It’s that time of year again… Not Christmas. Not New Year’s fireworks. It’s the year end scramble to donate to a non-profit in order to take potential tax deductions.
This is my 2nd year donating to NPR. Their Politics podcast and Planet Money podcast are two of the best podcasts to listen to. I also listen to the Ted Radio Hour, How I Built This, and Hidden Brain. Aside from podcasts, I also listen to their news via Google Home. That’s six NPR shows.
So I listen to NPR’s Planet Money podcast pretty religiously. There is a host or maybe multiple host that gets particularly excited about a report that is issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the first Friday of the month. The “byuuuu” are air horns by the way.
As part of my morning routine, I usually ask Google to tell me the news. And it’ll dutifully start reporting the news starting with NPR as I’ve programmed it to. NPR is pretty nice since they usually have hourly updates to the news. In one of the updates, the announcer mentioned the Bureau of Labor Statistics report. In my head, I went: “Jobs Report Friday!!! Byuu byu byu byuuuuuu…” complete with sound effects. #PlanetMoney4Lyfe.
So I ran out of coffee… but the next batch wouldn’t arrive for another week or two. What do I do? I go out and buy something on the shelves of the local market. /shock /horror
Groundwork Coffee originated from Los Angeles and I’ve always enjoyed their lattes. Although largely eclipsed by the three mainstream coffee players, Groundwork has held on pretty well to their customers and even managed to expand. Now that you’ve gotten over your shock, I have the other roaster’s Ethiopian single origin beans in the past. That was one of the reasons I wanted to try this particular single origin from Ethiopia.
I was not disappointed. Buying from the market doesn’t seem to have a noticeable effect on the beans’ freshness compared to having beans’ sent directly to me. Opening the bag, I immediately smell peach, cherry and toffee aromas.
Making my latte, the first sip was amazing. The latte coats my tongue with this pleasant cherry, toffee flavor. One thing I found interesting was that the beans have a slightly different taste compared to some of the other roasters for Ethiopian beans. In the past, the other roasters imparted their Ethiopian beans to have a much nutty and buttery aftertaste. The Groundwork beans don’t seem to exhibit that taste profile.
Planet Money is one of my favorite podcasts that I listen to. They talk about money, economics and financial related news tidbits. They recently spun off a mini-podcast called The Indicator which does a deep dive into one particular aspect in Planet Money that they think deserves a more thorough analysis. Recently they put out a podcast talking about the Beige Report (wiki). I had no idea there was such a report that is put out by the Federal Reserve. Nonetheless, the reporters at Planet Money did their best to humor and enlighten the significance of the report with three snippets. The full transcript of the snippet can be found here. Below is the snippet that I found most interesting.
SMITH: And Boston had this great aha moment for us that they wrote about in “The Beige Book” which might explain why wages have been rising so slowly even though unemployment is so low across the nation and in Boston.
VANEK SMITH: And this is a big economic mystery that everybody’s talking about right now. I mean, unemployment’s so low people are trying to hire like crazy, and that could help be explained by this moment in “The Beige Book.” They’re talking about a manufacturing company. And they say, quote, “another industrial firm had 20 unfilled openings in a plant with a hundred employees and said they were making up for it with significant overtime. When asked why they didn’t increase wages to fill the openings, the contact said they would have to pay all the existing workers more, which would be uneconomic.”
SMITH: So they’re making everybody work overtime…
VANEK SMITH: Yeah.
SMITH: …Because they’re afraid of giving everyone a raise. So they can’t raise wages on just the new people that they desperately need.
VANEK SMITH: Yes, exactly.
SMITH: Which is fascinating because, I mean, this is something that data doesn’t often capture. We like to think that there’s this direct relationship between wages and employment. But of course there’s all these weird things in the economy – contracts and special cases…
VANEK SMITH: And office politics.
SMITH: …And office politics that just makes it hard to give new people raises.
After hearing the episode, I’m a bit shocked at the rationale. Why would hiring new workers who would have higher wages force a company to give everyone a raise? That reasoning doesn’t make sense to me. And more importantly, wouldn’t that just mean the wages you’re paying now are actually not high enough?
I’ll start the new year with a fascinating quote from Tim Ferriss’ Ted Talk.