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The Paul Dietzel Report
A weekly report looking back to the week that was.
Feb 5, 2021
A Taxing Time for States - How Tax Reform Can Make or Break a State's Economy
New Orleans native, Michael Lewis authored the 2003 best-selling book, Moneyball. This book told the story of Billy Beane and his successful turnaround of the Oakland Athletics baseball team using something called sabermetrics. This is a way of observing and analyzing the statistics of baseball players to such an extent that someone can accurately predict how successful a baseball player will be in their position based on the number of times a baseball player gets on base and the number of times they get a hit at the plate. As Lewis learned about the way Billy Beane used statistics to turnaround his baseball team, he also applied the discipline of statistical analysis to predict certain patterns in states across the nation. He tracked the states that were growing and those that were losing population each year. What he noticed about states that were growing was a statistical prediction that tracked the way taxes were collected and administered. Before Billy Beane’s statistical predictions no one expected to build a championship baseball team by calculating statistics on each player. Yet, after it was done, it transformed baseball to such a degree that sabermetrics now rules the draft in Major League Baseball. In like manner, tax policy was often thought to be irrelevant by economists as a driving force for growth. A quick look at the numbers, however, reveals otherwise. Take for example Lewis’ home state and my home state as well – Louisiana. Begin to talk about taxes and you are sure to either clear a room or incite a riot. The typical thinking about taxes goes something like this: I don’t want to pay more taxes…but I want everyone to pay their fair share… But what is fair? Who gets to decide what “fair” means? Whose standard are we going to use? Mine? Yours? And who gets to decide what is taxed? How did taxing income become an acceptable source of revenue to the government? Was it always this way? Of course not! Taxes on incomes began during the Civil War in 1862 and we’ve never looked back. A good tax system must be designed so that it puts more money back into the pockets of people and setting a pro-growth agenda that will help create jobs and establish states like Louisiana as a place where business and industry can thrive. Looking at Louisiana’s current system as an example, the complexity of its tax code with its multiple brackets across many taxing streams – from income tax to corporate tax to corporate franchise tax to severance tax to inventory tax to sales tax to the state’s 468 tax exemptions – is a recipe for disaster. Good tax policy is achieved through a broad tax base with low tax rates.
Jan 29, 2021
JD Vance on the Path Out of Poverty
J.D. Vance is a Yale lawyer that established a foundation in his home state of Ohio after a career in finance and technology. His bestselling 2016 book, Hillbilly Elegy, opened the window to a world of family dysfunction, trauma, abuse, addiction, and despair. Vance features his own story in Appalachia and also applies the lessons of his life to the American South as places where rural life has spiraled downward in a self-fulfilling prophecy of low-skill work and opioid abuse. Listen for more.
Jan 22, 2021
American Migration and the Presidential Inauguration of the 46th President of the United States
COVID has not only changed how we live, but where we live. Interstate migration – the changes where Americans are living and where they are leaving – reveal that cost of living and tax policy plays a huge role in the determination of where people want to live and work. When COVID struck the American economy, many Americans began to question the value of high rents and house payments in large metropolises like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. With remote working now a permanent possibility for many people, living in large and expensive urban areas lost a bit of its charm and convenience. Families now wanted more space at a lower cost. Looking toward the South and West, people realized they had greater purchasing power in other regions of the country. The UHaul Annual Report for 2020 on Interstate Migration reveals that the states of Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Arizona are the top destinations for relocation. Two of these states, Texas and Florida, have no personal income tax, and the rest have very low tax rates. All these states have easy processes and cheap costs to start a business. This week the world watched as a peaceful transfer of power took place in Washington, DC. Amid scenes of American flags and thousands of US National Guard troops, the ceremony was quite different than previous inaugurations. The nation was still in shock from scenes of thousands storming the Capitol, but on Inauguration Day, there seemed to be signs of a fledging trust beginning to emerge. At least – that is our hope. For me, there was a personal connection as six LSU graduates played in the ceremonial bands during the inaugural ceremony. Louisiana native Graham Breedlove serves in Pershing’s Own – the United States Army Band. Graham is one of the world’s finest trumpeters. Seeing him join other LSU graduates like Jason Sanders who stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as a member of the United States Army Herald Trumpets, it was obvious these men were examples of honor and precision. They represented the people of the United States well as they served the new American President. Julie Giroux grew up in Monroe, Louisiana and played French Horn in the Ouachita Parish High School Band. She later went on to study at LSU, and she became such an outstanding composer that she went to Hollywood and wrote music with another distinguished LSU graduate – Bill Conti. It was a joy to hear that one of her finest pieces – The Integrity Fanfare and March was featured just after the Vice-President was sworn into office. The music of these men and women reminds us that each American stands equal before the Law. Our nation is not a place where only those with distinguished blood lines or wealthy landowners have a voice in our government. We are not slaves to a throne or servants to an altar. We stand as citizens of a Republic whose strength is in the people of this great nation. Through wars abroad and strife at home, we have always risen in triumph over tragedy to emerge as one nation under God. In this new season, our resolve remains to strengthen the foundations of this Republic praying, in the words of President Lincoln, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” May God bless America!
Jan 15, 2021
Lessons on Leadership from My Grandfather - Coach Paul Dietzel
We are only 15 days into 2021, and already, the year has brought scenes of riots at the US Capitol that are now etched in our memory. In many ways, it feels as if the world changed on January 6, 2021. There is little doubt as 2021 unfolds, the year will bring massive changes economically, educationally, and politically. As investigations into the actions of what took place and why on January 6th, it is apparent a massive void of leadership exists in ways not seen in a very long time. Across every sector in American life, the complaints seem to be the same: leadership needs to improve. In order for that to happen leaders need to learn to think differently about both the art and science of leadership. Reflecting on how to improve my own skills as a leader, I remembered some of the greatest lessons my grandfather taught me that are rare in today’s toxic political and corporate culture. As we reflect on the tragedies of the past two weeks, I thought these lessons might be helpful to clear the debris from our minds and focus on the future. First - Kindness matters a lot more than you think. Men and women who are thoughtful, deferential, and focused on others are truly shocking in our culture. As a football coach, my grandfather knew he had to transform young men into tough competitors, but even as he demanded mental and physical toughness, he always remembered his players’ birthday. He never forgot their hometown, and he knew their parent’s names. He was known to write a handwritten note to a player who had made a mistake during a game. He taught me kindness matters, and it does now more than ever. Second – There are no “little” people. True leadership is never self-exalting or condescending. It does not call people names or dismiss them because they have a different opinion. It never forgets the little people because there really are no little people. Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. Third – Bullying and Intimidation are not leadership techniques. I’ve never seen such a time when rage is considered by many to be a virtue. Real leadership is always marked by patience, integrity, and a spirit of calm even when the pressure is at its greatest. Finally – Leadership is about making other people better. When you grow to the point to see your life as a way to help others, it brings clarity, focus, and energy. Our legacies are shaped day by day, step by step in ways that allow us to send messages to a place we will not see to people we will not meet to influence a time when we will not live. Real leadership is about a legacy that lives beyond your lifetime. During these days of trial and sorrow, these simple lessons from my grandfather still ring true long after he has departed this life.
Jan 1, 2021
New Year's Day - 2021
The year 2020 has been a time of devastation for millions across the world. For people in my home state of Louisiana, the tragedy of COVID was especially hard this week. Luke Letlow had recently won a Congressional seat in his home district of Northeast Louisiana, and he was looking forward to taking the oath of office to begin his service this weekend. When we first heard of his COVID diagnosis, we all expected him to recover because Luke was seldom still, much less stopped for any length of time. We later heard that he was being admitted to the hospital, and still, we thought this was but a temporary setback on the road to a full recovery. Yet, Tuesday, the unthinkable happened. Luke died. He was 41 years old. He leaves behind a wife and two small children. Growing up in Start, Louisiana – a small town of about 1,000 people – Luke Letlow was determined to make a difference in his world. During his high school years at Ouachita Christian School and later at Louisiana Tech University, everyone could see that his interest in public life was deepening and growing. Throughout his career on Capitol Hill, he showed a distinct ability to keep his focus on the lives of the people he served in ways that brought a sense of empathy, compassion, and joy to his work on Congressman Ralph Abraham’s staff. Now poised to take on the mantle of Dr. Abraham, Luke was ready for what many hoped would be a long career in the United States Congress. In light of his death, I am reminded of a great hymn by Henry Francis Lyte on this New Year’s Day. Henry Lyte was a faithful minister in England during the early 1800’s who penned many wonderful hymns during his lifetime. Perhaps you might have heard some of his more famous hymns such as Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven or Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken. Throughout Henry’s life he suffered from many respiratory illnesses that often rendered him bedridden and alone. Ultimately, a respiratory illness would take his life. Yet, out of his own sickness and grief, he wrote a hymn in 1847 that has become a blessing to many across the world. Here is the last stanza of this wonderful hymn. Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes; Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies. Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee; In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me. This is the meaning and hope as we understand the death of Luke Letlow and others we have lost during this year. In a world torn apart by sin, sickness and devastation, this truth – and this truth alone – has helped me during this year – and I hope it will help us face a new year as well. Happy New Year!
Dec 18, 2020
A cyber-security breach amounts to an act of war…and hope for a Christmas that is stained with sorrow.
The cyber breaches this week at the US Departments of Commerce, Energy, Homeland Security and Treasury were described as one of the most serious and comprehensive series of attacks in American history. The cyber security systems designed to protect the American infrastructure were so compromised that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency joined with the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence to release a joint statement to immediately instruct all “federal civilian agencies to immediately disconnect or power down affected SolarWinds Orion products from their network.” These products were part of a suite of software hacks that represented an extremely broad and successful espionage-based assault on confidential information of the United States Government. It would be naïve not to realize that all governments spy on one another, but this instance of espionage was taken to a new level with the use of a sophisticated and all but undetectable malware. Malware is a short-hand term for malicious software used to wreak destruction and gain access to sensitive information. This malware used the SolarWinds Orion software as the host that was installed as part of a usual upgrade. When federal employees upgraded their software thinking it would improve its performance by eliminating the bugs that inevitably come with the use of any software, the cyber-attack was launched. It spread rapidly. The speed shocked cyber-security experts as they quickly realized a foreign power was attacking the United States. The scope of this attack could be likened to an act of war. Malware can shut down entire networks across the nation and cripple the supply chain at a particular time when medications and vaccines need to be coordinated and distributed in the most efficient ways possible. This also includes the ability these attackers showed in their knowledge of America’s nuclear arsenal and stockpiles of weapons for missile defense. In March of 1863, 18-year-old Charles Appleton Longfellow left his family’s house on Brattle Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts and boarded a train bound for Washington, D.C., to join the Union army to fight in the Civil War. Charles was the oldest of six children born to Fannie Elizabeth Appleton and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the great literary critic and poet. Less than two years earlier, Charles’s mother Fannie had tragically died after her dress caught on fire. Henry tried to save her, but she later died from the burns on her body. His own burns were so severe that he was unable even to attend her funeral. On December 1, 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was eating lunch when a telegram arrived with the news that his son, Charles, had been severely wounded. His wounds were so severe that he was sent home and his recovery was long and difficult. Reflecting on the sorrow of his life and the war that consumed the nation, Longfellow stepped outside and heard bells on Christmas Day. He wrote a poem that spoke to the dissonance he felt in his own heart about the promise of redemption in Christmas and his very personal experience of grief. With the Civil War raging and his own life reeling from sorrow he penned a poem – I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day – that was later set to music. This beloved Christmas hymn honestly admits the sorrow of life on earth with a look toward God who promises to make all things right in his perfect time. Facing Christmas in 2020 no doubt will be difficult for many, but take heart - God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
Dec 11, 2020
The economy sputters as job losses mount and unemployment assistance comes to an end…and Facebook goes to Court.
To understand the American economy right now, don’t just look at the Stock Market. While stocks are rising to some of the highest levels in history, there is growing concern the entire world of work is showing signs of such radical change that it could be years before some stabilization comes to the labor market. On Wednesday of this week the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the JOLTS report. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey or JOLTS - shows the number of job openings each month, how many workers were hired, how many quit their job, how many were laid off, and other research including the number of worker deaths. JOLTS showed there was a rise in the number of jobs available which is good news. Currently, there are approximately 6.7 million open jobs. Yet roughly 10.9 million people are considered unemployed and actively looking for work. If we analyze this data correctly, this results in a ratio of about 1.6 unemployed workers for every job opening in the United States. There is another way to think about this reality. For every 16 workers who were officially counted as unemployed, there were only 10 jobs available. That means that for more than 4.2 million unemployed workers, no jobs are available. This is especially true for workers in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors. This area only has 0.2 job openings per unemployed person. This sector of the economy is all but dead. Whenever 46 states get behind anything, it is usually an indication something important is transpiring. On Wednesday of this week, the Federal Trade Commission and a group of 46 states in separate antitrust lawsuits charged that Facebook engaged in a long campaign to acquire or stop technology companies it feared could rival their dominance. Both lawsuits target two of Facebook’s major acquisitions: Instagram and WhatsApp. Both lawsuits could result in requiring Facebook to release their ownership of the two very popular apps. The FTC complaint also alleges Facebook now holds the power of a monopoly in the U.S. personal social networking market.
Dec 4, 2020
The higher education bubble pops and religious liberty is protected – for now.
Robert Zemsky has served as the professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania for more than two decades. During his tenure, there have been big changes in the world of higher education, but none so drastic as what the Chronicle of Higher Education called this week – The Post-Pandemic College. Zemsky’s book, The College Stress Test, was published just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Already colleges across the nation were closing in record numbers. When COVID struck, that number accelerated quickly. Since 2015, more than 30 institutions of higher education have closed or have been forced into a merger with another school. By the end of 2019, enrollment was already declining at public institutions by more than 35%. For private colleges, that number doubled. Zemsky’s book predicted as much. He just did not realize how accurate his enrollment and financial models would become in light of an international pandemic. “Small colleges with small endowments will close,” Zemsky stated at a recent forum at the Wharton School on Penn’s campus. “Every aspect of the university experience has been touched by COVID, and we aren’t sure what is going to happen in the future When the COVID-19 pandemic began to rise in full force, states were forced to issue guidelines that restricted the number of people who could gather at one time. This was especially true for in-door gatherings. Churches, like schools, were affected by these restrictions. Seeking to maintain some semblance of community, many churches quickly transitioned to livestream services. Most pastors desired to submit to the orders of the state, but over time, these restrictions grew in ways that directly interfered with the free exercise of religion – a right that is protected by the First Amendment. Sooner or later, it seemed inevitable that the Supreme Court would be forced to interpret just how far the government could reduce religious freedom while it sought to reduce the virus’s spread. The Supreme Court had already issued two earlier rulings allowing states to place harsher restrictions on houses of worship. Both of these cases came to the Court from Nevada and California, respectively. Both of them were decided on 5-to-4 votes, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. siding with the court’s four liberals. The Nevada case was particularly irrational. It allowed casinos and other tourist institutions to host hundreds of people inside their walls. Churches could not. When Governor Andrew Cuomo recently issued a regulation that capped attendance at houses of worship in areas in the most restrictive “red” and “orange” regions of the state to 10 or 25 people regardless of the size of their building, that was a step too far. Thanks to Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the Court reversed its earlier decision. Justice Barrett’s presence on the Court formed a new majority. The opinion was directly focused on the arbitrary and unequal treatment of churches. The ruling was written as an application of the equal protection clause in the First Amendment. The majority opinion was unambiguous: “the loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.”
Nov 27, 2020
Big Changes for Black Friday…A new economy shows its power…and a new report shows the weakness and hope of religion in America.
Welcome to Black Friday – that day on the calendar when many retail outlets go into the black as the Christmas shopping season begins in earnest. Only this year – the lines outside stores where thousands wait for an item at rock-bottom prices has been replaced by looking at a computer screen. During the COVID crisis, many companies made huge investments in their digital infrastructure so they could deliver goods and services directly to the homes of their customers quickly and efficiently. As a result, families purchased new services and gadgets to help them while they were sheltering in place. While economic analysts for the National Retail Federation project a rise of somewhere between 20% to 30% in online sales, amounting to between $202.5 billion and $218.4 billion this holiday season, the fact remains, large portions of the American and even the global economy have shifted in only one year. The massive changes have taken place so rapidly that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Tuesday to a group of business leaders at the Bay Area Economic Council in San Francisco, “We’re not going back to the same economy —we’re recovering, but to a different economy.” Earlier this year, Lyman Stone, a research fellow specializing in demography with the American Enterprise Institute, released a report about the state of religion in America. According to his research, religious life in America is declining very quickly. Since 1960, the number of American adults attending a weekly religious service of worship has fallen from 50 percent to about 35 percent. Membership in a religious body has fallen from more than 75 percent to about 62 percent. Americans who identify themselves as religious has fallen from more than 95 percent to about 75 percent in just four decades. In a recent podcast with The Gospel Coalition’s Collin Hanson, Stone also discussed research found in the report of a robust, growing, yet smaller, movement of serious Christians across the nation who were committing themselves to local churches. He was quick to point out that throughout history, the ebb and flow of religion and its public effects on politics and education could be seen most clearly in the membership of local churches. When local churches grew and were strong, the impact was quiet, but influential. The stability of a local congregation investing over time in the lives of hundreds resulted in a widespread community impact for good. Hanson and Stone agreed – the real impact of Christianity is best seen in a local church where the hardships of life are faced without fear because the community of that church assists in the work of child rearing, caring for the sick, and instruction in the teaching of the Bible. The bottom line: strong local churches make for a strong and lasting impact in the world. Stone’s report - Promise and peril: The history of American religiosity and its recent decline - is worth a look – you can find it at aei.org.
Nov 20, 2020
The stock market rises and falls…unemployment claims point to an uncertain future…and a pastor from the Titanic shares life even as he loses his own.
Watching the stock market this week could easily give you economic whiplash. The week began with an announcement of progress toward a COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials that sent the market soaring to a new record for a single day of trading – up 452 points by noon on Monday. By Wednesday, however, the tide had turned. A sell-off late Wednesday sent stocks tumbling by 345 points in the last hour of trading which is never a good sign. The week ended with jobless numbers climbing to 742,000 for the week – a bit ahead of the 710,000 estimated by Dow Jones economists. Week over week – this was an acceleration from the previous week’s total of 709,000 revealing the job market overall is still struggling. Workers who were already receiving unemployment benefits and continued to file for an additional week took a substantial drop this week falling by 429,000 applications to 6.37 million. This was a new low since the pandemic began. The nation’s total unemployment rate fell to 4.3%. Keep in mind, unemployment benefits continue for 26 weeks from the regular unemployment compensation program active in each state. During the COVID crisis, extended benefits have been established in 37 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Yet, many workers have already exhausted funds available to them in this program and have moved over to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Claims for this program increased by 23,863 to 320,237, while yet another pandemic emergency assistance program increased by 233,458 to 4.38 million. Add all these programs together, and the total number of Americans receiving financial assistance from the government this week stands 20.32 million. One year ago this week, a total of 1.48 million Americans were receiving unemployment assistance. This shows just how bad the pandemic has affected the US work force. A letter written by a passenger on the RMS Titanic sold this week in England for 42 thousand pounds – about $55,000 US dollars. The letter was penned aboard the ship on April 11, 1912 - three days before it would sink in the icy waters of the Atlantic. John Harper - a 39-year-old Baptist pastor from Scotland wrote a thank you note on the ship’s stationary to a “Brother Young” who had recently helped him and showed kindness to his daughter and sister. He mailed it just before the ship departed for America. Harper was widely known across the world as a brilliant speaker with an uncanny ability to make the Bible come alive in his sermons. John’s wife had died some years earlier, and he was headed to the United States so that could preach at the famous Moody Church in Chicago. Soon after the Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912, John placed his daughter and sister into a lifeboat knowing that he would never see them again in this life. He hugged and kissed them both, and as the lifeboat was lowered into the sea, he was last seen waving goodbye to them. As the boat moved away from the sinking vessel, Pastor Harper began assisting other passengers to the lifeboats. He clung as long as possible to portions of the ship that remained above the surface, but soon he could no longer hold on. Survivors remembered hearing him pray aloud, and one young man was so frightened of death that he trembled and cried in horror. With the last remaining strength of his body, Harper looked at the young man and quoted Acts 16:31 to him - “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
Nov 13, 2020
The Mayflower Compact turns 400 and A Medal of Honor recipient is remembered on Veteran’s Day.
Four hundred years ago this week, on November 11, 1620, one hundred two men and women landed on the shores of the modern Cape Cod, MA. Most of them were part of a group of Protestant separatists who were members of a church in England from a village called Scrooby. They sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on a ship called The Mayflower. From the very beginning, not everyone got along with each other. There were sharp disagreements and crimes were committed one against another. They had left behind a land where the King of England dictated his pleasure as the law of the land. When the early Plymouth settlers realized they must have some sort of governance that would provide protection, justice, and order among themselves, they did not reach back to what they knew in the Divine Right of Kings. Instead, they wrote a charter known as The Mayflower Compact that formed what they called, “the civil body politic.” This new community would be framed by what they wrote in the Compact as “ju…
Nov 6, 2020
A new look at the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet and the Electoral College comes under scrutiny.
One event takes place every Thursday afternoon around 4:30PM Eastern Time that few people ever notice. Every Thursday afternoon, the Federal Reserve quietly releases its balance sheet. Like any business, the balance sheet is a look under the hood of the business. The balance sheet reveals all. It gives a statement of a business’s assets, liabilities and shareholders’ equity at a specific point in time. It offers a snapshot of what the business owns and what it owes as well as the amount invested by its owners. As of this week, the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet stands at $7.1 trillion – the highest in the history of the United States. The Fed makes it possible for money to be backed up by the government in ways that doesn’t allow for banks and other financial institutions to over-regulate the interest rates to the point that people like you and me can’t afford to finance homes, automobiles or other major purchases. This practice is not without danger. For the first time…
Oct 30, 2020
America’s Gross Domestic Product rebounds as the economy shows dramatic changes for the future…and a single sentence in a law few people even know about sets off a firestorm on Capitol Hill.
Economists breathed a sigh of relief when news of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (or GDP) broke Thursday morning. GDP is measured as the total goods and services produced in a given period. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce‘s Bureau of Economic Analysis, GDP for the third quarter rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 33.1 percent. This history making third quarter jump was the largest output gain since the 1940s when the government first began to track GDP data. Certain sectors of the American economy have grown as a direct result of the COVID crisis and other areas of business and commerce have all but ended. The big four technology companies, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook together are worth more than $5 trillion, and they largely carried the US economy during 2020. Contrast that with the earnings of big oil companies like Conoco Phillips. This week the oil giant stated it lost $450 million in the third quarter as low crude prices and reduced product…
Oct 23, 2020
The US Department of Justice files a lawsuit against Google, and a post-election public policy prescription takes shape.
The United States Department of Justice joined 11 states in filing a lawsuit against Google this week. The charges state that the technology giant illegally used its market dominance to protect monopolies with its search engine. The lawsuit targets Google’s ability to make certain that its Android operating system automatically uses a preloaded search application that is impossible to delete from mobile phones. Prosecutors also claim that Google illegally blocks competitors’ search apps from being loaded on many mobile devices. Google also pays mobile phone makers and carriers billions of dollars to load its search app as the preset default on devices. The Google lawsuit reads a lot like the DOJ’s 1998 case against Microsoft. Back then, prosecutors alleged Microsoft illegally tied its browser - the Internet Explorer - to its dominant Windows operating system in an effort to shut out rivals like Netscape. The DOJ cites the Microsoft case on page 5 of the lawsuit as an exampl…
Oct 16, 2020
The Big Four Banks open their books and reveal record profits…The energy sector is on the ropes as the oil and gas industry struggles to rebound in a new economy…and the national debt soars to record
JPMorgan Chase reported $9.4 billion in profits during the last quarter — 4% more than it made this time last year. Goldman Sachs made $3.6 billion, nearly double what it made in the same quarter a year ago. Wells Fargo and Citigroup were both profitable making $3.2 billion and $1.7 billion respectively. To what should we attribute the success of the banks? By their own testimony, loans are not defaulting as badly as was once predicted, and the government stimulus has enabled the banks to steady their balance sheets and keep interest rates low with the help of the Federal Reserve. Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase CEO warned that while the bank he leads is doing quite well, there is a great amount of uncertainty about the future. He warned the economy could crash quickly were there another double dip recession, and he was doubtful many small businesses could survive much longer without some sort of direct government aid to them. Watching the economic cycles during the pandemic, it is n…
Oct 9, 2020
A small section of a big law causes big problems…and normal for small businesses in America has yet to materialize. Could large tech companies lead the way?
Earlier this year, the CEO’s from Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple testified before the US House of Representatives Antitrust Subcommittee and declared that their business models speak for themselves. Their design for success and growth without the heavy hand of government regulation stifling their innovation and creativity made them what they are today. In their opinion, the best path forward for the future is to continue in the same way of the past. Not everyone agrees. As the same group of Tech leaders prepare to testify again later this month – only this time before the US Senate’s Commerce Committee - the US Department of Justice and Attorneys General across the nation are involved in active investigations as to exactly how responsible these companies are in their business. At issue in this hearing will be Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Tucked inside the Communications Decency Act of 1996 is this section that has protected tech companies from liability o…
Oct 2, 2020
POTUS has COVID19, States on the brink of bankruptcy and my home state of Louisiana loses a titan and a friend.
A brief look at the budgets of each state during the COVID crisis reveals a very dangerous situation. Many states were already near collapse with unfunded pensions and healthcare costs rising into the hundreds of billions of dollars. To combat a budget freefall, states have appealed to Congress for help. Federal funds are being solicited in sums that boggle the mind. Yet, the future does not look bright. This week brought news of another loss to my home state of Louisiana. Lod Cook departed this life after serving others for all of his 92 years. Born in a small town in North Louisiana, he made his way to Baton Rouge to study at Louisiana State University. In 1950, he graduated with a degree in Mathematics. He served in the United States Army, and after decades of working up through the corporate ladder became recognized as a titan of the oil and gas industry in the United States. He served as CEO of ARCO from 1986 to 1995.
Sep 25, 2020
Unemployment rises…The stock market falls…The Fed takes on debt…and education stands on the brink of collapse.
First – the numbers: Unemployment claims rose this week to a total of 870,000 giving a hint the economy might be on shaky footing as only half of the jobs lost in March have permanently returned. For more than three months, entire sectors of the economy have stalled in growth indicating fundamental and possibly permanent changes have taken place. As Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell stated this week before the House Financial Services Committee, the Fed is committed to using all the tools at their disposal to keep interest rates low as well as bolster the American economy. Some of the weakest sectors of the economy are in the mortgages of people who have lost their jobs. With more than 4 million mortgages currently behind more than 90 days on monthly payments, analysts at the Mortgage Bankers Association who study the trends fear a wave of foreclosures in the near future. If that happens, it could tank the economy. Of course, when you look at the balance sheet of the Feder…
Sep 18, 2020
The US Constitution Turns 233…and Justice Antonin Scalia speaks beyond the grave as a new book is released….
Amid the rapid movement of the stock market and cloud data platform Snowflake’s IPO – now one of the largest rollouts in the public technology space – the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution quietly passed without much fanfare. Following numerous meetings, debates, and drafts, the final version of the Constitution of the United States emerged from the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. To read it in the light of the Declaration of Independence that was drafted almost a decade earlier is to understand the careful thought given by the American Founding generation in ways that opened a new way of life for all people in every state of the Union. To be sure, the Constitution’s articles contained compromises that were and are disappointing in their scope, but the scaffolding created by these leaders allowed a new nation to form and strengthen in ways that would, over time, become a more perfect Union. Reading the initial…
Sep 11, 2020
Charter Schools re-examined in a new Harvard University report…. a nation remembers what happened 19 years ago today… and a family celebrates the life of its matriarch.
As the pandemic continues into the Fall, some changes forced as a result of COVID have been met with acceptance and even gratitude from a majority of Americans. Remote work is here to stay. Telemedicine – once considered an inferior means of practicing medicine - is now the preferred option for routine medical exams. While these developments have accelerated in the age of COVID, education at all levels has become the focus of policymakers and technology companies. While much of the education research centers on ways to advance learning outcomes through a reorganization of existing structures, one of the most pivotal policy innovations of the past thirty years goes largely un-mentioned. Charter Schools were first begun in 1992 and grew over time to become one of the most effective ways to guarantee the success of students from low income areas. This was done by liberating poor students from failing schools by helping them attend another school that was actually a new type of schoo…
Sep 4, 2020
Jobless claims drop…the number of unemployed Americans rise…the national debt grows…and education pods pop up across the nation…
News of a drop in the number of first-time jobless claims falling to 881,000 last week was encouraging on the whole. Taking a look at the total number of Americans still out of work numbering more than 29 million is reason enough to investigate what is driving that high number if jobless claims are shrinking. Tucked away in the CARES Act that was passed by Congress earlier this year is a provision in Title II, Section 2101 that creates a funding stream called the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Participation in this program requires that a person be diagnosed with COVID-19 or be the caretaker of a person with COVID-19 who cannot work – even remotely – during the pandemic. Claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program rose sharply last week to 759,482, an increase of 151,674, according to unadjusted figures. Analysts predict that job creation will continue to grow, but layoffs in major industries such as airlines and even technology are driving concerns the economy c…
Aug 28, 2020
The Federal Reserve announces a major policy change for the American economy and a healthcare crisis looms on the horizon.
This week The Conference Board released the Consumer Confidence Index data that showed consumer confidence at its lowest point since 2014. Consumer spending accounts for 70% of economic activity in the United States, so when the past two months showed steep drop-offs in purchases by consumers across the country, it quickly caught the attention of economists. This was the backdrop for Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s announcement of a major policy shift by the Federal Reserve. Powell addressed a virtual group of economists, financial market consultants, academic leaders, and government representatives this week at the annual Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. While Chairman Powell was announcing these policy changes, the stock market was reaching record highs while 14.5 million people are collecting unemployment benefits and millions more are receiving direct payments from a special pandemic-related federal program. T…
Aug 21, 2020
More job losses…more market gains…and Hurricane Katrina 15 years later.
First time jobless claims rose above 1 million again this week giving rise to the perception by many economists that a drop off in employment may be just around the corner. As federal stimulus funds run out, the economy teeters on the verge of collapse given the potential volatility of today’s market. This week I looked closely at the jobs that were being added back to the economy, and I fear that some of the losses in certain sectors could be permanent. By looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics data between July 2019 and July 2020, I discovered more than 4 million jobs were lost in leisure and hospitality – a 24 percent from a year ago. Other big losses were in professional and business services as well as health and education services. It seems unlikely the all these jobs will be restored or replaced. The COVID pandemic is changing America in ways few of us can really comprehend. The recovery is no longer about how we get back to normal, it is about building and adjusting fo…
Aug 14, 2020
Job numbers reflect that America is slowly getting back to work and point to a looming crisis in our nation’s colleges and universities…and Artificial Intelligence comes to the farm.
This week’s job numbers offered a good news/bad news scenario. The good news: For the first time since the Coronavirus struck in March, unemployment claims fell below 1 million. More people are returning to work, and the labor market seems to be taking some ground. The bad news: There are fewer opportunities in some of the largest economic sectors where job losses were heaviest. The hospitality and retail industries are forever changed because the behavior patterns of Americans have been altered – perhaps permanently. With the rise of remote work and a pervasive fear of large indoor gatherings, the world of work itself is undergoing a radical transformation. Have you heard the words “Artificial Intelligence” and wondered what they meant? The term itself was originally conceived by IMB when computer engineers first developed algorithms to electronically analyze and predict what numbers indicated for any business. The way most people understand Artificial Intelligence or AI is…
Aug 7, 2020
July private sector job growth gives us a glimpse into the future and LSU says farewell to a legend.
This week’s private sector job report gives us hints about what the future might hold as the nation heads into the Fall. Expectations were high that a job recovery in the private sector might be on the horizon, but this week’s news revealed a dramatic drop in job growth. Private payrolls increased by only 167,000 in July. Economists were predicting 1 million new jobs in the private sector. When you expect one million jobs and less than 200,000 actually appear, leading economic indicators point to an ominous future. It is just a fact – private sector job growth is the fuel of any free market economy. If job opportunities continue to dramatically shrink in the private sector as they did in July, public sector stimulus and increased government activity will, sooner or later, tip the scale on the American economy in ways that will make it very difficult to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. If it was not clear prior to July’s private sector job report, containing the coronavirus i…
Jul 31, 2020
The world’s largest Tech companies appear for the time together on Capitol Hill…The nation’s Gross Domestic Product plummets to historic lows….and the loss of a leader and friend.
The world’s largest Tech companies appear for the time together on Capitol Hill…The nation’s Gross Domestic Product plummets to historic lows….and the loss of a leader and friend. Description This week the world witnessed a rare sight – four of the world’s wealthiest men leading four of the world’s largest companies appeared before one of the world’s most deliberate bodies for an inquisition about their company’s size, impact, and influence. It wasn’t exactly a friendly audience. Both Democrats and Republicans took their aim as each CEO took their turn in the dock. The underlying issue and real reason for this hearing? Growing pressure from all sides emerging from a distinct fear that these companies have grown so large so fast that their dominance has created a crisis of confidence in a technology market that is now forcing uncomfortable conversations about the future of the technology itself. Are they too powerful? Are they a monopoly? Should they be broken up?…
Jul 24, 2020
Chipotle shows the way… Somewhere between the stock market and the unemployment line… and America’s pastime begins again - not a moment too soon!
This week continues with public companies on the New York Stock Exchange announcing their quarter two earnings. The reports of some companies have been very surprising. Chipotle for example…this fast food restaurant chain reported that second quarter digital sales surged 216.3% from the prior year as sales shifted online. Chipotle has provided a road map for others throughout the market – whether it’s fintech, medtech or ed tech – technology that can be accessed by a mobile phone is a powerful step toward survival and growth. This week marks the 10th anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Ten years ago, as the 2008 financial crisis was casting a long shadow over the American economy, the United States Congress established the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Since the days of Dodd-Frank’s policies, we have learned the investment practices of the big banks, hedge funds, mortgage companies, and the overall financial practices of pub…
Jul 17, 2020
Welcome to Earnings Week! Looking at the balance sheets; Prices go up; Twitter Goes Down; and our education system at the risk of collapse
Welcome to Earnings Week! This is the week when analysts look carefully at the financial models and balance sheets of bans, corporations and industry sectors. What was discovered this week was not seen since the days of the Great Recession in 2008. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) grows at a record pace, and the watch for inflation continues. Last month the nation posted its highest budget deficit in history, and the market remains volatile. Twitter is hacked, and the warning is clear: prepare for more attacks! Is local school opening in the Fall? If so, how are children learning? We seem to still be a nation at risk when it comes to the quality of our education systems.
Jul 10, 2020
Job numbers going up, trend lines going down; the coming demographic shift that promises to upend the USA; and the Supreme Court sides with religious liberty.
With the rising job numbers and decreasing unemployment levels, the nation seems positioned to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Warning signs in the economy, however, point to some dangerous trends for the future. Higher education is key to upward mobility, but if the colleges and universities themselves are compromised in ways that cannot actually help students prepare for a career, what can be done. We look at the reports released this week by the Pew Research Center and the American Enterprise Institute. We also highlight the landmark Supreme Court decisions that will have a vital impact far into the future.
Jun 26, 2020
Digital Advertising on the cliff, the Future Automation of Jobs, and Checking Back on the Grey Challenge.
Smart phones have become the main tool of business and industry in the modern economy. Google processes more than 40,000 searches EVERY second – that is 3.5 billion searches per day! More than half of those searches are done on a mobile phone! Digital Advertising on those phones from Google, Amazon, and Facebook total more than $50 billion per year. Verizon’s decision to pull advertising from Facebook and Instagram this week sent shockwaves across the industry. Jobs are changing through automation, and the future of work will look drastically different in the near future. Learning how to navigate those rapids is the theme of Daniel Susskind's new book: A World Without Work. Finally, we check back on The Grey Challenge – take it! www.thegreychallenge.com
Jun 19, 2020
Lingering Questions about the Future Economy; The Federal Reserve Acts Once Again; Top 50 Disrupters and the future of work.
The week began with news of a retail sector that increased to a seasonally adjusted 17.7% in May from just one month earlier. Speaking at a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reminded the Senators the US economy still faces long-term damage from high unemployment levels. What does this mean for the future of work in the United States, and how is technology creating disruption that could lead to more opportunity.
Jun 12, 2020
A Wall Street sell off; fears of a new COVID outbreak; Taking the Grey Challenge toward hope and healing
After an unusual surge in the stock market last week, an announcement came on Monday that the United States was officially in a recession. The National Bureau of Economic Research made this official declaration stating the current period of economic activity marks the end of an expansion that began in June 2009. Economists now fear a new COVID surge. Will the coronavirus threaten another shutdown? George Floyd’s funeral took place this week. From Minneapolis to North Carolina to Houston, TX, the world watched as family and friends said goodbye to a man whose life has come to represent the plight of many African-Americans in the United States. My friend Garrett Temple takes and makes a challenge — thegreychallenge.com
Jun 5, 2020
Stocks Roar; Jobs Grow; Warnings on a Road to Recovery; A Nation's Wounds Reappear
If more than 40 million Americans are without work and more than 100,000 small businesses have permanently closed in the last 90 days, how can the stock market rise so quickly after one of the worst collapses in the history of Wall Street? The Congressional Budget Office released a report projecting the cost of the coronavirus pandemic to be more than $16 trillion over the next 10 years. Heartbreaking realities of strife in the United States call for respect, honor, and love for one another.
May 29, 2020
Permanent changes in the American Economy post-COVID19; Working Remotely is here to stay; Remembering 100,000 American lives.
While unemployment remains at levels not seen since the Great Depression, there are hopeful signs the economy can recover historic losses. Entire sectors of the American economy are forever changed because of the invisible enemy, and lessons must be learned to prepare for the future. Remote work is here to stay, American retail as it was once known is over, and government bureaucracies are under intense scrutiny. As the death toll from the Coronavirus passes 100,000, a new future for public health emerges that makes preparation for pandemics a priority.
May 22, 2020
Bringing back the economy – step by step; WSJ piece on America’s financial collapse; and a Memorial Day tribute.
As the nation seeks to find its way forward on this Memorial Day weekend, we feature Justin Baer’s piece in the Wall Street Journal this week stands as a legacy story marking one of the worst days for the Dow Jones Industrial Average when it plunged almost 13% on March 16th – the second biggest one day fall recorded. Questions still remain as to how to bring the nation’s economy back. Memorial Day is another year without Navy Seals Robert Reeves and Jonas Kelsall. Both of them were raised together in Shreveport, LA and died together on the same night in the same helicopter on the same mission. Listen to their story and remember all those who gave their lives for freedom.
May 15, 2020
Ep. 5 - Federal Reserve Chairman warns of further crisis; Technology growing and scaling; Kickboard's strategy for education forward.
Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell spoke to the nation this week. Powell warned of catastrophic changes in various sectors of the economy. While economists agree the tools used by the Fed have helped stabilize a volatile economy, the long-term prospects for employment and productivity must change to put the economy back on track. Technology holds many opportunities for expansion in the post COVID economy. Kickboard – a Louisiana based company provides customized software to meet the needs of schools, teachers, and parents - especially during this time of quarantine. They are showing us the way forward. Develop a product that a large number of people can use and design it to meet needs even during a crisis.
May 8, 2020
Ep. 4 - Jobs coming, and going; 40 years of US Dept. of Education; Tulbelt and the next wave of the sharing economy
The National Association of Business Economics warns that only a small fraction of the jobs lost will be coming back as the American economy has been radically changed by the COVID-19 crisis. Education, retraining, and learning new skills are critical to the economy getting back on its feet. Ironically, the US Department of Education turns 40 years old this week. How does the Department of Education help children, parents, and college students? Exactly what does it do, and how has it performed for the past four decades? New opportunities are created in crisis, and Tulbelt is a gamechanger for plumbers, carpenters, painters, and anyone in the manual labor sector. Learn how this new technology is changing the landscape of work.
May 1, 2020
Ep. 3 - Leadership Lessons from Raising Cane's; the age of COVID-19; new opportunities.
When Todd Graves, the Founder and CEO of Raising Cane's saw the COVID-19 crisis coming, he immediately took action. Through his leadership, the company is surviving the pandemic without any employees being laid off. We look into how Raising Cane's is holding steady during the pandemic. Praxis Ventures in New York City has become a resource to many leaders across the nation. This week they held a national meeting where they encouraged all companies large or small to think like a start-up. We look back to what they taught the hundreds gathered to listen to their talk.
Apr 24, 2020
Ep. 2. - Financial earthquake; education revolution; leadership shift
In one month almost every job created since the Great Recession in 2008 was eliminated. Many of these lost jobs aren't returning as the economy makes drastic shifts in the world of commerce and industry. LSU sees this an opportunity for new horizons through its newly reorganized on-line programs. We feature Sasha Thackaberry's ground breaking work at Louisiana State University. While the effects of COVID-19 are changing both finance and education, new leadership skills are required in business. Find out how leading teams differently can result in greater advance and profitability.
Apr 17, 2020
Ep. 1 - Record lows; teaching innovation; a living legacy
U.S. banks are reporting record losses. We take a snapshot of the nation’s economy and look forward to the last half of the year with hope for a dynamic recovery. We also feature the work of Khan Academy as they fill the void with innovative ways to teach students at home. Finally, we honor the life of the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient who fought the Battle of Iwo Jim in WWII 75 years ago.
Apr 17, 2020
Each week holds twists and turns that bring unexpected obstacles and opportunities. We look back to “the week that was”... to guide us forward through the days ahead. We discuss finance, innovation, and history as it relates to business and education. Join me each week for The Paul Dietzel Report.