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U.S. job growth seen strong in February; wages to rebound

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U.S. employers likely maintained a brisk pace of hiring in February and boosted wages for workers, which is expected to give the Federal Reserve the green light to raise interest rates next week despite slowing economic growth.

Nonfarm payrolls probably increased by 190,000 jobs last month, according to a Reuters survey of economists, in part as unseasonably mild weather buoyed employment in the construction sector. The economy created 227,000 jobs in January.

The Labor Department will publish its closely watched employment report on Friday at 08:30 a.m. (1330 GMT). Fed Chair Janet Yellen signaled last week that the U.S. central bank would likely hike interest rates at its March 14-15 policy meeting.

The economy needs to create roughly 100,000 jobs per month to keep up with growth in the working-age population.

“February employment appears to be the final hurdle for the Fed to raise interest rates in March, and it’s likely to be easily jumped,” said Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in Westchester, Pennsylvania.

Payrolls could, however, surprise on the upside after the ADP National Employment Report showed on Wednesday that private sector employers hired 298,000 workers in February, the largest amount in a year.

Last month’s brisk clip of hiring is expected to have been accompanied by an acceleration in wage growth, with average hourly earnings seen rising 0.3 percent in February after January’s paltry 0.1 percent gain. That would lift the year-on-year increase in wages to 2.8 percent from 2.5 percent in January.

The unemployment rate is seen declining 1/10th of a percentage point to 4.7 percent in February, even as more people likely entered the labor market, encouraged by the hiring spree.

With the labor market near full employment, wage growth could speed up as companies are forced to raise compensation to retain employees and attract skilled workers.

According to economists, a growth rate of between 3 and 3.5 percent in wages is needed to lift inflation to the Fed’s 2 percent target. But inflation is already firming, in part as commodity prices rise.

BEHIND THE CURVE

Rising inflation, together with a tighter labor, stock market boom and strengthening global economy, has left some economists expecting that the Fed could increase interest rates much faster than is currently anticipated by financial markets.

“The Fed might find itself behind the curve and having to catch up,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.

The U.S. central bank lifted its benchmark overnight rate in December and has forecast three rate increases for 2017.

Job growth has averaged 186,000 per month since January 2010, a recovery that predates Donald Trump’s presidency. While Trump’s election victory last November sparked a stock market rally and jumps in consumer and business confidence, there has been no surge in both business and consumer spending.

Data ranging from trade to consumer and business spending suggest the economy slowed further early in the first quarter after growing at a 1.9 percent annualized rate in the final three months of 2016. The Atlanta Fed is forecasting gross domestic product growing at a 1.2 percent rate this quarter.

“It’s really surprising that the U.S. is still producing this many jobs because we are quite close to full employment,” said Thomas Costerg, a senior U.S. economist at Standard Chartered Bank in New York. “It’s way too early to see the impact of the new administration’s policies.”

All sectors of the economy, with the exception of government, are expected to have expanded payrolls in February.

Manufacturing jobs are forecast to have increased for a third straight month as rising oil prices fan demand for machinery. Warm weather last month likely kept crews at construction sites, boosting payrolls in the sector.

Retail sector employment probably cooled after surprisingly adding 45,900 jobs in January. Retailers, including J.C. Penney Co Inc and Macy’s Inc have announced thousands of layoffs as they shift toward online sales and scale back on brick-and-mortar operations.

Government employment could fall for a fifth straight month amid a freeze on the hiring of civilian federal government workers, which came into effect in January.

“We think that overall government payrolls will decline 10,000,” said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Leslie Adler)

 
Published at Fri, 10 Mar 2017 08:20:28 +0000

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Brick And Mortar

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Brick And Mortar

What is ‘Brick And Mortar: Term’

Brick and mortar is a traditional street-side business that deals with its customers face-to-face in an office or store that the business owns or rents. The local grocery store and the corner bank are examples of brick-and-mortar companies. Brick-and-mortar businesses can find it difficult to compete with web-based businesses like Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) because the latter usually have lower operating costs and greater flexibility.

Brick-and-mortar businesses have several distinct advantages over their online counterparts. Many consumers still prefer to liaise with people directly as they believe questions about the product or service can be dealt with in a more comprehensive and immediate manner at a face-to-face level. Brick-and-mortar businesses allow consumers to hold, try and touch items before they contemplate making a purchase — indeed 73% of consumers prefer to try before they buy. Consumers associate legitimacy with a bricks-and-mortar business as a physical presence often gives a perception of trust.

Brick-and-mortar businesses provide consumers with instant gratification when a purchase is made. As a result, consumers typically spend more than they intend to at brick-and-mortar stores. However, there are several key disadvantages to operating a traditional brick-and-mortar business. A physical presence requires the need for employees to conduct transactions, renting or leasing expenses and utility charges such as electricity, gas, and water.

Future of Brick and Mortar Businesses

The rise of electronic commerce (e-commerce) and online businesses has led many commentators to contemplate the future of the humble brick-and-mortar business. It is increasingly common for brick-and-mortar businesses to also have an online presence in an attempt to reap the benefits of each particular business model. For example, some brick-and-mortar grocery stores, such as Safeway, allow customers to shop for groceries online and have them delivered to their doorstep in as little as a few hours.

However, the importance of the bricks-and-mortar model is given credence by several large online e-commerce companies opening physical locations to realize the advantages of traditional retail. For example, Amazon.com Inc., along with other online companies, has opened brick-and-mortar stores to help market its products and strengthen customer relations. That said, some business types, for example, those that operate in the service industry are more appropriately suited to brick-and-mortar form, such as hair salons, veterinarians, gas stations, auto repair shops, restaurants and accounting firms. It is crucial that marketing strategies for brick-and-mortar businesses highlight the advantages a consumer has when purchasing at a physical store.

Published at Thu, 09 Mar 2017 17:23:00 +0000

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Why Robot Stocks Will Rise in the Age of Trump

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Why Robot Stocks Will Rise in the Age of Trump

By Charles Bovaird | March 8, 2017 — 11:15 AM EST

The stocks of robot makers will likely enjoy sharp gains in the coming years as the United States—along with other major industrial nations—use robots to replace expensive human labor, according to Barron’s. Shares of Japan-based Fanuc Corp., Rockwell Automation (ROK), German manufacturer KUKA AG and Japan-based Yaskawa Electric Corp could all encounter notable tailwinds. (For more, see also:4 Industries that Robots are Revolutionizing.)

Policy’s Key Role

Robot use in the United States could potentially push higher in the coming years if President Donald Trump succeeds in establishing certain policies, Barron’s reported. If corporate income tax rates, for example, pushed lower, this development could lower the total expenses associated with manufacturing but leave labor costs unchanged. (For related reading, see:3 Ways Robots Affect the Economy.)

This situation could create strong demand for robots under an administration that has spoken in favor of harnessing technological improvements, according to CNBC. In a recent interview, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated, “I’m not in favor of trying to hold back technological advance.” He emphasized that if the United States does not make use of robots, China, Europe and Vietnam, along with everyone else, will.

Potential Upside for Stocks

Should the U.S. experience a surging demand for robots, companies like Fanuc, the U.S. market leader in industrial robots, could see a notable increase in share prices, Barron’s reported. While the company’s stock has been doing well, it could surge 20% in the next year. Shares of Yaskawa, Rockwell Automation and Switzerland-based ABB Ltd. (ABB) could all benefit from such industry trends due to their exposure to factory automation and industrial robotics.
Published at Wed, 08 Mar 2017 16:15:00 +0000

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Why a trade deficit isn’t like losing money

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NAFTA explained
NAFTA explained

Under President Trump’s description of a trade deficit, America is losing money to Mexico, China, Germany and Japan.

America had a trade deficit with all those countries in 2016. But that’s not the same as losing money.

A trade deficit means the U.S. bought more goods and services from each of those countries than they bought from America.

These normally mundane trade stats, which were released Tuesday, have come under fire from Trump. He frequently cites trade deficits as a reason to renegotiate or even withdraw from deals with other countries.

The big 4 trade deficits

The U.S. had a $61 billion trade deficit in goods and services with Mexico in 2016.

The U.S. trade deficit was significantly larger with China: $309 billion.

Trump lambasted China on the campaign trail. But his criticism of China over trade has not been as frequent as his criticism of Mexico since he arrived at the White House.

America’s trade deficit with Germany was $67 billion, and with Japan it was $56 billion last year.

Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, criticized Japan and Germany for manipulating their currencies to make their exports cheaper and more competitive against the U.S. (Germany uses the euro, not its own currency, but its economy has a heavy influence on the euro).

However, Trump has had very little criticism about either nation’s trade ties to the United States.

 

Trade deficits – good or bad?

Navarro and Trump both like to say that a trade deficit is a negative factor when officials calculate U.S. economic growth. That’s true.

But the U.S. trade deficit has grown for decades, including during periods of strong economic growth. A report from Trump’s U.S. Trade Representative acknowledged that fact last week.

“Of course, a rising trade deficit may be consistent with a stronger economy,” the USTR noted last week.

For example, in the late 1990s, the U.S. economy grew at 4% annually, while the trade deficit got bigger. And during the Great Recession, between 2007 and 2009, the trade deficit got smaller.

How could the U.S. grow if the trade deficit got bigger?

Because America is a consumer economy. About 66% of U.S. economic activity consists of consumer spending. Cheaper products from Mexico, China and elsewhere make it easier for Americans to spend. And all that spending is the main engine of growth behind the U.S. economy.

Published at Tue, 07 Mar 2017 18:52:38 +0000

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Dick’s Sporting Goods Dropping Unpopular Brands

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By tpsdave from PixabayDick’s Sporting Goods Dropping Unpopular Brands

Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE: CMG) is one of the last chains standing in a niche that has been devastated by the rise of e-commerce.

Its nearest competitor, Sports Authority, went out of business last year, and even that hasn’t made the company’s path to success any smoother. In its continuing effort to remain competitive, the largest remaining sporting-goods chain has evaluated its merchandise, and it has reached an interesting decision.

Dick’s has decided to drop up to 20% of its vendors, Fox Business reported. CEO Edward Stack said pairing down its vendor list will “deliver a more refined offering for our customers” and enable Dick’s stores to “stay ahead of consumer trends.”

He made the remarks during a call with analysts March 7 to discuss the chain’s fourth-quarter results. Stack also said that none of the company’s 10 largest vendors would be cut, and noted that the products supplied by some vendors will be replaced by private-label brands to increase profitability.

Dick’s has been doing well

While the company is making changes, it’s worth noting that Dick’s had a solid Q4. Income came in below Dick’s own forecasts at $0.81 a share ($1.15 to $1.27 a share was the range expected). That number, however, was dragged down by $0.51 per share due to charges relating to the change in merchandising strategy noted above.

Sales, however, were up nearly 11% for the quarter and same-store sales increased by 5%.

“We are very pleased with our strong fourth quarter results…driven by strong comp sales and gross margin expansion. We realized meaningful market share gains and saw growth across each of our three primary categories of hardlines, apparel and footwear,” said Stack in the earnings release. “In 2016, we capitalized on opportunities in the marketplace, and further solidified our leadership position by enhancing the shopping experience in our stores, building brand equity and successfully relaunching our eCommerce business on our own web platform.”

What’s next?

The chain has obviously learned the lesson from Sports Authority’s collapse that it never pays to be complacent, even when things seem to be going well. Cutting vendors and making major inventory changes is never easy, but Dick’s clearly has a willingness to make tough choices.

These moves will cause some short-term pain, but in the long run should pay off. The retailer needs to constantly evaluate its operations and adjust as the market changes if it wants to maintain its leadership position in the market.

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Published at Tue, 07 Mar 2017 20:42:02 +0000

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Investor Group Lobbies for Indexes to Exclude Snap

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Investor Group Lobbies for Indexes to Exclude Snap

By Eric Volkman | March 6, 2017 — 5:55 PM EST

Last week’s IPO of hot messaging-app purveyor Snap (NYSE: SNAP) was a runaway success for many investors. Others, however, are not happy about how it was effected, and are taking their grievance to the owners of the most influential stock indexes.

The Council of Institutional Investors (CII), a group that represents a number of investment funds and other active stock buyers, is lobbying S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI) unit S&P Dow Jones Indices and MSCI (NYSE: MSCI) to exclude Snap from their indexes.

These investors are uncomfortable with the fact that the Snap stock distributed in the IPO carries no voting rights for their shareholders. This prevents those investors from influencing matters such as the company’s strategic direction, and its executive compensation packages.

Last month, CII sent Snap a letter requesting that the company reconsider its plan to sell only non-voting shares. In response, Snap Chairman Michael Lynton quoted his company’s S-1 IPO registration form saying that such a structure, “which prolongs our ability to remain a founder-led company, will maximize our ability to create stockholder value.”

In an interview with Reuters, CII Deputy Director Amy Borrus said of Snap, “They’re tapping public markets but giving public shareholders no say.”

“What we would like to see at the least is for the indexes to exclude new no-vote companies,” Borrus said in the interview.

Meetings with both companies have been set for later this week. S&P runs the S&P 500, arguably the most influential large-cap stock index on the U.S. market. MSCI operates a host of popular indexes that track the world’s debt and equity markets.

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*Stock Advisor returns as of February 6, 2017

Eric Volkman has no position in any stocks mentioned.
Published at Mon, 06 Mar 2017 22:55:02 +0000

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Netflix, Facebook and other techs remain red hot

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Tech firms take travel ban opposition to court
Tech firms take travel ban opposition to court

Maybe it’s despite Trump, or because of Trump — after all, he is also promising to stimulate the economy with tax cuts, more government spending on infrastructure and fewer regulations — many big tech stocks are on fire this year.

The so-called FANG stocks of tech, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, have all soared in 2017.

Facebook(FB, Tech30) is up nearly 20%. Amazon(AMZN, Tech30) has gained 12%. Netflix(NFLX, Tech30) is up 14%. And Google parent company Alphabet(GOOGL, Tech30) is up 7%.

And don’t forget Apple(AAPL, Tech30). It’s the best performer in the Dow this year, rising 20%. Fellow Dow component Cisco(CSCO, Tech30) is up more than 13% too.

All six stocks are part of the Nasdaq, which has gained 8% and has outperformed the Dow and S&P 500.

The solid performance of these companies has helped push the Nasdaq to within spitting distance of topping the 6,000 mark for the first time ever.

Related: These 10 stocks dominate the market

How long will it take for the Nasdaq to get to 6,000? That probably will depend on earnings. Most tech companies reported solid results for the fourth quarter and have issued good guidance for the first quarter and 2017.

While many investors are obsessed with news from Washington (and what’s popping up on Trump’s Twitter accounts) these tech giants should keep doing well regardless of the political landscape since they are leaders in their respective industries.

“There are some meaningful fundamental drivers in the market right now,” said David Jilek, chief investment strategist at Gateway Investment Advisers. “It’s not just the Trump rally.”

Just look at Netflix, for example. The stock rose Monday after UBS analyst Doug Mitchelson upgraded it to a buy.

He boosted his subscriber targets for the company — and said that even though Trump’s new FCC chair may eliminate Net neutrality rules that now help Netflix, he’s not overly concerned that regulatory changes will hurt Netflix or other techs too severely.

There’s also the fact that other Trump policies — particularly tax reform — could boost tech stocks substantially.

If Apple, Microsoft(MSFT, Tech30), Google, Oracle(ORCL, Tech30), Cisco and other large techs with a lot of cash overseas are allowed to bring the cash back, or repatriate it, at a lower tax rate, they may invest more in R&D, buy back stock, boost dividends or acquire more companies.

And at the end of the day, as long as investor sentiment about Trump remains strong — CNNMoney’s Fear & Greed Index continues to show signs of Greed in the market — then big tech stocks and other blue chips should continue to lead.

“This is still the most hated bull market ever but we’re not seeing any signs of that trend turning,” said Scott Colyer, CEO & chief investment officer of Advisors Asset Management.

Published at Mon, 06 Mar 2017 19:06:16 +0000

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Home Depot to Hire 80,000 Spring Seasonal Workers

Home Depot to Hire 80,000 Spring Seasonal Workers

By Daniel B. Kline | March 3, 2017 — 5:55 PM EST

Home Depot (NYSE: HD) plans to hire more than 80,000 seasonal workers for its busy spring season, and has revamped its hiring process to make that happen.

The changes to its online application process have, according to the giant home improvement retailer, made applying for jobs faster by as much as 80%. “We want everyone to have an easy and convenient experience with The Home Depot, whether they’re shopping with us or applying for a position,” said Human Resources Executive Vice President Tim Crow in a press release.

A path to a full-time job

While these 80,000 positions are seasonal, they could lead to full-time employment for the people who land them. Any time an employee works as a seasonal worker will accrue toward them being eligible for benefits should they shift to a permanent assignment. Hourly associates, as the company calls them, qualify for benefits including profit sharing, tuition assistance, a 401(k), and a discounted stock purchase plan. In addition, all Home Depot employees have access to deals on various things (like cellphones and gym memberships) through the company’s associate discount site.

The jobs will be located in the company’s nearly 2,000 stores and its 75 distribution facilities. “They include customer service and sales, lot associates, freight and receiving, store support and cashier positions,” according to the company. In addition, the team that sets up merchandising displays also has some seasonal openings.

Building up its bench

In a struggling retail world, Home Depot has been a near-constant source of good news. The company has proven resistant to the growing trend where more purchases are being made online. This massive hiring spree should help the company get through its busy season while also setting it up with a solid pool of people ready to step in as the chain needs to add permanent workers.

Being on the hunt for seasonal workers during a period outside of the holiday season when most retailers traditionally add should also give the company an advantage. This is a time of year when many chains are making cuts or not hiring. That should help Home Depot land some solid employees, at least a few of whom should become long-term solid performers.

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*Stock Advisor returns as of February 6, 2017

Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned
Published at Fri, 03 Mar 2017 22:55:04 +0000

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Yelp Inc. Buys Nowait in $40 Million Deal

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Yelp Inc. Buys Nowait in $40 Million Deal

By Tim Brugger | March 2, 2017 — 1:42 PM EST

Offering what it bills as “the industry’s leading waitlist system and seating tool,” Pittsburgh-based Nowait is now fully owned by its one-time partner and investor, Yelp (NYSE: YELP). Yelp’s connection with Nowait began in August 2016 with an $8 million investment. By October, Yelp had integrated Nowait into its industry-leading app, where it quickly became “a valuable addition to our overall restaurant offerings.”

Yelp added that the $40 million all-cash deal for the remaining stake in privately held Nowait closed on Feb. 28. At the end of last quarter Yelp had approximately $480 million in cash, equivalents, and short-term securities on its balance sheet.

Nowait began in Pittsburgh, a city notorious for restaurants that don’t take reservations, and was an instant hit locally. Today, it has arrangements with an estimated 4,000 casual dining restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. Participating restaurants are able to share seating availability with mobile users in real time. Prospective customers can then “get in line” for a table remotely via the app.

Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said of the deal, “With this acquisition, we’ll make even bigger strides in the restaurant industry by allowing Yelp users to more quickly move from search and discovery to transacting at a local business.”

Nowait’s focus on consumers in search of casual dining is due to the segment’s popularity. According to Statista, 54% of U.S. diners eat in a casual establishment at least once monthly, three times more than patronize fine-dining restaurants.


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When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

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*Stock Advisor returns as of February 6, 2017

Tim Brugger has no position in any stocks mentioned

Published at Thu, 02 Mar 2017 18:42:02 +0000

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Big Pharma Pushes Back on Drug-Price Complaints

by qimono from Pixabay

 

Big Pharma Pushes Back on Drug-Price Complaints

By Shoshanna Delventhal | March 1, 2017 — 1:02 PM EST

Mounting bipartisan pressure on large pharmaceutical industry players regarding their pricing practices have prompted drug makers such as Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Merck & Co. (MRK) to release reports on their medicines’ price increases.

This week, the multinational consumer goods, medical devices and pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson, followed the example of Merck & Co., which released a similar report in late January. It seems that the argument the two New Jersey-based businesses seek to bring home through the reports is that there’s more than meets the eye to drug pricing.

J&J and Merck’s reports offered numbers outside the list prices that are made public, including data on discounts and rebates paid to the healthcare system, to government insurers and middlemen in the pharma supply chain. Over the past five years, J&J says while its list prices have surged 10%, its net prices after discounts and rebates have increased less than half that rate. In 2016, Merck indicated its prices rose an average 9.6%, lowering to 5.5% when factoring in rebates.

Fed Up With ‘Unreasonable’ Drug Costs

While many drug companies, such as Allergen, Novo Nordisk and AbbVie have committed to drug price increases of less than 10% annually, consumers are still struggling with the situation. A recent Kaiser Health poll found 77% of respondents believed drug costs were “unreasonable” in September 2016. A wave of controversies surrounding price hikes for the EpiPen and most recently a drug for children with a unique type of muscular dystrophy, has further ignited the public to demand federal government negotiations with drug companies to lower Medicare prices.

J&J and Merck have both pledged to release these reports annually, hoping that with greater transparency on what portion each player in the supply-chain receives, critics will back off. While the reports may help, the battle against big pharma surely isn’t going anywhere soon, as a rising number of Americans agree with both liberal activists and President Donald Trump—that drug companies are “getting away with murder.” (See also: Merck Restates 2016 Earnings, Takes $3B Charge.)
Published at Wed, 01 Mar 2017 18:02:00 +0000

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Net Neutrality Was a Mistake: FCC Chairman

 

Net Neutrality Was a Mistake: FCC Chairman

By Rakesh Sharma | February 28, 2017 — 2:07 PM EST

In an address to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai said he was in favor of “free stuff” on the internet and that the agency’s 2015 net neutrality ruling was a mistake. Pai said the FCC’s 2015 move injected uncertainty into broadband markets. “And uncertainty is the enemy of growth,” he said.

This is not the first time that Pai has come out against net neutrality. He has previously said that the 2015 ruling was a “solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.” The ruling classified broadband as a utility and subjected it to utility-style regulations. Major network providers, such as AT&T Inc. (T), protested the ruling and sued the agency, claiming that it would hamper fresh investment in the industry. According to USTelecom’s annual broadband investment research growth report, capital expenditures by network providers declined by nearly $1 billion in 2015, the year that the ruling was passed. However, an earnings analysis of major network providers by the Consumerist website found that they had increased their spending on capital expenditures to upgrade networks. (See also: Trump Appoints Net Neutrality Critic as FCC Head.)

Under Pai’s chairmanship, network carriers can expect minimal interference from the agency in their plans. “We are dedicated to a light touch, and we are on track to returning to that successful approach that prevailed (before the 2015 ruling),” said Pai. He referred to the ending of zero rating, or the option for carriers to introduce unlimited data in their carrier plans, as an example of that touch. “But the truth is consumers like getting something for free,” he said. “Our new approach respects that preference.” According to Pai, the end of zero rating has led to the introduction of new plans and competition between leading carriers, such as AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ). (See also: FCC Ends Probe Into AT&T, Verizon Free Data Offers.)

However, tech publication The Verge points out that the plans do not use zero rating. “These companies are competing to offer highly competitive unlimited data plans because the last FCC chairman kept them in a competitive environment, leaving four nationwide wireless providers and a clear set of rules for them to follow,” the publication writes.

Pai’s “light touch” may also lead to the introduction of tiered systems for traffic on the internet. These systems allow network providers to offer premium speeds to customers who pay more. Such a move could affect traffic speeds for video streaming services like Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) because they are dependent on broadband services for transmission. While it has had fights with Comcast Corporation (CMCSA) over net neutrality in the past, Netflix seems to have softened its stance in recent times. The streaming service said it has no objections to the merger between AT&T and Time Warner Inc. (TWX). (See also: AT&T to Lawmakers: TWX Deal Won’t Hurt Competition.)
Published at Tue, 28 Feb 2017 19:07:00 +0000

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What Wall Street wants to hear from Trump

What Wall Street wants to hear from Trump

  @mattmegan5

 President Trump’s pro-business promises have helped lift the Dow an incredible 2,500 points since the election.

Now Wall Street wants him to deliver.

Investors will be watching very closely when Trump addresses Congress on Tuesday night. They crave details about the timing and specifics of Trump’s plans to slash taxes, rip up regulations and unleash infrastructure spending.

On the other hand, signs that the Trump platform is being delayed or scaled back could leave Wall Street bummed.

The stock market has made the stakes clear: The Dow has closed at a record high 12 days in a row and is going for a 13th on Tuesday, a feat that has never happened before.

“Expectations are phenomenally high,” Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, wrote in a note to investors.

Here’s a guide to what investors want to hear from Trump.

Taxes, taxes, taxes, taxes…

A CNNMoney survey of economists on Monday found that what they want most is details on Trump’s tax plan: When will it happen? How big will it be?

Hopes for big tax cuts have been at the heart of the post-election rally. Wall Street is betting that enormous tax savings will translate to juicier profits.

“Unfortunately I’m going to have to torture myself and watch Tuesday night in search of some comments on tax reform,” Boockvar said, adding that he normally skips these types of speeches.

Border adjustment tax?

A big key will be whether Trump throws his weight behind an idea from House Republicans called the border adjustment tax as a way to bring jobs back to the United States.

The complex proposal would give tax breaks to American companies that ship products to other countries and strip tax breaks from American companies that import goods.

“What I hope to hear from Trump is some well-reasoned policy proposals, and not just more … babble about ‘winning’ or making ‘better deals,'” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at The Economic Outlook Group.

dow trump rally election

 

Obamacare timing

The overhaul of the health care system is extremely important to many Americans, but investors are paying particular attention because of its implications for the rest of the Trump agenda.

Trump has said repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act must come before taxes.

“This is a giant obstacle blocking the path to the rest of the president’s agenda,” Jaret Seiberg, analyst at Cowen & Co., wrote in a research report.

Fair trade, not trade wars

Economists and market strategists surveyed by CNNMoney say their biggest fear is that Trump will erect barriers to trade.

The new president has already withdrawn the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and started renegotiating the NAFTA trade deal with Mexico and Canada. Economists’ concern is that Trumps will impose high tariffs that slow the economy and provoke a tit-for-tat response from trading partners.

“Wall Street is not opposed to reviewing trade deals, but Wall Street doesn’t want to see that turn into a trade war,” said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial.

What happened to infrastructure spending?

Since he took office, Trump hasn’t focused much on his promise to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. Investors hope Trump will follow through by releasing a plan to build or rebuild roads, bridges and airports. Infrastructure stocks like U.S. Steel(X) and U.S. Concrete(USCR) have soared since the election.

Will Trump give clues about the timing and structure of an infrastructure plan and how it can be paid for without blowing up the U.S. deficit?

Ripping up bank regulation

Big bank stocks like Goldman Sachs(GS) have skyrocketed, partly because of Trump’s promise to “do a big number” on the Wall Street reforms known as Dodd-Frank. But few specifics are known here, either.

Seiberg, the Cowen analyst, said one risk is that Trump will repeat a call for a 21st century version of the Glass-Steagall Act, which would force a separation between commercial banking and trading. That could be a signal that Trump wants to break up big banks.

Investors would probably react better if Trump said his focus is on allowing banks to lend more — even though they are already lending a ton.

What Wall Street doesn’t want to hear

Markets took a brief tumble in late January as investors grew concerned that controversy over Trump’s immigration order could derail the rest of his agenda.

Look for a similar reaction if Trump’s speech veers off course.

“If he focuses on the evil press or some other nonsense, markets may get impatient,” Michael Block, chief market strategist at Rhino Trading, wrote in a research note.

–CNNMoney’s Heather Long contributed to this report.
Published at Tue, 28 Feb 2017 18:44:48 +0000

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Target has terrible holiday and warns of awful 2017

Target has terrible holiday and warns of awful 2017

  @lamonicabuzz

Tar-jay is no longer in style.

Target missed the bullseye badly during the holidays, reporting earnings that were below forecasts. And the company’s outlook for this year was much worse than expected, sending the stock down 13% in early trading. Shares are down 20% this year.

The terrible numbers from Target(TGT) are just another sign of how tough it is for traditional retailers to compete against the online juggernaut that is Amazon(AMZN, Tech30).

“Our fourth quarter results reflect the impact of rapidly changing consumer behavior, which drove very strong digital growth but unexpected softness in our stores,” said Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target.

To Target’s credit, the company has embraced e-commerce. Target said digital sales were up 34% from a year ago.

That’s higher than Amazon’s overall sales growth during the holidays and even outpaced the 29% jump in online revenue growth that Walmart(WMT) posted in the fourth quarter.

The problem is that online sales are not growing quickly enough to offset the sales declines in Target’s physical stores. Target said overall revenue fell more than 4% from a year ago.

Part of that was because of Target’s decision to sell its in-store pharmacies to CVS(CVS) in late 2015. But revenue was down at Target even after factoring in the absence of pharmacy sales from the fourth quarter of 2016’s results.

Consumers are increasingly shunning traditional retailers like Target and shopping online. Macy’s(M), Kohl’s(KSS), JCPenney(JCP) and Sears(SHLD) have also been hit hard by this shift in recent years.

Target seems to have been caught off guard by the magnitude of the change, though. The company had predicted a strong holiday quarter in November, but warned in January that its results would miss forecasts.

The numbers Target reported on Tuesday were even worse than what it forecast last month.

The company expects earnings for the first quarter and the full fiscal year will be lower than what Wall Street analysts were predicting.

And Target said same-store sales, which measures the performance of stores open at least a year, will fall in the first quarter and for the full year.

A decline in commodity prices has also led to problems in Target’s grocery division.

Many big supermarket chains like Kroger(KR) and Whole Foods(WFM) have warned that while lower food prices can be good news for consumers, they hurts profit margins for retailers.

Target said it plans to “transition to a new financial model.”

During a conference call with analysts Tuesday morning, executives talked about how Target will spend more to revamp existing stores, open new stores, upgrade its supply chain and inventory management and boost its digital operations.

“At a time when many others are shrinking, we are investing,” chief financial officer Cathy Smith said. She added that the company will look to lower prices and add a dozen exclusive brands.

Cornell tried to stress the positive aspects of Target’s new plan, saying that Target is “doubling down” while many of its competitors are struggling to survive. He also said the company will lower prices to be more competitive with other retailers.

But analysts are still worried.

Neil Saunders, managing director for GlobalDataRetail, said in a report: “Target should not chase Walmart on price, as it is a battle that cannot easily be won. We also believe that many of Target’s issues are not solely price related.”

Joleen Wroten, senior retail strategist with retail intelligence firm 360pi, agreed that Target would lose a price war with Amazon.

She wrote that Target has to “differentiate with exclusive, affordable ‘fresh’ product offerings coupled with clean and easy shopper experiences” and worry less about having lower prices than Walmart.

And Cowen analyst Oliver Chen said in a report that the company has a lot of work to do to win back market share and be more competitive against Amazon, Walmart and big supermarkets.

“The company needs to do a better job executing and attracting shoppers looking to just pick up a few items (vs. stocking up). We also believe food remains a work in progress,” Chen wrote.

Target’s woes are the latest setback for a company hit by a massive data breach in 2013. The credit and debit cards of about 40 million customers were stolen.

The problems led to the ouster of longtime CEO Gregg Steinhafel. Cornell, formerly an executive at Pepsi(PEP), took over in 2014 and had appeared to right the ship. Sales went back up.

But Cornell now faces another problem that might not be so easy to fix — convincing consumers there’s a reason to put their phones down and head back to the mall.
Published at Tue, 28 Feb 2017 13:39:30 +0000

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Morgan Stanley gave some clients incorrect tax information

{pixabay|100|campaign}Morgan Stanley gave some clients incorrect tax information

Morgan Stanley gave some wealth management clients incorrect information on taxes that caused some to underpay and others to overpay, according to a regulatory filing on Monday.

The bank is setting aside $70 million to cover the costs and is in discussions with the Internal Revenue Service over the errors which occurred in tax years 2011 through 2016.

“We are committed to making this right for our clients with minimal inconvenience to them,” said a Morgan Stanley spokesman.

(Reporting by Olivia Oran; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
Published at Mon, 27 Feb 2017 23:32:26 +0000

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Wells Fargo robo-adviser to target young, first-time investors

 

By Elizabeth Dilts| NEW YORK

Wells Fargo & Co’s wealth management business (WFC.N) said on Tuesday it would launch its new robo-adviser Intuitive Investor later this year in a bid to develop a new revenue stream from existing Millennial customers who may be looking to open their first investment account in a crowded online market.

Devon McConnell, Wells Fargo Advisors’ head of digital and direct investing, said the digital advice platform, which will initially be rolled out to employees in the first half of 2017, would be marketed to Wells Fargo customers who have savings and are comfortable taking big life steps online.

“We know that there are many customers ready to take an early step in their investing life, and for this population, a lot of things in their life happen online first,” McConnell said.

Wells Fargo is the latest Wall Street brokerage to join the robo-adviser party following competitor Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), which launched its Merrill Edge Guided Investing earlier this month, and independent firm Raymond James Financial Inc (RJF.N), which debuted its Connected Advisor in January.

Companies like Betterment and Wealthfront have made robo-advisers, which provide automated investment advice to clients through web-based platforms, popular investing options and traditional brokerages rushed to compete.

Brokerages like that the technology allows them to serve clients at a lower cost, especially as a new U.S. Labor Department retirement regulation has boosted compliance costs for many wealth management firms.

Wells is entering the market as it seeks to move on from a 2016 scandal in which employees were accused of opening as many as 2 million deposit and credit card accounts without customers’ permission in order to meet sales targets.

Wells Fargo Advisors announced last year that it was partnering with technology firm SigFig to create its digital offering, and a pilot version of Intuitive Investor will be rolled out to Wells Fargo employees in the first half of this year.

“We wanted to make sure we found the right partner and built the right technologies, and that takes time,” said McConnell of Wells Fargo’s timing. “We weren’t going to let anything else dictate a timeline to us.”

McConnell said Wells Fargo Advisors’ partnership with SigFig involved engineers from both firms collaborating to create software that worked with the bank’s broader systems.

The bank has not broken out how much it spent to create the robo, but McConnell said Intuitive Investor is one part of the bank’s broader technology investments.

(Story corrects product name in eighth paragraph to Intuitive Investor from Intuitive Advisor.)

(Reporting By Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Andrew Hay)
Published at Tue, 28 Feb 2017 14:49:49 +0000

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Tesla gets downgraded to ‘sell’ by Goldman Sachs

Tesla gets downgraded to ‘sell’ by Goldman Sachs

  @lamonicabuzz

Goldman Sachs thinks it’s time to pull the plug on Tesla’s stock.

David Tamberrino, an analyst at the influential Wall Street investment bank, downgraded Tesla’s stock to a “sell” rating on Monday morning. It’s pretty rare for analysts to be that negative about a high-profile company.

Tesla’s stock fell nearly 5% Monday and shares are now down more than 10% since the company reported its latest financial results last week. Tamberrino lowered his price target only slightly, from $190 to $185.

But a price of $185 is more than 25% below the $257 level it closed at on Friday. Shares were trading around $246 Monday following the downgrade.

Although Tesla (TSLA) recently said there’s strong demand for its Model S and Model X electric cars as well as the upcoming Model 3 — Tesla’s more affordable vehicle that should be available later this year — investors are nervous about all that Tesla has on its plate.

Tesla also recently bought SolarCity, an alternative energy company that is run by two cousins of Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Tamberrino said the SolarCity deal was one reason why he was worried about Tesla.

The Goldman Sachs analyst added that “the acquisition of SolarCity — which is undergoing its own business model transition — comes at a time when we believe Tesla should be singularly focused on becoming a mass automobile manufacturer.”

As for the Model 3, Tamberrino thinks it will have “a more subdued launch curve than the company is targeting as some suppliers have expressed concern around final designs not being locked down.”

For that reason, Tamberrino thinks Tesla’s production goals for the Model 3 are too ambitious.

He’s predicting that Tesla won’t be able to hit an annualized run rate of more than 100,000 Model 3s until the fourth quarter of 2018 — a full year later than what Tesla expects.

Tesla also announced during its earnings call that its CFO was stepping down, not something that investors ever like to hear.

And Musk discussed plans to build as many as three more Gigafactories for battery and solar panel production. Tesla already has one for batteries in Nevada and another in Buffalo for solar panels.

Tamberrino is worried that Tesla is going to need to sell more stock to raise capital by the end of this year. That would dilute the value of existing Tesla stock.

But shares of Tesla are still up 15% this year despite the recent sell-off. Investors are happy with the solid demand for the Model S and Model X.

Some investors have also expressed hope that Musk’s willingness to participate in CEO summits at the White House with President Trump could mean that Trump will not attack Tesla the way he has other big companies.

The fact that Tesla has big plans to invest on U.S. factories may also help Musk curry favor with Trump — even though Musk opposes Trump’s proposed ban on immigrants from several predominantly Muslim nations and has taken issue with Trump’s assertions that climate change may not be real.

But Tesla is going to face a lot more competition from GM (GM), Toyota (TM), Ford (F) and Nissan(NSANF) in the electric car market.

Some analysts are worried Tesla may have dropped the ball by not getting the Model 3 to market sooner since GM already has the Chevy Bolt out and Nissan has the Leaf. Both of those cars are priced at levels that should be competitive with the Model 3.

And Goldman’s Tamberrino thinks that Tesla has too many distractions to deal with all the emerging competition from auto giants in Detroit and Japan.

“The company may lack the singular focus it should have on achieving its Model 3 launch targets,” he said.

Tesla was not immediately available for comment about the Goldman Sachs report.

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Dow hits 12th record high close; Trump talks up infrastructure spending

Dow hits 12th record high close; Trump talks up infrastructure spending

By Caroline Valetkevitch | NEW YORK

U.S. stocks ended slightly higher on Monday and the Dow closed at a record high for a 12th straight session, as President Donald Trump said he would make a “big” infrastructure statement on Tuesday.

The Dow’s streak of record-high closes matches a 12-day run in 1987, with Boeing (BA.N) and UnitedHealth (UNH.N) among the biggest boosts for the Dow on Monday. The S&P 500 also closed at a record high. Energy gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500, with the energy index .SPNY up 0.9 percent.

Trump, who met with state governors at the White House, also said he is seeking what he called a “historic” increase in military spending of more than 9 percent, while he said his administration would be “moving quickly” on regulatory reforms.

The comments came ahead of Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday evening. Investors are looking for more specifics on Trump’s plans, given the hefty gains in the market since the Nov. 8 election.

“Things are moving along in terms of the Trump agenda, but we’ll get a clearer picture after tomorrow night so that might precipitate some buying or selling,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

Hellwig and others said there’s potentially more upside than downside from the address, given how the market has reacted in recent weeks.

Traders work on the trading floor at the opening of the markets at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Shares of U.S. defense companies – Boeing (BA.N), Raytheon (RTN.N), General Dynamics (GD.N) and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) – rose after Trump said he would seek to boost Pentagon spending by $54 billion in his first budget proposal.

Boeing was up 1.1 percent while UnitedHealth was up 1.4 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 15.68 points, or 0.08 percent, to close at 20,837.44, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 2.39 points, or 0.10 percent, to 2,369.73 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXICadded 16.59 points, or 0.28 percent, to 5,861.90.

In its 1987 12-day streak of record-high closes, the Dow rose 9.2 percent compared with just a 3.9 percent gain in the recent record run.

While the S&P 500 is up 10.8 percent since the Nov. 8 election, the pace of the rally has slowed this year.

Trump’s promise a few weeks ago of a “phenomenal” tax announcement helped rekindle the post-election rally, driving the main U.S. markets to record highs.

Time Warner (TWX.N) ended up 0.9 percent after news that the head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission does not expect to review AT&T Inc’s (T.N) planned $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

AT&T slipped 1.3 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.55-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.87-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 63 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 143 new highs and 45 new lows.

(Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and James Dalgleish)

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Trump seeks ‘historic’ U.S. military spending boost, domestic cuts

Trump seeks ‘historic’ U.S. military spending boost, domestic cuts

By Steve Holland | WASHINGTON

President Donald Trump is seeking what he called a “historic” increase in defense spending, but ran into immediate opposition from Republicans in Congress who must approve his plan and said it was not enough to meet the military’s needs.

The proposed rise in the Pentagon budget to $603 billion comes as the United States has wound down major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and remains the world’s strongest military power.

The plan came under fire from Democratic lawmakers, who said cuts being proposed to pay for the additional military spending would cripple important domestic programs such as environmental protection and education.

A White House budget official, who outlined the plan on a conference call with reporters, said the administration would propose “increasing defense by $54 billion or 10 percent.” That represents the magnitude of the increase over budget caps Congress put in place in 2011.

But Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, said the plan would bring the Pentagon’s budget to $603 billion in total, just 3 percent more than the $584 billion the agency spent in the most recent fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, 2016.

The rise would be slightly higher than the country’s current 2.5 percent rate of inflation.

“President Trump intends to submit a defense budget that is a mere 3 percent above President (Barack) Obama’s defense budget, which has left our military underfunded, undersized, and unready to confront threats to our national security,” John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

The defense boost would be balanced by slashing the same amount from non-defense spending, including a large reduction in foreign aid, the White House budget official said.

Trump does not have the final say on federal spending. His plan for the military is part of a budget proposal to Congress, which, although it is controlled by his fellow Republicans, will not necessarily follow his plans. Budget negotiations with lawmakers can take months.

McCain told reporters he would not vote for a budget with the slight military increase and thought it would face opposition in the Senate.

Trump told state governors at the White House his budget plan included a “historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America.”

He said his proposal was a “landmark event” and would send a message of “American strength, security and resolve” to other countries.

BIG CUTS TO STATE DEPARTMENT

Officials familiar with Trump’s budget blueprint said the plan would call for cuts to agencies including the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

One official familiar with discussions over State’s budget said the agency could see spending cut by as much as 30 percent, which would force a major department restructuring and elimination of programs.

The United States spends about $50 billion annually on the State Department and foreign assistance.

More than 120 retired U.S. generals and admirals urged Congress on Monday to fully fund U.S. diplomacy and foreign aid, saying such programs “are critical to keeping America safe.”

Trump has vowed to spare middle-class social programs such as Social Security and Medicare from any cuts.

Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, said Trump’s plan to slash funding for federal agencies to free up money for the Pentagon showed he was not putting American working families first.

“A $54 billion cut will do far-reaching and long-lasting damage to our ability to meet the needs of the American people and win the jobs of the future,” Pelosi said. “The president is surrendering America’s leadership in innovation, education, science and clean energy.”

SHORING UP ‘CHOKE POINTS’

An official familiar with the proposal said Trump’s request for the Pentagon included more money for shipbuilding, military aircraft and establishing “a more robust presence in key international waterways and choke points” such as the Strait of Hormuz and South China Sea.

That could put Washington at odds with Iran and China. The United States already has the world’s most powerful fighting force and it spends far more than any other country on defense.

About one-sixth of the federal budget goes to military spending.

Trump has said previously he would expand the Army to 540,000 active-duty troops from its current 480,000, increase the Marine Corps to 36 battalions from 23 – or as many as 10,000 more Marines – boost the Navy to 350 ships and submarines from 276, and raise the number of Air Force tactical aircraft to 1,200 from 1,100.

He has not said where he would place the extra hardware and forces or made clear what they would be used for. The United States has been shutting some of its military bases in recent years.

Trump has also said he would bolster the development of missile defenses and cyber capabilities. Last week, he told Reuters the United States had “fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity.” He pledged to ensure that “we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”

(Additional reporting by Tim Ahmann, Doina Chiacu, Andy Sullivan, Idrees Ali, David Alexander, and Patricia Zengerle; Writing by Alistair Bell and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Peter Cooney)

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Merrill: “The undocumented economy”

by Unsplash from Pixabay

Merrill: “The undocumented economy”

by Bill McBride on 2/27/2017 04:45:00 PM

A few excerpts from a Merrill Lynch research note: The undocumented economy

Let’s consider three scenarios:

1.Improved border security and more aggressive deportations that lower the number of undocumented workers by 200,000 per year. This could be achieved by increasing annual deportations from about 400,000 to 500,000 and stopping 100,000 more people per year at the border.

2. Cut the number of undocumented workers in half over a four year period through tougher enforcement.

3. Effectively eliminate all undocumented workers over a four year period.

In the first scenario the economic impacts are likely to be very small. …  The story is very different under the second and third scenarios. Undocumented immigrants tend to specialize in certain kinds of jobs. Hence cutting the labor force in these areas could hurt the productivity of complementary workers causing indirect loses beyond the direct labor force reduction. … With full deportation an outright recession seems plausible, as output would be disrupted and as the Fed may be unwilling to act because a labor shortage would mean a surge in wage and price inflation.

Undocumented immigrants are a relatively small part of the overall labor force [and] our baseline is relatively benign, but we see significant downside risks to that baseline.

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/#dzdy2gcvMFzvoz6W.99

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Buffett expected to tout passive investing in Berkshire annual letter

File Photo: Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett plays bridge during the Berkshire annual meeting weekend in Omaha, Nebraska May 3, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

Buffett expected to tout passive investing in Berkshire annual letter

By Jonathan Stempel| NEW YORK

Warren Buffett, widely considered one of the world’s best investors, is likely to tout the merits of passive investing this weekend to readers of his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) shareholders.

The letter, slated for release around 8 a.m. EST on Saturday, will probably focus on familiar themes for the 86-year-old Buffett, with many single-spaced pages reviewing Berkshire’s businesses and managers, Wall Street, the economy and perhaps even politics.

“The letters are written as much for sophisticated financial people as for people in high school,” said Andy Kilpatrick, author of “Of Permanent Value: The Story of Warren Buffett.” “It’s a fun read, and when you get through it, you think, ‘Wow, I could be doing better with my life and my investing.'”

Buffett believes most stock investors are better off with low-cost index funds than paying higher fees to managers who often underperform. He told Fortune magazine he expects to write “a lot” about passive investing. (here)

Berkshire itself might seem anomalous, with shares of the Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate having generated a roughly 2 million percent gain in Buffett’s nearly 52 years at the helm.

In 2016, Berkshire’s stock price rose about 23.4 percent, easily outpacing the market, though most investors who bought its stock in recent years have achieved closer to market-average returns.

Kilpatrick expects Buffett to discuss Precision Castparts, an aircraft parts maker that Berkshire bought last January for $32.1 billion, its biggest acquisition.

Buffett is likely to discuss other Berkshire businesses, such as insurance and the BNSF railroad, and shower praise on Berkshire managers, perhaps including investing deputies Todd Combs and Ted Weschler.

Combs alerted Buffett to Precision Castparts, and Buffett may discuss what drove Berkshire’s unexpected, multi-billion-dollar investments in Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and the four biggest U.S. airlines.

Buffett may also focus on his desire to spend Berkshire’s huge cash pile after Kraft Heinz Co (KHC.O), which Berkshire partly owns, on Sunday scrapped a bid to buy food rival Unilever Plc (ULVR.L) that Berkshire might have helped finance.

U.S. President Donald Trump may also be a focus for Buffett, who was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton.

Buffett alluded elliptically to Trump in last year’s letter, bemoaning the “negative drumbeat” from presidential candidates talking down U.S. economic prospects.

Berkshire is also expected to report fourth-quarter results. Analysts expect operating profit of around $4.5 billion, or $2,717 per Class A share, down from $4.67 billion last year, Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S said.

 

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Jennifer Ablan and Dan Grebler)

(Why?)
Published at Thu, 23 Feb 2017 21:03:24 +0000

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