The Naked Truth About (Subsidized) Wages

If you have read my work over the years, then you know that I am not a proponent of Minimum Wage.  An adult should be able to work for anyone at an agreed price.

However, a new issue has come into my view I did not realize existed until recently.

Apparently there are groups out there (think Chamber of Commerce) that works with your local governments to hold wages down by:

A)  Making sure that there is Affordable Housing in your area so their workers can live nearby

B) Making sure there is mass transit options so that low cost workers can get to the businesses that want to hirer low cost employees(A Chamber Objective for sure) Continue reading

The Federal Reserve Bank: Pumping Fuel onto the Bonfire of Inflation

We are in very uncertain times.  And they are becoming more uncertain.  The Federal Reserve Bank(FRB) just raised interest rates .25% and has stated it is their objective to raise rates perhaps 3 times in 2017, in an effort to effectively curb inflation.

And while that may seem to make sense based on the way both the FRB has worked in the past, and what we have been told about inflation and how it works, these actions, perversely, are going to have the opposite effect this time around.  Should I be correct, then the raising rates will actually fuel inflation, which will force more rate hikes, and then even more inflation. Continue reading

Worsening Economic Conditions: Where’s the Growth?

Today’s GDP report paints a bleak picture.  GDP for the first quarter was revised down to 0.8%.  The second quarter of 2016 came out at 1.2%, and will likely be revised lower.

Here is what they also released, but are not talking about:

Corporate profits before and after taxes have also been revised back to the first quarter of 2013.  And it is bleak.

Remember that businesses do not go into business just to sell you goods and services.  They do so to sell you goods and services to generate profits.

Would you trudge off to work every day to earn less than you did last year? And less than you did two years ago?  Or would you make some changes? Continue reading

Georgia’s Job Growth Is Higher Outside of Metro Areas

Despite the general perception that it is the metropolitan areas of Georgia that are its economic engines, the rate of year over year job growth is actually higher outside of those metropolitan areas.  And some of your Metro areas have very dismal growth, despite large state and federal expenditures in those areas. Continue reading

Earnings Crush(ed)

Total Earnings by quarter Up Same Down $952.48 $972.31 $999.32 $983.51 $1,099.24
QTR Change % year over year 49.94% 810 45 767 -13.35% -10.39% -2.96% 3.52% 11.25%

Here’s the pivotal point I have been watching for on the economy.  Less than 50% of the companies listed in the Valueline Index made more money for their most recently reported quarter than they did one year ago.  And the steepness of that drop is severe.

For the most recent data I have, companies earned $952.48 on a per share basis.  That is down from the same period of a year ago of $1,099.24 on a per share basis.

The most recent quarter was also the worst of the last four quarters.

On average, the stocks made 13.35% less in income per share than they did one year ago.  This means that adding up all the stocks that made more than they did a year ago and all the ones that made less than they did a year ago, and the total is down a whopping 13.35%.

Do you think those businesses will be expanding for the rest of the year?  Or fighting for survival?

I have not seen this indicator of mine turn negative since the last recession.  It’s not a normal event, and it indicates that there is something wrong with this economy.

The regulatory and tax burdens faced by American businesses are crushing the bottom line.  Obamacare is crushing the bottom line.

The Federal Reserve, with rising fuel prices year over year, and low unemployment(thanks to a plethora of low paying part time waiter and bartender jobs) will have no choice to but to raise rates at least once more this year.

Those rate increases, which will affect the refinancing of the the debt that American corporations hold at record levels, will decimate the bottom line even further.

These are not one time or one off events.  This is the cost of doing business in the United States today.

Further compounding the bleak picture is the outlook going forward.

Dow 30 Profits Analysis 20160517

 

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2021
Dow 30 Total Profits(millions) $347,711 $341,897 $351,263 $326,459 $319,660 $351,990 $469,760
Change $24,953 -$5,814 $9,366 -$24,804 -$6,799 $32,330 $143,301
% YOY 7.73% -1.67% 2.74% -7.06% -2.08% 10.11% 40.80%

Above is an analysis of the profits of the DOW 30 Industrials in total dollars earned.

The year 2015 was the worst  since the year 2011.  Adding icing to that cake is the forecast that 2016 will be worse than 2015.

The year 2017 will get us back to the performance we saw in the year 2014.  We have lost years of economic performance gains while the Federal Reserve Bank has constantly told us that we had an improving US economy.

Do the numbers in the table above appear to indicate that our economy has been improving?

Not even close.

The US economy is dead in the water, and is taking on water.  The forecasts for future years are way too optimistic in my view, and there is no economic stimulus available, other than reducing regulations and cutting taxes that will get this economy moving again in a healthy manner.

Prepare accordingly.

Corporate Profits: Continuing to Drop and Expected to Drop Even Further in 2016

FrownIt’s becoming harder and harder for the Federal Reserve to continue selling us on the idea that things are getting better and better.  One of my built from scratch spreadsheets shows the profits in total dollars for the Dow 30 Industrials.  The numbers continue to get bleaker for how 2015 really was, and now the forecast for 2016 is now showing that 2016 will be weaker than 2015.

Have a look at the following data, which I have completed updating today.  The outlook is not good.

Dow 30 Profits Analysis 20160408

We have actually given back five years of profit growth and are now back to where we were in the 2011 time frame.  Which makes me ask the question why are you paying record prices for companies that are earning what they did five years ago?  When will the price correction occur?  Your guess is as good as mine.  But when the stampede heads for the exits, you will wish you had already left the playing field.

At what point are we really going to admit that the US economy is headed in the wrong direction.  If things were better, there would be profit growth.  There isn’t.

Last evening the four living individuals who have headed the Federal Reserve and are still alive had gathered to discuss the economy in New York City.  There was a comment made by Bernanke that there is a 15% chance of a recession in any given year.  And he emphasized that there is not a greater chance of recession the longer you go between recessions.  The risk is still 15%.

Unfortunately his logic is wrong.  If you are in an economic situation where profits are falling, GDP is flat, and things are not getting better, you will indeed have a recession.

Corporate profits drop prior to recessions, not after they have officially started.  One day they may wake up.  Until then, I hope you are paying attention and are prepared for what is coming.

 

The Real Economy? It’s MUCH Worse Than You Think

This week Janet Yellen, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank reiterated her outlook on the US economy and how well we are doing.  Many armchair economists such as myself have suggested that that perception is far from reality.

Over the last four quarters, I have watched profits per share from continuing operations declining while at the same time the Federal Reserve and the Obama Administration jawbone about just how great things are.  They are lying, to put it bluntly.

We’ve been told that the weakness is limited to the Energy sectors within our economy.  They are lying about that as well.  Below is a list of all the sectors where the Earnings Per Share from Continuing Operations are lower than they were the previous year. And the amount of that drop follows the Sector Name.

Businesses are in business to earn a profit.  When profits fall, they will right-size their businesses in operations and headcount to return to a profit growing enterprise. This occurs during the twelve months following the drop in earnings.  That is why employment is a trailing economic indicator, and not a leading economic indicator as the “professional” economists want to insist.

Have a look at the list for yourself.  The pain being experienced in this economy is far and wide, and spreading rapidly.  We are fast approaching the 50% mark, where more companies are earning less than they were a year ago.

How bad will it get?  How bad will it have to get before we can actually discuss that we do have a problem, and get to the real solutions that can grow the economy in a healthy manner once again?

The Federal Reserve was the last entity to acknowledge we had a problem the last time around.  Rest assured, they will do the same this time.  Trust your instincts. Those empty storefronts you see are empty for a reason.

Click here to see the list:

Continue reading

We’ve Pulled As Much Future Demand Forward as We Could

Perhaps more than anyone else, we’ve been keen on documenting the rise of subprime auto loans.

Over the course of the last 12 months, data from Experian clearly shows that underwriting standards are falling in the industry as competition for a shrinking pool of eligible borrowers heats up.

  • Average loan term for new cars is now 67 months — a record.
  • Average loan term for used cars is now 62 months — a record.
  • Loans with terms from 74 to 84 months made up 30%  of all new vehicle financing — a record.
  • Loans with terms from 74 to 84 months made up 16% of all used vehicle financing — a record.
  • The average amount financed for a new vehicle was $28,711 — a record.
  • The average payment for new vehicles was $488 — a record.
  • The percentage of all new vehicles financed accounted for by leases was 31.46% — a record.”

Source:http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-14/subprime-auto-canary-deutsche-bank-probes-employees-exaggerating-abs-demand

As you read through the data above, it becomes obvious that something has gone seriously wrong in our economy.  To finance a vehicle for 84 months-7 years to you and I, is phenomenal.  The rate of depreciation on the vehicle nearly guarantees that the owner will be underwater for nearly the entire length of the loan. Continue reading

Brace Yourself For the Slowing Georgia Economy

images_man_braking_car“Individual income tax collections for the month increased by 11.5 percent, while gross sales tax collections deposited during November rose a minuscule 0.2 percent. Net sales tax revenue fell by 1.3 percent.

Corporate tax revenues in November increased by $5.1 million.”

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/blog/capitol_vision/2015/12/georgia-tax-receipts-up-7-5-percent.html

There’s what you need to know in a nutshell.

Gross sales tax collections rose only 0.2% in November.  Net Sales Tax Revenue fell by 1.3%.  That says recession.

In an economy that is based on consumption, consumption must outgrow everything else.

The individual tax collections will soon follow suit as well as corporate tax revenues.

If people are not spending more money, companies do not make as much profit.  Companies that do not make as much profit do not need as many employees.  Fewer employees means lower income tax collections.

The state of Georgia did pass a Billion dollar transportation tax earlier this year.  We have begun to see that impact.  Taking a billion dollars out of gross receipts and sending it to the state, rather than to the bottom line of companies and into your banking accounts as savings has a cost.

We will see that cost in full glory shortly.  The tax, however, will not be reversed.

What we will see is everything else blamed, from warm weather to cold weather, to the strong dollar to …..

The truth, however, is much simpler.  Governments that tax too much destroy their own economic engines.