September 9, 2014

The Markets

It’s déjà vu all over again!

Last year, pundits and analysts tried to discern when the Federal Reserve might begin to end quantitative easing by reading economic tea leaves. For months, bad economic news proved to be good news for stock markets. This year, investors are seeking signs which might indicate when the Fed will begin to raise interest rates and, once again, bad news has become good news. Last week’s weaker-than-expected unemployment report helped push U.S. stock markets higher, according to Reuters, because it was interpreted to mean the Fed would not raise rates soon.

The week before, the Commerce Department announced household spending slowed during July. Consumer spending was up just 3.2 percent annualized through mid-summer which is the smallest increase in spending in five years. As it turns out, spending fell because Americans are saving more. During July, households set aside 5.7 percent of income, on average which is good news with respect to American households’ financial security.

Livability

If you live in the United States, no matter where you reside, you are NOT in the top 10 when it comes to the world’s most ‘livable’ cities. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Ranking and Report was published in August 2014. It relies on 30 factors such as safety, healthcare, educational resources, infrastructure, and environment to determine which of 140 cities around the world are the most livable. The burgs which top the rankings tend to be “mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with relatively low population density.” They include:

  1. Melbourne, Australia
  2. Vienna, Austria
  3. Vancouver, Canada
  4. Toronto, Canada
  5. Adelaide, Australia
  6. Calgary, Canada
  7. Sydney, Australia
  8. Helsinki, Finland
  9. Perth, Australia
  10. Auckland, New Zealand

More than 50 of the cities surveyed have seen their ratings move lower during the past five years. This year, the cities that ranked worst for livability included Damascus, Syria; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Lagos, Nigeria; and Karachi, Pakistan.

The good news for Americans is Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and New York City remain relatively highly ranked and haven’t experienced any change in their livability rankings. None of these is the most livable city in the United States, though. The top honor, here at home, goes to Honolulu (26th) followed by Pittsburgh (30th).

Weekly Focus

“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money.”
Abigail Van Buren, American advice columnist

Image courtesy of Hai Linh Truong used in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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