Celtic in origin, and the majority of those Celts came from Ireland. Continue Reading

United States get over yourselves! (To better understand Ukrainian situation)

Imagine you are a young woman walking down a street in the US when a group of young men starts hooting and whistling at you. It’s probably annoying, even infuriating, but you keep walking and ignore them. Now imagine the same thing happening on a street in Kiev or Odessa. You should probably run for your life because you may have just become a target to be kidnapped and sold as a sex slave in a distant land. Continue Reading

Time flies

If you’re like most people, the upcoming week will start a little bleary from losing an hour of sleep to Daylight Savings Time. It’s an uneven process, too, with Europe not changing until 30 March this year – meaning that there’s now only 6 hours difference between St Paul and Frankfurt instead of the usual 7. Schedule your skype conferences appropriately! Continue Reading

Obama’s not so bold plan for transportation

President Obama came to St Paul to propose an aggressive new investment in transportation infrastructure, $300B over 4 years. It was a good show that messed up traffic throughout the city, which was only fitting. That increase of $75B per year comes on top of the current $48B per year, or a 150% increase. It’s needed, and as we’ve noted before investments in infrastructure have a great payback for the economy. Continue Reading