Could this be the end of the road for the long upward trend in rising profit margins? Rising wages are cutting into profits at major corporations, and it could be the end of an era in which it has seemed as though profit margins would rise forever. Danielle Chemtob reports at The Wall Street Journal: Rising wages are beginning to eat into the profits of some U.S. companies. Firms from dollar stores to hotel operators to fast-food chains have warned in recent months that higher labor costs have been a drag on their profits—a potential headwind for the nine-year stock-market rally as it … [Read more...]
Archives for July 2018
How Pennies Can Win the War
Back in January of 1987, Ronald Reagan gave a State of the Union address in which he lamented the brutal war being waged by the Soviet Union on the people of Afghanistan. Behind the scenes though, Reagan was operating what has become popularly known as “Charlie Wilson’s War.” Reagan and his supporters in Congress, including Charlie Wilson, were sending Stinger missiles to the Afghans fighting against the Soviets. Those missiles cost pennies on the dollar compared to the Soviet MI-24 Hind gunships they were used to target with a lethal 79% successful kill rate. The mere pennies the U.S. … [Read more...]
Will Switzerland be “Crypto-Nation?”
Long known for its commitment to banking privacy, Switzerland makes sense as a place where anonymous crypto-currencies would thrive. Ralph Atkins and Philip Stafford report in the FT on plans in Switzerland for a new market infrastructure which will enhance traders' ability to swap crypto-currencies. They write: Switzerland’s stock exchange is seeking a global lead in the trading of digital assets, announcing plans for new market infrastructure which will boost the country’s credentials as a “crypto nation”. The platform being built by the Six exchange is designed to be used for … [Read more...]
Will Tariffs Suck the Life out of Auto Sales?
With the tariff fight heating up, U.S. automakers are worried about the impact on their business. Adrienne Roberts reports in The Wall Street Journal: But industry executives warn that momentum could stall in coming months as President Donald Trump threatens to impose tariffs that are projected to cost the auto industry billions of dollars and could raise some car prices by nearly $6,000, according to estimates. Overall U.S. auto sales increased by 1.9% in the first half of the year. June sales increased by about 5%, according to analysts, boosted by an additional selling day compared with … [Read more...]
Here’s How Tax Reform is Lowering Rates, and When it Could Stop
Despite a rising Fed funds rate and increasing inflation fears, rates on long term Treasuries have been coming down. Ben Eisen and Daniel Kruger report in The Wall Street Journal that some of the reason rates are falling is regulation-induced buying. Big companies are buying now to achieve a tax benefit coming as a result of the 2017 tax reform. They are funding pension plans now to receive the tax benefit they would have achieved under the 35% corporate tax regime, but will still only pay the 21% reformed rate. Eisen and Kruger write: S&P 500 companies are contributing … [Read more...]
The Hollowing of America’s Malls
Mall vacancies have just hit a six-year high. As retailers go bankrupt or close unprofitable stores, malls are emptying out. Esther Fung reports: Space has been emptied by a steady decline of some of the most-iconic retail names. Bon Ton Stores Inc., Sears Holdings Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. are among big names that have sharply reduced the number of stores in recent years. The last Toys “R” Us stores closed on Friday after a restructuring attempt failed. In March, when it announced the liquidation of U.S. stores, the company had roughly 800 stores in the country. Xander Chou, a 40-year … [Read more...]
Your Retirement Life: How Do You Know Where to Live in Retirement?
If you are like many soon-to-be-retirees in America, you're looking forward to getting away from your cold, northern, probably-high-tax state and settling down in retirement in a southern locale with low taxes and warm winters. But, how can you know where you'll like it best in your Golden Years? (for information on choosing a low-tax state, see the Richardcyoung.com Liberty & Freedom Map here). Last month I encouraged you to do some A/B testing. Live short-term or spend a vacation in some of the places you'd potentially move to during retirement. Without actually staying there for a … [Read more...]
Is Booming IPO Market a Sign of Market Froth?
The WSJ reports that the IPO market is booming. There have been 120 companies that have raised $35.2 billion in the first six months of 2018. That’s the fourth-busiest six-month period on record. And that’s not even counting initial coin offerings (ICOs) which are booming as well even as bitcoin prices plummet. Rising IPO volume isn’t necessarily a predictor of a market top, but it should be viewed as a signal of caution. “Our global IPO pipeline is stronger now than it’s been since the financial crisis,” said Evan Damast, global head of equity and fixed income syndicate at Morgan … [Read more...]
Amazon Revving Up Whole Foods
In the short time Amazon has owned Whole Foods, it has worked to apply its own strengths to the grocery business's operation. Heather Haddon and Laura Stevens report: A year after Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13.5 billion, the e-commerce company is making its mark on the nation’s largest natural and organic supermarket. Year-over-year sales at Whole Foods stores are up since the takeover, as consumers respond to new delivery options and enhanced benefits for Amazon Prime members. The store recently introduced 10% discounts for Prime members at all 460 stores, and it offers two-hour delivery … [Read more...]
Winning: Trade Edition
There is increasing concern about the Trump administration's trade policies. The Google trends chart for the search term trade war has more than doubled in recent weeks (though Kim Kardashian is still about 7X more popular). President Trump says trade wars are easy to win. Maybe he has a point. U.S. stocks have held up much better than Chinese shares in recent months. In all seriousness, investors should keep a close eye on future trade developments. Don’t forget though, view Trump's actions through the lens of somebody who believes what he is doing is part of an ongoing … [Read more...]
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