Connect with us

Government

Consumer Spending Decline Makes A Recession More Likely

“How are you feeling?”  That’s often the way we greet people these days.  As the Omicron variant becomes widespread, negatively impacting most Americans’ lives.  Add worries about inflation to the mix. Finally, some schools are going back to…

Published

on

“How are you feeling?”  That’s often the way we greet people these days.  As the Omicron variant becomes widespread, negatively impacting most Americans’ lives.  Add worries about inflation to the mix. Finally, some schools are going back to online learning, forcing parents to work from home with kids at home. Consumers are stressed, anxious, and uncertain about the future. If the drop in consumer sentiment continues, retail sales will fall. 

Consumer spending is 70% of GDP.  Thus, if consumer spending continues to decline, a recession becomes more likely.  The Federal Reserve plan to speed up monetary tapering and start interest rate increases will add momentum to a decline in economic activity. Rising costs of credit cards, mortgages, and personal loans will trigger a drop in consumers applying for new loans.  As credit tightens, consumers will pull back on spending. Let’s look at trends in consumer sentiment, spending, and inflation to see why economic headwinds are building.

Consumer Sentiment Falls Along with Retail Sales

A significant drop in consumer sentiment reflects the consumer’s plight.  The University of Michigan January consumer sentiment indicator printed 68.8%. The drop is the second-largest drop in ten years. The survey found the number one consumer issue was surging inflation.  A third of consumers felt they were financially worse off than a year ago, near the same level as April 2020.

Sources: University of Michigan, Bloomberg – 1/15/22

Consumers’ unease with their financial condition was recently expressed in a substantial decline in retail sales for December of 1.9%.  Buyers before the Omicron variant started buying from pent-up demand for goods in particular.  That pent-up demand buying seems to be waning.

retail sales

Sources: Commerce Department, New York Times – 1/15/22

Twenty-five percent of respondents said their reduction in spending was due to inflation.

Also, retail sales fell fast due to buyer concerns about leaving home.   Consumer mobility indicated by Google mobility indicators shows a drop off in outside of the home trips.  Plus, the Langer Buying Climate index declined as consumers continued to see the present buying environment worsen due to both Omicron infection risk and inflation. A double whammy for retail sales. While spring may bring a decline in Omicron virus infections, inflation is likely to persist.

retail sales buying climate

The Langer Index posted its most significant one-week drop in 36 years!  The critical component causing the considerable drop was consumer concerns about this being a ‘good time to buy things,’ showing a 6.9% decline. The component drop was the largest since 1985. 

Will Inflation Persist Driving Consumer Sentiment Lower?

Yes. This is the short answer from a macro perspective. The Federal Reserve has increased the money supply significantly above the pre-pandemic trajectory as the following chart shows a surge in the M2 money supply.  The second chart shows a lag of 2 to 3 years in inflation after shifts in the money supply.  So, on a macro basis, inflation is likely to be a continuing issue.

inflation sentiment

Sources: St. Louis Federal Reserve, The Daily Shot – 1/12/22

money supply inflation

Sources: Labor Department, Haver Analytics, The Daily Shot – 1/7/22

Several components are likely to keep inflation high even as waning demand in other sectors may decrease inflation.  A significant persistent inflation sector is housing.

Housing Costs Fuel Inflation

Housing is the most expensive cost for most families.  An increase in shelter costs hits family budgets hard. As millions of workers were forced to work from home during the pandemic, the demand for housing outside major core cities soared.  Owner equivalent rent (OER) is how the Bureau of Labor Statistics computes home costs to compare to rent.  Note the surge in OER and rent for 2021 and the Nomura forecast for 2022.

nomura housing

Source: Apartment List, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nomura, The Daily Shot – 1/14/22

Along with housing inflation, price increases are becoming embedded in the broad-based economy.

Inflation Becoming Embedded into the Economy

The headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) posted a 7.0% increase for December 2021. A 20 year high.  Consumers feel the price pinch in the cost of gas, food, new and used vehicles, and furniture.  The following heat map shows how inflation is increasing across multiple sectors of the economy.

consumer inflation

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Daily Shot – 1/13/22

The components of most concern to consumers: housing, food, and energy, are excluded or minimized in key indicators that the Federal Reserve uses to measure inflation like the Core CPI or Trimmed CPI.  This lack of focus on what is essential to consumers and affecting their buying habits is a significant policy-making blind spot. As such the focus on lower inflation figures caused the Fed to underestimate inflation related to buying power. As a result, the Fed must slam on interest rate brakes to grab executive and consumer attention that they are serious about controlling inflation.

Consumer buying power is declining as well due to negative real wage growth.

Real Wage Growth is Negative

Consumers are rightly worried about their financial future.  Worker real wage growth is negative. Real wage growth accounting for inflation was – 1.5% for December. The following chart from BOC Research shows using Federal Reserve data that inflation is ‘eating into’ wages in the U.S.

wages

Sources: BOC Research, Federal Reserve of Atlanta, The Daily Shot – 1/7/22

Consumers see high prices and look at their paychecks, concluding they are not keeping up with costs.  They are right.  Consumer perception of inflation limiting their buying power drives reluctance to spend. Buyer frustration with high prices is a critical factor in the December 24.6% drop in vehicle sales. Also, rent prices are beginning to decline in many major U.S. markets, as renters decide to stay in their present apartment. 

Will Inflation Go Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels?

Not likely.  A new trend is emerging globally, affecting inflation that may persist for many years – green inflation.  The ability of the energy sector to create new renewable sources of power while continuing to supply the needs of world energy users is tight.  Not enough investment in green technologies is happening, according to Isabel Schnabel, executive board member at the European Central Bank.  In a recent Bloomberg interview, she further stated that fossil fuel prices might stay elevated to make green investments possible.  Plus, higher fossil fuel prices will force corporations and consumers to shift to renewable sources quicker.

As fuel costs feed into the cost of transporting goods, inflation may stay elevated for some time.  Further, other transportation issues cause concern about inflation. Shipping unloading bottlenecks continue at West Coast ports, causing a container’s cost to rise incredibly from $1,400 in February 2020 from Shanghai to Los Angeles to $10,200 in December. As demand falls, the number of containers to be unloaded will fall, but it takes a long time to solve the bottleneck problem as trucking companies can’t hire enough drivers.

Fed Liquidity Tightening, Consumer Spending Decline Increases Chances of Recession

The latest Fed Funds futures report shows growing investor sentiment that rate increases could begin as soon as March of this year. The recent Federal Reserve FOMC meeting minutes spooked the markets when it became apparent that the Fed was turning more serious about persistent inflation.  Forecasters expect at least three rate increases this year, maybe four.  So, a liquidity crunch will start sooner and faster than investors had expected just two months ago.

The decline in consumer sentiment, we have noted in this post, will drive a drop in consumer spending.  The combination of liquidity tightening with a fall in consumer spending will create downward momentum in economic activity.  As a result, a decline in economic activity will result in a recession.

Mitigating the possibility of a recession is the surge in hiring and construction from the $1.8B infrastructure spending bill approved by Congress.  Another factor is the waning of Omicron in the spring, so mobility and retail sales move up. 

But the Fed is in a difficult position as the economy seems to be slowing due to inflation, the Omicron virus continuing to spread, and supply bottlenecks.   Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economist at Allianz, offers this observation on the impact of inflation on consumers and their sense of financial insecurity in a January 12th tweet:

“Inflation isn’t just a number to be managed by the Fed that few Americans know well. It also influences economic, social, and political outcomes.  When its high, as it is today, it fuels financial insecurity among the most vulnerable, both immediately and over time.”

The post Consumer Spending Decline Makes A Recession More Likely appeared first on RIA.

Read More

Continue Reading

Government

After mass shootings like Uvalde, national gun control fails – but states often loosen gun laws

After mass shootings, politicians in Washington have failed to pass new gun control legislation, despite public pressure. But laws are being passed at…

Published

on

A girl cries outside the Willie de Leon Civic Center in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images

Calls for new gun legislation that previously failed to pass Congress are being raised again after the May 24, 2022, mass shooting at an elementary school in the small town of Uvalde, Texas.

An 18-year-old shooter killed at least 19 fourth grade students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School, marking the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in a decade.

The U.S. has been here before – after shootings in Tucson, Aurora, Newtown, Charleston, Roseburg, San Bernardino, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland, El Paso, Boulder, and 12 days earlier at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y.

Gun production and sales in the U.S. remain high, following a purchasing surge during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the firearms industry sold about six guns for every 100 Americans.

Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut was among the Democratic politicians who pleaded for action on gun control as horrifying details of the Uvalde school shooting unfolded.

“What are we doing?” Murphy asked other lawmakers, speaking from the Senate floor on the day of the shooting. “Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?”

Congress has declined to pass significant new gun legislation after dozens of shootings, including those that occurred during periods like this one, with Democrats controlling the House of Representatives, Senate and presidency.

This response may seem puzzling given that national opinion polls reveal extensive support for several gun control policies, including expanding background checks and banning assault weapons.

In October 2021, 52% of people polled by Gallup said that they thought firearm sales laws should be made more strict.

But polls do not determine policy.

I am a professor of strategy at UCLA and have researched gun policy. With my co-authors at Harvard University, I’ve studied how gun laws change following mass shootings.

Our research on this topic finds there is legislative activity following these tragedies, but it’s at the state level.

A Democratic senator and Sandy Hook parents and teachers at a press conference in the US Capitol in 2013.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) speaks to the media as teachers, parents and residents from Newtown, Conn. – where the Sandy Hook school massacre happened – listen after a Capitol Hill hearing on Feb. 27, 2013, on the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Restrictions loosened

Stricter gun laws at the national level are more popular among Democrats than Republicans, and major new legislation would likely need votes from at least 10 Republican senators. Many of these senators represent constituencies opposed to gun control.

Despite national polls showing majority support for an assault weapons ban, not one of the 30 states with a Republican-controlled legislature has such a policy.

U.S. Texas Senator Ted Cruz said on May 24 that more gun control laws could not have prevented the Uvalde attack, explaining “that doesn’t work, it’s not effective, it doesn’t prevent crime.”

The absence of strict control policies in Republican-controlled states shows that senators crossing party lines to support gun control would be out of step with the views of voters whose support they need to win elections.

But a lack of action from Congress doesn’t mean gun laws are stagnant after mass shootings.

To examine how policy changes, we assembled data on shootings and gun legislation in the 50 states between 1990 and 2014. Overall, we identified more than 20,000 firearm bills and nearly 3,200 enacted laws. Some of these loosened gun restrictions, others tightened them, and still others did neither or both – that is, tightened in some dimensions but loosened in others.

We then compared gun laws before and after mass shootings in states where mass shootings occurred, relative to all other states.

Contrary to the view that nothing changes, state legislatures consider 15% more firearm bills the year after a mass shooting. Deadlier shootings – which receive more media attention – have larger effects.

In fact, mass shootings have a greater influence on lawmakers than other homicides, even though they account for less than 1% of gun deaths in the United States.

As impressive as this 15% increase in gun bills may sound, gun legislation can reduce gun violence only if it becomes law. And when it comes to enacting these bills into law, our research found that mass shootings do not regularly cause lawmakers to tighten gun restrictions.

In fact, we found the opposite. Republican state legislatures pass significantly more gun laws that loosen restrictions on firearms after mass shootings.

In 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new law that eliminated a requirement for Texans to obtain a license or receive training to carry handguns. This came two years after a 2019 mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso.

That’s not to say Democrats never tighten gun laws – there are prominent examples of Democratic-controlled states passing new legislation following mass shootings.

California, for example, enacted several new gun laws following a 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino. Our research shows, however, that Democrats don’t tighten gun laws more than usual following mass shootings.

After the Buffalo shooting in early May 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said that she would work to increase the age for legal gun purchasing from 18 to 21 “at a minimum.”

'Change gun laws or change Congress' reads a sign at a 2018 rally in New York City.
In August 2018, Moms Demand Action hosted a rally at New York City’s Foley Square to call upon Congress to pass gun safety laws. Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Ideology governs response

The contrasting response from Democrats and Republicans is indicative of different philosophies regarding the causes of gun violence and the best ways to reduce deaths.

While Democrats tend to view social factors as contributing to violence, Republicans are more likely to blame the individual shooters.

Cruz, for example, has said that stopping individuals with criminal records from committing violence could help prevent mass shootings.

Politicians favoring looser restrictions on guns following mass shootings frequently argue that more people carrying guns would allow law-abiding citizens to stop perpetrators.

In fact, gun sales often surge after mass shootings, in part because people fear being victimized.

Democrats, in contrast, typically focus more on trying to solve policy and societal problems that contribute to gun violence.

For both sides, mass shootings are an opportunity to propose bills consistent with their ideology.

Since we wrote our study of gun legislation following mass shootings, which covered the period through 2014, several additional tragedies have energized the gun control movement that emerged following the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. These include the May 2022 shooting at the Tops grocery store in Buffalo, as well as the Uvalde school massacre.

While President Joe Biden issued executive orders in 2021 with the goal of reducing gun violence, action in Congress remains elusive. States, meanwhile, have been more active on the issue.

Student activism following the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, did not result in congressional action but led several states to pass new gun control laws.

With more funding and better organization, this new movement is better positioned than prior gun control movements to advocate for stricter gun policies following mass shootings. Public outcry and devastation over the Uvalde shootings will likely provide fuel to this advocacy work.

But with states historically more active than Congress on the issue of guns, both advocates and opponents of new restrictions should look beyond Washington for action on gun policy.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on March 21, 2021.

Christopher Poliquin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Read More

Continue Reading

Economics

5 Top Consumer Stocks To Watch Right Now

Are these consumer stocks a buy amid the earnings season?
The post 5 Top Consumer Stocks To Watch Right Now appeared first on Stock Market News, Quotes,…

Published

on

5 Trending Consumer Stocks To Watch In The Stock Market Now         

As we tread through the earnings season, consumer stocks could be worth watching in the stock market this week. This would be the case since a number of big consumer names such as Costco (NASDAQ: COST) and Macy’s (NYSE: M) will be posting their financials for the quarter. As such, investors will be keeping an eye on these reports for clues on the strength of consumer spending amid this period of high inflation.

However, despite the soaring prices across the economy, it seems that consumers are surprisingly showing resilience. According to the Commerce Department, retail sales in April outpaced inflation for a fourth straight month. This could suggest that consumers as a whole were not only sustaining their spending, but spending more even after adjusting for inflation. Ultimately, it could be a reassuring sign that consumers are still supporting the economy and helping to diminish the narrative of an incoming recession. With that being said, here are five consumer stocks to check out in the stock market today.

Consumer Stocks To Buy [Or Sell] Right Now

Nordstrom

retail stocks (JWN stock)

Starting off our list of consumer stocks today is Nordstrom. For the most part, it is a fashion retailer of full-line luxury apparel, footwear, accessories, and cosmetics among others. The company operates through multiple retail channels, boutiques, and online as well. As it stands, Nordstrom operates around 100 stores in 32 states in the U.S. and three Canadian provinces.

Yesterday, the company reported its financials for the first quarter of 2022. Starting with revenue, Nordstrom pulled in net sales worth $3.47 million for the quarter. This marks an increase of 18.7% from the same quarter last year. Its Nordstrom banner saw net sales rise by 23.5% year-over-year, exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Next to that, its Nordstrom Rack banner saw a 10.3% increase in net sales from last year. Besides, net earnings were $20 million, with earnings per share of $0.13 for the quarter. Considering Nordstrom’s solid quarter, should you invest in JWN stock?

[Read More] Best Stocks To Invest In Right Now? 5 Value Stocks To Watch This Week

The Wendy’s Company

best consumer stocks (WEN stock)

Next up, we have The Wendy’s Company. For the most part, it is the holding company for the major fast-food chain, Wendy’s. Being one of the world’s largest hamburger fast-food chains, the company boasts over 6,500 restaurants in the U.S. and 29 other countries. The chain is known for its square hamburgers, sea salt fries, and the Frosty, a form of soft-serve ice cream mixed with starches. WEN stock is rising by over 8% on today’s opening bell.

According to an SEC filing, Wendy’s largest shareholder, Trian Partners, is looking into making a potential deal with the company. Trian said that it is considering a deal to “enhance shareholder value.” Also, the firm adds that this could lead to an acquisition or business combination. In response, Wendy’s stated that it is constantly reviewing strategic priorities and opportunities. It added that the company’s board will carefully review any proposal from Trian. Given this piece of news, will you be watching WEN stock?

[Read More] 4 Semiconductor Stocks To Watch In The Stock Market Today

Foot Locker

FL stock

Another stock investors could be watching is the shoes and apparel company, Foot Locker. In brief, the company uses its omnichannel capabilities to bridge the digital world and physical stores. As such, it provides buy online and pickup-in-store services, order-in-store, as well as the growing trend of e-commerce. Some of its most notable brands include Eastbay, Footaction, Foot Locker, Champs Sports, and Sidestep. Last week, the company reported its results for the first quarter of the year.

For starters, total sales came in at $2.175 billion, a slight uptick compared to sales of $2.153 billion in the year prior. Next to that, Foot Locker reported a net income of $133 million. Accordingly, adjusted earnings per share came in at $1.60, beating Wall Street’s expectations of $1.54. CEO Richard Johnson added, “Our progress in broadening and enriching our assortment continues to meet our customers’ demand for choice. These efforts helped drive our strong results in the first quarter, which will allow us to more fully participate in the robust growth of our category going forward.”  As such, is FL stock one to add to your watchlist? 

Tyson Foods 

TSN stock

Tyson Foods is a company that built its name on providing families with wholesome and great-tasting protein products. Its segments include Beef, Pork, Chicken, and Prepared Foods. With some of the fastest-growing portfolio of protein-centric brands, it should not be surprising that TSN stock often comes to mind when investors are looking for the best consumer stocks to buy. 

Earlier this month, Tyson Foods provided its fiscal second-quarter financial update. The company’s total sales for the quarter were $13.1 billion, representing an increase of 15.9% compared to the prior year’s quarter. Meanwhile, its GAAP earnings per share climbed to $2.28, up 75% year-over-year. According to Tyson, these financial figures are a reflection of the increasing consumer demand for its brands and products. To top it off, the company was also able to reduce its total debt by approximately $1 billion. Thus, does TSN stock have a spot on your watchlist?

[Read More] Stock Market Today: Dow Jones, S&P 500 Rise, Wendy’s Stock Gains On Potential Deal

DoorDash

food delivery stocks (DASH Stock)

DoorDash is a consumer company that operates an online food ordering and delivery platform. In fact, it is one of the largest delivery companies in the U.S. and enjoys a huge market share. The company connects hundreds of thousands of merchants to over 25 million consumers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Japan through its local logistics platform. Accordingly, its platform allows local businesses to thrive in today’s “convenience economy,” as the company puts it.

On May 5, the company reported its first-quarter financials for 2022. Diving in, it posted a revenue of $1.5 billion, growing by 35% year-over-year. This was driven by total orders that grew by 23% year-over-year to $404 million. Along with that, it reported a GAAP gross profit of $662 million, an increase of 34% year-over-year. The company said that it added more consumers than any quarter since Q1 2021, due in part to the growth of its DashPass members. The growth in Monthly Active Users and average order frequency has helped it gain share in the U.S. Food Delivery category this quarter as well. Given DoorDash’s performance for the quarter, should you watch DASH stock?

If you enjoyed this article and you’re interested in learning how to trade so you can have the best chance to profit consistently then you need to checkout this YouTube channel. CLICK HERE RIGHT NOW!!

The post 5 Top Consumer Stocks To Watch Right Now appeared first on Stock Market News, Quotes, Charts and Financial Information | StockMarket.com.

Read More

Continue Reading

Economics

Finding Shelter in an Inverse ETF

As the old saying goes, “What goes up must come down.” Indeed, up until the recent selling wave caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine and the continued…

Published

on

As the old saying goes, “What goes up must come down.”

Indeed, up until the recent selling wave caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine and the continued effects of supply chain disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, tech stocks, including semiconductors, were the darlings of the investment world. That is, it seemed as if the sky-high valuations of some tech stocks were sustainable in an atmosphere of seemingly perpetual growth.

That, of course, was not the case, and the too-good-to-be-true valuations were quickly brought down to earth by the forces of inflation and tight monetary policy. As a result, the tech-heavy Nasdaq entered a free-fall that has not yet found a bottom.

At the same time, that does not mean that we should abandon the sector as a lost cause. One such way to play the sector during its downhill slide is the exchange-traded fund (ETF) Direxion Daily Semiconductor Bear 3X Shares (NYSEARCA: SOXS).

As its title suggests, this is an inverse ETF, meaning that it is built to go up in value when its parent index goes down. Specifically, SOXS provides three times leveraged inverse exposure to a modified market-cap-weighted index of semiconductor companies that trade in American markets by using swap agreements, futures contracts and short positions.

While the index’s holdings are weighted by market capitalization, the fund’s managers cap the weights of the top five securities in the portfolio at 8% each. The weight of the remaining securities is capped at 4% each.

As of May 24, SOXS has been up 0.37% over the past month and up 24.73% for the past three months. It is currently up 60.47% year to date.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

The fund has amassed $258.15 million in assets under management and has an expense ratio of 1.01%.

In short, while SOXS does provide an investor with a way to invest in an inverse ETF, this kind of ETF may not be appropriate for all portfolios. Thus, interested investors always should conduct their due diligence and decide whether the fund is suitable for their investing goals.

As always, I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an email. You just may see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.

The post Finding Shelter in an Inverse ETF appeared first on Stock Investor.

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending