MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It–the Monday Moneybeat.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Time now for our weekly conversation on
business, markets, and the economy with financial analyst and adviser
David Bahnsen, head of the wealth management firm The Bahnsen Group.
DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: Well, good morning. Good to be with you.
REICHARD: Well, David, let’s begin with the July jobs
report: It showed 528-thousand new jobs added and the unemployment rate
hitting a 50-year low— 3.5 percent. And according to The Wall Street Journal,
with those jobs added, that means the economy has completely recouped
the 22 million jobs lost due to the economic shutdown related to the
But, and here’s where my question comes in, the same report
says that even though all the jobs lost since February 2020 are
recovered, there are still more than 600,000 fewer people in the
workforce than there were then. This is the “labor force participation
rate” I hear you talk about so often.
It has to be good that the jobs are back, but how concerning is it that so many have dropped out of the workforce?
BAHNSEN: Well, it’s extremely concerning. And I also would
point out that the absolute number of jobs that had been lost since the
pandemic had been recovered, meaning the payrolls are now back to where
they were February 2020. But that actually doesn’t tell the whole story
because the populations higher and and you have what’s called a trend
line growth. And the payrolls are not where they would be on trend, we
would expect to be at a higher level just based on a normal trend of job
growth that is in concert with population growth. So it’s still a
little bit lower than it was. However, it’s been remarkably quick in
terms of a comeback from that violence of job loss that we experienced.
But your question on labor participation for us is the operable
question, because as I love talking about to these listeners, it is a
cultural question 16 to 24 year old, so the primary demographic impacted
meaning having left the workforce, the 55 + demographic concerns me a
lot as well, but for different reasons, 16 to 24. Those are people
losing muscle memory of working, losing training, losing development,
losing social skills, and pressures and deadlines. And that has an
exponential impact because you develop things when you’re 22 years old,
that you’re going to be using for decades to come and we’re inhibiting
that future productivity.
BROWN: Would you say the jobs report was the biggest story
of the week? You mentioned cultural factors. Was there something else,
maybe a close second, that we ought to know about?
BAHNSEN: Well, I do think that it was the job report
Friday, that was the biggest story. But I also think that this so-called
Machin-Schumer Bill and the kind of developments going on there are
quite interesting on the policy front, Senator Sinema of Arizona chimed
in. And while the headline was she’s now on board, she took out the two
worst parts that were left in it from a growth standpoint. So that bill
already was really quite a cosmetic joke in terms of what its real
impact would be. And now, her having taken out the carried interest tax
issue and essentially brought back the ability for full expensing for
manufacturers on this corporate minimum tax, that whole deal has become
quite a joke. And now it could even get worse for the Democrats from
there because the parliamentarian and the Senate could very well this
week rule that some of the drug benefits they want to put in are not
appropriate for the budget reconciliation process. So I think that would
be a second place story, but most certainly, the job story is front and
center because it is continuing and it’s something I’ve talked about
many times on this podcast. It is creating a very inconvenient
narrative. There’s slowing economic data that is diluting the benefit of
strong jobs. And there’s strong jobs diluting the narrative of us being
in recession and these two things continue to play tug of war.
BROWN: I’d like to take a moment to say we will try most
weeks to have listener-questions for David. We’d like to handle these
the same way we do listener-feedback: that is, we will prefer questions
you record in your own voice. So record your question and send us the
file at editor-at-W-N-G-dot-org. So please get your questions in and we
may use them on future Monday Moneybeats with David Bahnsen. So here’s
our first one, and I’ll read it to you, David:
“As part of inflation woes, insurance companies are
dramatically raising rates. They claim that because materials cost so
much more these days, the cost to replace a house, or make major
repairs, has increased substantially. … What kind of widespread economic
effect might this kind of ‘hidden’ cost have?”
What light can you shed on that, David?
BAHNSEN: Well, the rising insurance premium that goes with a
rising cost of goods is actually a pretty small piece of the overall
puzzle. It’s the rising goods themselves, that is far more impactful,
the insurance companies are not lying. The cost of replacement, which is
part of the economics, to how they would go about ensuring the home is
what their own replacement cost would be, the replacement cost has gone
higher. So the premiums being increased is probably not as big of a
factor as just merely the prices themselves. The question will be if
it’s sticky, because those building costs are coming down, lumber prices
have dropped dramatically, copper prices have dropped. And so will
insurance premiums stay higher, even when cost of goods does decrease.
That’s the question. I think that’s in front of us. I wouldn’t say it’s a
major economic impact, but it’s certainly–like a lot of these things
on the margin–has an impact.
REICHARD: Before we go, I understand that you’ll be
offering an Economics 101 online course, David. With Nick on vacation, I
was a tad concerned about coming up with what to ask you about. I’m a
lawyer, not an econ specialist, so I wish I’d had the chance to take
your class. But today, your course is online, and I’ll note there’s no
disclosure we need to make, because the course is free of charge! Maybe I
should ask, given you’ve written a book titled, “There’s No Free
Lunch,” how can there be a free economics course?! [haha] But seriously,
tell about the course, why you’re doing it, and where listeners can
find it. I imagine homeschoolers will especially appreciate it!
BAHNSEN: Well, I certainly hope homeschoolers would and I
hope other Christian classical schools and just different one offs, I
expect an awful lot of adults will end up wanting to take the class as
well. But of course, the point of there’s no free lunch is not to say
that somebody can’t get something for free, it’s that somebody else had
to pay for it. And so I assure you that this course was not free for me,
but it is something I cared about deeply and felt that distributing
this content, at no cost to the person hearing it was more beneficial to
the cause I care about then the revenues that it would generate. So
essentially there are 30 lectures that have all been professionally
recorded, and all of the quizzes and exams, and essay prompts and a full
syllabus with links to all the reading material and video material is
all available and incubated at bahnsen.com. And so we’re really excited and
hopeful that a foundational understanding of economics completely and
explicitly rooted in a Christian worldview will have the impact I
believe it needs to have.
BROWN: All right, that’s David Bahnsen. He’s a financial
analyst and advisor and head of the wealth management firm The Bahnsen
Group. David writes at Dividend-Cafe-dot-com. And, as you heard, his free Economics 101 course you’ll find at Bahnsen.com.
David, thanks again.
BAHNSEN: Thank you for having me.
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